Announcing the Northwest Chapter of Sister Societies


According to “Women in Leadership: Obstacles and Opportunities,” a report from the Filene Research Institute, women make up more than 70 percent of the credit union industry’s workforce in the United States. While 53 percent of all federally insured credit unions have female CEOs, just 20 percent have female board presidents, and a glaring shortage of female CEOs appears as asset size increases: only 14 percent of credit unions with assets of more than $1 billion have female CEOs.

Statistics like these are the motivation behind the Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) and its mission to provide credit union women with the resources they need to make a measureable difference in each other’s lives, in the lives of credit union members, and in their communities. Established by the World Council of Credit Unions, GWLN is the industry’s only international platform designed to facilitate greater gender equality in credit unions, including increasing the number of women in leadership positions.

Sister Societies of the GWLN have been established around the world to advance women’s leadership on a local level. The Northwest has now joined in this effort by supporting the launch of the first group of Sister Societies in our region: The Northwest Chapter of Sister Societies. The Northwest Chapter will join a network of 32 Sister Societies across 13 countries.

The GWLN encourages Sister Societies to develop programs tailored to their needs with an emphasis on personal, professional, and community development. Each society does this through education programming, networking opportunities, relationship building, and mentoring. Any woman or man connected to a credit union is welcome to participate, regardless of where they are in their professional journey.

The Northwest Chapter is made up of six Sister Societies:

  • Eastern Washington Sister Society
  • Western Washington Sister Society
  • Portland/Vancouver Sister Society
  • Willamette Valley Sister Society (Mid to Southern Oregon)
  • Treasure Valley Sister Society (Western Idaho)
  • Eastern Idaho Sister Society

Each of these societies will host meetings that give members the opportunity to network, gain insights on credit union trends, develop new skills, and participate in the global Credit Union Movement.

The Portland/Vancouver Sister Society held its first meeting on Sept. 21. The session’s speaker, Veronika Noize of DIY Marketing Center, focused on developing participants’ networking skills and gave advice on how to make a great first impression.

Steven Stapp, President/CEO of Unitus Community Credit Union and member of the World Council of Credit Unions’ board, kicked off the event by emphasizing the importance of the network’s mission to the Credit Union Movement.

“We need to have a better process to encourage, prepare, promote, develop, and provide access for women in credit union executive positions. This is not a men-versus-women issue — rather, this is an industry issue that needs to be proactively addressed by men and women together,” said Stapp.

“I truly believe that this is just the beginning of an amazing program that will be a beacon not only in the Pacific Northwest, but throughout the United States and world,” he said. “When we link together for a common cause as noteworthy as this one, the opportunities are endless.”

Sister Societies at MAXX

Get connected with your Sister Society organizers at MAXX this year. Leaders of the Sister Societies will greet attendees at a table at the Welcome Reception, and answer questions about GWLN’s mission and how to participate.

MAXX attendees will have the opportunity to sign up to join one of the six Sister Societies. Each group has committed to meeting at least three times per year, and each Sister Society’s leadership will announce meeting dates during the conference.

The Northwest Chapter of GWLN Sister Societies will also hold a breakout session on Tuesday, Oct. 24, from 2-3 p.m. at MAXX. During this data-driven session, you will learn what your credit union can do to empower women throughout your organization. Calyn Ostrowski, the Worldwide Foundation Executive Director, and Samantha Paxson, Chief Marketing and Experience Officer for CO-OP Financial Services, will present at the session.

Questions about how to get involved? Please contact Holly Miller, Project Manager for the NWCUA, at or 503.350.2220.

Posted in Leadership.