Credit worthy

Wright State alum Joel Huxley turns painting degree into banking career

Joel Huxley

Wright State 1998 graduate Joel Huxley uses his B.F.A. in painting to help him see the big picture as an executive at the Wright-Patt Credit Union.

Numerous items in the credit-union business, including operational leadership to collaborating on executive decisions, end up on his desk — from strategic moves on checking accounts and debit cards to mobile banking and wearable apps on watches.

Joel Huxley, director of retail support for the Wright-Patt Credit Union, sees the big “picture.”

And his education at Wright State University has a lot to do with it. Huxley got his bachelor of fine arts degree in painting — not the typical education track for a high-flying banking executive.

“My co-workers have a lot of respect for my painting degree,” he said. “They say that because Joel’s an artist, he has a perspective — a way of seeing things — that we don’t. He’s got a critical eye he was trained on.”

Huxley grew up in Fairborn and was drawn to drawing at an early age. He took some art classes in high school and after graduation in 1992 enrolled at Wright State, where his mother, Elaine Davis, worked. She is currently a grants accountant in Research and Sponsored Programs at the university.

At Wright State, Huxley became interested in painting and printmaking and won a couple scholarships.

He remembers declining invitations from his friends to party in the wee hours of the weekends just so he could spend time in the studio at the university’s Fine Arts Building.

“All I could think about was getting back to the studio to continue working on what I was working on. I was really driven by that,” he said. “I’d take my music with me and hang out until all hours of the morning, paint and draw.”

During college, Huxley had worked at a pizzeria, but didn’t want to do that after graduating in 1998. So he took a job as a teller at Wright-Patt Credit Union.

“It was respectable. It had good hours compared to waiting tables. And I didn’t smell like food,” he said. “I really thought I was just going to work at the credit union until I figured out what I wanted to do.”

But the job turned into a career.

Huxley was quickly promoted to doing loans and accounts and later did project work. He then became manager of district branches. In 2008, he got his master’s degree in business administration from Indiana Wesleyan University.

“I’ve been all over the credit union. I’ve worked in all of the capacities,” he said. “I ran our mortgage department for three years.”

Huxley said his Wright State training in painting has taught him to accept criticism without taking it personal and then use that criticism to improve a product, service or process. Other people can find that difficult to do, giving him a special strength in the workplace.

“There are a lot of fundamentals and life skills that come with painting,” he said. “When you are collaborating on a project or you are working toward something, those skills — detachment for betterment — you just don’t get that in training unless you’re in a field that pushes you that way.”

Huxley enjoys the problem-solving aspect of his job.

“The more complex, the better,” he said. “If others can’t figure it out, it’s more attractive to try to solve it.”

Among the 7,000 credit unions in the United States, Wright-Patt is in the top 50 in size and the largest in Ohio. It has 30 locations, about 600 employees, 300,000 members and $3 billion in assets.

This year, Joel and his partner, Ryan King, established a scholarship in the College of Liberal Arts and named it the Elaine Davis Scholarship Fund after Huxley’s mother.

Huxley said the talent of the faculty at Wright State, the easy-to-use campus and its recent explosive growth all impress.

“I had a great experience at Wright State and realized that sometimes you just don’t appreciate what you have until you actually get in there and experience it,” Huxley said. “Wright State actually means a lot to me. There is so much going on.”

Wright State is engaged in a $150 million fundraising campaign that promises to further elevate the school’s prominence by expanding scholarships, attracting more top-flight faculty and supporting construction of state-of-the-art facilities. Led by Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks and Amanda Wright Lane, great grandniece of university namesakes Wilbur and Orville Wright, the campaign has raised more than $112 million so far.

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