So, you have a passion for helping others? Maybe you feel like you could do more and want to meet others that share that passion? Well, welcome to the credit union movement and The Cooperative Trust!
Now, what would you do if you were selected to attend a virtual conference that will focus on having the tough but needed conversation about racial injustice and features many credit unions that have taken a stance against racism? You don’t think twice and reply to the email with a YES as fast as you can, right?
I am a first-generation Mexican American that was raised in Idaho. My parents are from Mexico and have always shown me the importance of having great work ethic but also having compassion and empathy towards others and helping those in need. Simply put, a lot of who I am comes from them.
I have seen firsthand racial injustice and have always wanted to do something about it, but never knew what I could do or how. I contemplated becoming an immigration lawyer but quickly discovered that I wouldn’t be able to handle seeing the pain families had to endure. Pain that I myself had to endure for 6 years of my own life. So, what is one to do if they feel that their calling is to help others and make a difference? You seek out other opportunities that align with your wants and needs and then take every opportunity that is thrown your way. The AACUC Commitment to Change virtual conference did just that for me.
This was not my first Crash experience (#2020GACCrasherFam) but it was my first virtual Crash. Of course, with it being virtual there is some uncertainty. There is no longer the face-to-face interaction with others or speed walking from session to session trying to stop for coffee in between. Instead, I was at home logged into Zoom, meeting people virtually, somewhat well rested and with coffee ready to go. Even with these changes the conference was just as impactful and just as amazing.
The Commitment to Change series inspired me to act and be a part of the conversation. I learned so much about the struggle’s others have faced and I learned so much about myself. I found a safe space to express my concerns, my thoughts and ideas, and found people that are just as passionate about helping others as I am. In every session there was knowledge, pain, inspiration and vulnerability shared. Some sessions focused on personal and professional growth. Other sessions were on learning how to network during COVID, how to cope with stress, how to have these discussions at our own credit unions and how to go about making those necessary changes in our communities.
With every session I felt more inspired and had more hope for the future. I felt like if anyone was going to help make change happen it was us, all of us. It is truly amazing to feel reenergized and inspired by those around you. To feel their hope, their energy, their enthusiasm even though you are not sharing the same physical space. It’s a beautiful feeling that I truly hope everyone experiences.
After the conference ended my work had just begun. I had all this energy and all these ideas that I learned during the conference that I was ready to share it with everyone. I didn’t do it though. After the conference ended, one of my mentors gave me some of the best advice. Advice that I want to share with you.
- Slow is best. Share new knowledge slowly and gradually.
- Plant the seed but make it relevant. Make sure that the information you share is relevant and appropriate to the situation.
- Celebrate all victories. Big or small, any step in the direction of change is a good step. Baby steps are still steps at the end of the day and deserve to be celebrated.
- Change takes time.
I have continued to follow the advice that my mentor gave me and take all the opportunities I can to continue learning and growing. Just recently I had the amazing opportunity of moderating a Commitment to Change discussion that was in collaboration with the AACUC and NLCUP. I continue to share my ideas with leadership, one baby step at a time. I stay in touch with those I met in person (#GACCrasherFam) and virtually (#CTCCrasherFam) to continue to encourage hope and inspiration.
What’s my advice to you? Take the leap and sign up for a conference! You may not experience the running around from session to session because of our current situation, but you will still gain so much knowledge and inspiration. You will meet others that share the passions you have. You will be a part of a new family that supports you, encourages you and inspires you every day. So just do it, sign up.
Without rising talent like Esperanza, we don’t exist
Allison "Allie" Warner
Missouri Valley FCU
Allie is an exceptional leader that is compassionate, level-headed, and logical while approaching and experiencing crisis situations. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Allie several moments over the last two years, since graduating CUDE together in April 2018 (BEST CLASS EVER!). She is the Vice President at MOVFCU and works tirelessly and selflessly to ensure the most positive experience internally and externally. Allie puts everyone's needs before her own and displays positivity in every circumstance. She is an up-and-coming industry leader, innovator, collaborator, educator, and mentor. I am blessed to call her a friend, ally, sister, and a personal SHEro!
JSC Federal Credit Union
Kathleen joined our organization on March 2, 2020 as the new Vice President, Retail Experience. The coronavirus had already begun to cause some activity, including the start of some updates to our Pandemic Response policy. She and the team stayed current on what was happening in our country, state, and the city of Houston and deftly identified the activities needed to ensure that we could continue to serve our members' needs and keep our team members safe. From messaging to members and team members, to spearheading major technology implementations in less than 2 weeks, this team made a crucial difference to the entire organization. Kathleen was a calm and caring leader through all of this. We are incredibly lucky to have her on our team.
Christian is dedicated to not only to the CU Industry, but also to her teams in her branches. Through these interesting times, she is making sure her team feels appreciated. She has worked with her two branches to implement flexible scheduling, bought lunch from local small businesses, incorporated jeans/theme days and ensures they have factual information about what is going on around them in their morning huddles. On top of all of that, she hops in to the trenches with them and works along side of them and makes sure to always say Thank You to her staff!
West Community Credit Union
Most of us are working from home now a days and for some, this kind of change is a lot to handle. But with Bianca as our manager, she keeps us 'sane'. She helps us stay calm and have a better understanding of whats going on. She guides us on how to keep up with all the change and by trying to keep everything as normal as possible. We're very blessed to have her as one of leaders in our credit union!
Landings Credit Union
I would like to give a shout out to Jake Hutchins. Jake manages our largest branch at Landings. He calmly handled the transition to limiting traffic to our drive thru only, and he has supported his staff and each their unique situations. He has made sure his branch is adequately staffed and then coordinated with other departments to have his staff help out answering phones or any other task that we need from them. He has shown exceptional leadership skills during this difficult time and continues to inspire his staff while serving our members.
Members Exchange Credit Union
Angela is our amazing marketing person and not only has she been incredible with making our membership aware of any changes going on with the CU, she and upper management have went above and beyond to boost moral and spirits with treats, pizza, and lots of smiles for the employees. She exudes positivity even during the most stressful of times.
Ardent Credit Union
Ngoc is our business process coordinator, but she does so much more in regards to assembling info for our board meetings and updating processes and procedures. However, lately due to the pandemic, she has shifted her role to making face masks for employees. It goes to show that you can still provide value and life to another person when it seems the world has come to a stop. She's a positive thinker and is always looking to help.
InRoads Community Credit Union
Jason Moos is the Business Development Officer at InRoads Credit Union in Oregon. His passion for his members and for our community is inspiring. Jason's commitment to local businesses and other civic organizations truly positions the cooperative movement in silver light throughout the region. I'm proud to spotlight him - he deserves to be recognized!
Mid-Hudson Valley FCU
Chris Gomez is the SVP - Chief Retail Officer at Mid-Hudson Valley FCU, and has helped lead the credit union's efforts in continually serving our membership while ensuring our employees, members and community remain safe during this pandemic. With our HQ only 90 minutes from NYC, Chris has worked with our leadership team day in and day out, leading his teams with decisiveness, thoughtfulness and compassion.
He created a comprehensive plan to cross train retail staff to support contact center and personal teller operations because he knew that's where the largest share of member impact would occur. He made the difficult decision to close lobby traffic and implemented a digital request for emergency in branch visits on a case by case basis. He also worked with his teams to develop new ways to serve members digitally, helping to reduce exposure for both members and employees. And he spearheaded efforts from MHV's Community Relations team to contribute $30,000 to local Hudson Valley food banks, who are helping individuals and families in need during this crisis.
Thinkwise Federal Credit Union
Jocelyn deserves so many kudos for her positive attitude and her ability to roll with the punches. Due to the current pandemic we have had several policy changes and implementations. Even with the constant change from day to day, Jocelyn always comes in with an amazing attitude and ready to conquer the day. Even though she is new to our credit union family, she truly cares about our members and our devotion to service. She is always proactive and looking for ways to contribute to her team. We are truly lucky to have this amazing young woman as part of our organization.
Vantage West Credit Union
As Marketing Coordinator, Bri is always involved in a wide variety of projects and initiatives across the Credit Union. Despite the busyness of managing multiple projects and serving as a liaison between departments and branches, she always makes time for human connections. She loves to create fun and festive environments that help people feel special. Foe example, in lieu of being able to decorate coworkers' desks for their birthdays, she is collecting sentiments for birthday e-cards and creating plans for the team to celebrate coworkers' birthdays on conference calls. She texts and calls colleagues and friends who are quarantined alone. And she finds ways to do these extra things without sacrificing any productivity. A superstar in a crisis and in "normal life," Bri is a gift!
Valley Credit Union
As the marketing officer at Valley, Matt's main goal is to keep Valley connected to the members in a meaningful way. In light of the current crisis we are experiencing he has done an amazing job keeping the community well informed and their spirits lifted. He is a strong leader, who sees through any project he sets his sights on. Matt truly cares about every member and is an asset to valley. We are lucky to have him.
Providence Federal Credit Union
Mark is a shining example of a leader. He shows up every single day, and does everything he can to ensure his team has what they need, and that they know he is there to support them. He always has a positive outlook, is encouraging, and truly cares about his team and his members. He's an exceptional person in this movement, and deserves to be celebrated for his hard work and dedication.