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Redwood Credit Union's Rene Meza wins 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards

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Rene Meza

Branch manager, Dutton office

Redwood Credit Union

3033 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa

707-545-4000

www.redwoodcu.org

Find out more about the other 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards winners.

Professional background: Banking

Education: Marketing and Spanish, San Jose State University

Staff: 22 employees at Dutton branch, 660 employees at company

About me: My parents immigrated from Chamacuaro, Guanajuato, first to Texas but eventually settling in Healdsburg. There they started a family, consisting of me and my six siblings. Our upbringing included strenuous but rewarding work together in the fields during the summer months.

It was tough at times but today, I realize what it taught me: work hard, support one another, challenge each other, and have fun and relax. This is life.

Growing up in Healdsburg in the 1970s, the little old town was very charming and laid back, but when I moved on to the college life in San Jose.

Wow, what a dramatic difference!

In 1989, I headed back up north to be closer to family and friends. I met my wife within the first year and now, 28 years later, we’ve got five amazing kids, with the oldest ones now in their early 20s!

Working in the financial industry since 1992, I’ve learned from many amazing minds. I started at a large bank, then a community bank, and today, I’m loving the work I am privileged and honored to do here at Redwood Credit Union. Throughout my career, I’ve managed many teams and worked alongside a diverse group of Senior Managers and highly-regarded executives.

Now in my 13th year at RCU, I’m thankful to be able to passionately serve my community, one member at a time. RCU’s President and CEO, Brett Martinez, always reminds us we are here to help our members achieve their financial dreams. I feel and believe in that every single day.

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?

Completing a major branch remodel while sustaining a high level of member service. RCU’s Dutton office is one of our busiest branches, and the remodel was extensive, but we found creative solutions that allowed us to keep the branch open for business through the entire project, and keep our members informed every step of the way.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?

Chairing the first Roseland Cinco de Mayo celebration in 2005. Amid some high emotions and challenging and thoughtful discussions, I had the honor to work with many city, county, and community leaders who together, managed to create a safe and secure annual event that today is considered the biggest Cinco de Mayo festival in Northern California.

What is your biggest challenge today?

Monitoring my “work/life” balance can be a challenge: Working hard to help our members and employees, and supporting my community every day, but also making the time to care of myself and my family a priority.

What are you most proud of regarding the achievements of the area Latino business community and what are the greatest challenges faced by that community?

I love the continued work and collaboration with Los Cien, the Hispanic Chamber, and the Roseland Cinco de Mayo Group. I also enjoy staying connected with our Latino youth community to better prepare their generation to be our future leaders. I think by fostering strong connections between these groups and keeping young people involved, we can overcome any challenges our community may face.

Rene Meza

Branch manager, Dutton office

Redwood Credit Union

3033 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa

707-545-4000

www.redwoodcu.org

Find out more about the other 2019 Latino Business Leadership Awards winners.

Words that best describe you: Calm and collected, honest, optimistic, engaged, adventurous, happy and cheerful.

As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?

Working with our members and the public, staffing dynamics, and diverse communities in the North Bay, you discover that all individuals have specific needs, life changes, unexpected circumstances, etc. Throughout the years, I have learned that listening to understand helps me to customize and address my interactions so that I may be best prepared to better serve those individuals/teams that I am helping and supporting.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?

In many ways, technology will lead the way, but I believe that people skills and personal interaction will still be in demand and requested as well. Technology has great capacity to provide convenience, speed, and efficiency for many transactions, but when it comes to highly personal topics like money people still want to be heard and understood—and person-to-person contact will always have that advantage.

Who was your most important mentor?

My oldest brother, Jesus Meza. He is a gentle soul who gave up much simply to make sure his siblings were taken care of. Today, he travels many trails throughout the world—an avid hiker who loves life, family and a good conversation more than anything. A cold beer with him is very special… any topic is open for discussion without judgment.

Tell us about your community involvement: I have always enjoyed staying involved in the community.

Years ago, I worked in radio and every year, I enjoyed cooking 80-100 turkeys during the holidays season and offering free dinners.

Also, I love being involved in the Hispanic Chamber network supporting small businesses; Los Cien Latino Group’s ongoing efforts in building bridges; and the Cinco de Mayo committee in support of the annual event in Roseland. I also participate in many of the numerous community events supported by Redwood Credit Union such as The Human Race, Michael J Fox Tour de FOX, Fiesta de Independencia at LBC, and various financial literacy programs, just to name a few.

What advice would you give to a young person today?

Education at many levels is valuable…meet people, be positive, ask questions, and always be passionate in all that you do. Always remember that first impressions can push you forward or hold you back.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Herman J Hernandez with Zephyr Real Estate

Current reading: “The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light” by Carlos Santana with Ashley Kahn and Hal Miller

Most want to meet: Many of course…Barack Obama, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Carlos Santana!

Stress relievers: Running, hiking, riding my bike.

Favorite hobbies: Hiking in Yosemite, enjoying the wines of Sonoma county, cooking with family, outdoor live music shows.

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