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SLFCU’s Modest Beginnings


Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union was chartered in October 1948 by 15 employees of Sandia National Laboratories (known as Sandia Laboratory at the time). These employees saw a need for convenient financial services near their work location on Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque. But beyond the charter, how did the Credit Union begin serving members?

As a member-owned and -operated cooperative, charter members and the directors they elected were initially very involved in the day-to-day operations of the Credit Union – approving new members and individual loans. However, they needed someone to manage the daily money transactions, too. Sally Sanchez, a Sandia Laboratory Personnel Staffing Specialist, was working through lunch one day when her supervisor set a cash drawer on her desk. Sally's immediate response was, "You're finally giving me a bonus?" Her supervisor answered, "No – you're going to start our new credit union." Following this interaction, Sally conducted Credit Union business from her desk during lunch hours for several years. "It began very slowly," she said. Eventually, they hired full-time employees who were separate from the Laboratory staff.

As daily transactions increased, the Credit Union moved next door to wooden barracks on Kirtland Air Force Base (formerly Sandia Base). Though convenient for members, the facility was drafty and in need of repair. In 1969, architect Art Dekker presented plans for renovating the existing barracks and adding enough square footage to double the workspace. Construction began with a groundbreaking ceremony in October 1969 and completed in March 1970, followed by a grand reopening ceremony on May 2.

SLFCU's assets had doubled to nearly $20 million by 1974, requiring a second addition to the facility with an external walk-up window to enhance member service. A 2012 interior remodel updated the décor, but the original barracks’ pillars are still integral to the structure.

SLFCU has now served the base and surrounding community for 71 years. We will mark the 1970 remodeling grand reopening with a small celebration when conditions allow. Thank you for your trust in SLFCU for more than seven decades. 

Johnson, L. (1997). Sandia National Laboratories: A History of Exceptional Service in the National Interest, p. 189. (

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