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Talk Local: John Roach

Roach is a Collin County judge for the 296th District Court
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Photo: John Roach

Being a member of growing communities in North Texas has its challenges. But being a local leader, trying to manage balance in your life, is even harder. Local Profile reached out to nine leaders in the Collin County community that have learned through trial and failure how they create balance in their daily lives, and just maybe, you can learn from their advice and experiences to find balance in yours. 

Judge John Roach is a long-time public servant who has worked in the busiest court in Collin County, the 296th District Court, for 10 years. While at the court, he has presided over 20,000 cases. Judge Roach also prides himself in presiding over the North Texas Veterans Court.

What does community mean to you? 
I moved to Collin County when I was 2 years old back in 1972. At the time, Plano was a small town. To be honest, when I was in high school I often said that I would never live in Plano as an adult, but once I had to find a place to grow my family and raise my kids and find a place to start a career my perspective of Collin County changed. Collin County is home. It is where I grew up. It is where I got married, It is where all my kids were born. It is where Laura's and my careers have flourished. I owe a considerable amount of my happiness and success to the amazing community that allows me to provide a safe and vibrant community to raise my family and succeed in so many ways. This community is home.

How do you find balance in your daily life?
With the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it is difficult to find the right balance between work and home. My wife, Laura, and I put purposeful effort into working hard but also playing hard. We enjoy our careers but as someone once said, "All the successes in life mean little when there is a failure at home." We take this to heart and do our best to have frequent date nights, family nights and travel as a family. We also surround ourselves with some amazing friends who we can just be ourselves with. Those types of friends are equally invaluable.  

Do you struggle with productivity? If so, how? 
I think I struggle with having enough time in a day to get everything done more than a struggle with productivity. Over the years, we have made a concerted effort to set boundaries on what we agree to do with our time. We love giving back to our community and others so much we hate to say no to things we are invited to. However, we have been much better at setting limitations on our time so we can focus on each other as a couple and as a family. I wish I would of had these skills a little earlier in life.  

What everyday thing do you excel at? 
Work. I have been at my job for 16 years. Over those years I have developed efficiencies and processes that expedite the court process. Having my court run efficiently helps me free up time in court to really dig deep into the legal issues that I have to decide every day. I am at a place where I work smarter and not harder which is good for me, my staff and those who appear before me in court. 

How do you decompress or relax?  
I spend a lot of time with family and friends to decompress. I love to exercise, play tennis, hike, watch movies, play board games and sit outside by a fire. In fact, my wife and I just returned from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania last month. While extraordinarily difficult, it was a great way to decompress from the challenges of everyday life and reconnect with my wife.

When was a time you had to step out of your comfort zone?
I have three adult kids who have completely different interests and some of those interests are completely contrary to mine. But in an effort to connect with each of them, I find myself doing things that require me to step out of my comfort zone. For example, I don't like roller coasters very much but to be a "cool" dad wanting to hang out with my boys I find myself riding roller coasters, playing virtual reality games, listening to some not-very-good music and watching some terrible movies. However, I feel doing stuff that is uncomfortable allows you to grow and if you are doing those things with your kids it allows you to connect on a deeper level. 

How do you hope to improve your community? 
I hope I have already improved my community by being on the Plano City Council, volunteering on various community non-profit boards, being a Boy Scout leader, participating in school activities and other volunteer work, presiding over the North Texas Veterans Court, continuing to design and implement other veteran-specific programs, but there is always more to be done. I hope that I can continue to give back to our community in the things that I already do but be ready to adapt to changes in our community and my profession. 

When are you happiest?
I am happiest when I am traveling and learning about different people, cultures and languages. There is something about meeting other people, hearing their unique experiences, eating different foods and learning different customs and different languages. You cannot know the breadth of your experiences unless you are willing to understand the experiences of others! 

What do you think your community is in need of?
I think our community would benefit from more individual citizens volunteering. Giving back to your community, in any way, provides for a stronger community but also is individually fulfilling. If we had every resident in our community volunteer 5 hours a month the impact would be monumental.

What motivates you?
I think I am primarily motivated by success. Not the recognition that often goes with success but the success itself. As I mentioned above, I preside over the first regional veteran's court in the United States. Watching the veterans make huge changes in their lives to become more happy, productive and healthy is so motivating for me. To see the team I have assembled work so well in helping veterans is an amazing sight to see. Helping others achieve their own goals and dreams is a huge motivator.

How do you consider yourself a local leader?
I have been in some type of public service in Collin County for over 25 years. In that time I have done all I can to improve our community and the lives of the people that live throughout our community. Everywhere I go I try to encourage others to continue to give back and build upon the amazing foundation that has been provided by the leaders from the past. I will continue to serve where I believe I am most needed.  

What do you wish you were better at?
I wish I was better about helping around the house and having the skills to help my neighbors. I do not cook very well and I am not very handy about household repairs. YouTube has been very helpful in getting me started but I wish I could do more — and so does Laura!

What kind of goals do you set for yourself?
I really try to set yearly goals at home and at work. At home, I set fitness goals, goals to get some home improvement projects done (see answer above) and goals for our kids. At work I set efficiency goals, goals to implement certain projects or the number of community outreach events, etc. My biggest goals are to be the best husband, father, son, friend and community volunteer I can be. 

To find out more about how to be the best at work, at home and in the community visit Local Profile’s latest issue.