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Unleashing Potential and Fostering Change: Tyjai M. Richardson's Journey with Filene

As the credit union landscape continues to evolve, young professionals like Tyjai M. Richardson are emerging as leaders who are reshaping the industry's future. With a fervent passion for serving members, a drive for innovation, and a commitment to inclusivity, Tyjai's journey exemplifies the transformative power of Filene's programs.

  • Hali Jama Marketing and Communications intern at Filene Research Institute

Tyjai's story begins with a serendipitous encounter in 2017 when he first heard about Filene's programs. Fresh into his credit union journey as a college student working as a teller at Chartway Credit Union, he stumbled upon an email highlighting his colleagues' participation in the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) Crash. Intrigued by their experiences, Tyjai's curiosity was piqued, and little did he know that this initial curiosity would set him on an enriching path.

Five years later, Tyjai received an email that would change the course of his career. He was selected to Crash the GAC in 2023, sparking his official journey with Filene's programs. Through events like GAC, and Filene’s Spark event later that spring, Tyjai discovered a newfound sense of purpose, breaking out of his shell and embracing challenges head-on.

Empowerment Through Connection: Tyjai's Transformation

"Participating in Filene's programs, particularly the Cooperative Trust’s Crash events, it was amazing to find like-minded peers who understand the journey I'm on and where I'm trying to go," Tyjai shares. One of the remarkable impacts of Tyjai's Filene journey has been his growth into a confident and inspired leader. While already an extrovert, he faced challenges with public speaking and self-acceptance. However, the experience provided through the Filene community gave him the tools and resources to overcome these hurdles. Tyjai found not only professional growth but also a renewed personal sense of purpose. As he shared his Crasher experience with his peers, his role shifted from a participant to an inspirational figure for those around him. This transformation allowed Tyjai to bridge the gap between his personal and professional aspirations, leading him to craft a unique role at Chartway Credit Union that empowered both his team and the members he served.

Translating Learning into Action: Impacting Credit Union Communities

Tyjai's experience isn't just about personal transformation—it's about driving change within his credit union and the larger credit union movement. Through Filene's programs, he's been able to make meaningful collaborations and connections, particularly with organizations like CU Pride. These partnerships have enriched his understanding of inclusivity and have allowed him to create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ members and allies.

His innovative thinking also shines through initiatives like the FICEP Certification Program, which equips members with essential financial counseling to empower them in their financial journeys. As he works towards becoming a certified Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE), Tyjai's commitment to ongoing learning and growth remains unwavering.

Inspiring the Next Generation: Tyjai's Advice for Young Professionals

Tyjai himself is a testament to the transformative power of Filene's programs and the credit union movement. Reflecting on his journey, he offers this advice to young professionals considering participation:

Don't hold back. Step out of your comfort zone, embrace the unknown, and trust in your ability to learn and grow.

He underscores the importance of thorough research and recommends seeking mentorship from seasoned leaders whom you admire. And perhaps most importantly, he graciously reminds us, "It's okay to admit that you don't have all the answers. Give yourself permission to learn and thrive." Tyjai's story not only highlights the value of programs like Filene's, but also inspires the next generation of credit union professionals to fearlessly pave their own paths toward success.

Looking Ahead: Empowering Others

Tyjai's passion and commitment to personal and professional growth radiates through his advice to young professionals:

Seize every opportunity that Filene's programs offer. Share your journey, connect with mentors, and be kind to yourself during the tough times.

His words resonate with the wisdom he's gained from his own transformative experience.

He firmly believes that leadership is not confined to a title, and his passion has already positioned him as a leader in his credit union and community. Tyjai emphasizes that regardless of one's role, they can make a significant difference.

In the years ahead, Tyjai envisions himself stepping into the role of Member Experience Manager. His aspirations don't end there—he plans to earn the CUDE certificate and actively participate in more of Filene's development, leadership, and innovation programs to further refine his leadership skills. Chartway is a shining example of how a credit union can take advantage of all that Filene has to offer. Be it through participating in The Lab at Filene, Crash, i3, i2, big.bright.minds. and Spark or using the HerMoney content to advance member financial wellness via social media, Chartway participates in Filene’s many programs that develop their talent into greater resources for their members!