CEO Valena Alexander's open-door management philosophy means if you drop by her office, you'll likely find her with a member or an employee.
“I make it my mission to always listen to my membership, staff, board, and supervisory committee,” she says.
It’s not surprising that in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in 2018, she literally cleared downed trees to ensure Jackson County Teachers Credit Union was available to assist members.
With chain saws buzzing, Alexander and her husband cleared the way from where they had been staying to get to the $35 million asset credit union in Marianna, Fla.—where downed trees and power poles blocked all three entrances.
Once they gained access, the credit union opened: outside in the drive-thru lane. “The drive-thru became a walk-up, with tellers serving members from the drive-thru window,” Alexander explains. “We set up folding tables for the loan officers.”
Jackson County Teachers operated al fresco for two weeks— from Oct. 10 until Oct. 24, when power was restored.
And even though three of the credit union’s eight employees had extensive damage to their homes and one lost her home, no one missed a day of work.
Alexander says she’s a problem solver by nature.
“I tackle things head on and always look for the best fix,” she says.
She credits growing up on a farm with instilling a strong work ethic. “Working hard and never having idle hands was our way of life,” she says. “From a young age, job responsibilities and chores were never an option, they were always the norm.”
Alexander believes member service sets Jackson County Teachers apart from other area financial institutions. “I feel like we’re the ‘Cheers’ of credit unions because we always know your name,” she says. “I’m always available to my members, and I think that sets the precedent for how my employees treat our members as well.
“If asked a question, employees know they can never tell a member ‘I don’t know.’ That response will never be tolerated,” she says. “They’re required to respond with ‘give me a few minutes and I will find out.’ I want my members to know we will always go the extra mile for them—without hesitation.”