Leah Olson will retire on September 1st after an impressive 37-year career here at Kitsap Credit Union.

Leah first started her journey at KCU on September 9, 1985 as a mail room teller, “My former neighbor, Patty Cutting (now deceased), was the teller supervisor at the Bremerton Branch,” said Leah. “She had been trying to recruit me to come for quite a while. When I tired of the long days and weekend and holiday work associated with retail management, I knocked on Patty’s door and said, “Okay, what do you have available?” Patty was thrilled that I was finally ready, but the only position she had available was a mail room teller position. I’m glad I took the chance (and the pay cut) to start my career at Kitsap Credit Union.”

Over the years, Leah went from a mail room teller to records, support services, training, business development, projects, administration, and finally, marketing. “I’ve been in advancing positions in marketing since September of 1999,” said Leah. “I was asked by the CEO at that time to transfer to Marketing and help the new Chief Marketing Officer because he had no staff. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to help build the team we have today.”

“I was young  – just a kid really – when I started at KCU,” she said. “I didn’t even know what a credit union was or even “what I wanted to be when I grew up.”  I credit the opportunities I’ve had here at KCU for helping me figure that out and being able to “grow up” as a professional and advance in my career. I’m a naturally curious person, enjoy new challenges, and feed off the energy of working with others for the common good. I think these traits have aligned well with the credit union philosophy of “people helping people” and ignited my passion for this organization and its abilities to bring positive change to the lives of others.

When asked what Leah’s favorite memories are from her time at KCU, she said, “I have so many! Some things I’m intensely proud of include:

  • Spearheading many of the charter changes (e.g. who we have the ability to serve) that have made possible the membership growth we’ve experienced through the years.
  • Collaborating to build a formal community outreach program that has literally touched the lives of hundreds of thousands over the last 37 years.
  • Being a part of the career development of many staff members who have advanced to leadership positions in our communities.
  • Being acknowledged as a YWCA Woman of Achievement for my professional leadership and community volunteerism.
  • Being acknowledged by my peers as an encourager and cheerleader for the incredible team at KCU with the “Smells Like Team Spirit” Award for multiple years. (I don’t take that lightly. I’m very intentional about leaving behind a little kindness wherever I go. I’m not always successful, but it’s my constant pursuit).
  • The legacy I’ve been a part of in leading the establishment of our own 501c3 nonprofit, the KCUCares Foundation.”

Her two favorite things about her job are, “The people I work with and the variety in the job. We have incredible people here – dedicated, passionate, willing, intelligent, driven, creative, and compassionate. And though there is routine in every job, I loved knowing that every day could bring something new and bring a new opportunity to grow and stretch my abilities and skills.

Leah and her husband have purchased a small farm in Iowa where they can be closer to their children and grandchildren in their retirement. “I look forward to more time with family (especially our adorable grandkids), spending time with our horse Amora, remaining connected to the people who mean so much to me, and learning how to be an Iowan and grow flowers and vegetables in my retirement,” Leah said.

Words from Leah’s colleagues:

“My favorite things about Leah are her sense of humor in the face of adversity, her willingness to move towards challenges, including our first sing-a-long at Cash Brewery, our first Secret Santa drive-through, and changing the brand of KCU to a message of belonging and service to our community. Leah is the example I frequently reference when discussing our culture with new hires. Her ability to translate our values into action has been impressive. Leah is too young to be retired. It’s time for a second act, and I would love to see what comes next for her and Randy.  It’s been a privilege to have worked with her and alongside her in so many ways, she will be missed by many in this community.” – Shawn Gilfedder, CEO/President

“I have worked with Leah for almost 30 years! We have worked together in various capacities, and I always enjoyed the partnership. Aside from watching all of her hairstyles change, my favorite memories with Leah were sharing stories about raising our kids and wondering how we would survive. Credit Union skits – Forrest Gump remains my favorite. Celebrating Credit Union milestones like our Charter Conversation or watching the Olympic Torch come by our Burwell Office. Leah could always find a positive in the conversation or word it in a way that sounded positive. She lived our values as a true KCU Ambassador, always putting the member into the conversation. Leah gave a lot to KCU and her legacy will remain as she helped foster many of the community relationships we have today, for that I thank her.  I hope this next phase of her life she can relax a little, enjoy countless hours of riding, and truly give herself the care she so willingly gives to others.” -Kellie D. LeTexier, SVP/Chief Operations Officer

“I have worked with Leah for 18 amazing years. I wish for her life’s journey grants her amazing new discoveries and the peace that comes with being able to enjoy what she is most passionate about: family, friends, pets, and people.” – Bryan Flynn, Senior Graphic Designer