Rudy Hanley ’72 was only 14 when he and his family fled Soviet-occupied Hungary in 1957. But Hanley, now president and chief executive officer of the Orange County Teachers Federal Credit Union (OCTFCU), insists that his Hungarian heritage shaped the person he is today. “The way you are, the way you think, the way you act are all a result of the culture that formed you,” he says.

Hanley arrived in the United States by way of Austria with his parents and younger brother. After the family settled in East Los Angeles, the boys spent six months learning English in a “foreign adjustment” program with other immigrant children before being mainstreamed into public school.

Following high school, Hanley enlisted for a three-year hitch in the Army, then returned to Southern California and married. He worked for a supermarket chain while he and his wife contemplated their future.

Ultimately, Hanley made an important decision: to enroll at UCI. With the help of the GI Bill, he was able to support his family, which by then included two daughters. He continued working at the supermarket – on the midnight shift, stocking merchandise – while attending classes during the day.

His degree in mathematics led to a job teaching math and computer skills to junior high school students. Two years into Hanley’s teaching career, an attorney friend sold him on the merits of law school. He became a student again, juggling a challenging curriculum, a family and a full-time job. Three years later, he earned his law degree from Western State University College of Law.

Hanley had planned to become a corporate tax attorney, but fate intervened. The Credit Union National Association, based in Washington, D.C., had launched a campaign to retain tax-exempt status for credit unions. When CUNA offered Hanley a job, he moved to Washington and provided legal counsel to the project for six months.

His work with the national organization gave sharp focus to his career goals. “I decided the ‘people helping people’ philosophy on which credit unions are built was a perfect match for me,” he says.

Returning again to California, Hanley worked for the California Credit Union League, assisting credit unions with legal, technical and operational issues. In 1982, he assumed the helm of OCTFCU.

The organization Hanley leads is now 280,000 members strong and has more than $4 billion in assets. Founded in 1934, it is the largest educational credit union in the country and the seventh-largest credit union overall.

Hanley is proud of OCTFCU’s success and equally proud of the more than 20 UCI graduates the organization employs. He raves about the quality of his fellow alumni, saying, “We are grateful for the wonderful, well-educated students the university produces.”

Hanley also is passionate about expressing his gratitude to UCI. “We benefit greatly from the university’s efforts, and we feel strongly that all of us alumni should do everything we can to support the institution that made our success possible.”

He certainly is doing his part. A longtime member of UCI’s Chief Executive Roundtable and Chancellor’s Club, Hanley has encouraged the UCI graduates employed by OCTFCU to stay involved with the campus through the UCI Alumni  Association. Hanley is himself a UCIAA lifetime member and an active participant on committees benefiting class reunions, homecomings and career nights, among other activities.

The former math major has a special affinity for the School of Physical Sciences, where he is an ongoing sponsor and two-time keynote speaker at the school’s annual career night. Hanley was named the school’s Lauds & Laurels Distinguished Alumnus in 1999.

Hanley’s family is grown now – one daughter is a high school English teacher and the other a credit union vice president. He still juggles myriad activities, but now finds time to relax. He enjoys reading books about management and leadership – “preferably with a glass of cabernet and a good cigar.” He also likes to travel, having visited France, Austria, Yugoslavia, Ireland and an assortment of U.S. cities.

Hanley also has returned twice to Hungary, the country that left an indelible imprint on his character.

“In Hungarian, the word ‘you’ is always capitalized, and the word for ‘I’ is always spelled with a lowercase letter. This symbolizes the attitude we have toward the importance of others,” he says. “We were raised to be grateful for everything we have, and I still carry this attitude with me.”

Hanley has achieved success in his adopted country, but, true to form, he insists the credit goes to those around him. “I have been blessed in virtually every facet of life,” he says. “I had wonderful parents, a country that took me in, and work in an industry that truly has a heart.”