After graduating college, Simonton fulfilled a childhood dream and joined the Peace Corps to help others. The corps sent him to Botswana, where he helped establish cooperative credit unions for its population.
Simonton, 60, now plans to help Calhoun County residents improve their lives as president and CEO of the AOD Federal Credit Union.
“I’ve always been a strong supporter of credit unions,” Simonton said. “It’s about people helping people … that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”
The AOD Federal Credit Union board of directors hired Simonton in November when Kenneth Reynolds retired after serving six years as CEO.
“It’s been good and I like it a lot,” Simonton said of his time in Calhoun County. “The people here are very friendly.”
Simonton, who grew up in Rhode Island, has 30 years of experience in the credit union industry. He served as conservatorship CEO for the National Credit Union Administration and as CEO and chief financial officer for Insight Credit Union. Simonton also held positions as CFO for Community Credit Union and vice president of finance at Community First Credit Union.
Unlike banks and other financial institutions, credit union members own a portion of their credit union and elect their own boards of directors.
Simonton said AOD has a great reputation in the community that he plans to expand.
“I just want to build on that and create more products that members will like to have and improve the quality of service,” Simonton said.
He said another goal he’s working toward is getting AOD community-chartered — expanding its membership beyond people associated with the Anniston Army Depot. AOD opened for business in 1950 with a total of 45 members, all of who worked at the Anniston Army Depot, which at the time was called the Anniston Ordnance Depot.
“Every other credit union in the area is able to serve a geographic area as opposed to a member group,” Simonton said. “We’re looking at being able to open up to people who live and work in Calhoun County … we’d be able to do more business lending.”
Simonton noted that it would be up to the board to approve expanding AOD’s membership parameters. It currently allows membership only by depot employees, employees of businesses contracted with the depot and certain government agencies.
Since its founding, AOD has grown to one of the largest credit unions in the state. AOD has offices in Anniston, Jacksonville and Oxford, with more than 380 select employer groups and $242 million in assets.
“AOD has thrived,” Reynolds said. “AOD is well-positioned for future growth.”
Reynolds said he was proud of his tenure as CEO of AOD and of how he helped residents.
“Those last six years were great … getting the infrastructure in place, opening the Oxford office in 2010 and the Jacksonville office this year, that has really positioned us for future growth,” Reynolds said. “We’ve almost doubled in size and doubled in assets and that lets us help folks and push forward and do things in the community and help.”
Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.