AACUC Wins 2022 Anchor Award from National Credit Union Foundation Herb Wegner Memorial Awards
Check out this sneak peek of the video honoring AACUC at the Foundation Dinner on February 28, 2022. AACUC will be presented the rare and prestigious Anchor Award by the National Credit Union Foundation during the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference. The Anchor Award stands apart from the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards and is given by the Foundation Board of Directors to individuals and organizations that have shown incredible leadership through moments of great adversity.
CUES Podcast: Building Bold, Effective Black Leadership at PSCU - an Interview with Marvin York, AACUC Board Secretary
Listen and learn how an experience with his granddaughter watching a video showing Black engineers, doctors, lawyers and others celebrating the completion of their degrees and getting ready to enter the world of work was the impetus for PSCU Bold, Effective Leadership, a CUES Strategic Leadership Development Program.
“And I said, ‘Wow, that is impressive,” York recalls. “And what struck me was in this industry..., it was always told to me we just cannot find people of color to be in these leadership roles, in these key positions. And I'm watching this video and I said, ‘We got to do better.’”
In this episode of the CUES Podcast, York describes how the program went from idea to action, the experience of the 12 participants and the impact it has had.
Listen to the full podcast.
Elan Announces Across the Country Charitable Giving Program, Donating on Behalf of 50 Credit Union Partners
MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Elan today announced the launch of its Across the Country Charitable Giving program benefiting 50 charities across the United States. Of Elan’s 250+ active credit union partners, 50 have been randomly selected to participate in this exciting initiative to give back to the communities they serve.
The program allows each selected credit union to identify a charity of their choice, in their own community, and Elan will donate $12,500 to the designated organization on their behalf.
“Credit unions are a vital resource for their communities, with a mission to serve members and neighbors. We’re proud to launch Across the Country Charitable Giving and help support the positive impact our credit union partners have on their communities,” said Elan’s Credit Card GM, John Owens. "We believe giving back is more important than ever and including our credit union partners was a meaningful component of bringing this project to fruition."
In addition to a monetary donation to each chosen organization, Elan hopes to organize in-person volunteer events in select areas. This will provide the opportunity for Elan team members to work alongside our credit union partners and serve their neighbors.
Elan’s Across the Country Charitable Giving Program credit union partners and selected beneficiaries can be found here.
To learn more about Elan and our Across the Country Charitable Giving program, visit www.cupartnership.com.
As America’s leading agent credit card issuer, Elan serves more than 250 active credit union partners. For more than 50 years, Elan has offered an outsourced partnership solution that provides credit unions the ability to offer a competitive credit card program. Elan has developed industry-leading technologies to improve cardmember satisfaction and drive growth all while sharing the program economics with its partners. In 2022, Elan launched the Across the Country Charitable Giving program pledging to nonprofits across the country in partnership with select credit union partners. For more information, visit www.cupartnership.com.
AACUC Board Member Whitney Anderson-Harrell Named
New CEO of Elements Financial
February 9, 2022 (INDIANAPOLIS) — Elements Financial announces the upcoming retirement of Chief Executive Officer Lisa Schlehuber on April 15. Schlehuber, Chair of the Elements Board of Directors Mark Saltsgaver, and the full board are excited to jointly announce Whitney Anderson-Harrell as the next CEO of Elements who will begin February 24.
Anderson-Harrell previously served as Chief Community Development Officer at Michigan State University Federal Credit Union (MSUFCU), $6.8 billion in assets. She also served as President of the Desk Drawer Fund and President of Ever Green 3C. Her years of leading a broad range of teams, projects, and responsibilities provide a solid foundation from which to grow and lead Elements. She was selected from a large candidate pool as the Elements Board of Directors completed a thorough process to ensure a highly skilled and effective leader was found to take Elements forward.
April Clobes, CEO MSUFCU states, "Everyone at MSUFCU is thrilled for Whitney and this outstanding opportunity to continue her work in the credit union industry. Whitney is a dynamic, innovative leader who is committed to her team, organizational results, the credit union industry, and our members and their communities."
"I am excited to join Elements and work with an outstanding team to serve members. As an inclusive leader, I am focused on innovation and growth. Elements is a successful credit union, and I look forward to seeing where the future can take us," says Anderson-Harrell.
Anderson-Harrell has had significant community involvement on boards such as the African American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) National Board, MLK Commission of Mid-Michigan, and United Way. She will re-locate to the Indianapolis area with her family after she and Schlehuber both attend CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington D.C., February 27-March 3.
More About Elements Financial
Elements Financial is a diversified federal credit union with assets of more than $2.0 billion and 110,000+ members in all 50 states and 50 foreign countries. As a financial wellness provider, Elements serves individuals through our original sponsor Eli Lilly and Company and more than 150 companies across Indiana and nationally. Beyond our Elements branches in Central Indiana, we provide access to more than 5,000 shared branch locations nationally and 78,000 surcharge-free ATMs globally. Elements Wealth Management is a full-service investment management and financial planning firm with more than $1 billion in assets under management. Elements is known for better rates and fewer fees. Join us at elements.org to learn more.
AACUC Adds Chief Experience Officer to Executive Team
SNELLVILLE, GA – The African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) has hired Dohnia Dorman as Chief Experience Officer. In this new role, Dorman will optimize operational efficiency, enhance the member experience and amplify the AACUC brand through marketing and events for the expanding organization.
In the last five years, AACUC membership and assets have grown by 188%. AACUC will receive the prestigious Anchor Award from the National Credit Union Foundation at the Herb Wegner Awards Dinner on February 28, 2022, for its excellence in leadership through moments of great adversity.
“AACUC is experiencing incredible growth and notoriety, and I need a second in command,” said AACUC President/CEO Renée Sattiewhite. “Now more than ever, we need a Chief Experience Officer who is committed to taking AACUC to the next level, and we’re confident Dohnia Dorman is the perfect woman for the assignment. Her wide-ranging competencies, passion for AACUC’s mission and experience delivering meaningful outcomes in previous roles will most certainly and positively shape the direction of the organization to meet the demands of this moment in our industry and in years to come.”
Dorman is an experienced credit union professional with more than 10 years in the industry, having served as Vice President of Marketing for Rio Grande Credit Union ($518 million in assets) and most recently several positions at Suncoast Credit Union ($14 billion in assets) including Enterprise Agility Portfolio Manager, Vice President of Account Relationship Operations (formerly Deposit Operations) and Marketing Director.
“Dohnia was a tremendous asset as a member of our vice president team, growing deposits by 10% in one quarter, influencing our enterprise business agility transformation and leaning out processes that saved more than 13,500 manual FTE hours in one year,” said Kevin Johnson, President/CEO of Suncoast Credit Union, a Chairman’s Circle Partner of AACUC. “It is our pleasure and duty to promote diverse C-level talent in our credit union industry.”
In 2012, she was named “Rookie of the Year” by the Credit Union Executive Society and received Albuquerque Business First’s Woman of Influence award in 2013. She is an accomplished professional holding a Master of Business Administration, Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication and double major in Spanish from the University of New Mexico, along with several certifications such as Certified Diversity Equity and Inclusion from the University of South Florida and Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Nonprofit Leadership Center.
An avid learner, teacher and volunteer, Dorman has participated in Filene Research Institute’s i3 innovation program and has taught at her alma mater’s Department of Communication and Journalism. Dorman is no stranger to AACUC, having been a member since 2020 and responsible for chairing the AACUC Annual Virtual Conferences in 2020 and 2021. She serves her local community in different capacities, including the Junior League.
Black history is our history – Reshaping our perceptions about Black History Month
CUInsight - February 8, 2022, by Renee Sattiewhite, AACUC
Every year during the month of February, we celebrate the innumerable contributions of African Americans in the United States. It’s a joyous time and one that is well-deserved, particularly for a people who suffered (and continue to suffer) under the thumb of racial oppression.
Ironically enough, many people are surprised to learn just how much their African American counterparts have contributed to society. A few of these Black History Month factoids may shock you:
Benjamin Banneker taught himself astronomy and math to become America’s “First Known African American Man of Science”. He helped to design the blueprints for Washington, D.C.
Madam C.J. Walker was an African American entrepreneur who became America’s first female self-made millionaire.
Allensworth is the first all-Black Californian township, founded and financed by African Americans. Created by Lieutenant Colonel Allen Allensworth in 1908, the town was built with the intention of establishing a self-sufficient city where African Americans could live their lives free of racial prejudice.
What makes these contributions so remarkable is that the people who achieved them did so under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. These individuals lived in a world that chastised them for the color of their skin and for their birthplace of origin. Despite this troubling reality, they learned to navigate in a world that was unkind to them. They were bold, mindful, and brave.
But the truth is, Black History extends far beyond racial lines. Black History is Our History.
It bothers me that there is a distinct delineation between Black History and American History when they are one in the same. The history of United States is filled with stories of boldness, mindfulness, and bravery – from people of all walks of life. But we cannot take the good without the bad. We must accept, recognize, and acknowledge the uncomfortable truths that are mixed into our salad bowl of a nation. These truths, these tales of brutality, hatred, and bigotry have impacted communities that still hurt today.
This month, we turn our attention to African Americans, another month we will focus on the plight of the Asian American community, and another month we will pay homage to the indigenous peoples of Native America. These cultural celebrations have earned their rightful place in our hearts and in our calendars, but don’t you think they are worth so much more?
I know what you’re thinking: “This sounds pretty bleak, Renee. Don’t you want us to celebrate Black History?”
Yes, of course I want you to celebrate Black History, but expand your mind to think beyond the short month of February. Look to your left and to your right, pick up a newspaper or read an article online and recognize that people are contributing to Our History every day. If we look within our own credit union community, we will find some cool and surprising contributions by our colleagues.
Black History Month is an opportunity to celebrate Our History – the history of the United States of America. The soil we stand on is rich in opportunity. And as financial cooperatives and credit union advocates, we have the power to create opportunities and affect change for all people.
Yes, let’s lean on the empowering African American voices and talent that our industry has. But more importantly, let’s work together to navigate our country’s ever-changing environment, an environment filled with wonderful culture and diversity.
We are the authors of our generational history. Let’s change the narrative to encapsulate all facets of history and to authentically reflect how far we’ve come. The accomplishments of African Americans, and of all people for that matter, are truly innumerable, but what can we do now to make sure they make it into Our History?
When it comes to unifying our nation, it’s no secret that there is still so much work for us to do to become whole. But I choose to celebrate our collective positive wins toward meaningful change – wins that occur everyday in our daily lives. From the young man opening a door for the elderly woman to the kind patron who pays for the person ahead of them at Starbucks, each day is an opportunity to reshape and rewrite Our History. These small acts of generosity and kindness keep me hopeful that one day soon, very soon – we will celebrate OUR HISTORY.
The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation Announces Capital Drive to Support Black-led De Novo Credit Union
February 1, 2022
St. Paul, Minn. - The Association for Black Economic Power (ABEP) is a nonprofit organization created to establish a Black-led credit union to address systemic financial challenges impacting Minneapolis residents, particularly people of color. ABEP is currently raising capital for post-opening operating expenses for Village Financial Credit Union. As the philanthropic arm of the Minnesota Credit Union movement - the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation has established a special fund to receive donations from supporters of Village Financial Credit Union, and is seeking to raise $1 million in capital from the credit union community.
“Establishing the only Black-led, cooperative credit union in Minnesota is an opportunity to effect positive change, empower growth and economic stability while directly addressing the core cause of systemic poverty on a variety of levels,” said Debra Hurston, Executive Director of the Association for Black Economic Power. “The original organizers were very passionate about having a community led credit union that would directly respond to the community wealth gap. Also, having the credit union owned and operated by the community provides a huge source of pride and independence for the members.”
“Credit union history and principles are rooted in serving the underserved and cooperation among cooperatives,” said Mark Cummins, President of the Minnesota Credit Union Network and the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation. “Coming together to support this effort is one way we can put our DEI commitments into action. It’s simply the right thing to do.”
As of the June 2021 reporting period, there are 264 Black American credit unions across the nation, managing 7.5 billion in assets for 762,000 members. Village Financial Credit Union would be the only Black American credit union in Minnesota.
“The Board of Directors of AACUC and I are delighted that the credit union community is coming together to ensure that this credit union is launched and successful. The Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism® Initiative is truly reflected in this collaborative effort,” said Renée Sattiewhite, President/CEO of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC).
“This project is a great example of using the credit union difference to advance historically underserved communities that continue to face challenges in a recovering economy,” said Credit Union National Association President/CEO Jim Nussle. “Not-for-profit financial cooperatives exist to improve their members’ financial well-being, and we’re proud to support this effort to increase financial inclusion in the Minneapolis area.”
Capital donations, Deposit Pledges and Individual Contributions are currently being sought to support this effort. “Contributions secured in now will be highly catalytic for ABEP and Village Financial, as they provide important grounding for the State charter application and NCUA application; evidence of traction as additional financial support from other sources are sought; and operational sustainability during the first three years of opening,” continued Cummins.
To learn more, visit mncun.org/villagefinancial or contact Minnesota Credit Union Foundation President Mark Cummins or Executive Director Andrea Molnau.
Focused on financial education and professional development initiatives, the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation is dedicated to providing the resources for credit unions and communities to prosper and thrive. MnCUF is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1969 that serves as a charitable arm of the Minnesota credit union movement. For more information, visit mncun.org/foundation.
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 abepmpls.org.
The future is in our hands
CUInsight - September 15, 2021, by IONNIE MCNEILL, AACUC
One thing we know for sure, “it’s better to start saving and investing earlier rather than later”. Another
thing we know for sure, “our youth aren’t being taught the importance of a financial education in schools”.
Therefore, that leaves us within the credit union community with a great opportunity – to make sure it’s
Credit unions have always served the communities that created them and by their very nature, are
educational institutions. Credit unions pride themselves on educating members on what’s out there, what
to look out for, and how to get the best rates and service.
This summer, the African-American Credit Union Coalition (www.aacuc.org) teamed up with BetterInvesting (www.betterinvesting.org) to support a non-profit that is on the forefront of financial and investment education for Youth of Color, CLIMB (www.climbusa.org). CLIMB hosted a Summer Stock Market Experience Program, that served over 200 youth nationwide, exposing them to investing, credit unions, careers in finance, entrepreneurship, investment clubs and portfolio management. This program was catered to African-American and Hispanic youth and resulted in 100 credit union accounts being opened and 50 Youth Roth IRAs being opened.
One of the highlights of the program was the Credit Union Panel hosted on June 22nd, where 11 participating credit unions explained the difference between credit unions and banks, the benefits of opening a credit union account early and having access to other financial education services their unique credit union provides to its members.
This panel, along with the 11 other weekly Speaker Series sessions, really helped to educate our youth, and their parents, on what we all know and take for granted by working in this industry – just how important it is to start saving and investing now and learning how to make better financial decisions.
It’s easy to say, “I wish they would teach this in schools”. But it’s more effective to realize that we, as a credit union community, are the only ones really well-equipped to teach this. And the best place to start is with our members and their families. Making sure they have access to accounts is not enough. Having access to a quality education regarding their finances, their financial goals and the resources and support to help make those goals a reality is what’s needed. And that is only available through partnerships. Partnerships with other non-profits such as AACUC and BetterInvesting who are doing the work, educating our youth and preparing them to have a fruitful future with a quality financial and investment education, starting in grade school.
The future is in our hands. For many of us, working and contributing to the credit union movement is more than just a job. It is a passion for us. For we know the benefits it can bring. We have witnessed the financial liberation it can offer. Do we not have the answers for the next generation? And if we do, are we pointing them in the right direction or waiting for someone else to do it because our job title doesn’t have “teacher” in it?
Let’s give the next generation a head start many of us didn’t have, simply by sharing our time, experience, and expertise with them. Join us next year, so that you can be part of the solution in helping to build wealth in the next generation, starting with education and exposure. We are one community, the credit union community.
AACUC Meeting Coverage: Panelists Address Myths Around ITIN Lending
SNELLVILLE, Ga.— Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) lending not only benefits immigrants, it’s also good business,
say experts who note that despite perceptions, the loans actually see very low delinquencies.
What often gets in the way of more credit unions making these loans are those types of “myths,” according to a panel of
experts speaking at the African American Credit Union Coalition’s virtual annual meeting.
ITIN loans are for people who are not eligible for Social Security numbers, often undocumented immigrants. ITIN's are issued
to both resident and nonresident aliens for tax-reporting purposes.
A big myth, explained John Wilkening, chief retail officer at the $893-million Notre Dame CU in Notre Dame, Ind., which has
an ITIN portfolio of $250 million, is the loans are high risk.
“I will tell you that these members pay us back,” Wilkening said.
He emphasized many credit unions fear not only will members who receive an ITIN loan default, but there is the additional concern over immigrants returning to their homeland and turning their backs on their obligations to the credit union.
“That is not happening within our ITIN portfolio,” he said. “These borrowers are trying to become part of our society in the U.S., and they are not running. These folks have so much honor, they are the salt of the earth, and it’s one of the most rock-solid loans you can make.”
Vanessa Kuduk, vice president of lending and Hispanic outreach at Members Credit Union, said thinking ITIN loans largely for a certain group of borrowers is not true.
“Thinking these are just for Latinos, that's a myth,” said Kuduk, who came to the U.S. herself years ago as an illegal immigrant.
“There is also this inaccurate perception that immigrants don't pay taxes, they do,” Kuduk said. “And I know there are many
documented Americans that don’t pay taxes.”
Those aren’t the only misconceptions, according to panelists. Another such myth is that assuming the data reported by the credit
bureaus is all the same when it comes to the use of ITINs for purposes of checking credit, said Mario Vega, consumer lending manager
at $238-million Guadalupe Credit Union in Sante Fe, N.M.
“When we first started making ITIN loans we used TransUnion,” Vega explained. “And this really became a matter of trial and error.”
Vega said the credit union discovered when it switched to Equifax it found a difference in the data when it comes to accepting ITINs.
“When we switched to Equifax we then were able to accommodate our entire membership,” he said. “What we have found is that Equifax is the best credit bureau service provider to use if you want to start ITIN lending.”
Outside of myth busting, the panel told the AACUC audience that accepting members with ITINs is rewarding for both the members and the credit union, and it builds lasting, profitable relationships.
Kuduk said Members Credit Union has not sought to simply build relationships with the immigrant communities it serves by “hanging out a sign.” Instead, it has benefitted from word of mouth from the borrowers themselves within their own communities.
“We build relationships within our communities,” she said. “We're going out and teaching financial literacy courses. We’re going to events and we're talking straight. We're explaining we need to bring these folks out of the darkness—it’s time in this nation for immigrants to come out of the shadows. We do a lot of communicating and calming of the people, and we sit down with them—often right at their kitchen tables. That is where we do our greatest work.”
AACUC Conference Coverage: Insights Into What Young Adults (Don’t) Know About Finances
8/19/21, SNELLVILLE, Ga.–As credit unions provide financial education to young adults, the most effective message they can share is the “importance of now.”
That point was delivered by Ionnie McNeil during the African American Credit Union Coalition’s virtual annual meeting. McNeill, who is director of the Better Investing South Florida Chapter, provides young adults with guidance on investment and wealth building.
McNeill told the audience they can never underemphasize how important it is to get young adults to understand the long-term, wealth building value of investing early.
“They need to understand the importance of now,” said McNeill, known as the “Baby Billionaire.”
McNeill said that message is even more important for young adults of color, adding that in Better Investing classes she holds most minority participants know little about investing and most don’t know what a credit union is.
Most Powerful Force
“The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest,” said McNeill, who began investing at the age of seven.
McNeill polled the AACUC audience and asked if they would rather take $1 million today, or the final sum from a penny that doubles every day for 30 days.
“Everyone is going to choose the $1 million that’s right in front of them, right?” said McNeill, who added most people don’t see the true value in waiting 30 days for the revenue from a doubling penny.
But waiting pays off, she reminded.
“Let’s see who benefits most—those who took the million dollars now or those who waited,” McNeill said. “If you were those who chose the penny, you would have is $5.4 million at the end of 30 days.”
The Biggest Obstacle
McNeill said the example shows how hard it can be for young investors to understand the benefits of investing early and waiting for wealth to build.
“I think the biggest obstacle for young investors is at the beginning, when things move very slowly,” she said. “I mean, from our example, one penny turns into two, two into four … but then halfway through the month you really see the trajectory.”
That trajectory is what McNeill said credit unions must help young investors see.
“That’s the energy that I want you to bring to this conversation, which really helps drive home why teaching youth and exposing youth to savings and investing at an early age is so important,” she said.
In the classes she conducts with Better Investing, McNeill said it is clear there is little understanding of investment among young adults of color.
“Most of the students did not have a credit union account, or even know what a credit union is. Even more did not know what a Roth IRA is,” she said. “At the beginning of (a recent Better Investing) program, we had about 400 students express interest, and with the summer and natural attrition we now have 255 students planning to complete the program. In our opening survey we asked if they had a credit union account and 60% said they did not.”
McNeill said that situation has changed among the students as the summer program progressed, as well as the perspective the future is simply too far out.
“The hardest thing to do is get a young person to understand time,” she said. “Their relationship to time is very different than ours. They live more in the present. They don’t have a past long enough to really be retrospective, and the future seems too far out to plan. But they are actually the richest population, and they don’t realize how rich they can be if they start investing now. A little self-awareness, a little bit of education about investing and you can propel them into spaces they could have never dreamed about.”
Inspirational Message Helps Kick Off Meeting
8/19/21 -SNELLVILLE, Ga.–Credit union leaders have been offered one personal tale of overcoming obstacles, three examples of people who have shown leadership, and six words to live by.
Speaking to the opening session of the African American Credit Union Coalition’s virtual annual meeting, Dr. Adeline
Nukuna urged her audience to adhere to these six words: “Be bold, be mindful, be brave.”
“These are not new words for any of you,” said Nukuna. “As people of color our lives have been defined and defended by
being bold and mindful and brave. We get tired sometimes feeling we have to prove ourselves every day and seemingly
every way. Even as an MD, I still get second-guessed because of the color of my skin and my accent. I am here, however,
to tell you you are not alone in this trouble. Even when you are tired from the fight, there is still the hands of others besides
you who can lift you into that beautiful sky above you, where the wind is always at your back carrying you.”
Nukuna, who received her medical degree and Ph.D. in medical microbiology from the Creighton University School of Medicine and who is now employed by Beebe Medical Group in Rehoboth Beach, Md., is also author of the book, “From Low to Glow: Shaping the Rhythm of Creation by Self Gift.” The book is described as a “practical roadmap around and above the self-limiting challenges of life.”
According to Nukuna, boldness, mindfulness and bravery all have unique characteristics.
“Boldness is deciding to take ownership of who you are,” said Nukuna. “It’s the recognition of the authentic you.”
Mindfulness, she said, is about being “fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing at all times. In this loud and distraction-filled world, mindfulness can be a superpower on its own. It calls for us to minimize the distractions that cause us to forget who we are.”
Finally, said Nukuna, bravery is not about bravado, bullying or arrogance.
“It is the wisdom to ask for help, guidance and direction when life is unclear or unkind,” she told the AACUC meeting. “Bravery is humility in action, because humility is not thinking less of ourselves, but instead thinking of ourselves less. Bravery has no use for pride and selfishness. Bravery accepts the help and wisdom of others. Bravery helps us give that help and wisdom to others without the expectation of reward or recognition.”
Moreover, added Nukuna, bravery “calls out injustice wherever it may be, in our hearts, our homes and even in our credit unions.”
Becoming bold, mindful and brave helps to overcome what Nukuna described as the “chorus of negative emotions” heard in life and at work and even inside one’s head, such as “Nobody would listen to this,” and “My idea is not good enough.”
Nukuna offered three “real-life” examples of the six words to live by, two of which she drew from credit unions. The examples included:
Boldness: Andy Janning
Janning is well-known to many in credit unions for his work with the National Credit Union Foundation and as host of the annual Herb Wegner Awards.
Nukuna pointed to Janning’s experience in 2019 when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and they experienced the “emotional and financial trauma such a diagnosis brings.”
As a result, as reported here, the experience led Janning to launch what Nukuna called a “once-in-a-lifetime assignment” to create a program called “Side Effects” for the Foundation that highlights in videos and podcasts the financial crisis caused by cancer in the United States.
“Along the way Andy’s heart broke, not just for the financial crisis cancer causes, but also for the significant racial disparities in outcomes and death rates in the country,” said Nukuna, noting African Americans have the highest death rates from most cancers.
Janning has also created an initiative called “End Terminal Debt,” a non-profit seeking to pay off up to $50,000 in loans held by terminal cancer patients across the country. At least half of the patients served by End Terminal Debt are African Americans, Nukuna said, saying she has been so inspired by Janning’s work she is providing seed money to the AACUC to help kickstart the initiative.
Mindful: Renee Sattiewhite
Sattiewhite is president/CEO of the African American Credit Union Coalition and has overseen much of the organization’s growth.
“Renee personifies the dictum of being mindful,” said Nukuna. “She leads with great mental presence and is present without forgetting the past. By combining that past and the present, she knows how to begin the future. She identifies opportunities that beckon her to her set goals. She embodies the spirit of people helping people.”
Bravery: Godfrey Madukwe
Madukwe is Nukuna’s husband.
“Godfrey’s bravery is executed right at home,” she said. “He has a full-time job and is very good at what he does. For him, bravery means that to be strong in no way requires (him to) be weak.
He gives me a shoulder to lean on always. I would be more accurate to say his full-time employment is ensuring that all my endeavors come to fruition. He is that trusted shoulder and I let him take on some of the responsibilities that are supposed to be mine as the woman of the house. Godfrey does not consider the enormous sacrifices he is making for me and family as a weakness. He ensures my white coat is clean and ironed always. He does all this in spite of his own full-time job and imperatives…Godfrey lets me be who I want to be, my authentic self, (and does) all this at the expense of being called weak or saying I control him.”
One Young Woman’s Example
All of the examples, said Nukuna, remind her of the story of a young lady she once knew.
That young woman, she recalled, was newly graduated with a master’s degree and was entering a doctorate program. At the same time, she had to have emergency surgery for a cancer that thankfully turned out to be benign. She was also facing a lack of funds to continue her education.
“Mindful that blocks may well be stepping stones, her financial pinch became a springboard,” said Nukuna.
Nukuna further shared how the young woman’s dream was to study in the United States. That led her to spending countless hours in the library with a copy of a guide to medical programs in the U.S., a list she narrowed to 60. She then hand-wrote letters to the five-dozen programs and described her circumstances and her interest in doing research on HIV/AIDS.
“Weeks went by without any response to many of the posts,” Nukuna shared. “The few responses that came included expressions of regret, that they did not have money to support her. Stipends were going to be her lifeline. After more days of fruitless waiting, a gentleman in the U.S. called to say he was going to find some money in his grant for a small stipend for her, but she had to be accepted into a graduate program. She was accepted.
“She flew across the Atlantic with $1,000 to start life,” Nukuna continued. “The young lady and the gentleman met in the campus parking lot…where he pointed to the sky and said, ‘Look, up there, what do you see?’
It’s Time to Fly
“And I responded, ‘The sky,’” Nukuna said, revealing the young lady of the story was her. “That’s when he said to me, ‘As long as you work hard, the sky is the limit.’ That 24-year-old woman who dreamt of a career in medicine sent stacks of letters to strangers to bring that dream to life. He believed in me when no one else would. He invested in me when no one else would. He helped me see the sky and my unique place in it.
“The world cannot hold us down,” Nukuna told the meeting. “We are meant for and made for the sky. Lift up your eyes boldly and see. Lift up your senses mindfully. Lift up your hearts bravely. This is our time. Let us now, my friends, come together and fly.”
Episode 69: If you Build it, They will Come:
Financial Education and DEI in Today’s WorldBanking on Experience
Givers of hope. – Sounds epic, right? But it’s precisely what financial institutions have the potential to be IF their top priorities are to listen, educate, and include.
Joining me on CRMNEXT’s Banking on Experience to discuss financial education and DEI in today’s changing world is Andrea Finley- a true rock star in her field.
No really…she was 2020’s CU Rockstar for her work in financial education. ;) She’s also the Community Engagement Manager at AACUC (African American Credit Union Coalition), a certified diversity professional, and one of the most inspiring guests I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with on the podcast.
Topics we covered include:
Why Andrea is so passionate about this topicCommon challenges she’s seen in the field of financial educationA family affair: making finances less tabooHow credit unions can help turn obstacles into opportunitiesWhat DEI really means (some awesome perspective here) And more
Stay in touch with Banking on Experience by listening on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.
Who cares? Is the credit union different?
August 12, 2021
The credit union difference – the driving force behind our movement.
These are the first words we utter in our thirty-second elevator pitch to answer the age-old question, “What’s the difference between a credit union and a bank?”
When we talk about the credit union difference, we offer a variety of ways that set credit unions apart from other financial intuitions. We tout our not-for-profit, cooperative model and we emphasize that credit unions put people over profits. We reassure our audiences that credit unions return their earnings to their member-owners. Ultimately, we work very hard to say: “We are not like them, we are different.”
But what is it that makes us different? Is our difference limited to the products and services we provide? Against what backdrop are we measuring our difference?
Credit unions are different because they were founded on cooperative values. The credit union difference goes far beyond reduced fees, savings rates, and loan rates. When credit unions measure themselves, by themselves, or by other financial institutions, we do our movement and our members a huge disservice.
Service and Benefit Above All Else
Credit unions are different when they embody the cooperative principles, placing service and benefit to all members above all else. The seven cooperative principles are the guiding light for credit unions. They keep our organizational values focused on self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity.
Our world has drastically changed since 1844 when the Cooperative Principles were established. It is important that credit unions consider how these principles should be applied to best serve the ever-changing needs of their members and communities.
We are living in a time when the people we prioritize over profits are grappling with the realities of social injustice and economic disparities. Credit unions have a built-in responsibility to serve and to create more diverse, equitable and inclusive communities. Our cooperative movement should adopt the 8th Cooperative Principle, created by Maurice R. Smith, that affirms diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as an ideal that should be pursued.
Credit unions that support DEI as a shared credit union cooperative principle are different.
Going Beyond the Call
Credit unions were established to promote thrift for provident purposes, and they have fulfilled that call since the first credit union was established in 1909. In recent memory, credit unions used their collective, cooperative superpowers to come to their members aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. We still hear countless stories about how credit unions support their local communities and promote financial wellbeing for their members.
If we already support our members financially, what other ways can we show them that their voice matters? I believe the answer to that question goes beyond the products and services credit unions provide.
As cooperatives, credit unions have a social purpose. Part of that social purpose is to fill the gaps that for-profit businesses often ignore. This includes access to affordable credit and banking services, particularly in communities that are struggling the most.
Credit unions can do more to stop the widening of the wealth gap and create more paths to financial wellbeing. This charge is not limited to community development credit unions but includes those without the designation. Collectively, credit unions can be the anchor that stabilizes our communities by providing access to capital.
To be different, credit unions must go beyond the call and lean in.
Measuring Ourselves, By Ourselves
A word of caution: we cannot allow our firm belief in the credit union difference to create a self-righteousness service model. When credit unions measure themselves, by themselves, they run the risk of painting an unauthentic picture of the impact they may- or may not- be making.
While there are many things that credit unions get right, there are many things that we need to improve upon. For example, DEI and service to communities of color are two big areas that credit unions are still struggling in. We still have a lot of work to do, but one thing we can do is look beyond our immediate professional circles for examples of what an inclusive service model looks like.
Exclusive, and self-righteous, service is selective of whom to serve. But inclusive, and selfless, service is built around service to all people, not just a select few. As cooperative credit unions, who serve over 120 million members, we don’t get to choose who should and shouldn’t be served. If we lean into the eighth cooperative principle, and embody an inclusive service model, we can begin to chip away at the iceberg.
Until we wholeheartedly adopt DEI into the framework of the credit union service model, we will not be much different than other organizations or financial institutions.
Let’s expand our understanding of the credit union difference. We can get creative and find new things that make us different, competitive, and valuable to the diverse group of members that we serve.
NASCUS and AACUC Announce Mutual Membership Alliance
8-10-2021, Arlington, VA – The National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) and the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) proudly announce a mutual membership alliance designed to strengthen the state credit union system and enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) engagement strategies within the industry.
“Our mission is centered around forging a vibrant dual charter system and promoting a relevant, growth-oriented, and healthy state charter option. This partnership with AACUC further enhances dialogue with regulators and state-chartered credit unions while promoting personal and professional growth within the industry as a whole. As a champion in the DEI movement, AACUC’s Commitment to Change will help us shape an inclusive environment and provide learning opportunities to strengthen the state system.” NASCUS President and CEO Lucy Ito commented.
AACUC, formally established in 1999, was created to increase the strength of a global credit union community through professional development and advocacy. Led by President and CEO Renée Sattiewhite, the AACUC has become an all-encompassing organization for individuals (professionals and volunteers) in Credit Unions, Insurance, Regulators, Consultants and other entities in the credit union industry.
“AACUC and NASCUS are structured to create a fair and equitable industry while encouraging growth and living the ‘people helping people’ philosophy. I look forward to deepening our collaborative relationship and working together to make a positive lasting impact on the lives of millions of Americans. This partnership opens the door to state regulators and offers AACUC the ability to give feedback on the effect of rules and regulation to the African-American community,” stated AACUC President and CEO Renée Sattiewhite.
As a result of this alliance, members from each organization will have the opportunity to learn best practices, expand their knowledge of real-world issues, and deliberate on the regulatory landscape. With the DEI movement gaining considerable steam over the past several years, this alliance is an excellent opportunity to expand a collective mission of inclusive cooperation and bring the state credit union system closer to a future in which diversity, equity, and inclusion thrive.
Ms. Ito further commented, “AACUC’s relentless drive for change and inclusion across various cultures and groups beyond the African American community is transformative for our industry. NASCUS is honored to collaborate with them and expand on the DEI message to our network of 45 state agencies and more than 2,000 state-chartered credit unions.”
With this partnership, AACUC holds associate member status with NASCUS, and NASCUS maintains a corporate membership with AACUC.
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.
NASCUS is the national association that advocates for a strong and healthy state credit union system, and whose members include state regulatory agencies, credit unions, credit union leagues, and organizations that support the state credit union system. Our mission is to forge a vibrant dual charter system by promoting a relevant, growth- oriented, and healthy state charter option. More information about NASCUS can be found here.
The CU 2.0 Podcast 157
Emma Norman (Local Government FCU and AACUC)
and Lynn Heckler (PSCU) DEI 2021 3
JULY 14, 2021 ROBERT MCGARVEY SEASON 3 EPISODE 157
Welcome to the CU2.0 doubleheader podcast where you will hear two perspectives on DEI and the industry.
"We are stronger together." That is what Emma Norman, director of learning and development at Local Government Federal Credit Union and also chief diversity officer at the African American Credit Union Coalition, has to say when asked why LGFCU is all in when it comes to supporting the Credit Union DEI Collective.
She adds that what she tells credit unions is that "DEI has to be part of your strategy."
Think on that. DEI - diversity, equity and inclusion, a movement that gained force in the past year as evidence multiplied that the United States is a country with deep, lingering racial divides - just maybe is a whole lot more than a nice to do.
"DEI is a business imperative," said Lynn Heckler, chief talent officer at PSCU. Her point: the credit unions and allied companies that want longterm success will be very sure they look much like their communities and across America those communities are increasingly diverse.
This is a wide ranging podcast, with two very different voices and perspectives but the two women agree on this: DEI is a real, important concern.
Local Government FCU of course is a powerhouse. Its assets exceed $3 billion.
PSCU is the nation's leading payments CUSO - it supports 1500 credit unions and their many billions of payments annually.
These are two important institutions - and that is why it matters that they are saying DEI is real and it is real for any business.
CO-OP FORMALIZES LONG-STANDING SUPPORT OF
AFRICAN-AMERICAN CREDIT UNION COALITION WITH NEW PARTNERSHIP
Corporate Partnership Furthers CO-OP’s Contribution to the Strength of the Credit Union Movement
JULY 13, 2021: RANCHO CUCAMONGA, California, and SNELLVILLE, Georgia
Credit union payments fintech CO-OP Financial Services today announced an expansion of its support for the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) by committing to a five-year corporate sponsorship.
Through this long-term commitment, CO-OP will work with the AACUC to help develop, promote and participate in the Coalition’s events and initiatives, including its Annual Virtual Conference, planned for August 16-21.
“There is strong cultural alignment between the AACUC and CO-OP, as both organizations are grounded by a purpose to strengthen the credit union industry,” said Dorthy Mack, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council Co-chair at CO-OP. “Watching the AACUC’s growth has been exciting; it’s a testament to the movement’s acknowledgement of the need for change and AACUC’s tenacity to lead the way. CO-OP is honored to join AACUC leadership, members and supporters in the unification, education, conversations and investments that will bring the movement closer to a future in which diversity, equity and inclusion thrive.”
CO-OP’s own DE&I Council serves as a forum for conversation within the company. The Council works to foster a workplace where every employee feels valued, respected and connected. Recently the Council invited employees to form Engagement Resource Groups based on employees’ shared characteristics, life experiences and interests. Mack anticipates the Council’s work will dovetail well with the activities of the AACUC, enabling a highly engaging partnership.
“We look forward to deepening our collaboration with CO-OP team members who are clearly eager to partner in bringing about meaningful change,” said Renee Sattiewhite, President/CEO of the AACUC. “This is a crucial time for all people, and especially those in a position of strength and influence, to fight against racism in all forms. CO-OP has a significant opportunity to make a lasting difference in the lives and careers of the people helping millions of Americans live financially healthy lives.”
About CO-OP Financial Services
CO-OP Financial Services is a payments and financial technology company whose mission is ensuring the success of the credit union movement. CO-OP payments solutions, engagement services and strategic counsel help credit unions optimize member experiences to consistently provide seamless, personalized multi-channel offerings, while delivering secure, sophisticated fraud mitigation service. For more information, visit www.coop.org.
Elan announces corporate partnership
with African-American Credit Union Coalition
Corporate partnership commitment will support diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the credit union industry
JULY 12, 2021
Elan has become the newest corporate partner of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), a non-profit organization of African-American professionals and volunteers in the credit union industry dedicated to increasing diversity through advocacy and professional development.
The partnership provides AACUC with additional resources to further its mission to strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion in the credit union industry through initiatives that work to close the racial wealth gap, bolster community involvement and more.
“We are pleased to welcome Elan as a corporate partner in support of our mission and Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism™ Initiative,” said Renée Sattiewhite, AACUC President and Chief Executive Officer. “Elan’s corporate partnership will help in our outreach and work with member credit unions and their communities to close the wealth gap.”
AACUC’s work to increase diversity and inclusion in the credit union industry and beyond includes assisting in creation of curriculum aimed at addressing wealth equity in communities of color and supporting the development of a model focused on reaching and building partnerships in diverse communities for large credit unions. AACUC offers scholarship, mentorship and internship programs that connect qualified candidates with valuable development opportunities.
“Similar to the hundreds of credit unions we serve throughout the nation, Elan Advisory Services supports and shares the Commitment to Change mission of the AACUC,” said Elan Advisory Services’ (a division of Elan Financial Services) SVP and General Manager, Matt Good. “We are excited and proud to be a corporate partner of the AACUC and look forward to working with the AACUC and the credit union industry as we all continue to draw strength from diversity.”
About Elan Financial Services
Elan is America’s leading agent credit card issuer and partners with 1,300 financial institutions nationwide. For over 50 years, Elan has offered an outsourced partnership solution that provides financial institutions of all sizes the ability to offer a competitive credit card program. Elan has continually developed and introduced industry-leading technologies to improve cardmember satisfaction and drive ongoing program growth, all while sharing the program economics with our partners. For more information, visit www.elanfinancialservices.com/credit-card.
Playing the ally card
Everyone can be a DEI supporter
JULY 12, 2021: Renée Sattiewhite, AACUC
Conversations about race can be a difficult journey. The topic is laced with colloquial phrases and misnomers. A simple expression can provoke deep emotions and misunderstandings.
I have grown up hearing the phrase “playing the race card.” This is an idiom that refers to the mistreatment of a minority group. In some instances, the phrase is weaponized to put another group on the defense. I think its time we turn this phrase on its head from a different perspective.
Recently, I had the privilege of moderating a DEI panel for a Corporate Partner’s conference. The panel consisted of 3 well respected gentlemen who are CEOs of credit unions with over a billion dollars in assets. The panelists were John Bissell, Greylock FCU, Paul Kundert, University of Wisconsin FCU, and Maurice Smith, Local Government FCU and Civic FCU. They were asked to provide their insights on their organization’s DEI Journey, which they did brilliantly.
The panel discussion was a hit. Each were engaged, transparent and honest. This led me to push them a little further and pose a revealing question. I was moved to ask, “We hear about the Race Card often…what would an Ally Card look like?”
This is a good time to pause for a moment and share a little inside baseball about panel discussion moderations. The role of the moderator is to keep the conversation focused and moving. We often prepare by writing a few predictable questions. Every now and then, something special happens. These are the moments when the conversation shifts in an unexpected way. This is when we realize we have hit upon a revelation. This is when I get goose bumps and tear up.
Back to the story. These three panelists did not know that the question about a race card versus an ally card was coming. We did not preview this. Their responses were thought-provoking and oh so honest. Dare I say our speakers allowed themselves to be vulnerable among their peers.
During the discussion, we landed on the fact that having an Ally Card doesn’t just mean that you are “white” person who feels bad about how the Colored Majority has been treated in the United States of America. An Ally Card can be many things, and anyone can be an Ally.
For instance, I am an Ally. In my role at the African American Credit Union Coalition, I am often asked to provide insights on aspects of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Black Culture. Those insights include:
Providing statistics on African Americans who are leading credit unions.
Assisting in the creation of organizations’ DEI Plan.
Providing counsel of what to do for Black History Month.
Providing counsel of what to do for Juneteenth.
Providing techniques to have uncomfortable and difficult conversations.
Providing information on using Black or African American (I wish you could be a fly on the wall when I have these conversations with the Colored Majority).
Providing definitions of the difference of being curious and micro-aggressive.
Black Hair Care.
The “Talk” – what to do when stopped while driving and Black.
During the panel discussion, we determined that you didn’t have to be a “white” person to be an Ally. Anyone who has an interest in providing support, insights and resources to the Colored Majority can be an Ally.
The World Council of Credit Unions has a Global Women’s Leadership Network. Susan Mitchell, founding Chairwoman, was instrumental in creating the He for She Initiative. That initiative focuses on enlisting the support of men to help promote and sponsor women in business. Imagine if we replicated that concept with Allyship? Anyone could participate. It doesn’t matter what your background, all you need is a willingness to learn, self-educate and be courageous enough to admit your blind spots and to self-correct.
I am proud to be an Ally. It is important to remember that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is not just about race. It is so much more than that. The very principles for which we stand salute the notions of equality, inclusion, and engagement. Any movement that furthers these ideals is consistent with credit union values.
If this feels compelling to you, you may ponder “how does my credit union become an ally?” Start by listening to the entire audience. The audience includes your membership, your staff, and your community. Voices unheard are lost opportunities for engagement. It is in the best interests of credit unions to build allies to be an ally.
I invite you to join AACUC, our members and all the allies in the Credit Union Movement on this journey. We will proudly play our Ally Card and show the world what our credit union community really stands for.
By Michael Ogden | July 01, 2021 at 04:48 PM