Association for Black Economic Power Creates New Alliances with Leading

Community-Based Organizations and Credit Union Industry Partners

For the Launch of Village Financial Cooperative



4/27/2021, MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Debra Hurston, Executive Director at the Association for Black Economic Power (ABEP) announced today new support for the launch of the Village Financial Cooperative from two leading organizations in the credit union sector.   “We remain committed to the launch of the Village Financial Cooperative, and will be working in close coordination with both the Minnesota Credit Union Network, and the African-American Credit Union Coalition,” said Ms. Hurston.


Mr. Mark Cummins, President & CEO of the Minnesota Credit Union Network said, “We’re seeking to provide the critical mentorship and support needed for the launch of the Village Financial Cooperative.  Our member credit unions and the staff at the Minnesota Credit Union Network are truly excited to bring the cooperative principles of the credit union movement to this worthy project.”


“We fully understand and support the vision of ABEP for creating a Black-led financial institution at this critical moment in time, and in one of the most underserved communities in the country.  Our hearts and resources are pledged to help to catalyze the launch of the Village Financial Cooperative in any way that we can,” said Renée Sattiewhite, President & CEO of the African-American Credit Union Coalition.


“In addition to the new alliances we are forging within the credit union sector, our objective is to continue to  nurture a broad base of support for the Village Financial Cooperative, including consumers, small businesses, chambers of commerce, faith-based organizations, foundations, financial institutions, and local and state government.  Our target launch timeline is during the first half of 2022, and will be based upon several pending regulatory approvals,” said Ms. Hurston, Executive Director at ABEP.


Ms. Debra Hurston was appointed to lead ABEP in December 2020, following a transition in the leadership of the organization. Past and current sponsors of ABEP and the Village Financial Cooperative include: Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of MN, McKnight Foundation, Minneapolis Foundation, Pohlad Foundation, the Northside Funders Group, and a variety of individual and corporate donors. 


The ABEP Board of Directors includes:


  • Valerie Geaither, Chair is Professor Emerita of Community and Family Studies at Metropolitan State University.

  • Ernest Draper, Treasurer is a Certified Financial Planner providing financial advice to individuals, families and business owners.

  • Gracie George, Secretary is a Risk Management Professional at U.S. Bank.

  • Shane Hughley, Director is an executive at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis with responsibility for overseeing the Ninth Districts Currency Payment Systems operations.






ABOUT ABEP: The Association for Black Economic Power (ABEP) is a nonprofit organization created to establish a Black-led financial institution to address systemic financial challenges impacting Minneapolis residents, particularly people of color.  This vision was birthed from North Minneapolis community members who strongly believe that institutional economic power is the critical ingredient to addressing the inequities blacks experience in Minnesota.   Additionally, as a community development organization, ABEP seeks to impact the underserved communities it serves from the standpoint of affordable housing, workforce development, and small business acceleration opportunities.

Learn more at:

ABOUT MnCUN:  The Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) is the state trade association for Minnesota’s credit unions. The Network, working in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), works to ensure the success, growth and vitality of our member credit unions by creating a positive public environment through leadership, political advocacy, education, awareness and regulatory assistance.  Overall, more than 1.9 million Minnesota consumers are member-owners of the state’s credit unions. As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions, on average, offer higher savings rates, lower loan rates and have lower and fewer fees, compared with other financial institutions.

Learn more at:


ABOUT AACUC:  Founded in 1999, the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) has grown and is ever changing to meet the needs of the dynamic credit union community which it serves. It has become an all-encompassing organization for individuals (professional and volunteers) in Credit Unions, Insurance, Regulators, Consultants and other entities in the credit union industry. AACUC promotes personal and professional growth of its members as well as collectively articulating concerns and advocating resources to improve economic development of surrounding communities that are often under-served by majority financial institutions.  In 2020, AACUC launched the Commitment to Change: Credit Unions United Against Racism initiative. 

Learn more at:

African-American Credit Union Coalition Nominated to Serve

On the Community Advisory Board At The American Fintech Council

4/6/2021SNELLVILLE, GA – Renée Sattiewhite, President & CEO of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), announced today the organizations’ nonprofit affiliate membership in the American Fintech Council (AFC), and the nomination to serve on its Community Advisory Board.


“We are pleased to advance the mission of diversity and inclusion in the financial services sector along with AFC and its Community Advisory Board.  Financial inclusion that improves accessibility for the unbanked and underbanked is truly the greatest priority that we must address in order to close the racial wealth gap in America,” said Sattiewhite.


“We share AACUC’s dedication to building a financial services industry that is more inclusive and diverse. We are eager to work closely with AACUC and our Community Advisory Board to push forward policies that improve the financial well-being of all Americans, with a particular focus on communities of color and other underserved and vulnerable populations,” said AFC CEO Garry Reeder.


The American Fintech Council is truly committed to providing consumers with access to fair and transparent products and services.  AFC member companies operate under the following guidelines:

  • Members advance the highest standards of fair lending and non-discrimination

  • Credit products cannot be disguised or mischaracterized in order to avoid lending laws and regulations

  • Consumer offerings must adhere to the maximum interest rate charges outlined in the Military Lending Act

  • Small business lending products must adhere to the guidelines of the Small Business Borrower’s Bill of Rights


ABOUT AFC: The mission of the American Fintech Council (AFC) is to promote the expansion of financial services technologies for the benefit of consumers and commerce, including improving access to credit and providing other developing digital products and services.  Independent evaluators find that AFC members are both lowering the cost of financial services and improving access to financial services. Approximately 25% of AFC member loans were concentrated in the 10% of communities with the fewest bank branches per capita, which are disproportionately low-income. Borrowers from an AFC member company increased their credit scores, did not dramatically increase household debt, were more likely to buy a home, and less likely to become delinquent on their mortgage loans, according to Federal Reserve Board researchers.

Work From Home Presents Risk For Some Staff

Success is often measured in promotions, project leadership,
and recognition, but to be successful, one needs to be known.

March 8, 2021, Maurice Smith

For years, some members of our staff have lobbied for the flexibility to work from home. I have resisted because I

believe a key success factor for our credit union is our ability to relate to one another. Call me old-fashioned, but I

think it is valuable for employees to build in-person relationships that foster stronger teamwork.

During the coronavirus epidemic, we adjusted our office to allow employees to perform some credit union work at

home. The exigency of the situation called for unconventional adjustments. As a result, the pandemic has prompted

more calls for workplace optionality. 

I can feel the fingers wagging as some of my colleagues tell me, “I told you so. We can work from home and be just as productive. Smith, your stodgy ways were stifling and unnecessary.”

Not so fast.

I will admit when I’m wrong. Often, I am. In this instance, I think the jury is still out on the matter. I believe there are other factors to consider before we pronounce the end of the traditional workplace.

First, we should realize all workplaces are not the same. Work from home might be a viable status quo for some credit unions, but the practice should be put in the context of a larger strategic plan. Credit union leaders should ponder how a new work pattern affects their ability to serve members.

Second, relationships matter for some credit union cultures. It does for our credit union. We commonly refer to ourselves as a family. I can’t imagine not seeing my family for an extended period. A relationship means I can relate to you. So, when stress arises in the office, I have a basis of knowledge about you that helps me understand your point of reference and how you handle tension.

Finally, I want to spend more line space on this point. We, as leaders, should be wary of the unintended consequences of our decisions. I believe we have a particularized duty to provide equal opportunities for all our employees. This is the crux of equity and inclusion — ensuring classes of people are not overlooked.

Let’s start with the basic notion that all employees want to be successful. Success is often measured in promotions, project leadership, and recognition for one’s craft. To be successful, one needs to be known. After all, a CEO who does not know an employee is less likely to consider that person for an advancement.

Now, this might sound old-fashioned. Early in my career, I sought to be recognized. I wanted the CEO to know who I was. I would be meticulous about my attire. I would arrive early and stay late at work. I relished the moments when we’d pass in the hallway and had a brief conversation. I figured altogether I was building a case that I would be ready when the opportunity for leadership would arrive.

Now consider an environment where the management of the credit union loses personal touch with the people who work for the credit union. The watercooler conversations are not happening. No more bumping into one another in the hallway or parking lot. Employees are reduced to a Zoom square on a monitor. Something feels lost to me.

If we look at this environment and ponder who is most likely to be disenfranchised by virtual detachments, it is likely the marginalized staff. These are the folks who gain from the impromptu hallway chats. These employees lose the opportunity to gain confidence by presenting before their colleagues in the conference room. These colleagues miss the subtle social cues and nonverbal signals one gets from proximity.

My fear is a work-from-home environment takes something away from members of the team who need a little grooming to thrive. That was once me early in my career… an inexperienced, skinny kid from a small North Carolina town. I had the advantage of growing a career among supportive colleagues. I made plenty of mistakes. I learned a lot from guidance in the moment.

I admit maybe there can be a balance between work from home and being completely embedded in an office. I suspect we will have to learn how to manage both worlds. As we do, let’s be mindful to not injure the careers of our folks by isolating them from their credit union colleagues.

Maurice Smith is the CEO of Local Government Federal Credit Union and Civic Federal Credit Union. Both credit unions are member-owned cooperatives serving the financial needs of employees, appointed officials, elected officeholders, and volunteers of local governments in North Carolina. Smith celebrates 41 years in the credit union movement.

Smith received his B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and earned a Juris Doctor from the North Carolina Central University School of Law. Smith is licensed to practice law in North Carolina, the United States Supreme Court, and the District of Columbia. Smith is also a North Carolina Certified Superior Court Mediator and a CUNA Certified Credit Union Executive.

AACUC Announces African American Credit Union Hall of Fame Honorees

February 18, 2021, SNELLVILLE, GAThe African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), will be inducting five credit union leaders into its Hall of Fame at the Virtual Induction on Monday, March 1, 2021, the day before the Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference (CUNA GAC) begins.  The 2021 honorees are: Anthony Bailey, Jim Blaine, Gerald Brooks, John Pembroke and Lynette W. Smith. 

Bailey has more than 25 years in the credit union movement, including 17 years at Pepco Federal Credit Union and 8 years at Department of Commerce Credit Union.   He is a graduate of both Wesley College and Bowie State University.

Blaine retired from State Employees’ Credit Union, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he served as CEO from 1979 to 2016. SECU is the second largest Credit Union in the United States, with $38 billion in assets and serving 2+ million members.  Jim is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and holds an MBA from Duke University. 

Brooks is the Chairman of St. Louis Community Credit Union (SLCCU).  Under his leadership, SLCCU and Carrollton Bank began a collaborative agreement to increase lending, provide greater access to affordable services and expand financial education to the local underserved and LMI population. Brooks has also served as Chairman of the African Heritage Association of St. Louis.

Pembroke’s experience includes 25 years in financial services, marketing and e-commerce. He served as chief marketing officer at PSCU Financial Services, one of the largest Credit Union Service Organizations in the U.S. He became the President/CEO of CUES in 2013 has played a leadership role in developing and launching a new direction in CUES’ strategy, branding culture. Pembroke holds a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a MBA in Marketing and Policy Studies from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.

Smith has been in the credit union industry for 31 years and has served for the past twelve years as the President/CEO of TruEnergy FCU (formally Washington Gas Light FCU).  She also serves on the Board of the AACUC and on Board of the Metropolitan Area Credit Union Management.  Smith received from NAFCU, the CEO of the Year Award for credit union’s under $150 million in assets. 

“This year’s honorees are shining examples of professional excellence.  Each one is a stellar leader and contributor to the credit union movement,” said Larry Sewell, AACUC Chairman of the Board. 

Visa, Inc., is the Presenting Sponsor and the honorees are sponsored by NAFCU, Fiserv, Carolinas Credit Union League, State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina and PSCU.


About the African American Credit Union Hall of Fame History
On October 16, 2008, the AACUC unveiled an exhibit featuring African Americans in the credit union movement the first 100 years at the America’s Credit Union Museum in Manchester, N.H.  Continuing with that effort, the Funding Development Committee created the African American Credit Union Hall of Fame.  This virtual hall of fame was created to accomplish two goals: One, to honor and recognize African Americans who have and are contributing to the credit union movement--many who are unsung heroes and trailblazers.  To be inducted you must have accomplished or achieved the following:  1) provided in excess of 10 years of service in the credit union industry; 2) worked to provide financial services for people in general; and 3) identify at least four significant accomplishments, which benefited African-Americans’ access to financial capital.

The second goal was to be a consistent source of income for the AACUC through sponsorship opportunities on the website.  For instance, there are two trailblazer submissions available included with membership with the AACUC at the organizational level.  Additional trailblazer submissions are $250.  It is a great way to recognize your African-American peers, co-workers and colleagues who have made contributions locally. Hall of Fame inductees typically are sponsored by the credit union or a vendor that the inductee worked with for $1,500.

‘They picked you for a reason’
Kourtney Berry seeks to ‘inspire and motivate and foster meaningful relationships.’

February 3, 2021 Darla Dernovsek, One Comment

Kourtney Berry knows the “why” that drives her work as youth outreach manager at Suncoast Credit Union in Tampa, Fla.

“The main thing I seek to do every day in my role is to inspire and motivate and foster meaningful relationships,” she says.

Berry attended Florida A&M University, a historically Black college and university (HBCU) that prepared her for the challenges of being a young, Black professional. After out-of-state internships, she returned to Tampa for corporate public relations jobs that allowed her to work with senior executives at varied companies.


“It was rewarding because not only was I exposed to exclusive projects, I began to receive essential constructive criticism,” she says. “You take that constructive criticism and turn it into your motivation to continue to be better.”

Early in her career, Berry sometimes struggled to believe she was ready for the professional opportunities that came her way.

Today, she shares this advice with others in the same position: “Remember they picked you for a reason. Have the courage and confidence to act like it.”

A “roundabout” journey led Berry to Suncoast, where she leads a team of three people who deliver financial education and serve as liaisons to schools and nonprofit organizations.

While the team serves community residents of all ages, their focus is on youth, which includes working with 28 schools that run their own mini-credit unions (in-school branches are suspended during the pandemic).

Berry empowers her team to create education programs that improve financial literacy and help Suncoast’s youngest members start saving. Outreach to minority communities lets her give back to the organizations that fostered her success.

‘You can’t help but see the shift
and the impact we’re having on the
highest role of leadership in this country.’

Kourtney Berry

Berry notes Suncoast is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion among employees and members, which reinforces her determination to reach all audiences with meaningful, relevant, financial education.

“Especially when we go to underserved communities, we don’t give fairy tale examples,” she says. “We make sure they know having money isn’t just about being rich, but about living your richest life.”

Berry recharges her batteries through her faith and strong connections to extended family in the Tampa area and beyond. Within the credit union movement, she gets support from the African American Credit Union Coalition and the National Youth Involvement Board.

She notes she’s never lacked a resource because someone in the credit union network always steps up to share it.

Vice President Kamala Harris’ swearing-in “exuded Black history,” Berry says. Like Harris, Berry is a graduate of an HBCU and a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Berry honored Harris by wearing pearls, jeans, and “Chucks” (Converse All-Star sneakers) to work on Inauguration Day.

She also cites voting activist Stacey Abrams and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms as role models who continue to prove how much Black women can achieve.

“You can’t help but see the change that’s being made,” Berry said. “You can’t help but see the shift and the impact we’re having on the highest role of leadership in this country.”

Scholarship winner comes home to lead
‘Representation matters,’ says SECU’s Kelli Holloway

February 2, 2021 Darla Dernovsek, One Comment

Kelli Holloway expected her college scholarship from State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) Foundation, Raleigh,

N.C., to lead to a career as a lawyer.  Instead, it led her to become vice president of member education and outreach

at $46 billion asset SECU.

Holloway’s path curved toward her hometown after she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel

Hill. An only child, she returned to Raleigh to help care for her mom while saving money for law school.

She hoped being a scholarship recipient would give her an edge in getting a job at SECU—and she was quickly offered a position as a financial services officer helping members with loans and mortgages.

Holloway also gave presentations at elementary and middle schools. After an executive saw her presentation, she became a member education specialist.

“This matches my passion and my purpose,” Holloway says. “How awesome that I was able to make it my position.”

Today, Holloway leads a team of 10 employees who develop programs and presentations and support the branch staff who help deliver them to members, schools, youth groups, and community organizations in all 100 North Carolina counties.

Holloway describes herself as a “radical optimist” who is passionate about her faith and demonstrates “radical acceptance” that life is different during a pandemic.

As a manager, she compares her “radical enthusiasm” for her team to the crowd in “The Price is Right,” where everyone cheers for each contestant to succeed. She believes credit unions thrive through teamwork that gives everyone a seat at the table.

“There’s a freedom in being radical,” Holloway said. “When you feel comfortable with the uncomfortable it shows good leadership, so that’s the kind of radical optimist I aim to be.”

‘If we’re going to say we’re diverse,
we have to walk it, we have to talk it,
we have to show it.’

Kelli Holloway

Holloway is willing to speak up to help others understand diversity, equity, and inclusion opportunities, and is a member of the Southern Region Committee Board for the African American Credit Union Coalition. For example, she helped amplify an employee’s comment that messages from leadership should be diverse.

“Representation matters,” Holloway said. “So if we’re going to say we’re diverse, we have to walk it, we have to talk it, we have to show it.”

After the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor sparked protests, Holloway realized “employees were suffocated by the grief that this moment provided.”

She was tasked with spearheading a “Crucial Conversations” course to help managers become sensitive to racial injustices and respond with empathy. More than 100 SECU managers have taken the 90-minute course so far, with plans to deliver it to several hundred additional managers in coming months.

Holloway sometimes feels the combined stress of social tensions, of being a Black woman in a leadership role, and of juggling the challenges of career, motherhood, and caregiving for her own mother. She relies on faith to restore her spirit, along with spending time with husband Mike and daughters three-month-old Ava and three-year-old Zoie.

Holloway’s faith brings the perspective of “the willing heart and the servant leader” to her work.

“There’s no ceiling on your capacity to learn about others and care and put yourself in their shoes,” Holloway says. “That’s how you’re able to change not just policies and procedures but minds and hearts.”

AACUC Announces its Support for Nest Egg to Hack Systemic Inequality



1/28/2021, SNELLVILLE, GA Renée Sattiewhite, President & CEO of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), today announced the organization’s support for the Nest Egg project team, winners of the Finastra 2020 hackathon in the Hacking Systemic Inequality category.  As an in-kind sponsor of the Finastra Hack to the Future event, AACUC will be providing business coaching and technical assistance, plus access to its member credit unions and credit union leagues for product development purposes.  Sattiewhite explained further, “with Nest Egg, credit unions can onboard a large segment of the unbanked/underbanked population represented by the youth market, and provide an effective means to engage, educate and grow the next generation of wealth, thus helping to close the racial wealth gap in America.”  A Nest Egg product video is available here and you can join their mailing list here.


About the hackathon:

  • Hack to the Future is Finastra’s second annual global hackathon. This year’s virtual event saw over 4,500 registrations from 100+ countries around the world.

  • Over 230 ideas, POCs and apps were submitted from schools, universities, start-ups, fintechs and banks, around the themes of reducing systemic inequality, hacking through COVID-19, and embracing technology-enabled change. Over 160 projects made it to the Finals round, where shortlisted teams presented their ideas to a panel of expert judges from banks, fintechs, universities and industry experts.

  • Judging was based on three criteria: a submission’s ability to solve a real and pressing need, its feasibility and use of technology, and its commercial potential.

  • See all the winners here or join the conversation on social media using #HackToTheFuture and #HackingForGood.

“Chirine BenZaied, Head of Innovation at Finastra said, “Finastra was delighted to host this global, virtual event, and see the
quality and range of submissions, all focused on hacking for good.  Congratulations to all the winners and our thanks to
organizations such as AACUC without whom we could not have created such an incredible and impactful event.”


About Finastra: Finastra is building an open platform that accelerates collaboration and innovation in financial services, creating better experiences for people, businesses, and communities. Supported by the broadest and deepest portfolio of financial services software, Finastra delivers this vitally important technology to financial institutions of all sizes across the globe, including 90 of the world’s top 100 banks. Our open architecture approach brings together a number of partners and innovators. Together we are leading the way in which applications are written, deployed, and consumed in financial services to evolve with the changing needs of customers. Learn more at

About AACUC:  The AACUC is a 501c3 non-profit organization created in 1999 to increase the strength of the global credit union community through professional development and advocacy. It has become an all-encompassing organization for individuals (professional and volunteers) in Credit Unions, Insurance, Regulators, Consultants, and other entities in the credit union industry.  AACUC is considered a leader in the credit union industry adopting the 8th Cooperative Principle and providing knowledge of how credit unions can become more diverse and inclusive.  Learn more at

Local Government Federal Credit Union, Civic Federal Credit Union, and the African-American Credit Union Coalition launch 8th Cooperative Principle microsite to promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as guiding principles

(January 28, 2021, Raleigh, NC) –  Local Government Federal Credit Union (LGFCU), Civic Federal Credit Union and the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) have launched DEI Talks, a website to advocate for the proposed 8th Cooperative Principle that is focused on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The Credit Unions and Coalition invite other credit unions and cooperatives to adopt the 8th Principle and demonstrate their support through the site.

The site promotes DEI as an expansion of the philosophical tenets currently embraced by cooperatives globally. The values of diversity, or plurality as it is often understood outside of the U.S., equity and inclusion are ideologies already ingrained within the cooperative community. Credit Union and AACUC leaders believe It is past time to declare these as guiding principles.  

“Cooperatives support the notion that every member of a community has an inalienable right to exercise the doctrines presented in the cooperative principles,” said LGFCU and Civic Chief Executive Officer Maurice Smith. “I see an opportunity to reaffirm our values and explore new opportunities.  

“It is time to consider where diversity, plurality and inclusion for all of us stands today. I think the time is right to officially recognize the 8th Principle as part of the credit union and cooperative philosophy.”

Smith challenges cooperatives globally to become champions for the cause. The DEI Talks site allows for organizations to publicly pledge their commitment to the 8th Principle. Champions are able to display this commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion on the site, and are encouraged to promote the 8th Principle on their own websites and social media channels. 

“These values of plurality will not be short-lived,” said Renée Sattiewhite, AACUC President and Chief Executive Officer, who emphasizes the importance of DEI as a Cooperative Principle. “It’s the right thing to do. DEI lines up with our core principles and values, and that is why it is lasting.”

The call to action by the Credit Unions and AACUC is for all cooperative communities to continue to embrace the values of DEI, and pledge their commitment to the 8th Principle at

Local Government Federal Credit Union serves North Carolina’s local government employees, elected/appointed officials, volunteers and their families. The $2 billion federally chartered Credit Union is a cooperative of more than 370,000 members associated with various facets of local government in North Carolina’s 100 counties and 546 municipalities.

Civic Federal Credit Union was created in response to changes in banking needs and advancements in financial services. With technology that makes it easier to access money, Civic reaches members beyond the branch. Civic has a decidedly local focus, serving the employees and volunteers of local governments in North Carolina as well as its small business community.

The African-American Credit Union Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. AACUC is comprised of professionals and volunteers in the credit union industry. The organization works to promote personal and professional growth of its members and advocates to improve the economic development of communities that are often underserved. AACUC supports programs that include expanding the interest and increasing the number of minorities in the credit union movement, and increasing outreach of the credit union movement in African countries and in the United States through mentoring, scholarship programs and more.

Credit Union DEI Webinar Series Aims to Spark Conversation and Action

(Overland Park, KS) January 19, 2021 - Be Better. Do Better is a candid conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for credit union leaders, co-presented by the Heartland Credit Union Association (HCUA) and the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC).

On Feb. 16 and March 16, the two-part free webinar series will bring industry experts together to discuss best practices, why the credit union industry needs to address DEI challenges and what actions we can take to become more inclusive personally, in our credit unions and in our communities. The panels will be moderated by Renee Sattiewhite, CEO of AACUC. 

Part I:  Be Better


February 16, noon (central)
Panelists will discuss why we need to be better as an industry how 2021 will give us the opportunity to do so.


  •  Angela Russell, VP of diversity, equity and inclusion, CUNA Mutual Group

  •  Cathie Mahon, president/CEO, Inclusiv

  • Victor Miquel Corro, CEO, Coopera

Part II:  Do Better

March 16, noon (central)
Experts in the field will share their DEI journey, success stories and challenges, plus actions steps credit unions can take to do better.



  • Larry Sewell, VP of corporate partnerships and advocacy, Together Credit Union (St. Louis, MO) and Chair of AACUC 

  • Maria Martinez, president/CEO Border Federal Credit Union (Del Rio, TX) and Chair of the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals (NLCUP)

  • Kirk Mills, president/CEO, St. Louis Community Credit Union (St. Louis, MO)

  • Michelle Wood, VP of culture and DEI, Mazuma Credit Union (Lenexa, KS)

This event is open to anyone in the credit union industry. Register here.


How To Pave The Way For Black Male Leadership

by Larry D. Sewell

VP/Corporate Partnerships/Advocacy

Together Credit Union

January 18, 2021

Six strategies credit union leaders can use to help African American men reach their fullest potential in their organizations.

We are nearing the end of the year 2020, and there is still a perception held by some, a myth perception, that black men in our society are threatening, violent or not trustworthy, and uncooperative. Besides simply not being true, this perception is difficult to understand considering what black men have done, and continue to do, to erase it. 

Imagine trying to prove your value in a society that fears and distrusts you. Imagine trying to earn a job, have a rewarding career, or provide for a family in a society that often does not treat you with courtesy and respect. For most black men, these experiences are their daily reality.

Every day, coming into work, I remind myself of who I am, a successful black man. Not because I need a reminder, but so my co-workers will see me as someone who is not threatening, someone other people can talk to and listen to, and not feel any way uncomfortable or uneasy when interacting with me. I am careful not to raise my voice or appear to be angry, even when the situation may warrant it, because my actions could be viewed negatively by others in the meeting room.

Recently, I was asked how those in leadership positions can help pave the way for black men to thrive and advance in credit unions, and I took it as an opportunity to share some of the issues causing biases, whether consciously or unconsciously, in the credit union space, and how leaders can work to overcome these challenges.

First, incorporate policies that foster diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Systemic and systematic biases, including racism, have created an environment where black men are not getting the same starting opportunities as our peers. For black men looking to advance and become leaders within a credit union, we know it is not a 100-yard dash or sprint because if we act as if it is, we would lose every time. Effective DEI policies would create an expectation for a fair and equal start for everyone. Directly addressing biases would cultivate an environment where we all start from the same starting block at the same time.

Second, diversify recruiting channels. Historically black colleges and universities have outstanding academic degree programs in human resources, finance, management, marketing and accounting. Credit union professionals need to deliberately reach out and build relationships with the faculty and staff at HBCUs to recruit qualified candidates from a diverse pool of students who would welcome an opportunity to work at a credit union. We need to broaden the recruiting area options and require hired recruiting agencies to submit male African American candidates for vacant leadership positions. These must be “intentional” actions.

Third, provide open and honest feedback about performance. Black men want to know how to improve their performance and advance their careers. For far too long, open, honest and constructive feedback has been avoided because of the myth perceptions about black men. As with all people looking to advance their careers, black men respond positively to constructive development consulting and advice on qualifying and competing for leadership opportunities.

Fourth, actively listen with a purpose. This means treating everyone with courtesy and respect. This doesn’t mean agreeing with every comment or suggestion made. That won’t happen, it can’t happen, because we are all individuals who have lived different experiences. Disagreeing is natural. Stereotyping, however, is a taught behavior, while discourtesy and disrespect come far too easy for too many. 

Fifth, recognize and promote talent. A system that promotes employees, and puts aside stereotypical thoughts, assumptions, and biases, gives everyone an equal opportunity to achieve their professional goals. Understand that hiring qualified applicants and increasing diversity are not mutually exclusive acts. It is essential for everyone in your organization to know that hiring is based on the most suitable candidate for the job. Black men are seeking careers that cultivate their strengths, provide resources and support to overcome weaknesses and, most importantly, position them to best represent their personal values in the communities where they live and work. 

Sixth, live by your core values. I have always had a comforting feeling about the people I work with at Together Credit Union because of the organization’s four core values: value diversity, act with integrity, serve with excellence and take ownership. This is the type of workplace environment where all people can excel and advance.

For black men, changing perceptions and overcoming those stereotypical thoughts and assumptions is difficult to do. However, if given the opportunity, black men would bring a personal perspective of empathy missing from many organizational cultures, including the credit unions. Black men know, genuinely know, how it feels to be disliked, misrepresented and misinterpreted, and disrespected in all ways. We do not wish for others to feel that same way. Black men would bring respect, positivity, and encouragement, all essential leadership qualities, to credit union leadership and corporate credit union America.

Larry D. Sewell, VP/corporate partnerships & advocacy at $2 billion Together Credit Union, St. Louis, and chairman of the board for the African American Credit Union Coalition.

January 13, 2021 - The Underground Chat - Ideas into Action series for credit unions continues with Gary Perez, President & CEO of USC Credit Union alongside Susan Mitchell, CEO of Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates and Founder of the Underground discussing new credit unions, big ideas and acting fast in 2021.

Join us as we bring together thought leadership with a true, authentic and unfiltered Underground voice and provide steps the industry can take today to #STANDUP for credit unions tomorrow.

Ideas into Action:

Think Big:
Think beyond what we know we can do for members and determine how we might work together to make it happen.

Act Fast:
Don't let your ideas fade. Be quick in trying something new, big or daring and bring others in to support and engage.

.The Underground Collision initiative is a brainchild of Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates and has a simple goal. Create an intimate environment for authentic dialogue believing that the energy of focused debate will echo beyond the moment and become a catalyst for change.

The Underground Ideas into Action leverages the thought leadership, conversation and collaboration of our community to provide action steps credit unions and leaders can use to enact change and #STANDUP for credit unions and their members.

The Underground Chats were born out of a need to continue the conversation and showcase the vulnerable collaboration of industry leadership during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

For more information:

'Real Change' Taking Place

01/14/2021 / Ray Birch, CUToday, DULUTH, Ga.— With the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police in early May of 2020, credit unions joined numerous other companies and communities nationally in committing to fighting racism, holding uncomfortable discussions, and announcing numerous initiatives and pledging support. But will that level of commitment fade?

The president of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) doesn’t believe it will, at least not within credit unions. As the country prepares to mark the Martin Luther King Day holiday, AACUC leader Renee Sattiewhite told she sees real change taking place in the country and credit unions, even if in her personal life she is often confronted by reminders of racism and the fear it creates.

She cited several factors—growing interest in support for AACUC and its own growing role in becoming a stronger resource for talent, more executive positions related to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) being created in credit unions, and just the changing “color” of the credit union workforce.

“I am very hopeful that credit unions will continue to move forward with their efforts around diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Sattiewhite. “The AACUC continues to be approached with support from so many different organizations, and not just credit unions. I'm encouraged, because the larger credit unions are really settling in and they're looking at DEI holistically. They're taking it seriously, as are credit unions of all sizes. I would say, eight months after the George Floyd incident, we're seeing people within our industry who truly want to effect change and break down barriers.”

Greater Support

Sattiewhite said not only are more organizations supporting AACUC and its Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism initiative, but also the Credit Union Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Collective, which was created in part by CUNA and the AACUC, along with the American Association of CU Leagues, Coopera, CO-OP Financial Services, CUNA Mutual Group, Filene, the National CU Foundation, humanidei, Inclusiv, the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals, PSCU, and the World Council of Credit Unions.

The DEI Collective is devoted to furthering diversity and inclusion, having launched in 2020 on June 19, Juneteeth, the day commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S.

CUNA and the AACUC also recently announced a new scholarship program and online community for Black CU professionals, while the Credit Union Executives Society recently announced it will begin offering complimentary one-year individual memberships to mentees in the African American Credit Union Coalition’s Mentorship Program.

“I'm finding there are many in the credit union industry who have rallied around this issue, and I think most organizations are just looking for roadmaps on how to get it done well,” Sattiewhite said.

One big way credit unions are advancing DEI, according to Sattiewhite, is in creating new high-level positions to lead diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

“My belief is that just like we have a BSA officer, credit unions should have a diversity officer,” she explained. “Having said that, many credit unions are looking at hiring someone. I believe, too, this person must be at the C-suite level, reporting directly to the CEO. I think that's the only way you were going to effect change. That's my personal view, but I know not every credit union can afford to do that.”

Assistance, Not Resistance

What pleases Sattiewhite most is she’s finding within credit unions more “assistance than resistance. And this effort is not dying down. Now, how we got here, the events that drove this change, are troubling and disheartening. But people want to, and are continuing the conversation. They are rallying around this issue and they are good people with good consciences and they have integrity.”

Sattiewhite emphasized her belief DEI will remain a strong value within credit unions because it aligns with the Cooperative Principles.

“It's just the right thing to do,” she said. “It lines up with our core principles and values and that is why it is lasting. I think we have brought an awareness—and by ‘we’ I don’t mean just AACUC. I mean collectively as people in the U.S. We have said this is no longer acceptable and that we are going to look to see how we can fix this. I do believe that this is not dying on the vine.”

A Positive Indicator

Sattiewhite said one of the indicators to her that DEI is being recognized more strongly within credit unions is AACUC is being increasingly looked to as a source for talent.

“Many credit unions and recruiting agencies are looking to AACUC to supply them with diverse talent,” Sattiewhite said. “We're getting very rigorous about job postings, and the jobs people are reaching out to us for are for higher-level positions, and that is increasing. That’s a very encouraging sign.”

What’s also gratifying, she added, is change that can actually be “seen.”

“You can see the complexion change in the credit union space. You can see the color changes in the boardroom and in the C-suite,” Sattiewhite said. “We see a difference because of our color. If your entire team is Caucasian and you add someone of color, you can immediately see that change. This is something concrete that's happening now that’s visible…The change we are seeing today will continue as long as those within credit unions, in their hearts and in their minds, continue to embrace the cooperative principles—specifically the eighth cooperative principle—it’s just that simple. It’s that simple for credit unions and for everyone in the United States.”

Much Work to Be Done

Yet in the face of all that, Sattiewhite acknowledged there remains much work to be done. She noted, for example, flashing lights in the rearview mirror continue to create a “paralyzing” feeling for many African-Americans, and she is hopeful that someday the negative feelings toward police by the Black community will wane.

Indeed, Sattiewhite shared an incident she recently experienced in Georgia.

“I was driving and talking on my cell phone with my (AACUC) Vice Chair Maurice Smith (CEO of Local Government FCU in North Carolina) when I saw police lights in my rearview mirror,” said Sattiewhite, who is African-American. “Two officers pulled me over. I said to Maurice, ‘I need to get off the phone, I'm being pulled over by the police. I'm going to put my hands at 10 and 2 on the wheel.’ Maurice told me to remember to be respectful and compliant. It's paralyzing for some Black people to be pulled over by police officers.”

A Fear Not Recognized by Many

Sattiewhite said she does not think most white Americans understand what experiences with the police are like for African-Americans, and how Black families teach their children to cope with the threat of police harassment.

“Black families teach their children to be respectful of police because we don't want to see anything bad happen to our children or any loved one,” explained Sattiewhite, who said the recent encounter with local police in Georgia went well, and that the officers were courteous and stopped her because one of her brake lights was not working.

“They did not give me a ticket. They were nice. But, still, I can never clearly explain how that fear clutches at your heart,” she said.

Two CEOs share insights on adjusting to the pandemic
and approaching the future

Lynette Smith
TruEnergy Federal CU

Max Villaronga
TFCU - El Paso

December 29, 2020

At the outset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, credit union leaders embraced the qualities of collaboration, empathy, and dedication to member service to shift into emergency mode.  They’ll carry forward many lessons learned during this time.

Two credit union CEOs share their pandemic experiences and how they’re moving ahead:

  • Lynette Smith, president/CEO of $130 million asset TruEnergy Federal Credit Union, Springfield, Va. TruEnergy leveraged a largely remote workforce to serve 9,000 members during the pandemic with a blend of technology and appointment-only, face-to-face member service.

  •  Max Villaronga, president/CEO of TFCU - El Paso (Texas). The $740 million asset credit union serves 65,000 members largely through remote services. 


Credit Union Magazine: What has been your biggest challenge with the pandemic?

  • Lynette Smith: Our initial challenge and our top priority was the health, well-being, and safety of our members and employees. Without them, our industry would not exist.  

    Like all credit unions, we made a lot of changes in a short amount of time. But our biggest challenge will 
    be planning strategically for the anticipated second wave of COVID-19. Credit unions need to review and update pandemic policies and procedures to include contingency plans for staffing, backup, and service alternatives.

    Another challenge is that with so much economic uncertainty, we have never experienced a financial market quite like this. I call it “our new financial world.”


  • Max Villaronga: We didn’t know the virus would spread so fast throughout the U.S., but we activated our COVID response team quickly. We looked at it as a way to practice our disaster recovery and business resumption plan.

    We anticipated an 18-month event, which was an unpopular view even within our ranks. But my explanation to our team was it’s better to prepare for a marathon and run a sprint than prepare for a sprint and have to run a marathon because you’re just going to be demoralized. You won’t be properly prepared for that sort of distance.  

    Even with all that, we’ve had difficulty recruiting for senior-level executive positions. It’s taken about twice as long as expected. We have also experienced a certain level of fatigue that sets in with employee who must be quarantined and isolated for extended periods.

Q: It’s an anxious time for members and employees. How do you provide comfort for stakeholders at your credit union?


  • Villaronga: Communication is our priority. During an emergency you need to increase your communication by three. We communicate at least once a week from my office.

    One commitment we make is to speak the truth, and our employees trust the information we provide them. That’s important because there’s a ton of misinformation out there.

    We provide catering every Friday for all of our team members. It supports our local restaurants and keeps our employees happy with a good meal. In El Paso, we like our food. It’s a way to celebrate each week of our lives.

    We also remind our team that we have free mental health resources available to them during this
    time so if anxiety or depression touch them, they can reach out and get help.


  • Smith: We have a COVID Task Force Team that meets daily. We wanted to make sure we
    continue our synergy with operations, member experience, and human resources.

    By the end of March, 90% of our staff worked remotely. We’re always looking for ways to keep
    our employees engaged.


Q: It’s an anxious time for members and employees. How do you provide comfort for stakeholders at your credit union?


  • Villaronga: Communication is our priority. During an emergency you need to increase your communication by three. We communicate at least once a week from my office.

    One commitment we make is to speak the truth, and our employees trust the information we provide them. That’s important because there’s a ton of misinformation out there.

    We provide catering every Friday for all of our team members. It supports our local restaurants and keeps our employees happy with a good meal. In El Paso, we like our food. It’s a way to celebrate each week of our lives.

    We also remind our team that we have free mental health resources available to them during this time so if anxiety or depression touch them, they can reach out and get help.


  •  Smith: We have a COVID Task Force Team that meets daily. We wanted to make sure we continue our synergy with operations, member experience, and human resources.

    By the end of March, 90% of our staff worked remotely. We’re always looking for ways to keep our employees engaged.



  • Prepare contingency plans for the next wave of the pandemic.

  • The next normal will see a greater focus on remote services and flexible work arrangements. 

  • Board focus: Review your strategic plan and decide how to adapt boldly.

AACUC Announces a Memorandum of Collaboration with BetterInvesting

12/28/2020, SNELLVILLE, GA – Renée Sattiewhite, President & CEO of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) announced today a Memorandum of Collaboration with, BetterInvesting™, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit, investment education organization, whose mission is to educate individual investors and investment clubs to become successful lifelong investors. In a joint statement drafted with BetterInvesting CEO, Ken Zendel, the two leaders outlined, “We stand unified against racism, discrimination, and injustice.  Together we believe we can make a larger impact and difference in the world than apart.  We strive to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion.  This partnership will promote the empowerment of communities of color nationwide with the objective of helping to build financial knowledge, develop financial confidence, as well as plan and use investment products and strategies effectively, and thus closing the racial wealth gap.”


“BetterInvesting has been empowering everyday Americans of all races since 1951,” Zendel added.  Yet, we recognize there is more to be done, especially in the African-American and Hispanic communities.  Recently, the Associated Press (AP) reported, “Stocks Are Soaring, and Most Black People are Missing Out”, and BetterInvesting is committed to being part of the solution.  Far too many are missing out on the basic building blocks of wealth creation because of lack of knowledge, exposure and opportunity, especially regarding investment education.  Therefore, we are proud to join the AACUC in their Commitment to Change initiative. We look forward to this collaboration to work towards building wealth in minority communities, using our time-tested methodology as part of our unbiased, in-depth investment education."


Toward this end, AACUC is now offering a special promotional opportunity for its members to join BetterInvesting at a discounted rate through March 15, 2021.  This will enable AACUC members to join as Individual Plus members, receiving all of the benefits of Individual Plus membership (as shown at at a discount of $25 off the regular one year membership fee.  



ABOUT BETTERINVESTING™: BetterInvesting, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit, investment education organization, has been empowering everyday Americans since 1951. BetterInvesting, also known as the National Association of Investors Corporation® (NAIC®), has helped more than 5 million people from all walks of life learn how to improve their financial future. The association was borne of the conviction that anyone can become a successful lifelong stock investor by following sound, practical investing principles.  BetterInvesting provides unbiased, in-depth investing education and powerful online stock analysis tools to create successful lifelong investors. BetterInvesting staff, along with a dedicated community of volunteers across America, teach the organization’s principles and time-tested methodology to individuals and investment clubs.

Renée Sattiewhite, CEO of African-American Credit Union Coalition, 
Chats about 2020 and the Commitment to Change

December 19, 2020

“The March Underground Collision in DC changed my life,” exclaimed Renée Sattiewhite, President/CEO of African-American Credit Union Coalition when speaking with Susan Mitchell, CEO of Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates and Founder of the Underground about 2020, disruption, shifting and the Commitment to Change, Credit Unions Unite Against Racism.

Join us as we bring together thought leadership with a true, authentic and unfiltered Underground voice and provide steps the industry can take today to #STANDUP for credit unions tomorrow. Three Ideas into Action:


  • Be Intentional with Kindness: We have a choice in all situations to be thoughtful and be vulnerable. Be intentional with your kindness to others.


  • Be the Token: When asked to the table, tokenism is ok! Embrace the opportunity to shine your light and bring others from your network along with you.


  • Support the Commitment to Change: AACUC has created the Commitment to Change, Credit Unions Unite Against Racisim. Stand up and support the cause. Credit unions were made for this.


Watch the full Underground Chat


# # #

The Underground Community, founded by Susan Mitchell of Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates, is an authentic voice of the credit union movement facilitated by industry thought leaders. We drive change, encourage diverse opinions, and force off-record discussions to become on-record initiatives. The hundreds of Underground Colliders believe through incremental, grassroots change, credit unions can put ideas into action and revolutionize core cooperative principles: people helping a diverse world of people come together for a better life, individually and communally. Check Out More Underground Resources

Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates is a is a strategic consulting firm specializing in the credit union industry to increase consumer impact, market relevance and modernize business practices from board governance to CEO and leadership transitions. We are trusted advisers and industry thought leaders who believe that making a difference is our highest priority demonstrated by our long-term relationships and stellar reputation.

Andrea Finley - Volunteer. Advocate. Rockstar

December 17, 2020
by CUltivate

We were blown away by the AACUC Commitment To Change Series and after hearing Andrea Finley present we knew we had 
to interview her. What Andrea has accomplished in the Credit Union Industry is quite remarkable, and she is just getting started.



Tell me about your day to day as a financial wellness counselor.


As the Financial Wellness Coordinator for Spero Financial, I have the honor and privilege of helping our members better
understand their finances. I strategize to make sure we have the right tools and resources available to our members. I also
work closely with our community partners all while remaining available for one-on-one counseling sessions with our members.  One day I am working on new content for upcoming videos and the next day I could be teaching a personal finance class for a local non-profit (virtually now-of course). My days can vary but everything I do is working towards the goal of empowering our members to be financially healthy.



GAC is one of our favorite events every year, tell me about your CRASHER and Mentoring experience.


I first crashed in 2019 with the biggest class of crashers. 100 crashers went to GAC that year! I would describe crashing as a catalyst event in my career. Not only did I learn about credit union advocacy and get to see it in action, I also learned a lot about myself in the process. I am a big believer in the notion that we can all learn something from someone no matter what our perceived differences may be, and my crash experience proved that. I also had the honor of serving as a crash mentor for the 2020 GAC. My biggest take away from my experience as a mentor is you do not have to have a leadership title to lead others. You never know what opportunities may come your way because of relationships you’ve developed.



I love this mindset; meeting people is so important. Let’s build on that, you attend GAC, take in all the information, get super pumped up then COVID hits and everything locks down. How did you pivot and what changed for you?


It forced me to think outside of the box and not shy away from my ideas. The biggest change was the methods I used to continue to reach our communities. All my personal finance classes are now taught virtually, and I have even started an on-demand video series for our community partner, Habitat for Humanity. It’s a blessing in disguise because now we are reaching even more families than previously because we’ve eliminated the challenge of scheduling conflicts and childcare obligations.



AACUC is doing some amazing things, what do others need to know about AACUC and how did you get involved with them?


AACUC is one of the leading organizations when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion.  They’ve been
doing DEI before it was on everyone’s radar. I was first introduced to AACUC when I crashed the GAC in 2019
and was invited to attend their networking social event by a member. Prior to that meeting I had never met an
African American in the credit union industry who held an executive leadership position. I found myself
surrounded by executives who looked like me! It is hard to describe the impact discovering AACUC had on me.
I left that meeting with new career aspirations and truly felt like my opportunities were endless. Representation
really does matter. I became a member as soon as I returned home from that trip. What I like the most about

AACUC is how inclusive they are. In June, the AACUC launched Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite
Against Racism. This initiative focuses on unification, education, conversations, and investments that will move the credit union movement into a future where diversity, equity, and inclusion can thrive. I currently volunteer as a diversity trainer for AACUC and I have facilitated some impactful conversations. AACUC creates safe spaces for us to have these difficult but necessary conversations in order to make our industry a more equitable one.


All the AACUC sessions have been so informative and inspirational. You also won the 2020 CU Rockstar, congrats on that, what was this like?


Wow. So yeah, that was a huge surprise and honor! I am very passionate about financial inclusion and my

work with our local non-profit partners reflects that. I think what makes our community partnerships unique

is our flexibility as an organization to meet our partners’ needs. A lot of our success has come from me

introducing myself, stating what I’m passionate about and then asking them how I can help serve them? Their

answers have been the starting point for a lot of unique programs that truly serves our community members’

needs. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done at Spero Financial to make financial health accessible for



Where did all your volunteering passions come from?


My parents have always had a heart for service. We saw this daily growing up. Our home was always open. My dad would help anyone who needed it and my mom just has a beautiful heart for people.  She truly sees you and goes the extra mile to make sure you feel valued and cared about. They have always shown the love of Jesus. I’m glad some of it rubbed off on me.


Between Spero Financial and volunteering with AACUC and of course supporting my crasher mentees, I reserve the rest of my time for my family. I think it’s so important to know what drains you and what refuels you. My family refuels me, so I am a big advocate for work-life flexibility.



What is next for you heading into 2021.


I’m looking forward to saying goodbye to 2020 and creating new exciting experiences to engage people in DEI and financial inclusion.

CUltivate is people helping people with our mission to spread the word, connect the people, and give an outlet to share your stories. Know someone in the industry we should interview? Drop us a line at


December 28, 2020

Authentic leadership starts at the top

renée-sattiewhite-Leadership starts at tRenée Sattiewhite
00:00 / 49:01

December 11, 2020

“Leadership starts at the top.” That is a common phrase that we have all heard before, right? It is a motivational, digestible, and relatable saying. It empowers employees to hold leadership accountable and it also highlights executives’ ability to spark meaningful change. It is a common phrase that resonates across pay scales and jumps across cultural lines. That is why we use it so much.

But do we embody this phrase when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)? Has this platitude lost its meaning within the bounds of culture change?

If we look at the board rooms and C-suite management in the credit union movement, then the answer should be clear. Credit unions have a diversity problem at the leadership level.

How can we say that DEI is a top priority when our leadership – which starts at the top – demonstrates otherwise? Why do we adorn our corporate messaging with phrases like this without holding up our end of the bargain?

The problem of diversity at the leadership level is deep rooted. I feel that we often forget that our “people helping people” movement was established during a time when women couldn’t vote, segregation was lawful, people of color were denied basic human rights, the LGBTQ community was not tolerated and the Great Depression forced unemployment for blue-collar workers.

Since then, times have changed – and drastically so.

America’s population is multicultural, and each generation is becoming more racially diverse than the last. According to 2019 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, for the first time, more than half of the nation’s population under age 16 identified as a racial or ethnic minority.

If the nation is changing, then we must assess how we will change with it. We must ask ourselves difficult questions we may already know – or do not want to know – the answer to. If DEI is a top priority, then we must accept that the diversification of the country has accelerated the need for a commitment to cultural change.

And that change starts at the top.

Let me pose a few questions. Not to be facetious but to be serious about a problem that threatens the longevity of the credit union movement.

  • What percentage of your leadership represents working women and mothers?

  • How many Millennial employees are given a seat at your board room table?

  • Who is representing people of color on the board and at the C-suite level?

  • When is the last time you hired an executive level leader who once struggled financially?


If the answer to these questions does not align with your organization’s appetite for DEI, then you may have a diversity problem at the leadership level.

Authentic leadership starts at the top.

Without diverse representation at the top level, everything that flows down from leadership will remain where it always has been. There will be no real impetus for change.

Be encouraged to know that we are not walking alone on the road of DEI. Organizations across America are having important conversations about diversity. Nasdaq, for example, will ask the S.E.C. for permission to adopt a new requirement for companies listed on its main U.S. stock exchange to have at least one woman and one diverse director – and to report data on board diversity.

The lack of information nor an inadequate talent pool cannot be an excuse. If we want to be a forward-thinking, future-driven, and culturally-relevant industry it is imperative that we align with our evolving new reality.

We must act quickly and commit to meaningful change. A change that starts at the top.

I will leave you with this quote:

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Renee Sattiewhite, CUDE
President/CEO, African American Credit Union Coalition
December 4, 2020

Are We really that different?  What can credit Unions do?

The 2020 presidential election is over. We have a new president-elect, and for the first time in the history of the United States a vice president-elect who is a woman. We should be shouting from the rooftops that significant change has taken place. Instead, some are saddened by the fact that the election results show there remains a great divide in our beloved United States of America.

While some of us are disappointed our candidates of choice will not remain in office, one thing is crystal clear: Americans came out to vote, the greatest number our country has ever experienced.  For me, that is where we start. That is the common ground.

The election turnout should give us hope that Americans want to make this country the best that it can be. A participatory government begins with the participation of the citizenship.  Participation also signals hope. Most people would not engage in an act they consider pointless.  So, let’s build our hope on this starting point.

We have an opportunity and an obligation as credit union advocates to remember our role in society. The origins of the credit cooperative movement began as a social science experiment. The mere audacity that ordinary people could unite and combine resources to help each other was a radical idea. The cooperative evolution arose because people had hope.

Credit unions play a role in society today by offering hope again. One of the ways credit unions can unite people is through our insistence that our principles matter. We can do this by ensuring the cooperative principles are relevant for these contemporary times.

The African-American Credit Union Coalition is fully behind the idea that the seven cooperative principles are due for modernization on the point of diversity, equity and inclusion. We have embraced the momentum to add an eighth principle that espouses the ideals of DEI. We believe DEI can be a unifying rally for the credit union movement and society.

I will be the first person to tell you that the diversity, equity and inclusion journey can be difficult.  I admit DEI can feel polarizing for some. There are good reasons for this immediate disconnect.  First, DEI awakens us to the possibility that some people feel marginalized. Second, the remedy often touted for alienation is disenfranchisement. This creates more conflict. Finally, real talk about one’s identity stirs sensitive personal emotions.

I remain hopeful because the rewards can be so sweet and victorious. For instance, influential organizations in the credit union movement have embraced diversity, equity and inclusion and are active and vocal about it, including:













These organizations and the people who run them are working hard to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. They are including it in the strategic plans. They are creating programs to address economic equity. They are creating programs and services that help their team members understand the business case for DEI and how to navigate and implement DEI in their organizations.

We have come too far to stop now. Americans are resilient. While there has been tragedy with the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest due to the systematic racism and oppression of the last 400 hundred years, we know that as a nation working together, we can overcome anything.

I choose to be hopeful instead of hopeless. I choose to believe that we will eradicate racism. I choose to join my colleagues in the credit union movement to step up and provide solutions to close the economic equity gap. I choose to get into “good trouble” with my fellow Credit Union Development Educators. I choose to stand with the AACUC Visa/Cooperative Trust Crashers and Young Professionals Summit as they lead the “I’ve Got $5 On It” campaign to provide funds to communities that need assistance. And most of all, I choose to remember that credit unions were founded on the ideals of “people helping people” and “not for profit, not for charity, but for service.”

As we exit 2020, I am hopeful that as a credit union/cooperative community, we see our differences as opportunities instead of obstacles. Credit union advocates can turn this nation around. Please choose to stand with me and AACUC and the Commitment to Change – Credit Unions Unite Against Racism initiative.

Diversity Insight:
Red Versus Blue

African-American Credit Union Coalition Welcomes Fiserv as Corporate Partner

Fiserv will support professional development and technology accessibility initiatives for
member credit unions, as well as the “I’ve Got Five On It” Giving Tuesday campaign

SNELLVILLE, GA 12/1/2020Fiserv, Inc. (NASDAQ: FISV) is the newest corporate partner of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), an organization dedicated to increasing the strength of the credit union community and African-American credit unions and professionals in particular.


In addition to supporting AACUC internship and mentorship programs, Fiserv will work with the Coalition to help identify specific research, analytics or technology needs of member credit unions and work to make needed capabilities more accessible. Fiserv will also make a monetary donation and champion events and initiatives such as the “I’ve got Five on It” Giving Tuesday campaign.


“As a year that has galvanized support for the African-American community comes to a close, we are looking toward the future along with organizations like Fiserv,” said Renée Sattiewhite, AACUC president and chief executive officer. “The Fiserv corporate partnership will help our member credit unions support their people and communities during a time of national change and opportunity.”


The AACUC has worked tirelessly to increase diversity and eliminate discrimination both in the credit union industry and nationally – aims that are well aligned with Forward Together, the Fiserv commitment to diversity and inclusion. As a part of this commitment, Fiserv is investing $10 million in Black -and minority-owned business through its Back2Business initiative. The corporate partnership with AACUC complements this effort.


“Fiserv works with credit unions of all sizes and charters, including many institutions focused on specific segments and underbanked communities” said Derek Everett, general manager of Credit Union Solutions at Fiserv and the executive sponsor of the partnership. “As we begin our work with AACUC, our team is looking forward to strengthening existing relationships and forging new ones with the diverse communities and professionals AACUC strives to empower.”


In a world that is moving faster than ever before, Fiserv helps clients deliver solutions that are in step with the way people live and work today – financial services at the speed of life. Learn more at


Additional Resources:


About the African-American Credit Union Coalition

The African-American Credit Union Coalition (AAACUC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. AACUC is comprised of professionals and volunteers in the credit union industry. Affiliation with AACUC offers a unique opportunity to influence and shape the credit union movement and its governmental affairs. The organization works to promote personal and professional growth of its members and advocates to improve economic development of surrounding communities that are often underserved. AACUC supports programs that include expanding the interest and increasing the number of minorities in the credit union movement, increasing outreach of the credit union movement in African countries and in the United States through mentoring, scholarship programs, and much more.


About Fiserv

Fiserv, Inc. (NASDAQ: FISV) aspires to move money and information in a way that moves the world. As a global leader in payments and financial technology, the company helps clients achieve best-in-class results through a commitment to innovation and excellence in areas including account processing and digital banking solutions; card issuer processing and network services; payments; e-commerce; merchant acquiring and processing; and the Clover® cloud-based point-of-sale solution. Fiserv is a member of the S&P 500® Index and the FORTUNE® 500, and is among FORTUNE World’s Most Admired Companies®. Visit and follow on social media for more information and the latest company news.


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Keeping Purpose Constant, Virtually Too!

November 30, 2020 - Esperanza Poblano of Capital Educators Federal Credit Union shares her Crasher experience from the AACUC Commitment to Change virtual conference and Filene shares a few shout outs from across the industry from one crasher to another.


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.

Credit Union CEO
Selected by Biden-Harris
for CFPB Review Team

November 20, 2020 -The transition team for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris announced this week that a credit union CEO will sit on  the Agency Review Team for the CFPB.

Hope Federal Credit Union CEO Bill Bynum will sit on the review team with seven other people from different financial, legal and professional organizations.


Bynum founded the Jackson, Miss.-based credit union ($352.3 million in assets, 36,432 members) in 1995 and is an outspoken advocate for serving the poor and underserved communities around several southern states.

CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle said of Bynum’s appointment, “Congratulations to Bill Bynum for being named to the Biden-Harris Agency Review Team. We appreciate him bringing the credit union perspective on the CFPB to the incoming administration. The work Bill and Hope FCU have done to promote financial well-being and to advance the interests of his local community, especially in response to the pandemic, is a great example of the credit union difference in action.”

Recently, CU Times featured Bynum in an article about his thoughts on the government failing to help the poor and minority populations.


“The people we serve have long experienced extraordinary fragility, high levels of economic distress, poor health conditions, worse education outcomes and economic uncertainty just by virtue of what they look like, where they were born, their race, their gender, their preferences,” Bynum said.

“There’s a lack of a safety net, wealth-, health-gaps. All of these conditions have been exposed and exacerbated by the triple whammy we’re facing — not just the health crisis, but the unprecedented economic and racial justice crises.

“Where do people go? It should be our government. Unfortunately, it has been so evident that the federal responses were not designed for the people and communities we serve,” he said in the Oct. 29 article.

According to a statement from the Biden-Harris transition website, “The teams have been crafted to ensure they not only reflect the values and priorities of the incoming administration, but reflect the diversity of perspectives crucial for addressing America’s most urgent and complex challenges.”

There was no information regarding when the Agency Review Team for the CFPB will begin meeting.

Local Government Federal and Civic Federal Credit Unions Approve Resolution to Establish Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as a New Cooperative Principle

November 20, 2020 - Local Government Federal Credit Union and Civic Federal Credit Union Boards of Directors, led by Maurice Smith, Chief Executive Officer, have voted in favor of a resolution to establish diversity, equity and inclusion as an 8th Cooperative Principle for the Credit Unions they govern, and to encourage other cooperatives to follow suit. 


Currently, the credit union movement embraces seven cooperative principles as a set of philosophical beliefs outlining what distinguishes cooperatives from other organizations, illustrating their core values, economic models, and governance practices. The 8th Cooperative Principle establishes that diversity, equity and inclusion is an ideal that should be pursued and is a provocation to actively seek changes in public policy and private practice that advance economic justice, human dignity and community development.


Both Credit Unions have been drivers of diversity, equity  and inclusion. In February of this year, Smith called on U.S. credit unions to include diversity, equity and inclusion as a cooperative principle, which led to the Board of Directors of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) passing a resolution in favor of establishing Diversity Equity and Inclusion as the 8th Cooperative Principle.


Smith specified, "I believe the time is right for a new cooperative principle focused on diversity and inclusion. There is no better sector than credit unions to lead the charge for an aspiring new standard."


He continued, "In passing this resolution, we're continuing our work to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within our organization while we strongly encourage measures throughout our movement and across all cooperatives to do the same."


LGFCU and Civic FCU have a Core Value to "Pursue and Celebrate Diversity" that serves as a driving force behind the Credit Unions’ operations. 

According to Mark Caverly, President of LGFCU, "Our CEO, Maurice Smith, has begun an initiative for diversity, equity and inclusion that has shown the credit union movement, and the world, how successful our practice of ensuring and encouraging diversity in a business can be. Through our adoption of the new 8th Cooperative Principle, LGFCU demonstrates that our DEI initiatives are not just the right thing to do morally and socially, but also make good business sense."


The resolution adopted by their boards sets forth that Local Government Federal Credit Union and Civic Federal Credit Union support the 8th Cooperative Principle, which asserts an unambiguous commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and a call to action for the credit union movement to do likewise.


Smith explained, "Working together, diversity, equity and inclusion create a powerful force for credit unions' success. We need to hold each other accountable for equality, equity and opportunity for members, volunteers and credit union professionals. It must be everywhere, from the grassroots of our communities to the top of our credit unions, or we will not fully serve our purpose."


This new cooperative principle is one of the first steps towards committing to DEI as a guiding principle for credit unions and other cooperatives. We look forward to sharing more of our credit unions initiatives moving forward with our commitment to the 8th Cooperative Principle.




Local Government Federal Credit Union serves North Carolina’s local government employees, elected/appointed officials, volunteers and their families. The $2 billion federally chartered Credit Union is a cooperative of more than 360,000 members associated with various facets of local government in North Carolina’s 100 counties and 546 municipalities.


Civic Federal Credit Union was created in response to changes in banking needs and advancements in financial services. With technology that makes it easier to access money, Civic reaches members beyond the branch. Civic has a decidedly local focus, serving the employees and volunteers of local governments in North Carolina as well as its small business community.



Michelle Outlaw Appointed the Board of Directors of Clean Energy Credit Union

As AACUC Joins the Clean Energy Credit Union’s Field of Membership

November 17, 2020 - Renée Sattiewhite, President & CEO of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) announced today that Michelle Outlaw, Chief Strategic Officer at AACUC has been appointed to the board of directors of Clean Energy Credit Union.   Ms. Outlaw joined the AACUC team earlier this year as the VP of Programs and was later promoted to the position of Chief Strategic Officer.  Outlaw has served financial institutions during the past 30 years with an emphasis in Lending and Enterprise Risk Management areas of Loan Review and Compliance.  Prior to joining AACUC, she served as President / CEO at First Legacy Community Credit Union. 


Ms. Sattiewhite also said “We are proud to announce that AACUC has been accepted into Clean Energy Credit Union’s  field of membership this year and we look forward to a fruitful partnership to spread the word about the role of environmental stewardship and energy conservation in creating and enhancing sustainable communities.  In particular, our lower income communities and communities of color need this type of financial support for making the conversion to green energy opportunities more accessible and affordable.”


Clean Energy Credit Union, founded in 2017, is the only credit union in the U.S. that is focused solely on clean energy lending and environmental stewardship.  Every dollar deposited earns interest while helping its members to finance a clean energy product or service via clean energy loan terms that are among the best available in the market. Clean Energy Credit Union is one of the few Online/Mobile only financial institutions with no brick and mortar offices, creating and efficient and lean operating structure that benefits its members and lowers its cost of capital.


Clean Energy CEO, Terri Mickelson said, “Clean Energy Credit Union was started by a group of people who are passionate about promoting clean energy in order to protect our environment and improve our economy. Instead of starting a ‘green bank’ we chose to take an innovative approach to a proven, cooperative business model of  the credit union.”    Accordingly, Clean Energy was founded to  propagate the multiple benefits of both clean energy and cooperatives such as:


  • Mitigate climate change,

  • Reduce pollution and improve public health,

  • Create jobs and build community wealth,

  • Promote democratic organizations,

  • Improve national security and increase energy independence,

  • Promote personal financial independence

AACUC Expands Its 2021 Mentorship Program

AACUC is Seeking Mentors to Serve as

Role Models and Career Development Coaches

for Credit Union Professionals

November 10, 2020 - Renée Sattiewhite, President & CEO of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) announced today a major expansion of its Mentorship Program for 2021.   “We are all about Leadership, Mentorship, and Internship” and advancing diversity and career development,” said Renée Sattiewhite.   “It is important for our senior and mid-level professionals across the credit union movement to lead the way, in order to make this type of program truly beneficial.”


AACUC is currently seeking 50 Mentors and 50 Mentees for the 2021 Program.

  • Program runs from February 2021 through October 2021

  • Virtual sessions between Mentor and Mentee

  • Quarterly Mentor and Mentee Group sessions

  • Quarterly Mentor and Mentee Check-in sessions

  • At least one meeting every three weeks


The Mentorship Program offers professional guidance and support to AACUC Members and one-on-one career support for those AACUC Members accepted into the program.  The program fosters long-term professional relationships between an up-and-coming Mentee and an experienced credit union or credit union partner professional Mentor.  This year’s program will offer mentees a complimentary one-year individual membership to CUES, the only industry association dedicated to talent development.  


“CUES is the undisputed leader in providing talent development for credit union professionals, so it’s a natural fit to support the AACUC Mentorship Program in this way, and we’re proud to partner with the AACUC to help prepare the next generation of leaders. Mentees will have access to a host of professional development resources through their CUES Membership, including curated digital learning pathways, online networking and Ivy-league executive education courses.” said John Pembroke, CUES’ President/CEO.


Register today for one of our two sessions to learn more about the AACUC Mentorship Program, you can register in advance for one or both of the on-line information sessions.


            Nov 17, 2020 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

            Nov 18, 2020 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

 After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. You can also visit the Mentorship Program landing page at: for additional information and registration.

GreenState Credit Union

- Iowa's Largest Credit Union -

Steps Up to Support AACUC's Commitment to Change

October 20, 2020 - Today, GreenState Credit Union announced a $25,000 per year pledge for five years totaling $125,000 in support of the “I’ve Got Five on It” campaign, led by Opal Tomashevska, Chair of the Young Professionals of AACUC.  Tomashevska accepted the pledge and commented that “We look forward to a strong partnership with GreenState Credit Union, who is certainly taking the lead as a pacesetter with their generous support of the “I’ve Got Five On It” campaign.  This GreenState pledge is the first and the largest of its kind.


Jeffrey A. Disterhoft, President/CEO of GreenState Credit Union, said that “AACUC and the Commitment to Change Initiative exemplifies the community service spirit of the credit union movement.”  Furthermore, he added, “So many of our neighbors and members are hurting in 2020, first from the health crisis and economic crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also from the pain of racial discord in our society.  With the Commitment to Change Initiative, credit unions are united with one voice to make a positive impact in the communities that we serve.”


Renée Sattiewhite, President/CEO of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) agreed with Disterhoft, by adding “Credit Unions were founded on Cooperative Principles, because of the credit union motto and credit union philosophy of ‘People Helping People’ – we truly believe that Credit Unions can lead our nation in eliminating racial discrimination.  We at AACUC are convinced that the first order of business is for communities of color to become economically self-sufficient, and financial inclusion is at the core of what we do.”


GreenState Credit Union is the largest credit union in Iowa with assets totaling $6.8 Billion and providing banking services to more than 240,000 members. GreenState membership is open to anyone living or working in Iowa, or nearby counties in Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska or South Dakota.  For more information regarding GreenState Credit Union and AACUC please visit: and


To learn more, participate in and support the “Commitment to Change” initiative, please contact Renée Sattiewhite at  

Black Recruitment Tops Agenda
for African-American CU Coalition's New Chair

Larry Sewell, chairman of the African-American Credit Union Coalition and vice president for corporate partnerships and advocacy at Together Credit Union

September 3, 2020 - Larry Sewell is taking over as chairman of the African-American Credit Union Coalition during a time of massive social upheaval.

Demonstrators have taken to the streets for months to protest the treatment of Black Americans after George Floyd died while in police custody in May. As a result, the country is paying greater attention to issues of race and social justice.

Different organizations within the credit union industry have created their own initiatives to help combat racism. The African-American Credit Union Coalition has been at the forefront of this by launching Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism, which will focus on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.

More than 1,000 people registered to participate in its Commitment to Change conversation series last month. The event’s purpose was to encourage those within the industry to think more about diversity and inclusion.

Sewell, vice president for corporate partnerships and advocacy at the $2 billion-asset Together Credit Union in St. Louis, will help oversee Credit Unions Unite Against Racism and other efforts during the next year. He believes the industry needs to be more intentional in its efforts to reach underserved communities and in recruiting Black leaders to serve in the C-suite.

“If I’m a CEO and I look around and I am of a certain race and everyone looks like me, then I need to make a conscious decision to make that change,” Sewell said. “I need to step out and get out of my comfort zone, and recruit and hire someone who will bring even more value to my credit union.”

The following is an edited transcript of a conversation with Sewell.

What are your priorities for the next year as chairman of the African American Credit Union Coalition?

First and foremost, we will keep the Commitment to Change ongoing — Credit Unions Unite Against Racism. We will continue that initiative throughout this year and probably into next year. We have received such outstanding support and recognition from credit union leaders throughout the country. That’s very encouraging to us.

I’m very proud that the African-American Credit Union Coalition was the organization to step up to get these national conversations going… Now it has gotten to the point where more people are recognizing [how Black Americans are treated] because they are seeing it. In the past, it wasn’t seen.

There has been a greater focus on serving traditionally underserved communities. How can credit unions do a better job of that?

No. 1 is making a commitment to get more involved and doing a better job, and then holding ourselves accountable once we make the commitment. Those words sound easy to do.

The majority of credit unions are fairly small and they are in smaller communities. The challenge for credit unions is keeping those smaller credit unions open and viable. That’s really important. Not every credit union is a $1 billion[-asset] credit union. They might be a $10 million or a $5 million[-asset] credit union.

I think that’s where we can make a difference and make an impact – by working with those credit unions who need that help and support to remain viable in their local communities. One of the ways that the African-American Credit Union Coalition can help with that is to provide mentors to smaller credit union leaders. We can provide them with a person who is part of a larger credit union [system] to help them where they maybe need help, [such as] picking up the phone to get some advice. How can we provide interns for credit unions so that we are infusing credit unions with young people who see credit unions as a viable career option after they leave school?


We’ve seen some banks, including Bank of America and PNC, pledge money to help fight racial inequality. And Netflix has pledged to make a $10 million deposit in Hope Credit Union. How does the industry make sure these efforts are effective?

Let’s see if people are still making those same commitments a year or two from now. How do we ensure that isn’t just lip service or what’s popular right now? Once an organization has made a statement, then see if they put action behind the statement.

That can be different for every financial institution, but in a lot of ways it will be the same. What types of products may I offer if I’m going to target an underserved community? How do I redirect people away from payday lending facilities or title companies?

I should be offering the type of products that will attract people to that financial institution instead of going and paying an outrageous loan rate at a non-traditional financial institution. We have to keep people away from mortgaging their futures if they need to borrow $500 to take care of a household expense. We need to gain their trust. If you gain their trust, they will be more apt to come to you the next time.

Rodney Hood as chairman of the National Credit Union Administration has talked about the racism he has faced in quite personal terms. Do you think that’s helping to move the needle and spur difficult conversations?

Chairman Hood has a tremendous role. But when he’s stopped by a police officer, they don’t ask his occupation. They just see an African American man. They don’t see Rodney Hood, chairman of the National Credit Union Administration, appointed by the president of the United States.

As he shares his vulnerability, as an African-American man myself, I can relate to what he shares. Can he make a big difference? Yes, he can and he is. Once people share personal stories, they become more relatable.

People grow up and have been taught all kinds of things. Assumptions are made. Stereotypes are made. Biased thoughts come into play. Those are the type of things that have to be eliminated and who knows when that will happen. But we have to try.

Let’s remember the Civil Rights Act was only enacted in 1964. That’s about 56 years ago. That’s during a lot of people’s lifetimes. And that was just the law. The behavior and attitude of some still hasn’t changed.

Within the credit union industry, those who are CEOs and in leadership positions remain overwhelmingly white. How can credit unions encourage more diversity among leadership?

Of the [almost 5,200] credit unions, we have approximately 170 African-American CEOs and 100 of those are African-American women. I think there were six or seven African-American CEOs of the 300 or more $1 billion-[asset] credit unions. Those are really low numbers.

How can we improve those? People who are in current leadership positions have to be open to having more access for people of color and also women. The women representation is much better. But if talking just about ethnicity, we need people who are currently in leadership roles and board members who are willing to step outside the box and look around the conference table and see if the leadership is representative of the membership.

If there is an imbalance there, there needs to be a strategy to better balance that. Sometimes that has to be an intentional act. We make the decision and execute it. It might mean recruiting at places where we don’t normally recruit. It might mean going to African American universities and colleges and specifically recruiting those bright smart students who are ready, willing and able to work in credit unions.

It might mean going to businesses that are minority-owned and, if the owners are within the field of membership, asking them to volunteer and serve on our boards. It is maybe in an associate or internship capacity initially, but we make access possible through that. Then when we have board openings, we have a bench we can draw from.

Let’s keep in mind, no organization needs to compromise or lower its expectations to hire someone of a different color or gender. You aren’t settling; you are probably improving. There are outstanding people of color ready, willing and able to do outstanding jobs. They are just looking for an opportunity.

  • The AACUC Announces 2020– 2021 Executive Committee and Two New Board Members
    August 20, 2020, Laila Lauson, Snellville, GA

                                                                        Larry D. Sewell appointed as Chairman of the Board
                The African-American Credit Union Coalition elected the Executive Committee for 2020 – 2021 immediately after their
              21st Annual Meeting that was held virtually during the Virtual Conversation Series that was held in August10 – 14, 2020.

     The African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), Board of Directors elected Larry D. Sewell, VP Corporate Partnerships & Advocacy, Together Credit Union, St. Louis, MO, Chairman of the Board.  Maurice R. Smith, CEO of Local Government FCU and CIVIC FCU, has been elected as Vice Chairman. Tracey Jackson, CFO of ResourceOne FCU, has been elected as Treasurer and to complete the Executive Committee appointments, Marvin York, Vice President, Contact Center Member Engagement at PSCU was elected as the Board Secretary.  The other board members are: Timothy L. Anderson, President/CEO of United States Senate FCU, Priscilla Awkard, VP of the Teller Center at Coastal Credit Union,
    Adrian Johnson, SVP/CFO at MECU Credit Union, Ed Presnell, Regional Business Executive at Peach State FCU, and Lynette W. Smith, President/CEO of TruEnergy FCU.  Newly elected board members are: Whitney Anderson-Harrell, CCDO, Michigan State University FCU and Gary J. Perez, President/CEO of USC Credit Union.

    Sewell commented, “I am excited that we have expanded the Board of Directors from 9 members to 11.  Whitney Anderson-Harrell and Gary J. Perez will complement the organization. I am humbled by Chairman appointment. I look forward to working with our Executive team, talented group of Board members and President/CEO to continue to bring AACUC into the forefront of the credit union industry in the diversity & inclusion discussion and engagement.” 

    Larry D. Sewell is Vice-President of Corporate Partnerships & Advocacy at Together Credit Union. He has been active in the Credit Union industry for more than 25 years, previously holding positions as the Vice-President of Training & Development as well as the Vice-President of Corporate Culture & Talent, all with Together Credit Union.  Prior to joining ABECU, Larry was a Commissioned Officer in the United States Air Force. He retired from the Air Force with the rank of Major after serving for 17 years.  Larry obtained his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Samford University and two Masters Degrees from the University of Arkansas (Business Management) and Webster University – St. Louis (Information Management). Aside from his activities in the Credit Union industry, Larry is an active member of his community, serving as Commission Chair on the City of O’Fallon, IL Planning Commission.

  • “Lift Every Voice and Sing”
    August 19, 2020, Barbara Presnell

    I continue to learn.

    This past week, I was privileged to sit in on the 21st Annual Conference of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC). Normally a week-long in-person conference—last August it was held in Charlotte—this year, the conference was entirely virtual. Attendees could visit workshops, browse the exhibit hall, join chat rooms, and more. So far, in my almost 6 months of Zooming, this conference was the most professional, most varied, and most informative I have attended.

    This year’s theme was “Commitment to Change: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” My brother, Edwin, a long-time credit union guy who knows I’m interested in learning about racism, invited me to attend the conference “with” him. Edwin, who has been a member of the organization since 2007, is in the AACUC Hall of Fame, a recognition and honor which makes me very proud.

    As a white person attending a majority Black conference, I hoped to learn a lot about being Black in America. Since inclusion is such an important mission of this organization, not once did I feel that I didn’t belong.

    Monday’s afternoon workshop was titled “Handing Emotions & Healing a Community.” Leader Jai-Dei Jackson, a Licensed Professional Counselor, began the session describing what she called “invisible emotional wounds” within the Black community. Imagine someone kicking or punching you over and over in the legs or back, but you have on clothes, she said. So, when another person comes along, they can’t see your bruises, and they say, “Why are you agitated? Why are you angry? Why do you have an attitude?”

    “Most white people,” she continued, “are clueless to the lived experience of African-Americans. Talking about racial issues is deemed to be inappropriate, too heavy for white people to deal with.” What they do is turn the conversation onto themselves and their perceived guilt or lack of it. “So, if it’s too heavy for them to deal with, we tend not to talk about it.”

    The rest of her session was story after poignant story, told by attendees, of times they’d realized their racial identity, times they’d experienced racism and dehumanization, opportunities—or lack of them—to express the feelings that resulted. The stories I heard were shocking, surprising, and familiar. The smallest word, the slightest action—I’ve said them, done them—was hurtful, was memorable, was responsible for a lifetime of pain.

    For a writer like me, the message hit home—those stories need to be told. But more importantly, I realized, we white folks need listen.

    The week spun on. I sat in on women’s chat sessions and—not to be exclusive—men’s chat sessions.  During Friday’s wrap-up session called “Here, Now, Forever DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion],” I “met” Rodney E. Hood, Chairman of the National Credit Union Association and Charlotte native, who spoke eloquently about the credit union’s continuing role in the fight against systemic racism. Credit unions, after all, were formed to help the underserved populations, and they continue in their mission today.

    “Spiritual Saturday” provided for me the closure and confirmation to my learning that I needed. The session began with a 2019 video of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” performed by the AACUC choir. “Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,” they sang. “Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.” So many tears formed on so many Zooming eyes. Next came the Hat contest, and members—even my brother Edwin—donned headgear of all shapes, colors, and varieties.

    Michelle Outlaw, a member of the conference committee team, delivered the message. “Speak a word,” she told her audience over and over. No matter your circumstances, speak a word. If you are down on your luck, don’t know where money to pay your next bill is coming from, speak a word. If you’re happy, speak a word. If you’re hurting, speak a word. If you’re angry, speak a word.

    Whatever your circumstance, whatever your story, speak a word.

    Everyone everywhere has a story, but for so many years, it’s the white story we’ve heard.

    On this last day of the AACUC conference, I relearned what I understood on the first day: it’s time for me to listen. It’s time for white folks everywhere to shut up for once and listen. It’s time for our county commissioners to listen. Listen to those stories of pain and injustice and joy. Listen to the challenges and successes of people we live and work with every day. It’s time for change, and here’s how it can begin:  

    Listen. For a change.

John Cassidy

Eric Gibbs, Jr.

James Gukeisen

Kelli Holloway

Andre Lucas

  • AACUC Honors Recipients of the Chairman’s Awards at the Commitment for Change Virtual Event
    August 13, 2020, Laila Lauson, AACUC, Atlanta, GA

    The African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) recognized five credit union leaders for the Chairman’s Awards at the Commitment to Change Conversation Series. John Cassidy, Eric Gibbs, Sr., James Gukeisen, Kelli Holloway and André Lucas received the esteemed award that honors individuals that best represents a model for other members to emulate and best embodies the purpose and goals of AACUC.  

    Cassidy is a senior sales market manager for CUNA Mutual Group. Working with associations, leagues and credit unions, he establishes, strengthens and maintains relationships with credit union trade organizations across the U.S. He develops and implements marketing strategies that promote the company's competitive financial services to the credit union industry.

    Gibbs is the Credit Manager of the Chicago Post Office Employees Credit Union and the newly elected president of the Midwest Regional Chapter of the AACUC. A Chicago native, his skillset and diverse knowledge base have allowed him to excel in several departments within the credit union, including Lending, Recoveries and Member Relations.

    Gukeisen is a 19-year credit union movement veteran from Tampa, FL. He spent 11 years at Suncoast Credit Union where he started in the cash room and worked his way up to Senior Card Services Manager. Gukeisen’s last eight years of service have been at Culaince in various roles and he is now a member of the Credit Union Division of FIS.

    Holloway began her career in financial education with State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) in 2009. As the Vice President, Member Education and Outreach at SECU, she works alongside her staff to train credit union employees statewide on financial education efforts for youth and adults. As a credit union advocate, Holloway understands the importance of making lasting relationships with members, volunteers and the communities credit unions serve.

    As the Director of Compliance for the MD DC Credit Union Association, Lucas is highly engaged with credit unions in Maryland and the DC region, consulting on operational issues, policies and procedure development as well as federal and state compliance issues. He trains over 500 volunteers and frontline staff annually on compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and conducts on-site BSA compliance testing. Lucas holds CUNA’s Credit Union Compliance Expert (CUCE), and Bank Secrecy Act Compliance Specialist (BSACS) designations.

    The AACUC's 5-part Commitment to Change Conversation Series is designed to inspire and empower credit union professionals to lead with a mindset of diversity, equity and inclusion during these challenging racial and public health crises to better represent and serve communities of color.

    To learn more and register, visit 

  • AACUC invites credit union movement and partners to Commitment to Change virtual event
    August 6, 2020, Laila Lauson, AACUC, Atlanta, GA

    The African American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) invites credit union professionals and industry partners from across the country to convene for a five-part Commitment to Change Conversation Series. The virtual event will take place August 10-14 and is designed to inspire and empower credit union professionals to lead with a mindset of diversity, equity and inclusion during these challenging racial and public health crises to better represent and serve communities of color.

    “Commitment to Change is an industrywide movement that seeks to ignite professionals to bring about a more diverse and inclusive workforce, community and country,” said AACUC President/CEO Renee Sattiewhite. “This new virtual format will provide us the opportunity to reach more people and provide value that is both needed and timely in our current socioeconomic environment.”

    The weeklong series beginning will feature daily 90-minute virtual sessions led by expert panelists and speakers representing financial services, social justice, mental health and academia. Topics for the discussions include emotional fortitude, leadership during times of crisis, community action, and financial, economic and income equality within the context of being and serving people of color.

    In June, the AACUC launched Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism. This initiative focuses on unification, education, conversations, and investments that will move the credit union movement into a future where diversity, equity, and inclusion can thrive.

    To learn more and register, visit 

  • AACUC Commitment to Change Boosted through Long-term Support from BECU
    06/18/2020, Laila Lauson, AACUC, Snellville, GA

    The African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) is pleased to announce a commitment from BECU, one of the country’s largest community credit union, of $500,000 over the next five years.

    The gift is intended to support AACUC’s mission to:
         - Increase the overall interest and strength of the credit union movement in the Pacific Northwest region.
         - Strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion with a focus on African Americans in the credit union industry, membership opportunities and
            access to training and development.

         - Assist in creation of curriculum aimed at addressing wealth equity in communities of color.
         - Support the development of a model focused on reaching and building partnerships in diverse communities for large credit unions.

    “At BECU, we are committed to bringing people together to improve the financial well-being of our members and their communities, and that includes supporting equitable access to financial tools, education and resources,” said Benson Porter, BECU’s president and chief executive officer. “AACUC’s important work exemplifies the cooperative spirit, of which many credit unions were founded, by bringing the industry together to lead change for communities of color.”

    “By partnering with AACUC, we are committed to supporting the collective work to empower our communities through financial education, remove barriers to increase the earning potential of underserved individuals, and promote the personal and professional growth of diverse members and advocates,” said Solynn McCurdy, BECU’s senior vice president of Social Impact. “Only together can we begin to make meaningful impacts and strengthen the financial health of our Black members and communities.”

    “Support from corporate partners, like BECU, further an optimistic outlook for the credit union movement. We are hopeful that other credit unions and organizations will follow their example and invest in the future of credit unions. We are grateful for the support and the outward Commitment to Change that BECU and its leaders have taken,” said Renée Sattiewhite, AACUC president and chief executive officer

    AACUC urges all credit union professionals to see their colleagues through a different lens, especially colleagues of color. Going forward, interaction must consist of empathetic, honest, respectful, and thoughtful discussions that are geared toward understanding not blame.

    “I am convinced more now than ever that the credit union industry can lead the nation in eliminating racial discrimination. Credit union leaders do not have all the answers but as practitioners of financial institutions we have a commodity that everyone needs,” said Renée Sattiewhite. 

    To learn more, participate and support the “Commitment to Change” initiative, visit or email Renée Sattiewhite at

    About BECU: With more than 1.2 million members and more than $22.2 billion in assets, BECU is the largest not-for-profit credit union in Washington and one of the top five financial cooperatives in the country. As a member-owned credit union, BECU is focused on helping increase the financial well-being of its members and communities through better rates, fewer fees, community partnerships and financial education. The credit union currently operates more than 50 locations in Washington and two financial centers in South Carolina. For more information, visit


  • Mitchell Stankovic Partners with AACUC for GWLN Scholarship

    Susan Mitchell, CEO of Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates and founding chair of the Global Women’s Leadership Network for World Council of Credit Unions, has worked toward diversity, equity and inclusion her entire career. Along those lines, the Herb Wegner Lifetime Achievement Award Winner has partnered with the African-American Credit Union Coalition to fund a scholarship to support black female professionals in their leadership journey.

    “Advancing women and DEI are two issues that have always been in my blood,” Mitchell said. “They are issues I and others speak about regularly, and I believe in pairing my words with action! To offer a boost and to #StandUp for leadership development opportunities for all. That is why Mitchell Stankovic is establishing this scholarship for black professional women to attend the GWLN’s Executive Readiness Summit.” Mitchell Stankovic is also a member of and donor to the AACUC.

    The Executive Readiness Summit is scheduled to take place in Madison, Wis., Oct. 28-30, 2020. The summit provides learning opportunities, networking and personal development for tomorrow’s female credit union leaders. The GWLN Executive Readiness Summit Scholarship is valued at $2,500.

    “Susan Mitchell is a tremendous leader in the area of DEI within the credit union community,” Renee Sattiewhite, CEO of the African-American Credit Union Coalition. “The recent social unrest has served as a catalyst for equity in the treatment of minorities, and Sue’s generosity will go a long way toward that goal. We appreciate the opportunity to further advance black leaders in the credit union community and create even greater value and recognition for AACUC members.”

    “We live and breathe diversity at the World Council of Credit Unions,” WOCCU President/CEO Brian Branch said. “Elevating women in their personal and professional lives, as well as within their communities, helps stabilize families here and abroad. We’re very happy with the announcement of this scholarship and the continued growth and support of our GWLN program.”

Dan Berger


  • Open Letter on Social Justice

    No amount of days, weeks or months passing is enough to remedy, rectify or heal the level of pain and suffering that hundreds of years of racism has inflicted on the Black community. 

    Even so, that is not an excuse to do nothing.

    It is our duty, especially for those of us who are CEOs, leaders and policymakers, to make sure we take action within our communities, our schools, and our companies. We must make pronouncements against hate and we must do so unequivocally and everywhere we see it, not just when men and women are unjustifiably killed or when acts of hate are captured on camera.

    Our nation is strongest when we stand together, united. It is imperative we fight against the temptation to blame, to scapegoat, to point the finger and single out any one people, regardless of our economic conditions or societal prospects. We must be a society of accountability. That means all of us must hold ourselves accountable to live the very best lives we possibly can, and to hold ourselves (and others) accountable when we engage in racist and discriminatory behaviors that bring down our peers.

    We must be kind and brave. The brave actions of thousands of people have the power to move mountains. It is not enough to simply say that we believe in diversity and inclusion, or that we are not racist. As the African American Credit Union Coalition’s new initiative states, all of us must commit to change if we want to see change.

    As we come off the heels of celebrating another Independence Day, we must recognize that freedom has never been the same for all. Despite the unprecedented challenges we are facing as we navigate a global pandemic, the fight against racial injustice cannot be placed on the back burner.

    That’s why my association is doubling down on raising funds and awareness for diversity and inclusion efforts within the credit union industry. We are putting our money where our mouth is and backing the people and groups who will lead us in bringing about change. At NAFCU, we believe credit unions have a particular role to play.

    If this is your first time stepping into the arena of fighting racism, don’t be afraid. There is no perfect way to navigate the complexities of our history, but doing something is better than doing nothing at all. Take the time to become educated on the many prominent Black and non-white leaders and organizations who have been fighting for equality for decades and centuries. Taking it a step further: Don’t speak for them; ask them to speak to you and your staff about equality and how we can go about achieving it today. Change begins with all of us. 

  • Town Hall Explores Human and Economic Toll of Racism and How the Credit Union Movement Can Effect Change
    Columbia, MD (June 2, 2020)

    The African American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) and the MD|DC Credit Union Association co-hosted a Town Hall to explore the human and economic toll of systemic racism and how the movement can effect change.

    200 participated in Commitment to Change Through Action, a virtual town hall held on June 30. AACUC President and CEO Renee Sattiewhite, along with AACUC Chair and MECU Credit Union EVP/CFO Adrian Johnson, served as moderators. A panel of credit union leaders and industry partners shared their personal experiences with racism and engaged in a broader discussion of how systemic racism has created a legacy of economic inequality for Blacks in America. Panelists also talked about the role diversity, equity and inclusion practices play in bringing about change.

    How did we get here?
    Economic Inequality

    To find out how we got here, Samira Salem, Senior Policy Analyst for CUNA, says you have to go back nearly a century ago to the practice of redlining which used color-coded maps to determine where it was safe to insure mortgages. African American neighborhoods were colored red to indicate they were too risky.

    Salem says barriers to home ownership prevented Blacks from achieving economic stability, “Black people were not able to accumulate wealth, they weren’t able to send their kids to college with their home equity or bequeath wealth. This was the practice of redlining. Really a systematic policy of mortgage discrimination and segregation.”

    While redlining was banned more than 50 years ago, its legacy is still felt. Salem says while home ownership accounts for two-thirds of the wealth of a typical U.S. household, 75 percent of Whites own their own home, but according to the U.S. Census Bureau just 44 percent of Blacks and 49 percent of Hispanic/Latinx are homeowners. As a direct result, the net worth of White households is now 10 times greater than Black households according to the most recent Survey of Consumer Finances by the Federal Reserve Bank.

    Where do we go from here? What are the solutions?
    Be Intentional

    Renée Sattiewhite, President/CEO of AACUC says she believes that being intentional is a good first step. “I believe that if we share our stories and we have conversations, if we’re open and honest and we agree to be open and honest, then things can change.”

    The Role of Leadership
    Panelists agreed that leadership has a vital role to play in addressing racial issues and creating opportunities for advancement. Adrian Johnson, CFO/SVP Administration at MECU Credit Union and Chair of AACUC says, “I have a duty, I have a responsibility to folks who are coming behind me. I stand on the shoulders of those who have come before me. The folks that are coming behind me, I owe them and have a duty to help them be their sponsor, be their advocate, be their influence. Help them into that C-suite or help them into that CEO office.”

    Based on his experiences, Andre Lucas, Compliance Director at MD|DC Credit Union Association says the key to real progress comes from the top, “Leadership has to be onboard so we can bring this racism to an end and all of us are looked at not by color, but by who we are as individuals as people, as human beings. We need to keep this momentum going and don’t stop.”

    Brett Noll, President/CEO of Securityplus FCU urges leaders to be an active participant in finding solutions, “Become aware and acknowledge the problem. It’s got to be an ongoing effort and you have to commit to it. Make it part of your strategic plan. Get people onboard with the effort top down and do it and don’t stop doing it. And don’t be scared.”

    Leaders have a responsibility to create a workplace culture that is inclusive and where employees have a real sense of belonging says Maria Martinez, CEO/President of Border FCU, “I think everyone in a leadership role should be an ally in helping to create a safe and more welcoming and inclusive environment. Show off your staff, brag about them, praise them for their accomplishments and make them feel part of the team.”

    How do you know if progress is being made?
    Measuring Progress

    Gathering data is critical to measuring progress. Sattiewhite says there are just six African Americans leading the 314 U.S. credit unions with assets over $1 billion. “We need that data to see who is in the C-suites, who is in the board room, to see if we are making progress. If we don’t know – we can’t tell you if we are making a difference or if change is happening.”

    Jill Nowacki, CEO of Humanidei, a human capital strategies firm, suggests credit unions commit to metrics for diversity and inclusion the same way they do for loan growth or asset growth, and tie those metrics to compensation. “Setting those metrics that actually align with and reflect the community and then holding people accountable for that is critically important.

    What is the role of diversity, equity & inclusion? and how can it make a real impact?
    Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

    Diverse teams make better business decisions and provide a competitive edge, particularly as demographics shift says Opal Tomashevska, Multicultural Business Strategy Manager, CUNA Mutual Group. “When you think about input, if everything is the same, your innovation is going to be limited, you are not going to have the perspective that you need. We also know that the population is getting more diverse so younger generations like millennial and Gen Z are already more than 50 percent people of color. By 2040 it’s predicted to be a minority majority, so if you don’t have that representation on your teams, you’re not able to be of service to the population as it’s changing as well.”

    Salem says it’s important to use the DEI lens to assess products and services to determine who is benefitting and who is being burdened. The key she says is knowing your members. “You have to know their pain points.  And understand who your members are. In order to understand them, we need to become more equitable, we need to become more inclusive and we need to become more diverse as organizations.”

    Wesley Wiliams, VP of Information Technology at Valley Star CU, says DEI should be empowering, “Don’t just do diversity to check a box. Go the next step and include them and give them the resources and tools to prop them up. Put them around people who can help them and that’s how I really think we will see a change.”

    Lead the Way
    Credit unions should be leading the way toward to greater financial equity and inclusion says Brett Noll, “We have a platform, we have the ability to change our country, change our world. It’s going to take all of us. It’s not something we can look at other organizations and say they are handling that, the politicians are handling that, it’s on each and every one of us.”

    To view the webinar, please visit:

    The African American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) is a 501c3 non-profit organization created in 1999 to increase the strength of the global credit union community through professional development and advocacy. It has become an all-encompassing organization for individuals (professional and volunteers) in Credit Unions, Insurance, Regulators, Consultants and other entities in the credit union industry. AACUC is considered a leader in the credit union industry adopting the 8th Cooperative Principle and providing knowledge of how credit unions can become more diverse and inclusive. Visit to see the benefits of membership.

    MD|DC Credit Union Association is a trade association representing credit unions in Maryland and the Washington, D.C. region and the 2.2 million members they serve. Credit unions are member-owned, democratically controlled financial cooperatives. Visit for more information.

  • Netflix Invests $10 Million in HOPE to Build Economic Opportunity in Black Communities
    June 30, 2020 | Jackson, MS

    Netflix today announced a $10 million deposit in Hope Credit Union as one of the first investments in a $100 million initiative to build economic opportunity in Black communities.  The investment is among the first made by Netflix in financial institutions and other organizations that directly support Black communities in the U.S.

    The Netflix investment in HOPE will be in the form of a Transformational Deposit. In each Deep South state served by HOPE, for every dollar in net worth held by white households, Black households hold between ten and twenty cents.  Through Transformational Deposits, HOPE imports funds into these capital-starved communities to make business, mortgage and consumer loans and provide other financial services that build wealth and foster economic mobility.  Over the next two years, HOPE estimates the Netflix deposit will support financing to more than 2,500 entrepreneurs, homebuyers and consumers of color. 

    In a blog published today, Netflix Director of Talent Acquisition Aaron Mitchell and Treasury Director Shannon Alwyn noted that there is much more to be done to narrow the wealth gap and that the investments will contribute to a more equitable financial system.  “Nineteen percent of Black families have either negative wealth or no assets at all, compared to only 9 percent of White households, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve,” they wrote. “Black banks have existed to fight this for generations – spurring economic growth by extending credit in often underbanked communities. But they’re disadvantaged in their access to capital, especially from large multinational companies, when compared to other banks.”

    “Left unchecked, America’s unsustainable racial wealth gap will get even wider,” said HOPE CEO Bill Bynum.   “On a per capita basis, financial institutions owned or led by people of color are the most effective way to fuel economic mobility and prosperity for people and places from which wealth has been extracted for generations.  If other companies followed Netflix’ example, hundreds of billions could be invested toward closing debilitating opportunity gaps that create division and limits America’s immense potential.”  According to the FDIC, roughly six out of 10 people living in the service area of Black owned banks are Black, in contrast to six out of 100 for banks that are not Black-owned.   

    HOPE is the only depository institution in several communities, including Itta Bena, a majority Black Mississippi Delta town, with a poverty rate is 42% and median household income is $20,417 and only $1.2 million in total local deposits.  Transformational deposits are designed to import capital into banking deserts such as Itta Bena. 

    Companies and individuals interested in making a Transformational Deposit in HOPE can learn more at

    About HOPE 

    HOPE (Hope Enterprise Corporation, Hope Credit Union and Hope Policy Institute) provides financial services; aggregates resources; and engages in advocacy to mitigate the extent to which factors such as race, gender, birthplace and wealth limit one’s ability to prosper. Since 1994, HOPE has generated more than $2.5 billion in financing that has benefitted more than 1.5 million people in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

    Media Contact: Shelia Byrd
    Hope Enterprise Corporation/Hope Credit Union

  • The Movement, Injustice and a 'Tipping Point'
    By Ray Birch, Duluth, GA

The United States has reached a “tipping point” with its tolerance for racial injustice, asserts Renee Sattiewhite, who believes this time, after the protests subside, actual change will take place.

Sattiewhite, president and CEO of the African American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), stated attitudes toward people of color will change, acceptance of racism will decline, and this change will work its way through credit unions as well.

Sattiewhite spoke with in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police, which has set off protests and discussion of race-related issues across the United States and the world. It has similarly set off discussions within the credit union community, with CUNA, CUES and other individual credit unions announcing initiatives seeking to address racism and equality.

The AACUC itself has also announced a new partnership with the World Council of Credit Unions aimed at reducing discrimination.

Sattiewhite told no longer can lip service be paid to change, as has been the case in the past after civil unrest following the death of another African American at the hands of police.

“This time I don’t think we have a choice,” Sattiewhite said. “The landscape and the people in society have changed.”

What has altered that landscape, and the hearts of many Americans, is the fact more of the mistreatment of African Americans by police is being captured by cellphone video and now body cameras on officers,” said Sattiewhite.

“We know what has happened to African Americans over so many years, but now we are just seeing much more of it,” said Sattiewhite. “You just can’t look at this the same way anymore. The visual images…”

An ‘Affect’ on the Good & Decent


Sattiewhite compared what people are often seeing today, including the graphic video of Floyd pleading for his mother before he died, to the death of Emmitt Till.

Till was the 14-year-old African American who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of offending a white woman in her family's grocery store. Till’s four killers were acquitted. Sattiewhite recalled how Till’s mother wanted an open casket so everyone could see how badly her young son was beaten by grown men.

“These things we are seeing are happening almost monthly now,” Sattiewhite said. “Those visuals affect people. They affect anyone who is decent and good, and I believe most people are decent and good. This is a tipping point. It’s a tipping point for AACUC. It’s a tipping point for my board. It’s a tipping point for Renee Sattiewhite. People are saying this is no longer acceptable—period.”

But for real change it must involve more than changed mindsets, said Sattiewhite.

“For things to be different there has to be an admission of the atrocities,” offered Sattiewhite. “Once that's admitted, then we can look at how do we best solve this problem. The commitments have to come from not just your mind but from your heart. You have to feel it, you have to want change to happen. I was talking to a white woman this morning, and she was just not getting it. I finally had to say, ‘Stop, you don't understand. I'm trying to give you the viewpoint that you need to be looking out from and you refuse to see it. And she is a well-intentioned white woman. So part of what has to happen is the change must happen from your own point of view.”

What About Credit Unions?

But what about credit unions? Since the death of Floyd, numerous initiatives have been launched and positions announced by credit unions, CU organizations and CU leaders. What specific steps can credit unions take to make a difference?

“The key is to be honest and open. You have look at this like you would a relationship,” explained Sattiewhite. “So, let's say two people have been married for years and they've become disrespectful to each other, and now they've come to a place where they’re either going to part ways or try to work things out. To do that you would need a mediator, someone to have a conversation with you both—whether that's a pastor, a counselor or your parents—someone to mediate. There needs to be some mediation.”

The Need for ‘Real Talk’

What that will do is lead to “real talk.”

“I would talk with Tim Anderson (AACUC board member and CEO of U.S. Senate FCU) when he was chairman of AACUC, and he would say, ‘OK Renee, it’s real talk.’ That meant, ‘OK, this is a safe space and time to have some honest and open conversations.’ Right then, he was no longer a boss to me, we were equals and we spoke open and honestly, without any concerns.”

Sattiewhite emphasized those same types of conversations have to begin happening across credit unions, between their leaders and African American professionals.

“CEOs and people need to have honest conversations without being defensive,” she said. “And CEOs have to be very open about not just listening but hearing what is being said to them.”

Beyond that, Sattiewhite said she provide specific directions.

“I can't be the one to define these action steps for everyone,” she said. “Those steps have to be different for each organization. But there needs to be progress. This has to be intentional. And there should be consideration and humility in all of this. And humility—I don’t think we always have that, and that is why we have trouble sometimes.”

Educational Campaign Launches

As reported, the AACUC is rolling out its “Commitment to Change, Credit Unions Against Racism” initiative.

“We're looking at how we can start a fund and use the money to help educate people about racism,” said Sattiewhite. “We want credit unions all across the nation, and those of you who are international, to please join with us in eliminating and eradicating racism. Unite against racism. We hope to help people understand and navigate through the differences people have. If they understand these differences better, they will be less likely to make assumptions. For example, just because someone comes from the West Coast and has a laid-back manner and way of speaking does not mean they are not smart.”

The AACUC is also partnering with SECU of North Carolina to deliver DEI training four times a year in which participants will be asked to live a day as a minority.


“You will live in someone else’s shoes and really feel what goes on in the lives of people of color,” explained Sattiewhite.

SECU has donated $125,000 to the program.

“We're looking to run the academy four times a year and I am really excited about it,” said Sattiewhite, who added the program is now being formed.

African Americans in CU Leadership


As for the issue of African Americans in leadership positions within credit unions—where they have long been underrepresented despite much discussion–Sattiewhite believes what will lead to increasing those numbers is good data and measuring results.

“The last time we checked, in November of 2019, there were 154 African American CEOs in the credit union space. We have more than 5,000 credit unions. That's really a low percentage,” noted Sattiewhite. “The problem for me is that we just got that information in 2018. Until we know what the numbers actually are on an ongoing basis, how can we come up with a plan for change? How will we be able to measure? So we need to get organizations to start the research and keep these numbers coming, because at AACUC we don't have the  bandwidth. If we received a grant for that, then we could do that. But without that data…You have to be able to monitor and evaluate if you are making a difference to make lasting change.”

  • Overwhelming Response to AACUC Announcement of Commitment to Change
    AACUC, June 24, 2020

    Immediately following the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) call this month for credit unions throughout the United States and abroad to join the effort to dismantle systemic racism, supporters responded enthusiastically and positively. The initiative, Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism, focuses on unification, education, conversations, and investments that will move the credit union movement into a future where diversity, equity and inclusion can thrive.

    AACUC invites credit unions throughout the United States and abroad to join the effort to eliminate racism through the Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism Initiative. Elements of the initiative include:


    • Creating a safe space for AACUC members to have “real talk” on the emotional and psychological impact of current events and how to bring about sustainable change. In the ongoing series of virtual conversations, topics have included the impact of police brutality, the fears of being profiled, what it’s like to experience microaggressions, and the reality of trauma that can happen to an individual and/or groups as a result of oppression.

    • Launching the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Leadership Academy for Financial Professionals (DEI Academy). To further illuminate DEI among credit unions, AACUC’s interactive program will be offered four times a year, inviting in-depth exploration of diversity, equity, inclusion, and how to better understand the nuances of racism.

In addition to the time, expertise, and resources that several credit unions and industry organizations have contributed to AACUC, the credit union movement is making new financial investments that will have a long-term impact for current and future credit union professionals. Many AACUC partners have stepped up to join the Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism including key support from credit unions, State Leagues, and CUSOs.

  • State Employees’ Credit Union based in Raleigh, North Carolina (SECU NC) has donated $125,000 to AACUC to support the efforts to educate the credit union community with a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Leadership Academy for Financial Professionals (DEI Academy). “We are proud to host the DEI Academy at our corporate headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina,” said Mike Lord, President/CEO, SECU NC. 

  • Coastal Credit Union from Raleigh, NC, has pledged $50,000. President/CEO, Chuck Purvis said, “We’re not just supporting the initiative.  We’re taking it to heart and looking inward to see how we can do more ourselves.”

  • PSCU located in St. Petersburg, FL, has pledged to continue to provide in-kind support.


“I am convinced more now than ever that the Credit Union Industry can lead the nation in eliminating racial discrimination. Credit Union people do not have all the answers, but as practitioners of financial institutions we have a commodity that everyone needs,” said Sattiewhite, AACUC President/CEO.  “AACUC urges all credit union professionals to see their colleagues through a different lens, especially colleagues of color. Moving forward, interaction must consist of empathetic, honest, respectful and thoughtful discussions that are geared toward understanding, not blame.”

To learn more, participate, and support the “Commitment to Change” initiative, please visit or email Renée Sattiewhite at

  • AACUC Collaborates with the Illinois Credit Union System to Honor Juneteenth
    Naperville, IL. June 19, 2020

    In Honor of Juneteenth, LSC of the Illinois Credit Union System (ICUS) has joined AACUC’s Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism. LSC is sponsoring 100 individual memberships for LSC and Illinois Credit Union League credit union partners to join AACUC. This limited number of sponsored memberships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.  

    “The decision to sponsor these individual memberships to AACUC is based on our long-standing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I look forward to working with credit unions to support these important values throughout our communities,” says Tom Kane, President/CEO of the Illinois Credit Union System. 

    We are humbled by the support of the Illinois Credit Union League and LSC.  Juneteenth is a historic day for African Americans – this is a great way to start our Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism Initiative”, said Adrian S. Johnson, SVP/CFO MECU Credit Union and AACUC Chairman of the Board. 

    Libby Calderone, President and COO of LSC, sees this as a way of strengthening credit union collaboration and the communities they serve. She says, “I’m excited to be working with our credit union partners on uniting our communities, moving forward, and advocating for lasting and meaningful change. 

    This is an opportunity for credit unions to participate in a common mission with ICUS and AACUC to increase diversity within the credit union community through advocacy and professional development. 


    About AACUC
    The AACUC is a 501c3 non-profit organization created in 1999 to increase the strength of the global credit union community through professional development and advocacy. It has become an all-encompassing organization for individuals (professional and volunteers) in Credit Unions, Insurance, Regulators, Consultants and other entities in the credit union industry.  AACUC is considered a leader in the credit union industry adopting the 8th Cooperative Principle and providing knowledge of how credit unions can become more diverse and inclusive. Visit to see the benefits of membership.

    About the Illinois Credit Union League
    The Illinois Credit Union League is the primary trade association for more than 260 state and federal credit unions in Illinois. It focuses on providing legislative and regulatory advocacy, compliance assistance and information, and a wide range of educational and training services to those credit unions, who in turn serve approximately 3.4 million members. More information can be found at

    About LSC
    LSC® is a credit union service organization offering a wide array of products and services and is dedicated to helping credit unions compete.   Its experience and expertise in all areas from card programs and customer service to education and legal advocacy, as a corporate partner of the Illinois Credit Union League, has made LSC a key support provider in the credit union movement.   Its products include credit and debit programs, pre-paid debit cards, portfolio development consulting, Agent credit card programs, ATM services, and debt collection.  It serves more than 2,300 credit unions in 50 states.  More information can be found at:

  • How Trump's latest nominee could reshape the NCUA board
    By Melisa Angel, CU Journal, June 19, 2020

    Kyle Hauptman could shake up the National Credit Union Administration’s dynamic if the Senate confirms his nomination to the board.

    President Donald Trump said on Monday that he would nominate Hauptman to fill the seat currently held by J. Mark McWatters, whose term expired in August. Hauptman, a Republican who works for Sen. Tom Cotton, is likely to be confirmed, though he lacks direct experience with the credit union industry.

    Hauptman is a staunch opponent of the Dodd-Frank Act. That puts him at odds with current NCUA board member Todd Harper, who helped craft that legislation. That could mean more clashes over regulatory policy if Hauptman is confirmed.

    Still, given his background, credit unions are hopeful that Hauptman will advocate for loosening of regulations.

    “I would like to get his regulatory philosophy and how he would approach his goals and regulation,” said Todd Mason, president and CEO of the Maine Credit Union League, the state that Hauptman is from. “Going back to Chairman [Rodney] Hood, I would like to hear something like ‘effective, but not excessive regulation’ during the Senate confirmation hearings.”

    NCUA declined to comment for this story. Hauptman did not return a request for comment.

    Hauptman has worked more broadly within financial services, though not directly with credit unions. He spent five years at the now defunct Lehman Brothers and served on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Advisory Committee for Small and Emerging Companies.

    He is currently the economic policy adviser for Cotton and the staff director of the Senate Banking Committee's Subcommittee on Economic Policy. That experience could help him through the Senate confirmation process.

    “I don’t think that not having direct credit union experience would hamper him from being a strong credit union advocate,” said Larry Sewell, vice president of corporate partnerships and advocacy at Together Credit Union in St. Louis, Mo. Sewell is also the vice chairman of the executive board of directors for the African-American Credit Union Coalition.

    From opinion pieces published in various outlets over the last few years, it’s clear that Hauptman is in favor of lifting some regulations. The Wall Street Journal previously referred to him as a "regulatory critic."

    Hauptman has written about what he called the “collateral damage” of the Dodd-Frank Act.

    "Unfortunately, Dodd-Frank has disproportionately hit community banks," he wrote in an op-ed for The Hill in 2016. "Complying with endless pages of regulations that have been issued – and remain to be released – requires considerable time and money, things that small banks have less of than their bigger brethren."

    That’s a view likely to be shared by many in the credit union industry. The number of small institutions has continued to shrink while the ranks of big credit unions have grown. Industry observers have long argued that keeping up with regulatory demands is one driver behind consolidation.

    However, Hauptman’s argument could also cause an internal rift on the board since Harper helped draft the Dodd-Frank legislation. Harper, the board’s lone Democrat, “led efforts to rein in ‘too-big to-fail’ financial institutions,” according to his LinkedIn page.

    During his time on the board, Harper, who was also nominated by Trump, has called for more oversight of large credit unions through dedicated consumer compliance exams and has argued in favor of implementing the heavily debated risk-based capital rule.

    In contrast, Hauptman worked at investment banking giant Lehman Brothers at the time of its collapse in 2008.

    “I think if he was confirmed to the NCUA board, it would mean that Chairman Hood will have a firm partner on the NCUA board to affect an agenda that seems to be inclined toward regulatory relief,” said Ryan Donovan, chief advocacy officer at the Credit Union National Association.

    Hauptman has also argued that cryptocurrency and blockchain can increase national competitiveness. This view would complement the other board members, noted Lucy Ito, president and CEO of the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors.

    “I hope he’d bring an interest in fostering competition and increasing options for consumers given the digital interest,” she added.

    During Hauptman’s confirmation hearing, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, along with other Democrats may bring up his opposition to Dodd-Frank. But Democrats currently lack a majority on the committee so they would not be able to block his nomination without being joined by some Republicans.

    There’s a possibility that his work with Cotton could be used as a cudgel against Hauptman as well. Cotton, a Trump ally, has been at times a lightning rod. He recently argued in a controversial op-ed in the New York Times that the military should be deployed amid the recent protests sparked by George Floyd’s death in police custody. The article received significant backlash and ultimately led to the resignation of James Bennet, the opinion editor for the New York Times.

    Despite these potential issues, many believe that Hauptman will be confirmed, especially with the presidential election looming in November. If Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the election, he would probably pick a Democrat to fill the spot. That would mean the board’s balance would shift from the current two Republicans and one Democrat to two Democrats and one Republican.

    By law, there must be at least one member on the board from the president’s opposing party. Hauptman’s term would end in August 2025.

    The Senate could move quickly to confirm as many Trump nominees — even for lower profile positions such as the NCUA board — as possible before the election.

    “The calendar is always a factor when it comes to nominations,” said John McKechnie, a credit union consultant and a former staffer at CUNA and the NCUA. “This close to an election, probably even more so. On the other hand, Congress has operated in two time frames: now and not now. So when Congress wants to get something done, they can.”

  • AACUC Announces Five-Part Virtual Event:  Commitment to Change Conversation Series
    06/18/2020, Laila Lauson, AACUC, Snellville, GA

    The African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) will host a new five-part virtual event, the Commitment to Change Conversation Series, on August 10-14, 2020. This series is designed to inspire and empower credit union professionals to lead with a mindset of diversity, equity, and inclusion during these challenging racial and public health crises to better represent, serve and achieve positive outcomes for communities of color.

    The virtual series is part of the organization’s larger Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism initiative and will take place in lieu of the organization’s annual conference, which was scheduled for August 11-14 in St. Petersburg, Fla. and has been postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The weeklong series will feature daily 90-minute virtual sessions led by expert panelists representing financial services, social justice, mental health, and academia. Topics will include emotional fortitude, leadership during times of crisis, community action, and financial, economic and income equality within the context of being and serving people of color.

    “As financial professionals, we believe credit unions are uniquely positioned to affect meaningful change in the fight against social injustice,” said Renée Sattiewhite, AACUC President/CEO. “As Black professionals, we are eager to share insights from our unique experiences and exchange strategies with allies to help us build a more diverse and inclusive workforce so that we can impact the communities where we live. I’m confident this new virtual format affords us even greater opportunity to reach more people and provide value that’s particularly relevant in this current environment.”

    The AACUC was quick to respond to social justice activities precipitated by the death of George Floyd earlier this year, hosting virtual roundtables and listening sessions. Prior to these events, AACUC led the way by connecting its members with critical resources and relief efforts, including the Payment Protection Program and CDC public health guidance, as the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected Black Americans. The AACUC partnered with African-American outreach efforts from the White House, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Credit Union National Association to ensure the experiences of people of color were told, heard, and accounted for.

     “This has been an incredibly complex time for the African-American community and has underscored the health, economic and social inequalities this community continuously faces,” explained Sattiewhite. “We’re committed to staying engaged and developing opportunities where diversity, equity and inclusion take a front seat – because Black credit union professionals and Black communities’ matter.”

    Florida-based credit union service organization PSCU will be the event sponsor, while Suncoast Credit Union, the largest credit union headquartered in Florida, will serve as the local host for the virtual event. The event will be free and open to the public. Event and registration information can be found at

  • SECU Supports the African-American Credit Union Coalition with $125,000 Donation
    June 17, 2020, Leigh Brady, Raleigh, NC

    State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) is pleased to announce a donation of $125,000 to the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC).  The gift, made on behalf of the 2.5 million members of the Credit Union, reinforces a commitment to partner with the AACUC to advance the mission “to increase diversity within the credit union community through advocacy and professional development.”  In addition, the donation will support the AACUC tenets in the Statement on Diversity which “recognizes the differences and distinctions of each individual, group, or organization that are represented in society and within the credit union movement.”  SECU is actively involved in the AACUC Southern Regional Chapter of the organization, with two SECU Vice Presidents, Jamie Keith and Kelli Holloway, currently serving as Chapter President and Vice President, respectively.

    The African-American Credit Union Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of African-American professionals and volunteers in the credit union industry.  Affiliation with AACUC offers a unique opportunity to influence and shape the credit union movement and its governmental affairs.  The organization works to promote personal and professional growth of its members and advocates to improve economic development of surrounding communities that are often underserved.  AACUC supports programs that include expanding the interest and increasing the number of minorities in the credit union movement, increasing outreach of the credit union movement in African countries and in the United States through mentoring, scholarship programs, and much more.

    “The Board of Directors, staff, and membership of State Employees’ Credit Union understand the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in all facets of work and life pursuits,” said Mike Lord, SECU President/CEO.  “As a member-owned cooperative, we encourage and value the diversity of our members and our staff.  We operate with a ‘Do the Right Thing’ focus and a ‘People Helping People®’ philosophy, and we’re proud to support the mission of the AACUC with this donation.”

    “Corporate Partners like State Employees’ Credit Union provide beacons of hope for the credit union movement. We are hopeful that other credit unions and organizations will follow their example and invest in the future of credit unions.  We are grateful for the support, but more importantly, the Partnership, Mike Lord and SECU have definitely demonstrated a commitment to change,” said Renée Sattiewhite, AACUC President/CEO.

    About SECU and the SECU Foundation

    A not-for-profit financial cooperative owned by its members, SECU has been providing employees of the state of North Carolina and their families with consumer financial services for 83 years.  The Credit Union also offers a diversified line of financial advisory services including retirement and education planning, tax preparation, insurance, trust and estate planning services, and investments through its partners and affiliated entities.  SECU serves 2.5 million members through 269 branch offices, 1,100 ATMs, 24/7 Member Services via phone, a website, and a Mobile App.  Members can also follow and subscribe to SECU on Facebook and YouTube.  The SECU Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization funded by the contributions of SECU members, promotes local community development in North Carolina primarily through high impact projects in the areas of housing, education, healthcare and human services.  Since 2004, SECU Foundation has made a collective financial commitment of more than $191 million for initiatives to benefit North Carolinians statewide.  In addition to the website, highlights are also available on the SECU Foundation Instagram page.


  • Posting that meme doesn’t make you an ally
    June 9, 2020 by JILL NOWACKI, HUMANIDEI

    I’m no World War II historian. My rudimentary knowledge of history leaves me believing this, though: Showing up as one of the ally powers required more than just a statement of commitment.

    FDR didn’t call Churchill to say, “Hey, bro, I’ve got your back. I can’t really understand what you’re going through, but man . . . thoughts and prayers, y’know? And if there’s anything I can do to help, you let me know. I’m here for you.”

    It didn’t go that way because when an ally joined the forces, they were not joining someone else’s war: An ally joined the fight because the cause was their cause; they believed in the world they envisioned on the other side and could not tolerate the alternative that would exist if the wrong side won the war. There were sacrifices made, resources fully devoted, a commitment to victory no matter the cost.

    The word “ally” is being thrown around a lot these days . . . mostly in labels that we white people apply to ourselves, tied to a hashtag or an inspirational quote. It doesn’t mean nothing, but it also doesn’t hold the power it should. We are calling ourselves allies without going beyond words of solidarity.

    Don’t be mistaken: Solidarity is better than silence, but on its own, it isn’t action that affects change. It won’t help win the war against systemic racism. To get there, we must truly align with this cause. We must believe this fight is ours and we must act with a commitment equivalent to that belief.

    Credit union leaders are uniquely positioned to be true allies in this fight and to leverage our personal and business resources for systemic change. Many of us as individuals have power or influence in our communities, as well as the privilege of being (well-compensated) executives in a movement that was built for the purpose of social change.

    If dismantling systemic racism and the economic inequity that accompanies it is not our fight, what is?

    Your public declaration of allyship shows what side you are on. Now, take the action that supports it by deciding what resources you’ll bring to this fight, both personally and organizationally. There are many lists available to share how white people can work toward anti-racism. Here are some credit union-specific ideas that also support your fight toward economic equality, access to financial services, and your desire to be a top employer:


    • Join or start community coalitions that address community well-being and economic inequality and its root causes.

    • Create safe spaces for your black employees to talk about their experiences. Listen with empathy and actively choose to relegate any leadership-centric approach (because statistically, most of your senior leadership is probably white).

    • Participate in or offer Individual Development Account programs that help people obtain wealth-building assets for the first time in their families’ histories.

    • Scrutinize lending policies and practices to ensure you are lending to minority-owned businesses and minority homebuyers.

    • Have advisors (Board members, community partners, paid staff) that are of the community you want to serve. Listen to their input and look for ways to take action. If this is not happening or you don’t believe the talent is there in your community, access a resource that can help you look deeper.

    • Support college scholarships for first-generation college students, at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or through the United Negro College Fund (personally or through your credit union’s existing scholarship fund).

    • Join the African American Credit Union Coalition or make a donation (personally or through your credit union). When you become a member, support their programs and build your knowledge, taking responsibility to better understand the experiences of our black colleagues in the credit union space.

    • Educate yourself by reading work by black authors, watching documentaries by black filmmakers, or listening to podcasts by black producers. (A friend recently recommended 1619 to me, and I pass that on to you.)

    • Shop at minority-owned businesses.
      Consider hosting a book circle to discuss your learning (personally or at your organization). I recommend Me & White Supremacy or Blind Spot to start, though the stack is growing daily. The Circle Way can provide a structure that gives equal voice to participants in these conversations. (If you have your own favorite learning tools, please use the comments below to share resources for the benefit of all.)

​This list of ideas is infinitesimal compared to the work that lies ahead. Each bullet point is just one tiny action, but they are actions that may add up to something that matters if we all show up like the allies we have declared ourselves to be.

This credit union system is one that accomplishes much when we come together. I can’t imagine a finer bunch of allies or a better industry to work in for addressing systemic racism. If I can help you in taking action, please reach out: I’m ready to serve.

  • CU CEO Maurice Smith Named Chairman of National Cooperative Bank
    06/04/2020,, RALEIGH, N.C.

    Maurice R. Smith, CEO of Local Government FCU and Civic Federal Credit Union, has been elected the new
    chairman of the National Cooperative Bank (NCB).

    The NCB board of directors consists of individuals from various sectors of cooperatives and community
    development organizations across the United States, including housing, grocery, small business, healthcare and
    credit unions. Pat Jury, former CEO of the Iowa CU League, also serves on the NCB board.

    The National Cooperative Bank was chartered in 1978 by an act of Congress, and later privatized in 1981 as a
    cooperative to provide financial services to housing and commercial cooperatives across the United States. Credit
    unions, as cooperatives, remain a primary sector for NCB, which said it has growing portfolio of credit unions that
    call the Bank its main provider of wholesale depository and correspondent banking services.

    “NCB is a mission-driven financial institution,” said Smith. “I am enamored by the principles that bind credit
    unions.  Our focus on members’ wellbeing, democratic control and community are core values that define us as
    cooperatives. NCB embraces these ideals. Much of what NCB does is familiar to me. Our terms of art are similar. As financial intermediaries, our functions are comparable.  For NCB, the differences are not plentiful.

    Improving Value Proposition

    “In a typical board meeting discussion, the management and directors focus on the same matters that credit unions leaders face,” Smith continued. “Like credit unions, NCB directors concentrate their attention on how to improve the value proposition for cooperatives and their members. We deliberate the state of affairs that faces members of all kinds of mutually owned organizations. We ask how the Bank can make a difference. Then we align our strategies to help credit unions and other cooperatives thrive.”

    Chuck Snyder, CEO of NCB, was early in his career the president of Temporaries Federal Credit Union early in his career.

    “Given our shared cooperative roots, credit unions and NCB have had a mutually beneficial relationship since NCB’s inception,” stated Snyder. “We share a common thinking about how community good is created. This begins with empowering people through ownership and free participation to make their own choices. NCB embraces these values”. 

Won't be silent.jpg


  • Commitment to Change – AACUC’s charge to the credit union industry
    June 4, 2020 by Renée Sattiewhite, African-American Credit Union Association (AACUC)

    In this time of turmoil, civil unrest, economic uncertainty, COVID-19 and the relentless images we see on media outlets, we must take a step back. I am not a scholar, but I am a woman living in the United States of America. I offer the following comments as a citizen of the United States and a credit union advocate. 

    My title is President/CEO of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC). It took me a long time to decide to accept the position from Executive Director to President/CEO. The reason it took so long (2 years) is because with that specific title comes great responsibility. Everyone has an expectation of what the organization should be doing. Our board of directors, our members, our partners and the community approach the organization from different perspectives.

    Our mission statement is: To increase diversity within the credit union community through advocacy and professional development. That is pretty focused, seems simple – but it isn’t. There are many layers to advocacy and certainly for professional development. AACUC does not try to be all things to all people, however, we do strive to be good stewards, good corporate citizens and provide a safe space for people of color to express themselves. In addition, we provide a safe place for people of a lighter hue to also have a safe space to ask hard questions about cultural things that they do not understand.

    AACUC is an example of how our nation could learn to be interactive with all races. When you attend an AACUC event you interact with people from many different backgrounds. Interns, young professionals (under 40), seasoned professionals (41 – 65), elder professionals (66+), many different ethnicities and cultures – people who work in trade organizations, credit union vendors, credit union executives, board members and staff all coming together having a shared non-violent experience. We are an inclusive organization. We don’t just say it – we demonstrate it.

    It is my belief that while there are atrocities that have continued for well over 400 years, that if people were to get to know one another – see their fellow man/woman as a person, talk about their challenges, struggles, successes, that kind of interaction would break down barriers.

    I have a personal motto, “I am the possibility of people serving other people passionately.” There is no other industry that serves people as passionately as the Credit Union Industry. I am convinced more now than ever that the credit union industry can lead the nation in eliminating racial discrimination. Credit union people do not have all the answers, but as practitioners of financial institutions we have a commodity that everyone needs. Our Cooperative Principles, Credit Union Motto (Not for Profit, not for charity, but for service) and the Credit Union Philosophy of “People helping people,” provide the agreed upon tenants to help us eradicate racism.

    Commitment to Change – here is the opportunity for people in the credit union movement to stand together, united against racism. We must be intentional in our thoughts and our deeds. Simple kindness goes a long way in healing. Let’s be kind to one another, let’s create groups to address the social ills that plague our society, let’s be committed to doing what we can, when we can, because we can.

  • What protests teach us
    June 2, 2020 By  by  Maurice Smith, Local GovernmentFederal Credit Union and Civic Federal Credit Union

    The recent protests taking place around the country over the death of George Floyd is an opportunity to learn important lessons. We should ask ourselves what should be learned from the social turbulence. I have an opinion or two on the matter.

    The act of protesting is a constitutional First Amendment free expression right. Acts of protests in this country were launched against the King of England over taxation. The suffrage movement was brought about through civil disobedience. The civil rights movement used peaceful means to draw attention to discriminatory practices. Protesting is an American right.

    Like all constitutional rights, the First Amendment has limitations. These freedoms come with the individual responsibility to not harm others in the process. When the government has countervailing interests, one’s individual rights may be curtailed for the good of the public. With this backdrop, let’s explore what we may make of the protests against police violence towards black people.

    I am personally saddened by the mistreatment of black citizens at the hands of those who act with impunity. These acts leave me wondering what message I should reinforce for my son and nephews. After all, police officers are members in our credit union field of membership. I serve on a municipal police memorial foundation board of directors. I am a member of the Sheriff Association. I know first-hand the good our public servants provide in the community. Yet the story is complicated by the conduct of bad actors.

    As a lawyer, father, credit union CEO, law-abiding citizen and Christian, I have multiple perspectives from which I may view the televised reporting of unjustified killings. I could give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt. After all, I was raised by parents who believed citizens should obey governmental authority.

    I could shriek with horror at the notion that our young son could be mistaken for prey by someone with a gun who feels empowered to be his executioner. As an attorney, I could hold out my status as an officer of the court to standby a system that is supposed to be blind to prejudices. I could mind my own business and retreat to the relative safety of my tree-lined neighborhood. Somehow, these mutually contrasting positions feel unsatisfying to me.

    Protests can teach us valuable lessons. Protests awaken in all of us a reaction that should be addressed. First, we observe and learn about the underlying issues that brought about the protests in the first place. Second, we are forced to look at our world and develop an opinion on sides, morality and messages. Finally, we must decide what action we should take. Even if we choose to not react, inaction is a decision.
    Read more

  • Left Out Again: How Credit Unions Can Stop the Widening of the Wealth Gap
    By Adam Lee and Renée Sattiewhite | May 08, 2020

    Credit unions can do more, especially for households of color during the pandemic, to facilitate pathways to financial well-being.

    From the Filene report, “Pathways to Financial Well-being”.

    “Again, blacks were left out of a significant abundance of money and stand a significant chance of losing businesses, homes and other assets. This would be a travesty and continue to widen the wealth gap we are so desperately trying to close.” Renée Sattiewhite and I had a passionate conversation, filled with both confusion and rage, that started with this comment.

    When we tell credit union colleagues that the co-authors of this article are good friends, we’re often faced with puzzled looks. Take a look at us on the surface. Renée is a black female, born in Lockhart, Texas (near Austin), and a powerful CEO of the African American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), a leading advocacy and support organization for credit union organizations that are looking to be diverse and inclusive. I am a white male, born in Oshkosh, Wis., and help credit unions grow by testing innovative concepts as the incubator director for Filene Research Institute. But if you listen into one of our conversations, you will quickly discover what makes us more similar than different. We are both passionate about ensuring credit unions have equal access to products and services to assist their membership, and that they are equipped to serve the most financially vulnerable in their community.

    During our recent conversation, we talked at length about how the most visible difference between us – the color of our skin – is one of the most shocking predictive indicators of how we are likely faring under the COVID-19 pandemic. While Renée and I are both fortunate to be managing under current conditions, those who reflect the color of our skin nationally do not share this common outcome, neither before nor after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read more

  • What’s In A Name: Vice President For Corporate Partnerships & Advocacy
    March 16, 2020 By Marc Rapport -

    Air Force veteran and longtime ABECU executive Larry Sewell helps Together Credit Unionmove onward and upward.  After 80 years carrying the name of its original and still largestsponsor, Together Credit Union ($1.8B, St. Louis, MO) has a new brand but an old hand helpingensure critical relationships continue to grow and thrive. 

    Larry Sewell became vice president for corporate partnerships and advocacy at the formerAnheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union in 2017 after 22 years as the venerable institution’svice president of training and development.

    With 16 years of Air Force service under his belt, Sewell was already a veteran when he joinedthe credit union in 1995. Now, more than two decades later, the longtime planner, facilitator, andtrainer has been charged with ensuring Together builds on its role as a provider of responsible,reliable financial services to its nationwide membership and as an advocate for the credit unionmovement on a state, local, and federal level.  Read more

  • African American, Latino groups partner to advance credit union diversity
    February 27, 2020 By Aaron Passman - CUJournal

    A new coalition of industry groups aims to boost credit unions’ commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.  

    The Network of Latino Credit Union Professionals and African-American Credit Union Coalition this week announced their intention to collaborate in order to better offer CUs and industry groups “actionable strategies and wise counsel” to advance DEI issues.

    The two groups will be joined by Inclusiv in order to help “ensure that the members of credit unions are serviced by people that look like they do and have similar life experiences.”  

    Participants are planning to hold mini summits on these topics during AACUC’s annual conference in Florida later this summer and Inclusiv’s conference in May in Puerto Rico.  Read More

  • Diversity Lacking Among Credit Union CEOs
    02/26/2020 By Ray Birch-CUToday

    While African-Americans are making progress in advancing to more leadership positions within credit unions, there is still much more “work to be done,” according to Lynette Smith.

    Smith, who is African-American, leads the $125-million TruEnergy Federal Credit Union in Springfield, Va.  She says to gain a better understanding of her assessment, all one has to do is look at credit union members across the nation.  Read More

  • Senate honors legendary Capitol Hill staffer Bertie Bowman

    The Senate honors legendary Capitol Hill staffer Bertie Bowman and Fox News names him Power Player of the Week.  

    Both videos are posted below for your viewing pleasure as we celebrate Herbert "Bertie" Bowman's legendary accomplishments. 

  • AACUC Announces DEI Partnership with NLCUP #DEI Tuesday
    SNELLVILLE, GA – February 24, 2020

    The Network of Latino Credit Union Professionals (NLCUP) and the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), will be announcing their DEI Partnership on #DEI Tuesday, February 25, 2020, during NLCUP’s Networking Reception and AACUC’s Networking Meeting and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony during the Credit Union National Association’s CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

    Both organizations were created to ensure that the voices and perspectives of the Latino and African American cultures are distinct and present throughout the credit union industry. To date the industry has little data on statistics of people of color in leadership positions at credit unions in the board room or in the “C” suite. The absence of research documenting the numbers of “minorities” in positions of authority is an opportunity for credit union leaders and decision makers to come together to embrace and adopt the 8th Cooperative Principle – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion penned by Maurice R. Smith, CEO of Local Government FCU and Civic FCU, AACUC Board Member and first African American Chairman of CUNA.

    AACUC and NLCUP will be focusing their combined efforts to provide actionable strategies and wise counsel to credit union organizations that are intentional about the credit union industry providing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in a meaningful way.

    Too often organizations set up a task force that has individuals doing a lot of talking, however, the needle doesn’t move to affect change. AACUC and NLCUP will hold their organizations accountable and continue to ask the hard questions that will help to move the credit union movement forward.

    Inclusiv, (formerly known as the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions) is also joining NLCUP and AACUC in their combined effort to ensure that the members of credit unions are serviced by people that look like they do and have similar life 

    Financial freedom, independence and access to appropriate products and services are of paramount concern and focus for all three organizations. Mini Summits will be held in May at the Inclusiv Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico and in August at the 22nd Annual AACUC Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida.  For more information on how you can join this effort send an email to We invite you toWalk the Talk on #DEI Tuesday.


    • Inclusiv's mission is to help low- and moderate-income people and communities achieve financial 

      independence through credit unions. 

    • NLCUP’s mission is to serve and empower the Latino Community with financial & development services.

  • African American Credit Unions Black History Month: 2020 Edition

    In honor of Black History Month, Inclusiv and the African-American Credit Union Coalition produced a 
    campaign celebrating African American credit unions, highlighting personal stories that exemplify the many 
    ways in which African American credit unions help build prosperous communities and diversity strengthens 
    our movement. Read More

    Click here to download the 2020 African American Credit Unions Build Strong Communities Black HistoryMonth e-book.

  • Partnership aims to reshape credit union leadership by 2030
    February 13, 2020 - By Melissa Angell

    An ambitious new partnership aims to reshape credit union leadership demographics within the next decade.

    They’ve got their work cut out for them.

    The African-American Credit Union Coalition and Humanidei – a diversity-consulting firm launched by two of the industry’s highest-profile female leaders – have unveiled a goal to ensure women and people of color represent 30% of C-suite and other key leadership positions in the movement by 2030.  Read More

  • AACUC Announces African American Credit Union Hall of Fame Honorees
    Monday, February 3, 2020 - Snellville, GA 

    The African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), will be inducting three credit union leaders into its Hall of Fame during an induction reception at the Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference (CUNA GAC) in Washington DC, Tuesday, February 25. Dr. Willie Bryant (posthumously), Herbert “Bertie Bowman” and Mike Mercer.

    Bryant was a civil rights activist and volunteer at Rockland Employees Federal Credit Union for over 20 years.  He was also a founding member of the AACUC and the first Chairman of the Reaching Toward the Future Internship Program.

    Arriving in the nation's capital in 1944, Herbert “Bertie” Bowman is the longest-serving African-American staff member on Capitol Hill. From sweeping the steps to working in the coffee shop and the Capitol barbershop—Bowman held several jobs in the Senate, ultimately rising to become assistant hearing coordinator for the U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, one of the most powerful committees in Congress. He has been a board 
    volunteer at United States Senate Federal Credit Union since 1975.

    Mercer recently retired as the CEO of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates. In this capacity, he was responsible for providing leadership for trade association services across a three-state footprint to include Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Mercer represented the interests of credit unions in numerous ways for almost four decades.

    “We are excited to induct these great contributors to the credit union movement,” said Adrian Johnson, AACUC Chairman of the Board.The Induction will be held at the Marriott Marquis in Downtown, Washington DC during the AACUC Networking Meeting Reception.

  • Member Spotlight: At DC Credit Union, financial wellness is a right, not a privilege

    The first spotlight guest, written by Margaret Lund, features DC Credit Union and is based on an interview with its CEO, Carla Decker.  Read More

  • African-American Credit Union Coalition and Humanidei Partner to Add Diversity to CU Leadership
    Thursday, January 30, 2020

    The African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) and Humanidei have announced a strategic partnership designed toincrease the diversity of credit union leadership across the system.

    Humanidei, a human capital strategies firm, has set an ambitious goal to help credit unions reach 30 x 30: 30 percent of key leadership positions in the credit union movement held by women and people of color by the year 2030.  AACUC is building According to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), approximately 95 percent of all credit union CEO positions are held by white professionals, and fewer than 15 percent of credit unions with assets over $1 billion are managed by women. Other sources indicate that 10 percent or fewer of all credit union board chair positions are held by people of color.

    Humanidei believes that it is critical to bring more minority candidates into consideration for leadership positions. The industry is striving to benefit from the value added through diversity in leadership — leadership that is more representative of the population the industry serves.

    The partnership between the organizations will offer individuals increased access and referrals to key job openings, consulting services to prepare for candidacy, and education to expand leadership potential. Organizations will have access to expanded talent pools, succession planning services, and human capital planning that will tap into external and internal talent.

    “Clients who work with Humanidei choose us because they are interested in tapping into a diverse and rich pool of talent for succession planning, internal development, and organizational growth,” said Jill Nowacki, president and CEO of Humanidei.  “Our partnership with AACUC will help further connect us to top talent in the credit union space that will boost our clients’ performance and the strength of our industry.

    Through the partnership, both individual and organizational members of AACUC will have discounted access to Humanidei’s services, including candidate coaching, succession planning, executive searches, and human capital planning. AACUC will also provide referrals for Humanidei’s executive recruiting service, helping build more richly talented and diversified candidate pools.

    I am thrilled to offer this value-added service to our membership and excited about what this can lead to for the credit union 
    movement,” said Renee Sattiewhite, president and CEO of AACUC. “Our organization is growing with many strong, qualified leaders. This artnership is a great example of a credit union partner organization ‘stepping up.’ Humandei will offer tools to 
    help credit union professionals continue building their careers, as well as assisting credit unions in gaining access to more of the best talent available.”

    Visit the AACUC and Humandei websites for more information.

    Contacts:Jill Nowacki, President and CEO of Humanidei + O’Rourke — jill@humanidei.comRenee Sattiewhite, President and CEO of AACUC —

    HumanideiHumandei was founded in July 2019 to help credit unions win the war for talent by creating more inclusive cultures where all humans can bring their best selves to work. Humanidei’s executive search division, O’Rourke & Associates, has been the gold standard for executive recruiting in the credit union space for over 35 years.

  • United States Senate FCU joins $1 billion-asset club
    January 08, 2020, By Melissa Angell

    United States Senate Federal Credit Union has crossed the $1 billion-asset marker.

    The Alexandria, Va.-based credit union announced Wednesday that it achieved the asset milestone in last fall,on the eve of its 85th anniversary year.

    “Reaching the $1 billion mark is a special accomplishment for the credit union," President and CEO Timothy Anderson said in a press release. “We would have never been able to accomplish this without our board, hardwork and dedication of our employees, and the trust and loyalty of our members.”

    Anderson officially started on Jan 1. after being appointed interim CEO last summer.  Read More

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Snellville, GA  30039

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