“I’m from Chicago,” said SNAP’s new Financial Stability Director, Renee LaRocca, “So I’m very direct.”

LaRocca’s sincerity and straightforward approach to business aren’t the only talents she brings from the Windy City.  She comes to SNAP with a proven track record in making businesses across multiple markets and industries financially successful. In her new role at SNAP Financial Access (SFA), LaRocca adds a new sector to her broad experience: Nonprofits.

“Working for SNAP is different than working in for-profit organizations because my customers are now actually people in need,” says the Chicago Bears and White Sox fan. “It’s going to be great to directly impact the lives of low- and middle-income people by helping them achieve their dreams to help them finance their home or build a micro or small business.”

SNAP opened applications for the Director of Financial Stability position last August when former director Chris Pasterz relocated to Arizona with his family. Following an extensive search for his replacement, SNAP’s Executive Team members felt LaRocca’s energy, experience, and vision were an ideal fit for the role.

“Renee brings to her new position a breadth of understanding of both small business operations, as well as a for-profit engineering perspective,” said SNAP CEO Julie Honekamp. “All of this is balanced with a commitment to our community and those in need.”

The SNAP Financial Stability core team, which LaRocca leads, provides financing and consulting services to entrepreneurs, small business owners and families. Through loans and consulting, the financial stability team contributes to building new and strengthening existing businesses, and creating additional employment and new homeownership. The network of programs is designed to lift people of all types and backgrounds to a more secure position through education, resources, and encouragement. This mission aligns with LaRocca’s vision.

“I’m excited to be a part of SNAP and leading this program to take it to the next level,” said LaRocca. “I want to be part of the team that contributes to our clients not just survive but thrive, that will result in ultimately, revitalizing the community.”  

LaRocca only began her time with SNAP at the end of January, but her journey to this point is braided with over three decades of experience that makes the agency confident in her ability to lead- and hit the ground running.

After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Illinois, Chicago, LaRocca found work as Director of Marketing for Dremel Power Tools, a subsidiary of Emerson Electric Company in Chicago, where she led an effort to develop a launch the first cordless rotary tool MiniMite using new (at that time) battery technologies.

While working as a Managing Partner at Foresight Project Management, LaRocca earned her MBA from Eastern Washington University. Over the following 20 years, LaRocca worked for four other companies, serving in critical capacities while also managing to receive a Master’s in Engineering Management from Washington State University, which she earned in one year.

Most recently before arriving at SNAP, LaRocca went full-circle with a return to Foresight Product Management as a consultant and acting CEO of a medical practice where she turned the operations around by reducing costs and streamlining workflow through automated processes, including telehealth.

LaRocca may be new to nonprofits, but she has gained extensive tools from the for-profit sector.

“I’ve learned how to grow programs and products globally. I learned how to improve processes and operations and use automation to complement product growth,” said LaRocca. “I’m eager to work for SFA to develop a program that was established 15 years ago and has been extremely successful.”

There is no reason to doubt LaRocca’s lofty ambitions. She has landed high-level contracts at Itron Inc., led the creation and implementation of a new global product management team at Pyrotek Inc., and led a team of engineers in the development of new wireless technology applications at Agilent Technologies. When she’s not gaining multiple advanced degrees, landing multi-million dollar contracts, or leading teams of engineers, LaRocca competes in triathlons, hikes, bikes, and volunteers as an Adjunct Professor at Gonzaga University and as a Master Gardener at Washington State University.

Amid all of this, LaRocca and her husband of 35 years have raised three children. Her youngest son studies Mechanical Engineering at University of Washington, her daughter lives and works in Berlin as an analyst, and her oldest son is joining the Peace Corps this fall.

In some ways, LaRocca seems to have the “Midas Touch.” Seemingly every endeavor she takes on is successful, and she has a record of leaving a place better than when she arrived. Her successful book club is emblematic of her pervasive accomplishments.

“I love to read- fiction and non-fiction,” said LaRocca. “Twenty years ago, I started a book club with people my age and progressive women from my mother’s generation. We are still in existence and have grown with women who now have small children.”

LaRocca’s proven track record of achievement in projects ranging from spearheading a multi-generational book club to leading efforts of multi-million-dollar corporations’ growth and profitability foretells a promising future for her work at SFA.

“I may be from Chicago, but my home and life is in the northwest,” says LaRocca. “I’m really excited to make a positive community impact.”