Board employee spotlight: Meet Robin Roach

January 22, 2020

Robin Roach receives highest employee honor for her work as a pension specialist.

At 40 years old, Robin Roach had a husband and two sons, a bit of outdated work experience in the insurance industry, a dozen years as a part-time secretary at a Presbyterian church, and a job as volunteer treasurer at her church. She liked being a church secretary but told the session, “I have to think about my future.”

But what should she do? “What I did in insurance had been computerized,” Robin said. “I was replaced by a machine.” Then, sorting the mail at her church employer, she came across a job opening at the Board of Pensions and was soon working there as a benefits specialist.

“I ended up feeling affirmed, that God had led me here,” said Robin, who joined the Board in June 1998. “I had worked in an industry that offers protection against loss,” she said. “And I had the unique perspective of a church secretary and then I had the experience of a church treasurer.”

Robin has dedicated more than two decades to serving Benefits Plan members and their families. She considers her work, administering death benefits and initiating survivors’ benefits, a calling. “I just feel like it’s a real opportunity to minister, or support,” she said.

Robin and her husband, Russ

On January 17, 2020, Robin’s colleagues publicly recognized her heartfelt commitment to supporting members and their families, honoring her with the Ernesto Badillo Award for Hospitality through Service. It is the Board’s highest employee honor, presented each year at the Annual Employee Recognition Luncheon.

“Robin believes that she’s called in a special way to comfort those who are handling the final affairs of a loved one they’ve lost,” said Kelly Riley, Senior Vice President, Plan Operations. “Her conversations are often emotional and give prayerful support to those who need not only help understanding the benefits payable, but also someone to listen at this difficult time.”

Robin tells those she assists, “I’m going to be walking alongside of you during this journey. … If you’re overwhelmed and you feel like you’re going to pieces, pick up the phone and call.”

“We’ve seen Robin talking with survivors and tears begin to stream, and Robin always says, ‘that is why I am here, to serve you,’” said Yvette Russell, Director, Customer Engagement in Plan Operations. “Her solid knowledge of the Benefits Plan, paired with her commitment to serve each day with expertise, demonstrates outstanding hospitality through service.”

Robin, a cradle Presbyterian, believes that she is at the Board through God’s providential care. As a young woman, she experienced the world of insurance. Then, as a young mother, she needed a part-time job to help with household expenses and her mother’s friend, a church secretary, was looking for her replacement so she could retire.

“I was very blessed,” Robin said. “My husband worked the third shift.” Russell Roach would arrive home in the morning, take charge of son James and later son Daniel, and Robin would go to the church for several hours’ work. Meanwhile, she also was the volunteer treasurer at the Presbyterian church her husband grew up in — a service she continued for nearly 30 years, long after the couple had joined a congregation closer to their home.

Looking back, Robin’s life has been one of service, but the Board of Pensions has enabled her to live fully into her call. “I always say that I’ve been around the block,” she said. “You just always felt that for the people here, it’s not just a business. It’s the Church and it’s family.”