Northwest Credit Unions’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force Convenes


A group of 27 thought leaders from credit unions in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington participated in the first Northwest Credit Unions’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force meeting last week. The Task Force is driven by Northwest credit unions and was convened by the Northwest Credit Union Association and the Northwest Credit Union Foundation. Members come from all areas of the Northwest, are in different career stages at credit unions of all asset sizes, and represent diverse racial, gender, and sexual orientation.

Convening several times this year, the Task Force will work collaboratively to discover and review DEI-related tools, practices, and resources available to credit unions as employers, financial institutions, and community partners. Recommendations from the group’s work will be shared with the Northwest Credit Union Movement in early 2021.

“The Task Force will share its comprehensive findings, including actionable strategies that credit unions will be able to consider using in their individual institutions and communities,” said Carmen Vigil, Assistant Vice President, Member Engagement, NWCUA.

One of the Task Force members is Melva Mackey, Director of Training and Member Experience at Northwest Community Credit Union in Eugene, Oregon.

“The Credit Union Movement is grounded in a proud history of providing individually tailored, responsible assistance for consumers who need a range of financial tools,” Mackey said. “Bringing that history into the future will require examining some of our traditional practices as we search for niches ripe for innovation. The Task Force can be the compass for that process: representing innovation, while holding the primary direction of service.”

Nichole Frisch, Community Engagement: Senior Director at First Tech Federal Credit Union, is also serving on the Task Force.

“I’m excited for this Task Force to come together to look at ways credit unions can become more equitable spaces – for our employees, our members, and our communities,” Frisch said. “The first meeting was truly energizing, and we had a great conversation about ensuring that we’re talking about systemic issues, and how to really operationalize equity within our businesses in a collaborative and cooperative way.”

The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May prompted an unprecedented nationwide social justice movement and demand for an end to systemic racism.

Across the Credit Union Movement, the heightened awareness has prompted intentional conversation, listening, learning, and actions to promote equality and inclusion for all — people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, women, underserved communities, and others who have been marginalized. Earlier this summer, the CUNA Board of Directors approved Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as the Credit Union Movement’s Eighth Cooperative Principle, and NWCUA began its work to convene the Task Force.

“Credit unions were created to ensure all consumers have access to inclusive and affordable financial services,” said Sharee Adkins, Executive Director, NWCUF. “Building and serving a diverse membership has been a cornerstone of the Credit Union Movement, and we are grateful to these passionate professionals for their insight and service to the Task Force. It has always been the cooperative strength of the Movement that has inspired change, and we know that this Task Force will drive toward actionable recommendations that could help all credit unions.”

Editor’s Note: If you have questions, or resources to recommend for the Task Force’s review, please reach out to our staff liaisons, Sharee Adkins and Carmen Vigil.

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Posted in Around the NW.