Gene Pelham portrait

Rogue Credit Union & SOU Partnership Energizes the Rogue Valley

Rogue Credit Union’s partnership with SOU runs deep and continues to expand and thrive. From its beginning as a teacher’s credit union in the 1950s to its teaming with SOU in the 1980s, the credit union is recognized as a dynamic member of the SOU family.

“Our partnership with SOU is not just about profits or earnings, it is about creating value that offers a meaningful difference for everyone,” said Rogue Credit Union CEO Gene Pelham ’83, MiM ’06. “When we do those things well, we create a win for the community.”

The history of the RCU/SOU partnership includes tuition reimbursement for Rogue employees, sponsorship of SOU athletics, scholarships for students, and the creation of a student-led Rogue branch on campus, which offers employment to students as well as banking services for the campus community.

Gene earned two degrees from SOU, is a guest lecturer in the business program, an SOU Foundation trustee, and a community leader. He and the Rogue team are dedicated to serving SOU and its students in a way that nourishes and energizes the Rogue Valley.

To Gene, much of this thriving partnership can be credited to Jeanne Pickens ’03, Rogue’s chief operations officer, whose goal is to create a thriving partnership built around collaboration and community. “If we can be a part of helping students uncover their passion, gain valuable life skills, or get a start in their career, we are thrilled to be a part of their journey,” she said. “I am so proud of our organization and what we have done so far.”

Rogue has 21 SOU alumni on its staff, and 10 employees who are currently enrolled at SOU. Gene and Jeanne both applaud the opportunities SOU offers for real-world, hands-on learning. “I am incredibly fortunate that I got my undergraduate and master’s degrees from SOU,” said Gene. “My master’s program allowed me to immerse myself in SOU and to see the community connections firsthand,” he said. “It helped change the trajectory of my life. At the credit union, we want to help make that kind of impact with students.”

Working in partnership with SOU is a core part of the Rogue mission. “Giving back to the community is at the heart of who Rogue is,” said Jeanne. “Helping students with basic financial literacy, such as money management and building credit will give them tools to be successful in life.” It also can be helping students to create a business plan or bringing forward ideas for new credit union products and services.

The partnership has generated positives for both organizations, but there is still more to do, according to Jeanne. “We are a part of something that’s engaging future leaders. When SOU is successful, we’re all successful,” she said.