With a bright smile almost always on her face, Jana Boyle puts you instantly at ease. Inside the Redwood Credit Union, where she has worked since 1995 — as manager since 2009 — she navigates the customers, nodding and smiling at everyone who crosses her path. Outside the building, near the mall parking lot, she is no different. When a clumsy photographer tries to capture her sunny image for this article and topples straight into a thorny rose bush, Boyle leaps to her feet.
“That’s totally something I would have done!” she exclaims. “They used to call me ‘Hazard.’”
The “they” she refers to are her old schoolmates from Casa Grande High’s class of 1994, where she was a cheerleader, softball player (shortstop) and volleyball player. Back in those days, she worked at the movie theater that has since become Kohl’s, and partied out on old Lakeville.
Boyle grew up on the east side, and remembers a view of the airport from her bedroom and the fields of mustard weeds out back that she roamed with friends. The airport view is long gone, as are the mustard fields that have since blossomed into housing developments. When she was a kid, her father served as the city’s police lieutenant, and later as assistant city manager, so dinner conversations about the city’s inner workings were part of her young life.
“I love Petaluma,” a seemingly always upbeat Boyle said. “It’s close to Tahoe. You have the ocean, you have the mountains, the vineyards. It’s got a small-town feeling but it’s still a big town.”
After graduating from Casa Grande and then Sonoma State — where she studied business — she had an opportunity to work for a credit union in San Diego and took it. She gave it her best effort for about a year, but missed her family, her friends and her hometown. When a job came up at Redwood Credit Union, she jumped at it.
Her parents, now retired, still live in her childhood home.
“Being a single mom,” she says, “I wouldn’t be able to do it without my parents.”
Boyle says she finds tremendous satisfaction and joy watching her two daughters, Sienna and Taylor, experience the same simple pleasures she did growing up in Petaluma — spending time at Helen Putnam Park, going to same library and even the same Baskin Robbins as she did as a child.
Both girls play softball, like their mom. And they both love Petaluma’s small-town traditions — like the Butter and Eggs parade. Boyle has been a driving force behind the credit union’s sponsorship of the event — organizing RCU’s entry for 20 years.
“It’s a great family event celebrating the history of Petaluma,” Boyle says. “It’s something not a lot of towns have anymore. It’s the agricultural history of Petaluma that is interesting.”
Boyle must truly like the annual event, because she can claim the unique distinction of having been to Butter and Eggs over 25 times. As a kid, she went with her Girl Scout troop, in high school, with her softball team. These days, she dresses her daughters up as cows and takes them with her colleagues from work.
In other words, Jana Boyle can’t think of a better place to live.
“It’s amazing how many people still live here,” she says. “Working here is like a high school reunion. I’m always running into people I grew up with, whether it’s through the kids’ activities or work.”