Northwest Credit Union CEOs Join Others to Form Credit Union Women’s Leadership Alliance
March 16, 2021
Thirteen women CEOs of smaller credit unions across the United States have formed the Credit Union Women’s Leadership Alliance, a support system to foster collaboration, share best practices, offer opportunities for mentorship, better support their communities, and more.
Debie Keesee, President and CEO of Spokane Media Federal Credit Union in Spokane, and Teri Robinson, CEO of Ironworkers USA Federal Credit Union in Portland, were instrumental in helping to form the alliance.
Keesee has long advocated the need for small credit union leaders to come together, mentor, and learn from each other.
“When the seeds of this organization were planted in a meeting in Fort Worth, I felt strongly about the need to fashion a group for all small credit unions,” she said. “After two days of brainstorming and listening, I came out of the meeting understanding the unique need for a safe space for woman CEOs of small credit unions to support each other.”
According to a CUNA report, women make up a little more than half of all leadership positions in the credit union industry and are more likely to lead smaller institutions.
Leaders of small credit unions ($300 million in assets or less) face unique challenges; they have all the same responsibilities, bottom-line pressures, and compliance mandates of larger credit unions, but with the added burden of having to wear multiple hats. Additionally, because many of these leaders are women, they already face their own personal hurdles in the financial services industry. There are 67 credit unions led by women across the Northwest.
As one of those leaders, Robinson felt it was important to create a support system among her peers.
“Creating an avenue to share challenges, successes, and ideas will not only help us grow personally and professionally, but it will also help us better lead our organizations and serve our communities.”
CUWLA’s goal is to help preserve and sustain smaller credit unions while recognizing and uniting women CEOs in the lower asset categories, giving voice to their concerns, and providing opportunities to leverage economies of scale within their credit unions.
“Working beside the other 12 founders of this organization, I already appreciate what a difference it has made in all of our personal and professional lives,” said Keesee. “We have cemented a bond that will last as long as we are in the Movement.”
Visit CUWLA online to learn more.
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