NANCY DEAVOURS BEGAN WORKING at Merced (Calif.) School Employees Federal Credit Union in July 1967 as an 18-year-old community college student.
She started as a file clerk, working two hours a day, before working her way up the ladder to become president/CEO in 1993, when the credit union had less than $100 million in assets. Under her direction the credit has grown into a $406 million asset institution.
Deavours is credited with helping Merced School Employees Federal survive through the uncertainty of the Great Recession.
“We faced some very difficult years financially. Merced was No. 1 in foreclosures in the U.S. for a time, and our unemployment rate reached a record high of 26% at one point,” Deavours says.
She explains how the credit union made it through these tough times.
“We’re a great team, and there was no way we were going to let our members and our community down. We tightened our belts, figured out what we needed to do, and forged ahead. Even with the bad economy, I have always felt pride in the fact that I didn’t have to lay off any employees.”
But even though the credit union has emerged on the other side of the economic downtown, there’s still work to be done.
“When I became CEO, our credit union was thriving, and I’m determined that when I retire I will leave behind a thriving institution,” Deavours says.
Deavours attributes much of her grit and spirit to her childhood growing up on a ranch.
“I grew up on a dairy ranch, fed my share of baby calves with bottles and buckets of milk, chased cows that got out in the middle of the night, and learned how to drive a tractor at age 10,” she says.
Dana Lorenzo, the credit union’s marketing manager, says Deavours is a well-respected leader for many reasons.
“She’s caring, hardworking, dedicated, and committed to our members,” Lorenzo says. “Because of her honesty and integrity, she’s very well-respected by her staff and the community.”
Deavours leads her employees, volunteers, and members—whom she refers to as her “extended family”—in an approachable, down-to-earth manner.
“I have an open-door policy and I don’t ask my staff to do anything I wouldn’t be willing to do myself,” she says.