Jim Holt is a lawyer, a soldier and the top executive of one of the city’s largest credit unions.
The 63-year-old psychology major joined the $225 million Mid American Credit Union as its CEO in 2005. In that time, Holt had engineered the acquisition of an Arkansas City-based credit union and overseen the development of the credit union’s first northeast Wichita office. He also was among a small group of executives who pushed for the development locally of a shared branching network, in which competing credit unions agreed to provide limited services to one another’s customers.
He started working for the Kansas Highway Credit Union while attending Washburn University in Topeka. From there he joined what is now Kansas Credit Union Association, a trade group, as a lobbyist.
Holt earned a law degree at the University of Kansas.
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And after 31 years, he retired in 2003 as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve.
His 41 years in the industry have included a stint as CEO of the Mountain West Credit Union Association in Denver, as well as 14 years as a consulting attorney to credit unions in Kansas and the Kansas Department of Credit Unions, the regulator of state-chartered credit unions.
Q. What was your first credit union job and how did you come by it?
A. A fraternity brother (at Washburn University) recommended it, and I started as a stock boy.
Q. What is a stock boy?
A. It was just doing whatever needed to be done. Technically I was a teller but I was kind of a teller in training rather than someone they relied on (to work as a teller). And somebody to go get the sandwiches for the committee meetings.
Q. Why did you get a law degree if you already had a pretty good career as a credit union lobbyist?
A. Anytime we wanted to make change in the law we had to get a lawyer involved. So we had an attorney on retainer. Anytime we wanted to do something, it was, “Check with the attorney.” So that was in some ways frustrating and in another way, a fact of life.
Q. Where did you get your sense of humor from and how would you describe it?
A. I grew up as one of five so we had modest income and lot of people to care for. Mom and Dad found creative ways to help us stay engaged with each other and our church and community. We often faced situations that either made you laugh or cry – laughing seemed better. I would say I am pretty easygoing.
Q. How are your KU Jayhawks going to do this year?
A. They look formidable and can probably beat any other team. But they are young and need seasoning, which means they may have a few games they should win, but lose from lack of experience. If they peak at the right time, they will be in the hunt for the Final Four.