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June 8, 2022   •   News  

SAFE Credit Union Adds Five Members to Board of Directors

FOLSOM, Calif. (June 6, 2022) – Marking a renewed commitment to provide support to its growing membership, SAFE Credit Union announced today that it has added five new members to its Board of Directors.

The new directors have extensive ties to business, finance, higher education, and healthcare in the Greater Sacramento region.

They are UC Davis Center for Regional Change Executive Director Bernadette Austin; former Foster Poultry Farms LLC chief financial officer Don Ball; Chief Operating Officer of MDstaffers Ryan Larkin; finance executive Sonia Lewis; and Senior Vice President and Area Manager for Kaiser Permanente Trish Rodriguez.

The diverse professional backgrounds of the new SAFE board members cements SAFE’s goals to further energize its community engagement within the 13 counties in its service area, says Terrance Tremelling, chair of the SAFE Credit Union Board of Directors.

“The new directors will bring fresh perspectives and welcome insights from their years of executive-level leadership,” says Tremelling. “I look forward to working with them as a we position SAFE to be a leading financial institution and influence in the Greater Sacramento region.”

SAFE board members serve on a voluntary basis and work with SAFE’s executive management to ensure every decision is made with members’ financial well-being in mind and that SAFE complies with all credit union bylaws and government regulations. Directors lead SAFE’s commitment to helping our region thrive.

“As we welcome new members, I would like to personally thank those volunteers who are stepping down for their many years of service to SAFE’s success,” Tremelling said. “These outgoing board members have been instrumental in SAFE’s recent growth to a $4.5 billion credit union.”

Newly appointed directors emeritus are James Jefferson, James Hopp, Herb Long and Phillip A. Meserve. Longtime Board Treasurer Katherine Gaskins also has retired from the board.


Bernadette Auston

Bernadette Austin

Bernadette Austin is the executive director at the UC Davis Center for Regional Change. A dynamic force in community development and public-private partnerships, she has been a key player in the efforts to revitalize Old and West Sacramento’s waterfronts. Her prior projects include Sacramento’s first transit-oriented development, West Sacramento’s first urban farm stand and the country’s first program combining housing vouchers and health services for adults with disabilities. Austin has worked in both the public and private sector, previously founding her own company, Bernadette Austin Consulting Services.

At UC Davis, Austin leads multidisciplinary, community-engaged and policy-oriented research projects with a focus on equity – studying affordable housing, megaregion migration, transportation equity and carbon neutrality. She serves on the university’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Executive Committee, is an active member of the Urban Land Institute and is a Girl Scouts of America, Heart of Central California Board of Director.

“For two decades I have worked in the research, planning, and implementation of community development,” says Austin. “I can draw on those experiences to guide SAFE on ways to help families meet their financial goals and support regional prosperity.”


Don Ball

Don Ball

Don Ball has had a distinguished career in finance. He was recently the chief financial officer for family-owned Foster Poultry Farms LLC, the leading chicken and poultry provider for the Western United States and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Crystal Creamery-Foster Farms’ Dairy. He was also the chief financial officer of VSP Global, a fully integrated eye care company operating in 100 nations and $5.3 billion in revenue.

“Being on the board is about service to SAFE’s members,” Ball says, “and I look forward to that opportunity to serve. I have focused much of my career in family-owned or private companies, which has allowed me to broaden (my) financial experience while also being more customer focused. I look forward to bringing that experience to SAFE.”

As a senior executive with 40 years of experience, Ball has led all aspects of finance, accounting, tax, treasury, audit, and underwriting. He also has extensive corporate governance experience, serving as a representative of the VSP Global Board of Directors, Finance, Retirement, Public Policy, and Audit committees. Prior to his work with VSP Global, Mr. Ball was SVP and CFO of Raley’s grocery stores, including the Sunnyside and Bayview brands. He was also a senior executive, member of the board, and CFO of IKEA North America during a 20-year period of explosive growth, with revenues expanding from $130 million to $2.8 billion.

Ball also extends his leadership and insights to area nonprofits, including as a former board member of Make-A-Wish Foundation Sacramento and Northern California. He has been a frequent guest lecturer at CSU Sacramento. He earned his MBA from Pace University in New York City and a BS from Marist College.


Ryan Larkin

Ryan Larkin

Ryan Larkin is the chief operating officer of Sacramento-based MDstaffers – one of the country’s fastest growing companies according to Inc. Magazine. Larkin is an experienced senior operating executive skilled in leading people, driving revenue and margin growth, and improving operational efficiency— all enabled by strong technology acumen. He has developed, launched, and refined new service offerings to address market needs and generate additional recurring revenue streams.

Larkin oversees and integrates each of the healthcare staffing firm’s divisions, departments, and functions. He is responsible for executing the business plan to deliver firm-wide financial and operational success—including full profit and loss responsibility. Staffing Industry Analysts’ named Larkin to their “40 under 40” list in 2020 and Sacramento Business Journal honored him as a 2022 C-Suite Executive of the Year.

“My goal is to advocate for our members,” says Larkin. “I intend to be a catalyst to enable the board and executive team of SAFE Credit Union to achieve its mission to help members improve their financial well-being, provide excellent service, and ensure a financially sound credit union.” 


Sonia Lewis

Sonia Lewis

Sonia Lewis is a highly skilled collaborative leader known for adeptly navigating challenges to achieve better results. Her expertise includes executive leadership development; diversity, equity, and inclusion; performance management, and finance. With nearly 20 years of multinational company experience across high-tech, management consulting and financial services, plus years of board and public sector service, Sonia brings deep executive-level experience and broad perspective to the SAFE Credit Union Board.

She previously served as Board Vice Chair for an education nonprofit and chaired the Strategic Planning Committee. She also was a member of Intel’s Black Leadership Council and its Black Network of Executive Women – both focused on fair representation, inclusion, career development, progression, and retention of African American employees to accelerate business impact and results.

“I’m passionate about SAFE’s mission to look out for the financial security of our members by ensuring they are well taken care of,” says Lewis. “Financial literacy is a passion of mine. SAFE is an opportunity for me to give back, learn, and share my knowledge with (the) membership.”

Her years of experience working in finance, strategy, and executive development “give me an increased appreciation for the personalized type of service that SAFE provides. As demographics change, SAFE is in a good position because we are community-focused to serve the needs of members in a more personalized way. There is growing demand for people craving the personal service that SAFE provides.”

Lewis is also committed to being a steward of SAFE’s initiatives to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and in serving its members

Lewis earned an MS in Business with concentrations in Finance & Management from Johns Hopkins University and a BA in Economics/Business from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), graduating Phi Beta Kappa with Honors.


Trish Rodriguez

Trish Rodriguez

Trish Rodriguez is Kaiser Permanente’s senior vice president and area manager in South Sacramento and Elk Grove. There, she oversees that area’s only Level II Trauma Center as well as all other health plan and hospital operations. She is responsible for providing the provisions of health care to more than 225,000 Kaiser members – more than 50 percent of South Sacramento County’s area residents cared for by 5,000 physicians and staff members. Her 33 years of professional healthcare operations experience spans from here to Hawaii and to Calgary in Canada. Rodriguez is a registered nurse holding a master’s degree in public health. She completed Harvard Business School’s renowned Executive Leadership program.

Rodriguez is the past chairperson for both the American Heart Association and the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. She currently serves on Valley Vision’s executive committee and on The Crocker Art Museum’s Board of Directors.

“Healthcare is similar to credit union operations given that we serve both members and the community,” says Rodriguez. “I appreciate that SAFE Credit Union is focused on the financial health of members. I believe there is a direct link to actual health.”

The new directors will work closely with the credit union’s executive management team to ensure every decision is made with members’ financial well-being in mind and make certain SAFE complies with all credit union bylaws and government regulations.


About SAFE

SAFE Credit Union has made members an integral part of its vision since 1940. Over the years the credit union has kept the focus on what really matters, putting members first, a formula that has seen SAFE grow into a leading financial institution in Northern California with over $4.5 billion in assets and about 242,000 members. SAFE crafts every cutting-edge product and sterling service with members’ needs foremost in mind. In addition to banking services conveniently available through online, chat, mobile, or phone options, SAFE offers in-person services for members and small businesses at branches across the Greater Sacramento region. SAFE is a not-for-profit, state-chartered credit union with membership open to businesses and individuals living or working in Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado, Sutter, Butte, Nevada, Solano, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Yuba, Amador, and Alameda counties. Insured by NCUA. www.safecu.org

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