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Joan Reukauf MBA’15 Elected to Chair of the Oregon Bankers Association

by Linda Lenhoff,

Joan Reukauf MBA’15 loves helping others in her career as a banking executive. Maybe this is why she looks back fondly on being part of a closely knit cohort in Willamette’s Atkinson School of Management, where students focus on enhancing their communication, leadership, networking, and team skills. Reukauf, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of People's Bank of Commerce in Medford, was recently named the chair of the Oregon Bankers Association, where she further hopes to utilize her leadership skills and interest in bettering others’ lives.

Joan Reukauf MBA’15

When asked what is the best part of her job, Reukauf quickly replies: “Oh, gosh, people. I learned that a long time ago,” she said. “Being able to influence people’s careers and trying to get them where they want to go—once I became a leader, this became my passion.”

A contributing assistant professor teaching Integrative Management Project at Willamette since 2019, Reukauf enjoys educating. “I spend a lot of time coaching people and answering questions,” she said of her job.

Another one of Reukauf’s passions is problem solving. “To me, operations is like a big puzzle. If something's not working right or you need to get it to work better, those are all puzzles. They are all projects to take apart, put back together, and see if we can make the wheel turn faster and better,” she said.

“But anytime it involves helping others realize where they want to go in life—that’s the best piece,” Reukauf added.

The busy EVP, who also handles marketing duties for People’s Bank, utilizing her BAA in Business and Marketing from Boise State University in Idaho, is thrilled to have been elected the chair of the Oregon Bankers Association, the state’s only trade association dedicated to the banking industry and its customers. She becomes the first known person of color to lead the group in its 117-year history. “It’s a great honor, and I love that I get to represent as not only the first African American, but also one of the few women who have been at the helm of this association for the board. I’m very proud of that,” Reukauf noted.

When she thinks back on her Willamette experience, Reukauf values the closeness she felt with her fellow graduate students—and professors. “I’m still hanging out with those people: They’re just lifelong friends now and meant the difference in getting through the MBA program,” she said.

“It’s a great program, and the school works with you to make sure you’re going to make it.”

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