Credit union executive relishes new role

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Karen Troester

After a banking career that’s extended more than 20 years, Karen Troester cites the same two things as the most enjoyable aspects of her job. “Helping people and watching them  be successful.”

Troester expects that to continue in her latest role as president and chief executive officer of Grand Junction Federal Credit Union.

“I’m loving it here,” she said of an operation based on relationships among staff and members. “It’s like a big family.”

Troester joins the operation after Grand Junction Federal Credit Union moved into a new and larger location on 24 Road. Moreover, an expanded charter allows the credit union to offer services to more customers — anyone who loves, works, worships or attends school in Mesa County as well as Delta and Garfield counties.

Troester said she expects the credit union to add more services and perhaps a satellite office.

Dan Wilson, chairman of the Grand Junction Federal Credit Union board of directors, hailed Troester’s hiring. “We’ve hit a home run. Karen and her staff will take us to places the members are going to love.”

Troester said she was attracted to the position because Grand Junction Federal Credit Union is competitive in the market and its internal approval processes make it quicker and easier to help members access financing. “I was really impressed.”

With oversight over everything, she said she also was attracted by the opportunity to play a more direct role in an operation and effecting changes. “It’s really rewarding.”

Troester brings to the position 22 years of experience with U.S. Bank in Grand Junction. Prior to joining the credit union, she worked as a senior vice president who managed a commercial banking division throughout Western Colorado as well as Wyoming.

Troester said she became something of an accidental banker after moving to Grand Junction. Before that, she worked 10 years for British Petroleum in Alaska.

While she never planned a career in banking, Troester said she soon discovered how much she enjoys working with customers, especially small businesses and entrepreneurs. It’s a career she said has enabled her to serve as an advisor and mentor, helping people obtain the financing and other resources they need.

Grand Junction Federal Credit Union offers a variety of resources, she said, including checking accounts, low-balance savings accounts and debit and credit cards. Other services include direct deposits, money orders, notary services, payroll deduction and wire transfers. Automobile, construction, home equity and personal loans also are available.

Troester said she expects the credit union to offer additional services as well technology that’s not only functional, but also easy for members to use.

There’s also the possibility of opening a satellite office to offer more convenience to members, she said.

“We’re not the do all in everything. But what we are is very community oriented,” she said.

Community service also constitutes a personal commitment for Troester. She’s been involved with a variety of organizations and activities, including the Daniel Ethics Fund Initiative at Colorado Mesa University, Girl Scouts of Western Colorado, Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and National Junior College Baseball World Series.

Starting in January, she’ll serve as chairwoman of the board that oversees the Grand Junction Economic Partnership and its efforts to bring new businesses to Mesa County and help existing businesses grow.

Troester said it’s been exciting to watch the Mesa County economy grow and diversify over the years.

While challenges persist, including a shortage of affordable housing, she said she’s encouraged by efforts to keep CMU graduates in the community as well as voter approval of a measure to finance the construction of a new Grand Junction High School. The variety and proximity of outdoor recreational opportunities will continue to attract people to the area. Moreover, there’s a large group of people working to make the Grand Valley a better place.

“I think we’re going to see some really positive growth here,” she said.

In the meantime, Troester said she expects to continue to enjoy in her new role at Grand Junction Federal Credit Union the two most enjoyable aspects of her job. That’s helping people and watching them become successful.

Grand Junction Federal Credit Union is located at 633 24 Road. For additional information, call 243-1370 or visit the website at