6/8/2021 - So we invited a very upbeat and energetic AACUC President/CEO Renée Sattiewhite on the show to share her thoughts on this NY Times feature -- and what it means to her organization, as well as credit unions. Renée also talked about how this feature story came about, thanks to a nomination by Kevin Paasch, president of MemberWealth Management and general agent for MassMutual Life Insurance.
In addition, Renée shared the success of the first "1-to-1Woman Mentoring Program" -- a pilot mentorship program that teams up white credit union executive women leaders with young black women professionals looking for a path to the C-suite, as well. According to Renée, the executives learned just as much from the young professionals. So both parties greatly benefited and the inaugural "1-to-1Woman Mentoring Program" is slated for bigger and better things to come.
Lastly, Renée lists all the other programs and events (2021 Virtual Annual Conference) on the launch pad for AACUC this year. Exciting times for this organization and it seems it's just getting started. Check out our conversation and let us know your thoughts. And enjoy the entire interview below for all the details.
“An individual has not started living fully until they can rise above the narrow confines of individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of humanity. Every person must decide at some point, whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment: ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Conquering Self-Centeredness Speech
Montgomery, Alabama, August 11, 1957
May 12, 2021 by Anthony Hernandez, AACUC - Recent national headlines and widespread outcry on issues of race and culture has forced changes into all aspects of American life. Apart from politics, these changes have consumed our attention in sports, academics, commerce, and even religious life. These conversations are good and should always strive to be inclusive of all Americans.
Yet, talking about race and cultural differences can be very difficult. Fear of saying the wrong thing or offering any type of feedback can result in people holding back on good ideas, challenging our proposals, or even telling our personal stories. As such, silence is not good for any organization moving forward.
This is why the African American Credit Union Coalition created the Cross-Cultural Exchange Program (CCEP). Since credit unions serve at the intersection of race and culture, it is up to credit unions to set the example of what it means to be focused on DEI principles. One of the very first steps in going down this road is to get people from different races and cultures to start talking in earnest.
The good news is conversations and earnest dialogue are already taking place for each of the participants in the African-American Credit Union Coalition’s new CCEP. For now, the CCEP is a pilot initiative that offers participants an opportunity to step back from their rapid pace and engage with fellow credit union professionals from distinct backgrounds. It is intended for these professionals to connect and share with a peer who is on a similar journey—someone outside of their own race/cultural background.
Participants are setting aside time to have informal meetings to build and enrich a relationship by learning from each other, exchanging ideas, experiences, finding commonality and common ground among participant’s values, virtues, and visions. Mostly, the expectation is to create a pathway toward inclusive excellence while sharing knowledge and expanding networks. The conversations thus far have been both rich and engaging. All topics dealing with race and culture are on the table.
Getting people to talk about difficult subjects is an important part of moving forward as a community and a nation. We not only need to see things from a different perspective, but we also need to engage at a personal level. That means we need to encourage asking tough questions, accepting frank answers, and developing empathy for alternate points of view—on both or multiple sides of the debate. This is the basis for creating the Cross-Cultural Exchange Program.
Over the next 90-days, participants will build rapport with paired partners and participate in small groups to find consensus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) topics. There are many views informed by experiences and education along with media and political preferences. The goal is to break through all the noise and clutter to find common ground then move toward healing cultural wounds and misunderstandings. This all starts with simple conversations between to individuals—nothing more, nothing less.
In addition to being exposed to a variety of personal cultural experiences, the expectation at the end of the 90-day pilot is to capture an appreciation for different perspectives, highlight multiple approaches to problem solving, and figuring out how to apply lessons learned in future DEI initiatives. AACUC expects to improve the program and to expand the numbers of participants after this pilot program concludes. We are excited about the conversations that have already taken place and look forward to sharing these. Stay tuned for more as we progress further on this 90-day journey.”
Co-Authored by: Daniel McCue
African-American CU Coalition to Be Featured in
NY Times’ ‘Black Wall Street Storefront’
CUtodya.info | May 23, 2021, Snellville, GA – The African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) is being featured in The New York Times Black Wall Street virtual storefront, which starts May 25.
AACUC was nominated by Kevin Paasch, president of MemberWealth Management and General Agent for MassMutual Life Insurance.
“The New York Times has such a rich history and is a premier source for the top news articles coming out of the financial services industry,” said AACUC President/CEO Renee Sattiewhite. “We are honored to be highlighted alongside thriving Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs that are proven valuable partners in a time when our world needs them the most. Thank you to our friends at MassMutual for considering us for this opportunity.”
Range of Businesses
The AACUC said The New York Times vetted all nominations and selected a range of 20 Black-owned businesses that have national appeal and are appropriate for the virtual storefront. The effort is part of the newspaper’s year-long event recognizing the 100th anniversary of Black Wall Street – the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Okla., that was once one of the most prosperous African-American communities in the United States. On May 31, 1921, racial violence led to the destruction of Black Wall Street, which was seen as a threat to white-dominated American capitalism.
“In a time when our industry and the nation is seemingly laser focused on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, it is critically important that we recognize the historical Tulsa Race Massacre,” said Sattiewhite. “We ought to pause and consider how this has detrimentally impacted the African American community and, furthermore, do all that we can to ensure this never happens again by creating equitable opportunities for minorities to flourish and thrive.”
National Spotlight to Shine on AACUC in Black Wall Street Virtual Storefront
The New York Times initiative in partnership with MassMutual remembers the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
By Peter Strozniak, CreditUnion Times | May 24, 2021– The African American Credit Union Coalition will shine in the national spotlight on May 25 when The New York Times in partnership with MassMutual will feature a Black Wall Street virtual storefront as part of its remembrance of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa (Oklahoma) Race Massacre in 1921.
Kevin Paasch, a long-time supporter of the AACUC in Snellville, Ga., nominated the industry organization for The New York Times-MassMutual initiative that will raise awareness of the importance of social and economic equity and to promote the importance of supporting small business, including Black-owned companies.
“The only conference I go to every year still is the AACUC because I believe in what you’re doing to help other African-American young people, and older people and low-income communities to learn about money and become financially independent,” Paasch said during a Zoom meeting Thursday that announced AACUC will be highlighted in the national newspaper. “The way I can give back is being able to give back to an organization that gives back to the community. And I know AACUC is following the same mantra of being that one organization, helping thousands for the benefit of millions.”
Paasch is president of Member Wealth Management and general agent for MassMutual Life Insurance office in Virginia Beach, Va.
The 100 businesses, including the AACUC, that will be featured on a Black Wall Street virtual storefront will be posted on a New York Times landing page on Tuesday. Additionally, the newspaper will feature these businesses in targeted ads throughout the year to keep the initiative’s messages front-of-mind, Paasch said.
The Tulsa Race Massacre occurred over 18 hours on May 31 and June 1, 1921. According to History.com, the tragic event was triggered after a Black teenager was falsely accused of sexually assaulting a white woman in an office building. During that time, the nation was experiencing racial tensions, including the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, lynchings and other racial violence. Simultaneously, African-Americans organized to prevent these attacks in their communities.
As rumors flew about the Black teenager’s attack, an angry white mob clashed with Black men who were outnumbered and retreated to the Greenwood neighborhood that was also named Black Wall Street because it was one of the most prosperous communities in the country, according to History.com.
In addition to the thousands of Black-owned homes and hundreds of Blacked-owned businesses that were damaged or destroyed by fire, a 2001 Race Riot Commission concluded that 100 to 300 people were killed and more than 8,000 people were made homeless.
“In a time when our industry and the nation is seemingly laser focused on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, it is critically important that we recognize the historical Tulsa Race Massacre,” AACUC President/CEO Renee Sattiewhite said. “We ought to pause and consider how this has detrimentally impacted the African-American community and, furthermore, do all that we can to ensure this never happens again by creating equitable opportunities for minorities to flourish and thrive.”
Last summer during the nationwide demonstrations calling for racial and social justice in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, the AACUC led an initiative named “Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism,” which is being supported by many credit unions, state leagues/associations, national trade organizations and vendors from around the nation to advance diversity, equity and inclusion programs throughout the industry.
“We are honored to be highlighted alongside thriving Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs that are proven valuable partners in a time when our world needs them the most,” Sattiewhite said. “Thank you to our friends at MassMutual for considering us for this opportunity.”
AACUC Pilots 1-to-1Woman Mentoring Program
5/19/2021, Snellville, GA – The African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) continues with bold initiatives to address racial barriers in credit union and corporate structures. America’s social climate exhausts direst and many organizations implement Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) teachings and panels to enforce staff member awareness to prejudges and oversights but AACUC gets personal with a pilot mentoring program, 1-to-1Woman.
1-to-1Woman paired nine Caucasian (White) female executives with nine rising African American (Black) female professionals to learn the areas that stoke blind spots, hinder economic development and growth, and the commonalities of gender bias in the workforce. The 1-to-1Woman pilot mentoring program sought White executives with a history of achievements and who are empathetic forerunners on relevant issues. The rising Black professionals were selected based on merit, education, and credit union industry experience.
In the United States, mentors are more likely to mentor someone of their same culture. With the majority of executive level positions being held by Caucasians, this leaves less opportunity for African Americans to be apprenticed. Therefore, in a highly competitive network system, Black professionals are often perceived as steps behind their White counterparts.
“The 1-to-1Woman Program was a great opportunity to connect with executives outside of my organization to explore how I can grow professionally and personally. This mentoring program allowed a safe place for taboo and uncomfortable conversations to take place as a way of understanding different perspectives in the workplace. Most importantly, the program has created an impactful platform to continue the relationship between me and my mentor,” Jazmine Kilpatrick, Membership Development Manager, Local Government Federal Credit Union with mentor Libby Calderone, President & COO, LSC.
1-to-1Woman Program proved to be a two-way bridge that crossed racial barriers to confront difference and bond on similarities. “Participating in the 1-to-1Woman program helped each one of us demonstrate our commitment to inclusion in our lives and in our industry. I learned from every woman in the program and look forward to continuing the conversations and friendships,” April Clobes, President & CEO, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.
1-to-1Woman is a four-week module created and facilitated by Shellee Mitchell, Program Specialist, NASCUS; Susan Mitchell, CEO, Mitchell Stankovic & Associates sponsored the pilot program. “Congratulations! It was indeed a memorable program and we are already seeing the impact. My partner, Latonya Allen created a career plan that she shared with her CEO to advance in leadership. Incredible. This is a special group of women and I am honored to be a part of the inaugural program,” Susan Mitchell, CEO.
How CUs can counter the ‘monolithic,’model
minority stereotypes during AAPIHM and beyond
April 28, 2021by HAZELMAE OVERTURF, AACUC - May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM)! It is a month to lean into and celebrate the accomplishments, achievements, and contributions of Asians and Pacific Islanders to the United States. For me, this AAPIHM feels a lot more urgent and significant due to the increase of anti-Asian rhetoric and increase of Asian hate crimes in 2020 and onward. My own experiences with blatant racism, and especially microaggressions, have bubbled up from the hidden depths that I previously shoved below, and then coupled with the feelings of increasing fear for the safety of my Asian family members and friends (and myself), it all has just felt literally and figuratively heavy. On the other hand, this time has also been filled with increased awareness and support from my allies, and a greater sense of purpose and hope for the future. This acknowledgement of duality is a common philosophy in many eastern civilizations and is a tool I often call upon for perspective or centering.
I feel fortunate to be a Filipino-American Credit Union professional. Our movement, values, and structure are the epitome of cooperation, a focus on community, and alleviating social and financial issues. Credit Unions could be (and should be) a leader of pursuing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and making positive change within our organizations and of course, in the communities of our memberships. It is a place where I have found some safety and the space to continue to move the equity needle forward.
A few years ago, I was sitting in a prominent credit union training. We were reviewing census data of a major American metropolitan city with the lens of racial equity and development issues. As we reviewed maps of segregation and gaps for financial access, the aggregated data only showcased the following groups: Whites, Blacks, Hispanic/Latinx, and Native Americans. I recall feeling so uncomfortable in my seat. It was then that I looked around the room and again felt just as invisible as the missing racial group on the slides. Immediately after that class, I mustered my courage and resolve and provided feedback to the facilitator. I consider this a defining moment of the start of my work in equity and inclusion.
For most Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs), my training experience above is probably a familiar experience: we aren’t included in statistics or lumped together in ways detrimental to understanding the full API experience. Two main drivers of these feelings are the “Model Minority” myth/stereotype, defined as a belief that all Asian Americans are successful, smart, wealthy, hard-working, self-reliant, docile and submissive, obedient and uncomplaining, and never in need of assistance; and the generalization that Asians are a “monolith”—one large, homogeneous structure or group. These two prevailing thoughts shape and influence the unique racial and ethnic identities and experiences of API people in the United States.
There are more than 40 countries in Asia—all with very different histories, cultures, languages, and other characteristics. Just as diverse as the number of countries represented, the API socioeconomic experience is also one that has the largest range from poverty to wealth. According to the Pew Research Center, Asians near the top of their income distribution (the 90th percentile) had incomes 10.7 times greater than the incomes of Asians near the bottom of their income distribution (the 10th percentile). This 90/10 ratio is greater than blacks (9.8), whites (7.8), and Hispanics (7.8).
In data from the US Census Bureau and FDIC, Asians are shown to be higher than whites in median income and comparable in poverty rate, unbanked, and fully banked percentages. Without a disaggregated view of the different subgroups under “Asians,” these figures (and decisions made from them) do not consider the disparities faced for those subgroups (Center for Global Policy Solutions).
Economic Figures by Race
Median Income1 Poverty Rate1 Unbanked2 Fully Banked3
Blacks $45,438 22.7% 13.8% 45.8%
Hispanic $56,113 15.7% 12.2% 49.7%
Asian $98,174 7.3% 1.7% 69.2%
White $72,204 9.9% 2.5% 77.1%
1 U.S. Census 2019 2 FDIC 2019 3 FDIC 2017
It is credit unions’ responsibility to include these insights and considerations to serve our members and communities well and inclusively. We have a direct role in minimizing obstacles of systemic and social barriers that limit economic mobility not only for APIs, but for all BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) people. Credit unions were made to provide financial services more compassionately and human-focused. Here are three steps that all credit unions can take to support the API community and counter the monolithic, model minority stereotypes:
Commit to continuous learning.
There are numerous resources and organizations that can help you on your API cultural competence journey. Also, check out local organizations and events in your own community.
PBS is offering a special five-part series on Asian Americans.
Last year, Google created an interactive website that points folks to many different resources.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice is an organization with a mission “to advance civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all.”
2. See and include the “Invisible.”
As mentioned earlier, disaggregating the data to include subgroups in the “Asian” category would give organizations a better understanding of their membership and/or markets. While this isn’t always possible and may take some new data collection strategies, an even better option would be to do the work and get to know your members and your communities more intimately. Making the invisible visible, may take work and resources up front, but the data and direct connection would be invaluable. Imagine the inclusive marketing opportunities or the creation/offering of more applicable and inclusive products and services for different groups.
3. Make Equity and Inclusion a priority.
In my personal DEI journey, I’ve been discovering that Diversity isn’t enough. Sure, representation is helpful, but not if it is just a placeholder. Other steps include promoting diverse API employees into leadership and influential roles or on your boards; creating safe, trusted spaces to share; and lastly, practicing selfless listening. Action must be taken to prioritize equity and continued inclusion. If you see us hurting, don’t ignore or dismiss our pain.
So in this AAPIH month and onward, as you commit to moments of learning and awareness of notable Asian and Pacific Islander figures and historical events, please include the invisible ones in your communities, the ones in your field of membership, the ones with small business accounts, the ones in your employee directory…we are speaking and need everyone to listen.
Special thank you and acknowledgements:
To my BECU family: Thank you for being a space of growth and continuous learning.
My #CrasherFam, CUDE family: All my gratitude for keeping purpose constant.
Renee Sattiewhite and the AACUC: For believing in me, amplifying my voice, and creating an inclusive and supportive environment in allyship and solidarity.
And of course, the biggest appreciation to my wonderful family, especially to my mom, who was never a submissive or silent woman!
HBCU’s Are Worth Recognition
April 14, 2021 by RENÉE SATTIEWHITE, AACUC - Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are more important than ever.
Perhaps you are wondering: “Well, what exactly is an HBCU? Or maybe you are saying to yourself: “Renee, why are HBCUs important to the credit union system?” Well friend, I’m glad you asked.
The 107 HBCUs across the country were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with the mission to serve and educate the African American community. These epicenters of culture and higher education were founded on the belief that every individual ought to receive a strong education despite their ethnicity, race, or income level. With over 25% of African Americans earning their degree from an HBCU, it is no doubt that HBCUs have played an instrumental role in the development of African American professionals. I am a former instructor for Spelman College’s Continuing Education Department and my 7 years at the college were eye-opening.
Research from the Nationwide Retirement Institute says that nearly 90% of African American college students considering a financial services career report that they believe there are challenges that specifically impact financial professionals in the industry today. I can’t help but to conclude that their concerns most likely arise from the profound lack of diversity in the financial services industry.
Recent events in our country have certainly raised national awareness of the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). However, the financial services industry still struggles with recruiting and retaining people of color, most notably at the senior level. In fact, I would argue that the credit union movement struggles even more in this area when compared to our banking counterparts.
Goldman Sachs recently launched a $25 million, five-year commitment to invest in the strength of HBCUs and created a program that gives students hands-on training, networking opportunities and mentorship. Morgan Stanley is providing scholarships and career training for HBCU students to enhance their skillset and prepare them for corporate success in the financial world.
What are we doing in the credit union industry to support HBCU students and graduates?
Wayne A.I. Frederick, President of Howard University in Washington, D.C., said that “It’s a danger to the national interest not to invest in these institutions.” I must say that I couldn’t agree more. The unfortunate reality is that HBCU’s are underutilized in the credit union movement.
How can we truly propel our movement forward without tapping into the greatest pool for African American talent? The short answer is, we can’t. Sure, we see the value proposition and business case for DEI, but we must carefully assess how we can improve African American representation in the credit union system.
Leveraging HBCUs, specifically, will help us break the barriers that have long been in place to keep people of color from integrating into the financial services marketplace. The fewer people of color that we have in our boardrooms and in our branches, the less we can authentically live out our mission of “people helping people.”
The truth is that many African Americans can directly relate to the lived experience of the underbanked. Research shows that credit unions are more likely than banks to serve the underserved communities. If that is the case, our front offices should reflect the communities that we serve.
Let’s lay the foundation for the next generation of credit union professionals by working with HBCUs to increase diversity in the credit union movement.
What if credit unions came together to create a new credit union that serves HBCUs? My colleague Gary Perez, president/CEO of USC Credit union, for example, started this important conversation that could be carried out sooner than we think. An HBCU credit union could provide affordable financial services and tailored financial education to fit the unique needs of HBCU students, alumni, faculty, and staff members.
The value proposition of HBCUs also closely aligns with those of credit unions. Rooted in faith, community, and service, HBCUs provide tremendous value to our society. Like credit unions, HBCU’s are meeting the needs of underserved communities and promoting financial wellbeing for all. Although they do not have the formal title, I would go out on a limb and say that HBCUs are cooperative in nature.
When credit unions partner with HBCUs, we can help increase the number of African American credit union professionals nationwide, providing them with the training and mentorship opportunities that they need to be successful. When credit unions partner with HBCUs, we can help address the racial inequities facing our communities, moving beyond a commitment to change to taking action to change.
Creating an inclusive and equitable credit union system requires us to invest our resources back into the communities that need them the most. Credit unions will reap the benefits that come with a diverse workforce while also helping powerful young men and women develop their finance skills. We cannot do this work alone; it will require us to work together.
HBCUs are the stewards of African American intellectual thought leaders and professionals. I can’t think of a better resource to strengthen credit union diversity than HBCUs.
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: https://abepmpls.org/
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: https://www.mncun.org/
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: https://www.aacuc.org/
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.
Experience Beyond Measure and Phenomenal Pursuit
March 12, 2021by SHELLEE A. MITCHELL, AACUC - “Black women are the most educated demographic in the U.S. when you look at the number of associate and bachelor degrees earned. But for a number of reasons, their education levels and the financial rewards they receive aren’t aligning, particularly in the business world,” Inc., August 2019.
Credit unions have a broad audience to be a forerunner in diversity equality. In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg researched individuals and corporations on the power of habit to either remain in or change a circumstance of any value. Duhigg writes, “Habits are what allow us to “do a thing with difficulty the first time, but soon do it more and more easily, and finally, with sufficient practice, do it semi-mechanically, or with hardly any consciousness at all.”
African American women have been and are denied. African American women are qualified, when equally provided a space to exist. If society continues to subjugate all women, by emotions and appearance, for African American women there is another view as subordinate shadows to those who helm as dominant leaders. Ritualistic portrayals have recast this role since the early films in silent movies. Caucasian women were delightful and deserved recognition for portrayals of heroism. African American women were present to care for and support the protagonist and applaud her victories. The Caucasian’s victory was portrayed as a collective celebratory win. Only for the Caucasian, came increase and prosperity and for the African American, the consolation that once again her insight has elevated yet another soul. Current controversy in the major film industry is a public demonstration of years of repetitive misrepresentation and inequality.
One reason to consider this revolving issue is Cultivation Analysis. Cultivation Analysis is a communication theory, created by George Gerbner and Larry Gross in 1976. The research of Gerbner & Gross states that people form their opinions and consciousness is shaped, by transmittal and ritualistic portrayals in television (media) messages that attempt to mimic social beliefs. These messages, often exaggerated, are misguided from true individual and social reality.
Cultivation Analysis has messaged that African American, Black, women are good because of selflessness, strength, unending nurturing (even as single mom) who sacrifice for the whole with the benefit of teaching and living by a moral code. African American women too, are not immune to media messages and fall prey to the portrayal of her place in society.
In melancholy, is the state of the African American woman. She too has entrusted the ritualistic message and succumb to mediocrity. Cultivation Analysis has shown many generations that the world is limited to such a “Person of Color.” The message not only resonates through television and film, but takes course in household dialogue, educational infrastructures, and professional ambitions. Families, parents, teachers, influencers, bosses remind the African American woman to hold her place and be thankful for her portion.
Subliminally, viewers ingest television, bulletins, banners, and advertisements, where the African American woman is in the background, standing at the edge of the picture, or sitting to scribe with a Caucasian who stands. The misgiving these messages transmit to cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, and genders are that African American women are not the best, not the lead, not to behold, not corporate, not to corner office, not to executive, and the message revolves.
As credit unions advance in the financial industry as people serving people (P1), perhaps implementing Principle 8: Diversity & Inclusion (P8), suggests that African American women are leaders, executives, senior managers, board members, and board chair. Maybe it’s an opportunity to consider Black women’s tenacious ability to endure consistent debasement with a smile, fortitude to manage a home with lesser pay, determination for African American children to achieve higher education, and to work with integrity and collaboration despite the inner turmoil that she carries because another Black male or female has been killed by a civic protector. Phenomenally, these skills can be transferred into corporate success measures, if given the chance to be seen from a different lens.
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
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.
Reviving the value of career development
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that 83% of employers are adjusting their business practices in light of the pandemic. Now more than ever, companies are providing employees with flexible work environments, innovating employee benefits, and constantly building employee morale.
Up until now, we have kept our eyes on cutting costs, streamlining business operations, and keeping people on payroll, which is understandable. But as the shock of the global pandemic subsides, we must create a sustainable vision for the future. A future that recognizes the dynamic shift in the relationship between organizations and their employees.
Part of adapting to the changing professional environment is reviving career and professional development conversations within the credit union movement. This creates a great opportunity to put the spotlight back on career growth and advancement goals to keep employees happy, engaged, and loyal.
At AACUC we believe the time is ripe to advance career advancement opportunities across the credit union movement. It is becoming increasingly important to prioritize training skills and reignite discussions with employees about their success, professional development, and educational resources.
According to Career Builder, career advancement “is one of the most important elements for employee satisfaction and retention at a company.” In fact, many employees are choosing to work at organizations that help them build their career, over organizations that are paying well. This tells me that our industry must actively seek ways to offer current and potential employees exciting new opportunities that provide exposure, engagement, and education.
Mentorship programs have great benefits for both organizations and employees. It can help increase employee retention and engagement. Sowing into the lives of young leaders can also bolster an organization’s succession plan. Mentorship is truly the most effective way for employees to build relationships, strengthen professional networks and receive insights on their career trajectory.
A strong mentorship program offers professional guidance and support to the mentees, as well as one-on-one career support. It also fosters long-term professional and personal relationships between an ambitious mentee and an experienced mentor.
If you don’t know where to begin, consider these out-of-the-box ideas for creating a strong mentorship program:
Address the stigmas of racism and feminism by pairing together women from diverse cultures and backgrounds. This facilitates an environment where the mentor and mentee can learn from one another and shine a light on the blind spots that hinder social and economic advancement.
Bridge generational gaps by pairing together young and seasoned professionals. This creates a reverse classroom structure where the mentor can learn from the mentee. For example, mentors can learn more about how to best utilize social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Strengthen international relations by pairing together individuals from different countries. This breaks ethnic barriers and allows both the mentor and mentee to gain international exposure and cultural understanding.
Mentorship is also a tool for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Employees from underrepresented communities face numerous hurdles throughout their career. They are more likely to feel isolated as a result of being the minority. They bear the brunt of corporate microaggressions and unconscious biases from their fellow employees. This can lead to frustration, poor performance or even burnout. One prevailing solution to this predicament is developing impactful mentorship programs.
Remember that most underrepresented professionals starting out do not have the proper access and exposure to senior leadership, which can negatively impact their growth trajectory. Research from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations found that mentoring programs “dramatically improved promotion and retention rates for minorities and women – 15% to 38% as compared to non-mentored employees.”
We should seek to approach mentorship with inclusivity and equity in mind. This means that in a successful mentor/mentee relationship, there is an acknowledgment that both parties have something valuable to offer. It is a reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship. When we approach mentorship with this in mind, we can advance people from all backgrounds in the workplace and create a shared sense of belonging.
Creating and implementing a successful mentorship program can be difficult to navigate. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Ensure mentors are aware of their implicit biases. We all have biases but its important to leave our personal preferences when entering the door of mentorship. It will do the relationship a huge disservice if those personal preferences lead to inequity.
Implement a training process. Don’t assume that participants understand the role of a mentor or mentee. Provide guidance through a training session that clarifies the expectations of the relationship.
Measure Success. Make sure that the mentors and mentees are tracking their progress and reflecting on future learning opportunities. Organizations should also provide surveys to gauge whether the program met its intended goals.
Our priority is to reciprocate learning and networking, build leadership and management skills and foster the development of lifelong friendships. This is how we will equip new credit union leaders for the future and bolster the longevity of our industry.
AACUC Announces African American Credit Union
Hall of Fame Honorees
February 18, 2021, SNELLVILLE, GA – The 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.’
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.’
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 finastra.com.
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 aacuc.org.
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 DEITalks.com.
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
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.
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 beyond what we know we can do for members and determine how we might work together to make it happen.
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 CUToday.info 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.”
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.
The Core Competency of Culture
January 13, 2021 by RENÉE SATTIEWHITE, AACUC - Core competencies define our business capabilities and distinguish us from competitors. They are hard to replicate, they provide member benefits and can be leveraged to expand profits.
When you think about core competencies, what comes to mind? Adaptability, critical thinking, or conflict resolution are a few of the main contenders. Whether they are embedded in the organization or inherent in the employee, core competencies can allow credit unions to remain successful for decades.
There are many skills that can give us a competitive business advantage. We can easily make the business case for things like managing performance, paying attention to communication, or building collaborative relationships.
But what about cultural competence?
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), cultural competence is “the ability to understand, appreciate and interact with people from cultures or belief systems different from one’s own.”
I would bet that cultural competence is often overlooked when creating a credit union’s list of core competencies. I would argue that many credit union leaders do not see value in this type of psychological thinking and practice. I would conclude that cultural competence is the secret sauce to creating a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable credit union system.
When an individual has cultural competence, that person has a basic understanding of his/her culture, a willingness to learn about the cultural practices and worldview of others and a positive attitude toward cultural differences. That individual stands ready to accept and respect cultural differences.
As I’ve said before, America’s population is changing, and we must decide as a movement how we will change with it. If we are truly committed to change, it is important to identify the skills (or competencies) that credit union professionals need to foster diversity.
Cultural competency, especially in leadership, will help credit unions build trust. Not only is cultural competency linked to financial performance, but it also facilitates out-of-the box thinking and increases productivity. According to the Harvard Business Review, leaders must learn how to fully develop- and speak to- the talent of all its employees, not just the ones that look like them.
As credit unions search talent pools and assess internal strategies, it is important to consider the core competency of culture. If you do not know where to begin, then start within. One of the best ways to grow in cultural competence is to learn about other cultures. There are always new people to meet and new books to read.
Pay attention, listen, and show genuine interest in the people around you. That is not limited to the people you work with but includes the people you work for – your members. We live in an increasingly diverse country and your credit union members come from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Take the time to build valuable and diverse relationships with your employees and members.
The APA notes that the federal government views cultural competence as an “important means of helping to eliminate racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities.” And that tells me that we can use cultural competence in our effort to eliminate racism in the credit union movement through the Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism initiative.
Let’s add cultural competency to our business model. It is the surefire way to work effectively across cultures in our credit unions and for the members we serve.
Two CEOs share insights on adjusting to the pandemic
and approaching the future
TruEnergy Federal CU
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 https://www.betterinvesting.org/store/membership/individual-investors/individual-investor-plus) 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.
# # #
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
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 CultivateYP@gmail.com
December 28, 2020
Authentic leadership starts at the top
“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.
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 12/1/2020 – Fiserv, 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 fiserv.com.
Donate to the AACUC “I’ve Got Five on It” Matching Campaign – Click to Donate
AACUC Corporate Partners - https://www.aacuc.org/corporate-allies
About Forward Together - fisv.co/diversityandinclusion
About Back2Business - fisv.co/back2business
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.
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 fiserv.com 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: https://www.aacuc.org/mentorship-program 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: www.greenstate.org and www.aacuc.org.
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.
Eric Gibbs, Jr.
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 https://advancenetlabs.org/aacuc/.
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 https://advancenetlabs.org/aacuc/.
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 email@example.com.
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.”
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?
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?
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?
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: https://youtu.be/PZFe8Yd8vb8
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 www.aacuc.org 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 mddccua.org 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