A Sit Down Q&A with Legacy Retirees Donna, Carlotta, Becky and Lynn Skip to content
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A Sit Down Q&A with Legacy Retirees Donna, Carlotta, Becky and Lynn

February 7, 2022

They say that one-third of your life is spent at work. Yes, the average person will spend more than 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. When you talk with people who have spent their entire working career at the same business or a bulk of it, you quickly learn that these people truly care about the company, its people and employee loyalty.

Four TVFCU employees recently retired from TVFCU with a significant amount of service. Here’s a glimpse into their legacies at TVFCU.

Donna Alley Myers, vice president of consumer lending

Retired after 43 years, 3 months

What has changed over the years at TVFCU?

Everything. Not one single thing is the same — from the day I walked in here 43 years ago until today. The constant has been the people I am surrounded by. I have learned that people are good and kind. That part hasn’t changed. Operations, buildings you name it — that has all changed.

Take us back to your first job at TVFCU in 1978.

I called my first job, “Gazebo Girl.” Before concierge service was a thing, the building at 715 Market Street had a huge gazebo right in the lobby. Just like the one you would find in someone’s backyard. The building had three floors. TVFCU wasn’t large enough at the time to occupy all three floors, so the upstairs part wasn’t used. My job was to sit in that gazebo and welcome people to the credit union. All day I greeted people and instructed them where to go. There was no phone or computer. All I had was my 20-year-old personality and a wall full of tellers behind me.

You have done a lot of things at TVFCU in a lot of departments. Did anyone have a big impact on your career?

Yes, his name was Red Robertson. He took me under his wing and became a professional father to me. One day, this vice president came and got me out of the gazebo. He took me into the posting room and explained to me what a posting position was all about. The room was packed with boxes. Inside the boxes were people’s payrolls that were out of balance. Remember, at this time we only served employees from TVA. This was all before computers and everything was done manually. At the time, there was just one person doing all the posting. She needed help. Red patiently showed me the process of balancing and then I went to work opening as many boxes as possible for the next six months. It’s hard to believe that tellers, lenders, etc. wrote up tickets on pieces of yellow paper. The tickets were then applied to each account in the posting room. It was unreal. Red’s confidence gave me the push I needed to continue to grow within TVFCU.

Tell us more about your credit union career.

Well, a few years down the road, we finally got computers and we began to automate a lot of the transactions. When I first came to TVFCU, we did not have checking accounts. I eventually was put in the Share Draft Department and then transitioned into Accounting. Now, this was back in the day when people never posted jobs for in-house openings. They just came and got you. They tapped you on the shoulder and said, “you were moving on to another area.” It was always in your best interest to go where they wanted you to go, even if you were perfectly happy at your job.

I then was moved into the Credit Card Department, which I actually had a chance to work with fellow colleague, Lynn Reardon, who also just retired. From there, I got another one of those shoulder taps and I was off to be a loan officer. You did not question the selection process.

The first three months in the Lending Department were absolutely horrible. I was lost like a ball in high weeds. I had no clue what I was doing. We did not have official training programs back then. You trained on the job. You depended on someone else to show you what to do. I would actually look forward to going to lunch. I spent the entire hour crying. Miraculously, things got better and I started enjoying the job. I realized that lending is just all about building relationships and I like people. Members would come in and tell you what their dreams were. In turn, I could make them happen. It was a great fit and this lending thing turned out to be fantastic.

What will you miss most about this job?

I will miss the people. I am not an extrovert, I am an introvert. But I love people. I love building relationships while helping and mentoring people. I love to see people become successful.

Look into your crystal ball and tell me about the future of credit unions?

If we can stay true to our mission of people helping people, credit unions will always have a place in our society. I know there are those who say credit unions will all be gobbled up and credit unions will be a thing of the past. I disagree. Just like I believe there will always be churches. I think there will always be credit unions. They may not look like they do today, but in the heart of people, people are really good. Most people who work at credit unions are there to help others reach financial stability. As long as that idea exists in our society, then there will always be some form of the credit union.

Carlotta Richardson, accounting clerk

Retired after 36 years, 5 months

How did you get your start at TVFCU?

I got my start at TVFCU from a friend who worked there. She actually told my sister to apply at the credit union, but she didn’t like working with numbers. So, she said I should apply. The rest is history. 

What was your first job at TVFCU?

My first job at TVFCU was being a teller.

What do you think sets TVFCU apart from other organizations?

I think our service to our members is what sets TVFCU apart from other financial institutions, and if we lose or discard this, I think the credit union and the members will lose out.

Who impacted you the most at TVFCU?

Belinda Chestnutt impacted me the most. (Chestnutt is the longest tenured employee with 44 years of service and became TVFCU’s first African American member of the senior leadership team.) The person I will remember the most is Lisa Martin. (Martin was a former receptionist who was so incredibly kind. She always told employees to be careful when they were headed out. She died unexpectedly in March 2019.)

What led you to stay for so long at TVFCU?

I stayed so long, I think, because the credit union felt like family to me, and the thing I will miss the most are the people I worked with and the kindness I was shown over the years.

What advice do you have for young professionals?

My advice to young professionals is: whatever job you start with do it well. Do everything to the best of your ability. Be patient, success takes a while sometimes.

Becky Baker, loan support and quality control manager

Retired after 37 years, 10 months

How did you get your start at TVFCU?

My family and I were living in Knoxville and I was working for Knoxville TVA Credit Union. We were considering a move to Chattanooga where my husband’s family lived. My VP in Knoxville had close contact with the VP at what was then Chattanooga TVA Credit Union. The rest is history as I was hired in 1984 as a lender.

What were the early days like at TVFCU?

Very small and close knit. There were only three offices — Eastgate, Hixson and Downtown. It was easy to get to know everyone and to know them personally.

What is your favorite TVFCU memory?

The overall memories I have are all the group activities that were planned. We had company picnics for the families. We had cookouts. One in particular was called “Peel Out to Paradise,” which was a lending promotion. We all wore our tropical colored T-shirts and I remember Blake Strickland cooking burgers on the grill!   (Strickland was the first marketing employee who was hired in 1978 and he served as CEO from 1999 to 2015. He died unexpectedly in April 2016.)

What led you to stay for so long?

When you have a job that you love, and you feel that you have a purpose, and an employer that you can be proud to be a part of, you have no desire to leave.  Leaving never crossed my mind.

What will you miss most?

The relationships over the years and all the memories shared.

What advice do you have for young professionals?

Find the purpose in your life and in your work. It’s not all about the title or the amount of the paycheck. You have to love what you are doing and the contributions you can make. Understand that there is a reason for the path you take and you should take every opportunity to further that path. Ask yourself, “What legacy are you leaving?”

Lynn Reardon, manager automated services

Retired after 26 years, 6 months

How did you get your start at TVFCU?

Working at a local bank for six years was an eye opener as to how banks treat their customers. After a little research, I found credit unions treated their members like family not like a customer. A friend that I had worked with at the bank, Val Bailey, was hired by then Chattanooga TVA Employees Federal Credit Union. So I called her and asked if they were hiring. She said yes. So, I applied and was hired by Ann Miller to work with Donna Alley Myers in Credit Cards. There were no debit cards at that time. After working here for a short period of time my then boss, Jim Hammond, asked if I would like to branch out and help prepare Real Estate Closing packages. 

After a brief stint in Real Estate, Donna took a job in Lending and I applied for her vacant position once again in Credit Cards. Several years later I approached Lynn Smith and Shannon York with the idea of starting a Debit Card program. They were a bit skeptical at the time as debit cards were a new approach to banking. But, they took a chance and debit cards took off and grew. Today, there are members who cannot live one day without a debit card. 

Who impacted you the most at TVFCU?

I have worked with, and for, some amazing people here. I think, Linda Connelly, one of our CEOs had the most influence on me. She had wonderful insight in the credit union movement. Overnight, she organized a group of employees from here and other local credit unions to travel by bus to Washington DC for a grassroots movement in 1998. We represented credit unions from the Chattanooga area and met with hundreds of credit unions from all over the US to protest the taxation of credit unions. We spent the day in Washington meeting with then, Representative Wamp and Senator Frist. We marched on the Capitol lawn with thousands of people to let our voice be heard.  This was probably the best spent time I have had here.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

After 36 years here, there have been ups and downs. No one is promised roses all of the time but the people I work with on an everyday basis are phenomenal. Everything changes. How boring would this world be without change? Todd Fortner (current TVFCU President and CEO) reminds me somewhat of Steve Jobs in his futuristic approach to business. Sometimes I wonder if his ideas will fly, but just like the debit card program they always seem to soar! 

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