David Romney comes to us from Salt Lake City, Utah, halfway across the country. While it may seem like he is a long way from home in Arlington, he has in the past been much, much further.
Romney has traveled and worked in Asia, Africa, South America and Europe. He was a small business consultant in Peru, South Africa and India and he served a mission for the Mormon Church in Spain.
Currently, Romney is working for Arlington Virginia Federal Credit Union as a financial educator. His job is to go out into the community and teach people about finances and money issues.
In an interview with the Arlington Connection, Romney talked about what exactly a credit union is, why he really wants to go to Tibet and his first impressions of Arlington County.
Arlington Connection: Do you live in Arlington?
David Romney: I live in Great Falls but I spend all my time working with the Arlington community. I’ve worked here for three months.
AC: How old are you?
DR: I am 24. I graduated from college just last May. I went to the University of Utah — a little ways away. I am a Ute. I graduated from high school in 2000 in Salt Lake City.
AC: Do you have any siblings?
DR: I have two sisters and two brothers. They’re all in Salt Lake City. All [of] my wife’s family is from here.
AC: What does a credit union do? How is it different from a bank?
DR: The first thing is that it’s a 501(c)3 but that’s just a tax spiel. It’s a non-profit organization so any profits that are made from banking activities are [put] back into dropping interest rates and working with customers. [N]ational bank[s] wouldn’t be able to do [this] because they’re just profit, profit, profit and we can be a little more altruistic. We also don’t pay the same kinds of taxes.
AC: How did you get involved with this?
DR: I’ve always been involved in financial education. I worked in Lima, Peru as a small business consultant for very small businesses like shoemakers and clothes makers and carpenters. In addition to that I worked in New Delhi, India on micro-financing which is small business loans.
AC: Oh you mean like the guy who won the Nobel Peace Prize recently?
DR: Yeah his name is Mohammed Yunis. So I was working with that in South Africa with small businesses development in Capetown. Through all those things, it led me to this job which is very unique. Very, very few banks — I would venture to say not even 1 percent of all banks has a financial education community relations position where someone actually goes out into the community and teaches financial education. So I saw this and I was like, "Whoa, this is a fit that is unparalleled."
AC: What do you like best about your job?
DR: Every day I have seminars at high schools and elementary schools, parent/teacher classes. I’m always going all over the place and meeting new people and finding out how rich Arlington is.
AC: So you learned Spanish when you were in Peru?
DR: I actually served on my Mormon mission in Barcelona, Spain. That’s where I learned Spanish and met my wife.
AC: Is she Spanish?
DR: No she is from this area and she was serving a mission as well.
AC: Is that why you moved out here?
DR: Yeah. We got married so she could go to nursing school and I could go to work here.
AC: What do you really like about Arlington?
DR: First and foremost I love the Latin population and the diversity that’s here. And then after that, I think it’s a very lively, forward-thinking community with tons of community organizations. I’m overwhelmed with how much involvement there is from the schools, with the parents trying to get involved as much as they do. I work with a couple of substance abuse programs that work a lot with the community. I work with some of the hospitals and free clinics, English classes. There’s just an extremely high amount of community involvement.
AC: What’s your favorite place to go in Arlington?
DR: In general my favorite places to go are the community centers — Arlington Mill, Buckingham, or Harvey Hall. That’s where you have a rich diversity of people all excited about learning and doing things.
AC: What would be one thing you’d like to change about Arlington?
DR: Um… I don’t know. Do you know anything about the public transportation system in Arlington? Is it any good? I guess I would say the representation in public office or in community councils or boards of different cultures or ethnicities. I would like to see more ethnic representation.
AC: If you could take a road trip anywhere where would it be?
DR: Tibet. I don’t know if I can count that as a road trip. I guess it’s just a trip. I would go to Tibet because I didn’t make it there when I went to India. It’s so secluded. You have these little mountain villages and they have so little contact and they place so little priority with what’s going on in mainland China. It’s all very untouched.
AC: What’s your favorite book that you have read?
DR: The last book that I read was Freakonomics [by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner]. That was good. But a more life-changing book was The Alchemist [by Paulo Coelho]. It’s a love story about a shepherd in Spain and he just goes around and he meets people and he realizes that he’s deeply in love with this one lady.
AC: What team are you supporting in the NCAA tournament?
DR: I’m supporting BYU. I think they’re like a 17th seed or something.