Before the early morning sun emerges, Theresa Mudd wakes up to her alarm clock at 4:30 a.m., heads to the gym for a workout, drops off her young kids at school and then heads to work at Washington Federal’s Grant and Craycroft branch.
Maybe it’s her eagerness to lend a hand or her friendly Midwestern accent, but people feel comfortable asking her for help and advice. Balancing a career, being a mom, devoting time to fitness and volunteering is a lifestyle that Mudd has always felt driven to do. But if someone would have asked her what she was going to do with her life when she started college, she definitely wouldn’t have told you she was going to be an award winning banker or an ambitious obstacle course racer.
“Life is kind of like an obstacle course,” she said. “You get to a point where you ask yourself, ‘Can I really keep doing this?’ Then once you get over it, you realize that you can.”
Mudd and her family moved to Marana from Merrillville, Indiana in June. She looked forward to more sunshine and warmth, and said she moved to Marana because she wanted a better education for her kids.
In her current job with Washington Federal in Tucson, Mudd is responsible for mortgage lending and team leadership. Banking is different now than it used to be 20 years ago; people don’t just walk in through the door. Instead, it’s becomes more about business and warm-hearted community relationships, Mudd said.
She said that being able to develop those partnerships within the community translates into the banking branch and its success.
“To be successful, you need to get out there, and people need to know who you are,” Mudd said. “Being able to show that you truly care, I think a lot of the time, will in the end help you be more successful.”
When she lived in Indiana, the Northwest Indiana Influential Women Awards named Mudd an “Up & Coming Woman in Finance.” The Times of Northwest Indiana also named her as a “Top 20 under 40” professional for her dedication to the community and her career.
Mudd’s road to success wasn’t always an easy one. She is the eldest of eight siblings, and growing up she always felt that she had to be a leader. At the age of 15, she worked in a local hot dog stand, and at 16 she began working at Best Buy while being a cheerleader. Then in 2004, Mudd began her Bachelor’s Degree at Purdue University in business management, and then dove into her career field.
Mudd not only wanted to be a prosperous career woman, but also treasured giving back to the community she served and enjoyed setting an excellent example for her children.
As a mother of two, an eight-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son, Theresa hopes to be the best role model for her kids and wants them to experience giving back to a community by making volunteering a family affair.
“I think it’s important for my kids to know that there is more than just what happens in the four walls of school or home,” she said.
In Indiana, after Mudd’s daughter, Chloe, was finished with pre-school for the day, Mudd brought her little one with her to do community outreach through the Merrillville Rotary Club. Although the child was too young to understand volunteer work, at a young age she nonetheless grew up seeing her mother involved with her community.
Mudd was also a President for Friends of Hospice in Munster, Indiana, where she found a calling helping individuals through end-of-life care.
Jen Vargo Okamura, the Director of Development with Hospice of Calumet Area, worked alongside Mudd for five years. Okamura said Mudd led campaigns for hospice care and recruited family, friends and banking colleagues to help with initiatives.
Okumura said Mudd raised over $15,000 in a campaign to purchase eight new hospice beds. Mudd raised more than the fundraiser goal, and the hospice house was able to use the leftover funds to perform other improvements.
“Theresa and I became great friends, and I felt even more enriched by meeting her,” Okumura said. “She is just somebody you can definitely go to if you needed help.”
Mudd found more motivation through an active life in fitness. In 2017, she participated in an obstacle course race called Spartan Super Indiana Sprint, where she ran eight to 10 miles and encountered about 25 obstacles, including wall climbing, crawling under barbed wire, monkey bars, rope climbing and even jumping over fire. She said it was one of her biggest accomplishments and hopes to do an obstacle course in Tucson soon.
“It takes you to that next level physically and mentally because there are things that those races require you to do that a lot of people, including myself, would never have thought was possible,” Mudd said.
It’s the challenge, the rush of energy and the joy of doing something she didn’t think possible that propels Mudd to achieve not only her fitness goals, but her career and volunteer endeavors.
“It’s kind of fun living on the edge a little bit, and it’s important to use mistakes as learning opportunities,” Mudd said. “We all make mistakes; I’ve done it. But you want to look back at those challenges and think of ways that it can make you better.”
Savanah Modesitt is a University of Arizona journalism student and a Tucson Local Media intern.