Jane & Vince Roig
Vince Roig grew up on New York’s Lower East Side with a mother full of aspirations. “She wanted me to get an education,” he said. Vince earned his degree in secondary education and, when a student aid position became available, he grabbed it.
In 1972, Brooklyn College had 35,000 students — all commuters. “It didn’t take long to figure out you were affecting individuals’ lives,” he said.
Jane LaRocca Roig planned to study nursing but had to drop out of school. “I was looking for an employer that would pay for my education or help me earn enough to pursue that,” she said. She started in the student loan department of a bank, earned a business degree from the University of Kentucky and worked for over 20 years at a state agency designed to improve students’ access to higher education.
During that time, she periodically worked with Vince, serving on committees and meeting at national conferences. Eventually, Vince recruited Jane to work at Southwest Student Services Corporation, where he was CEO.
“And then, as happens when somebody is working with you day to day, you begin to understand the different skills this individual has. She quickly became one of my closest advisers,” Vince said.
Eventually, the pair realized they were in love. Vince spoke to the human resources committee as well as the board. Safeguards were put in place. “And off we went. I’ve been very fortunate to be married 19 years,” Vince said.
Today, as chairs of Helios Education Foundation, which was funded through the sale of Southwest, their commitment to creating opportunities for students is stronger because of their pairing. “We often run scenarios by each other to make sure we’re thinking about it the right way, or have thought about the things we should be thinking about, and get some confirmation we’re headed down the right path,” Jane said.
Vince founded Helios to support postsecondary attainment for low-income and under-represented communities in Arizona and Florida. He proudly cites stories of students who have started nonprofits and done groundbreaking medical research. “You pinch yourself occasionally and go, wow, we are having an impact,” he said.
The couple has also served on numerous boards, demonstrating their commitment to the community.
When they’re not changing the trajectories of lives and communities, the Roigs enjoy traveling. Antarctica, Paris and Bora Bora are favorite destinations.
“One of the joys of traveling is that it opens your eyes,” Vince said. “We meet a lot of local people and, not to be too philosophical, at the end of the day they want the same thing you do. They want to make a little bit of money, improve life for their families, and make sure their children get an education.”
Speaking of families, the Roigs boast eight grandchildren in their blended family. They have a daughter in Seattle, a son in Tempe and a son in New York City. Avid sports fans, Vince and Jane have season tickets to the Suns, Diamondbacks and ASU football. But beyond that, their lives revolve around the same quest to increase educational access they’ve worked on their entire careers.
“We’re passionate in our belief that every child deserves access to a quality education,” Jane said.