Judy De Lucca

A veteran in crisis leadership

One commonality between Hurricane Katrina and COVID-19 is ‘people’s innate goodness and morality.’

June 24, 2020

Judy De Lucca has a unique perspective on business continuity planning.

As CEO at $175 million asset New Orleans (La.) Firemen’s Federal Credit Union, she took her organization through the recovery process after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Southeast in 2005.

Now she’s leading her credit union through an entirely different crisis during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The biggest difference between 2005 and today is technology, De Lucca says.

“During Katrina, we were literally unable to deliver mail to certain areas because there were no houses, much less mailboxes,” she says. “Now we have e-statements, email, and text messages. We can deliver much more information and services through our website and social media.”

During Katrina, De Lucca spent a lot of time helping dislocated employees find new housing.

During the COVID-19 crisis, she’s constantly on the hunt for “masks, sanitizers, Clorox wipes, and toilet paper.”

The biggest difference between 2005 and today is technology.

She says one aspect that wasn’t washed away in either disaster is “people’s innate goodness and morality.”

“Most people want to do the right thing,” De Lucca says. “Most people want to help others. They want to pay their loans. They want to be productive socially. That’s what keeps you optimistic. You know you're helping people who really want to do the right thing.”

De Lucca asks employees to adhere to a philosophy captured in the acronym ACT:

  • Acknowledge the member or employee’s emotional state.
  • Confirm the person’s needs.
  • Take action and communicate how you’ll provide assistance.

This year marks De Lucca’s 40th anniversary at New Orleans Firemen’s. She says she can’t imagine doing anything else. “It fulfills my need to do something good for our community.”