Peninsula Credit Union’s Dawson Brown Has a Passion for Serving

You could say Dawson Brown has a passion for serving others.

Not only is it evident in his work as Peninsula Credit Union’s Risk and Compliance Officer, but he also serves our country as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves. It’s this commitment to service that makes him so well-suited to the Credit Union Movement, an industry built upon the “People Helping People” mission.

In honor of National Veterans and Military Families Month, Brown sat down with Anthem to share the story of how a Florida native ended up working at a credit union in Washington state.

Brown got his start in the credit union world right out of high school when he volunteered for a financial education event sponsored by Tallahassee-Leon Federal Credit Union. Enjoying the experience, he decided to apply for a summer internship with the League of Southeastern Credit Unions in its Governmental Affairs department. That internship was all it took to cement his love for the industry.

“I loved that work even more than the volunteer work I had been doing,” he said. “That’s kind of where I got my foot in the door.”

Brown later joined Tallahassee-Leon as its Director of Youth Initiatives, developing products, services, and financial education curriculum for children and young adults. Committed to this work, he received his Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE) designation in June 2017.

Things were going great for Brown, but the following September, he found himself at a crossroads.

“I was at a point in my life where I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to go to college, travel, and see the world a little bit,” he explained. “So, I sat down with some recruiters and decided to join the military.”

Taking a hiatus from his credit union life, Brown enlisted in the Army Reserves and spent some time serving at different duty stations, including a brief stint at a base in Germany.

In 2018, he left the Army, enrolled in Florida State University’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, and applied for a teller position at Florida State University Credit Union — “a side job to keep me busy,” or so he thought. After a couple of years, he’d worked his way up through the ranks, serving in various roles before landing in the compliance department.

Brown’s original plan was to return to active duty after graduating from college, but he enjoyed his credit union career and the relationships he’d built with colleagues so much that he decided to stay in the Army Reserves.

“So, I signed my commission and the next thing I knew I was assigned to a duty station in Fort Lewis. I thought, okay, where is Fort Lewis? Oh, it’s in Washington state” — the opposite side of the country.

Fortunately, thanks to his extensive CUDE network, Brown knew several credit union professionals in Washington he could reach out to for career opportunities, including his CUDE mentor Jim Morrell, President and CEO of Peninsula Credit Union, who offered him a position as Risk and Compliance Officer this past summer.

Though his main role is focused on compliance, Brown finds ways to stay engaged with the credit union’s financial education and community impact efforts, something he’s been passionate about since working at Tallahassee-Leon.

Recently, he facilitated a Bite of Reality fair hosted by Peninsula and Our Community credit unions, where more than 400 students participated in a simulated “day in the life” of an adult’s financial responsibilities. The event was covered by local media — watch a clip here.

“I remember as a kid we’d have financial reality fairs come through and had credit union people come in and help us learn how to budget, and I loved it. I thought, this is the coolest. I want to give that back,” said Brown. “I’m lucky to be working for Jim because he lets me do my compliance work and also lets me do all that fun DE stuff that he knows I love.”

In addition to his CUDE designation, Brown is a Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC), Credit Union Compliance Expert (CUCE), and Bank Secrecy Act Compliance Specialist (BSACS).

So, what keeps Brown coming back to credit unions time and time again? The people, he says.

“In the Army, you’re surrounded by exceptional people, and you go through really difficult things with them and become very close. And then, a couple of years later, you have to move across the country and you don’t get to see them anymore. But what I love about the credit union sphere is that everyone I’ve met has quickly become a second family.”

Thank you, Dawson, for being part of the Credit Union Family and for serving our nation.

Posted in Around the NW, CU Difference.