William J. “Bill” Rissel has steadfastly pursued excellence during more than two decades as president/CEO of Fort Knox Federal Credit Union in Radcliff, Ky.
That focus explains why Fort Knox Federal has grown from a $125 million asset credit union on a military post in 1991 to a $1.2 billion asset, full-service financial institution serving 80,000 members throughout central Kentucky and around the world.
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The credit union continuously receives superior safety and financial strength ratings from independent financial services evaluators such as Bauer Financial Inc. and Weiss Ratings, and consistently ranks in the top 10% of all credit unions in the country.
“My mantra for all 23 years I’ve been at Fort Knox Federal is ‘Win, Win, Win,’” says Rissel, who will retire on July 1, 2014.
“We must always win for members in order for our organization to be successful; otherwise members won’t do business with us. The credit union itself must win; otherwise it won’t continue to exist. And our employees must win, because they make the organization work.”
Yet Rissel’s contributions to the credit union movement extend far beyond Fort Knox Federal’s walls. He has defended credit unions’ principles in the political arena, advocated for military communities, lent his expertise to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and spearheaded support for fellow credit unions during large-scale emergencies.
A longtime member and former chairman of the Kentucky Credit Union Political Action Committee, Rissel led grassroots letter-writing efforts to support the historic Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998 (H.R. 1151).
In 2011, Dr. James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, appointed Rissel as one of 12 members to the newly formed Community Depository Institutes Advisory Council.
During two national tragedies, Rissel and his staff embodied the people-helping-people spirit of credit unions.
Immediately after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Rissel organized a group of volunteers from Fort Knox Federal to travel there to help rebuild member data for Federal Employees Credit Union, housed in the ravaged Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Both credit unions used the same computer system.
The team retrieved and rebuilt data for members of the credit union (now Allegiance Credit Union), helping it reopen just two days after the blast that claimed 18 of its employees’ lives.
When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Fort Knox Federal extended $1 million in interest-free loans to $79 million asset Gulf Coast Community Federal Credit Union in Gulfport, Miss., restoring its liquidity so members could access their money.