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Local credit union unveils leadership change

Bakersfield-based Safe 1 Credit Union is going through its first executive leadership transition in more than three decades with the departure of President and CEO Doug Kileen.

Safe 1 on Monday announced the retirement of Kileen, who it said led the institution through steep challenges and substantial growth. He is being succeeded by an industry veteran who has worked at Safe 1 for 11 years.

“Doug Kileen’s leadership to our organization has been invaluable,” Chairwoman Tracy Chitwood said in a news release.

“Not only did Doug lead us from very modest origins to where we are now but, more importantly, has prepared the Credit Union for future success," she continued. "We are very grateful for all we accomplished under his leadership.”

Kileen served as Safe 1's chief executive for more than 34 years. During that time its assets grew from $21 million to nearly $800 million. It now has nine locations and more than 73,000 customers.

The credit union noted Kileen guided Safe 1 through the Great Recession, during which time it never posted a quarterly loss. It said his steady leadership again proved important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kileen said in the release he was honored to serve the institution for so long.

“The board, leadership and entire team have made my life’s passion a very rewarding experience," he stated. "I leave the credit union with fond memories and look forward to watching the organization continue to prosper.”

His successor, David King, has worked in the industry for 25 years. Most recently he served Safe 1's executive vice president of lending.

King said in the release he is grateful for the opportunity and that Kileen has set a high standard.

"(Kileen) truly represents the class of our organization, and has served as a great mentor to me as well as others in the organization and industry,” King added.