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Some Reflections…and Thanks!

With my retirement just weeks away, it’s time to reflect on my 16 ½ years of leading GEBA.  A friend asked me recently if it was a good 16 years.  You might imagine that that is a complicated question.  No 16 years is perfect.  But I am proud of what we, the GEBA management team, the staff, and the Board of Directors, have accomplished.

First, GEBA will have a new CEO soon and I can rest easy knowing that we have a great management team and staff which will make the transition go smoothly. 

Dennis McGinley, III has led the GEBA Accounting Department for 10 years.  He had great experience coming to GEBA and he makes sure that GEBA finances run smoothly.  

Christine Cooney leads our Marketing Department. She’s a newbie by GEBA standards, having been with us for only a year, but she has done an outstanding job adapting to this year of change. She has kept us moving forward, launching a new website and rolling out new branding.  Right alongside Chris is our multitalented Shelly (AKA Michele) Giuliano, our marketing and insurance product manager whom I have worked with closely over the years. But for a short break, Shelly has been with us since May of 2011. 

Missy Sommers manages Member Services and Operations and has been with GEBA for just over 16 years.  Missy makes sure bills go out on time and your payroll payment is posted correctly. Managing our Member Services team helps Missy keep in touch with members’ needs and challenges. 

Greg Klingler runs Wealth Management and has been with GEBA for 10 ½ years. We formally created GEBA Wealth Management in 2017.  Many of our longtime members know that we have offered our supplemental retirement plan, a 5-year GIC, since the early 1980’s, and that we have been helping members plan for their financial goals for many years. Greg and our Wealth Management team continue to serve members and help them plan for their financial future.  

Darren Petrovich manages our IT area has been with GEBA for 8 years. During his tenure we have made great progress in technology, and have much more to come to help serve members more efficiently.

I am so proud of the GEBA staff, including the Member Services representatives, Investment Advisors, and everyone in between.  The staff works for the members every day to get them what they need as quickly as possible. Special thanks to Kim Lowe, Executive Assistant to both me and the GEBA Board of Directors for the past two years.  Together, we have kept things running and made our way through this crazy 2020!  A special shout out to Venus Evans who is also retiring at the end of 2020.  Venus, one of our Member Services reps, joined us over 16 years ago and wanted to retire this past summer, but she agreed to stay with us through Open Enrollment.  I have valued her attention to detail, her focus on our members, and her friendship!

I have also had the pleasure of working with many wonderful, smart Board members. We have all learned much from one another.  During my tenure, GEBA has gone from serving only NSA employees,  then the entire Intelligence Community, and now to all federal employees.  It has been fascinating to learn about the different Agencies and Government Departments. 

Board members serve 3-year terms and can run a second time. I’ve worked with many Board members for 6 years; some of them took time off and ran again.  There are just too many to name here. With my pending retirement, the Board has stayed busy creating a search committee and attending to the many details involved in hiring a new CEO. 

Members, my primary focus, have been at the core of all the work that GEBA has done during my 16 ½ years. Engaging with members at GEBA events, at our financial seminars, and at benefit fairs, has given me the opportunity to get to know a number of you and to understand some of the challenges you have faced. Whether helping you with dental and vision insurance, life insurance or financial planning and retirement, I have seen our products and services enrich your financial future.

I have loved providing educational seminars to members and helping to provide a better understanding of topics like Social Security or Women and Finances.  I am confident that I have passed this educational effort along to our excellent team of Wealth Management financial advisors.  It is with great pride that I see how this education has taken off and been well received.  This year our educational in-person seminars turned into webinars and we continue to look for ways to add to our content.

Our long term members have seen our Guaranteed Investment Contract morph into the Stable Value Account and recently change again for an even better product.  We have also outsourced the record keeping of this product and members now have online access to their accounts.

Supporting our community and members through other ways has been a prime commitment for both me and the GEBA Board. The year has showed us that it’s important to give back and be ready to help. We donated to food banks in both DC and Maryland. Likewise, the GEBA Scholarship Foundation was created 15 years ago as a way to give back to members and to help with the high cost of education.  I am proud to have been a part of this program and I know our Board members feel the same way.  The GEBA Scholarship Foundation has given out a total of more than $950,000 to recipients in over 25 states and overseas.  Over the years we have added categories such as the Member Educational Award Program for working members who have gone back to school. This program also covers student loan debt. Every year we hold a lunch for the scholarship winners, and we are always amazed at the diversity and the caliber of the recipients. It has been wonderful to meet and talk with all of them and their families.  We’ve had many multiple year winners, and winners within the same family.

I have enjoyed working with our Agency contacts and learning more about the intelligence community and the federal government. Even though I’ve seen many changes over the years, the loyalty and dedication of our federal workforce and the military continues to inspire us all.

What’s Next?

GEBA is moving completely off campus to a new office in mid-January of 2021!  This new office will have things like faster internet, Wi-Fi for visiting members, a separate work/copy room, and a kitchen.  It will be a wonderful working environment, and the new office will make accessibility easy for retirees. The employees will welcome visitors once a vaccine is widely available.  

What’s next for me, you ask?  My professional goal is to be on a corporate or mutual fund board.  Prior to coming to GEBA I worked on mutual funds.  Please keep me in mind! But now after 26 years in Baltimore, my husband and I and our two cats will be moving to Arizona.  It has been a dream of ours. We appreciate that not everyone can make a dream happen, and we are excited.  Here is my new less-corporate picture from the deck of our house!  I have a small GEBA trinket for the first 10 people to identify the mountain in the background.  Hint:  it has an official name and a nick name!  

With warm wishes for the holidays and for a healthy 2021–

Michele Rackey


Michele Rackey

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