AACUC Announces Inaugural Commitment to Change Young Professionals Leadership Awards

SNELLVILLE, GA – The African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) presented six inspiring credit union professionals who have exemplified “Bold,” “Mindful” and “Brave” leadership in helping eradicate racism throughout the credit union industry and advancing AACUC’s mission with the inaugural Commitment to Change Young Professional Leadership Awards presented by Visa on June 17, 2022 during a virtual ceremony. The honorees – all AACUC members – are:

• Latonya Allen, Director of Consumer Lending and Marketing, GPO FCU

• Cela Castillo, Research Specialist, Multicultural Business Strategy, CUNA Mutual Group

• Ben Hering, Director of Engagement, Minnesota Credit Union Network

• Kelli Holloway, Senior Vice President, Outreach, State Employees’ Credit Union of NC

• Chrystal Hunter, Training and Events Manager, MD DC Credit Union Association

• Jamar Jemison, Video Editor, Credit Union National Association

• Hazelmae Overturf, Product Owner, Collaborate (Employee Experience), BECU

“Young professionals are the lifeline for AACUC and the leadership pipeline for our credit union industry,” said Renée Sattiewhite, President/CEO of AACUC. “Our inaugural honorees have done exceptional work embodying the principles of our Commitment to Change initiative and furthering diversity and inclusion in their spheres of influence. We are honored to recognize these young people’s achievements and are confident this is just the beginning of their profound impact on our industry.”

The awards ceremony is part of the AACUC’s Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism initiative, which focuses on valuing the 8th Cooperative Principle Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, advocating for financial inclusion, closing the racial wealth gap and fostering community involvement. Each honoree was selected considering the initiative’s “Be Bold. Be Mindful. Be Brave.” appeal to credit union industry professionals.

“I could not be happier to celebrate these exceptional human beings,” said Opal Tomashevska, AACUC Young Professional Summit Committee Chairperson and Director of Multicultural Business Strategy for CUNA Mutual Group. “As a young professional myself, I empathize with our honorees’ dedication towards their personal development while positively contributing to their workplace and community. We are grateful for each of them!”

Latonya Allen will receive a Bold YPS Leadership Award for her exceptional leadership advancement in the credit union movement and being a pillar of excellence as an AACUC member and contributor to the Annual AACUC Conference. As the Director of Consumer Lending and Marketing for Government Printing Office Federal Credit Union, Allen provides member lending services and product development, working with members to identify their financial goals and to find ways of reaching those goals. Allen also provides creative concept development for marketing and strategic engagement to facilitate growth and impact for the credit union members. With more than 20 years of experience in the credit union industry, she lives by the credit union philosophy of “people helping people” in both her professional and personal life. She is a graduate of the National Credit Union Foundation Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE) program, a member of MD DC Credit Union Association Young Professional Network and the current AACUC Chapter Liaison.

Cela Castillo will receive the Mindful YPS Leadership Award for her servant leadership – advocating for all marginalized groups and operating with poise and grace – and her active industry involvement. Castillo is a Research Specialist, Multicultural Business Strategy at CUNA Mutual Group. Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, she has been involved with the credit union movement since 2017, first as an intern with CUNA Mutual Group before starting her full-time career in January 2020. As a young professional passionate about research and creating positive experiences, she focuses on multicultural communities and how to make a brighter financial future more accessible for everyone. Her involvement in the credit union movement includes serving the AACUC, the National Association of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals, the World Council’s Young Credit Union Professionals and the Credit Union De Novo Collective. She is also an active community volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County and connected to the Latino Professionals Association of Madison.

Ben Hering will receive a Brave YPS Leadership Award for his allyship and shining a light on the needs of – as well as fighting for financial justice for – the Minneapolis community members after the murder of George Floyd. As the Director of Engagement for the Minnesota Credit Union Network, Hering guides advocacy, awareness and regulatory assistance for credit union members through facilitation of educational programming, product and service project management and providing avenues for credit union collaboration. Presently, he works closely with The Association for Black Economic Power to create the state’s only Black-led credit union, Village Financial Credit Union. A dedicated community volunteer, Hering is a Filene Research Institute i3 alumnus, led the development of Minnesota’s first bicycle loan program, and, as an artist, has paintings installed in several Minneapolis local businesses. Ben graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. He has been recognized as the Emerging Leader of the Year by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber, a Credit Union Rockstar by Credit Union Magazine and a Next Top Credit Union Executive Finalist by CUES.

Kelli Holloway will receive the overall YPS Leadership Award for being a trailblazer for young professionals in leadership, having successfully co-led the AACUC Reality Fair for five years and being a beacon of Black excellence making real change and impact. Holloway serves as Senior Vice President, Outreach for State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina (SECU), where she oversees financial education, community involvement and volunteer engagement efforts. She began her career with the credit union in 2009 as a financial services officer and for the past 13 years has been influential in building programs and initiatives to connect SECU employees to members and the community. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and English from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. A recipient of the 2020 AACUC Chairman’s Award and a 2022 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference Crasher, she currently serves as Vice Chair of AACUC’s Southern Regional Chapter and as a board member for the North Carolina Council on Economic Education.