CU Changemakers: WOW (Women On Work) is thrilled to welcome to the podcast a true pioneer in the credit union movement. She has made — and continues to make — massive, positive changes in her community, in the CU space as a whole, and in the lives of those fortunate enough to know and work alongside her.
Kim’s journey to becoming the 1st woman CEO of the Insurance Trust.
It’s thrilling to hear how Kim’s career has unfolded, and you’ll want to listen in for details. From her post-college beginnings teaching drug and gang prevention programs in inner-city Tampa to her current role as CEO & President of the Insurance Trust, she’s experienced it all.
But one thing that’s always been a highlight to Kim? Getting to work with credit unions and the people who run them. As she says, “When you come together in this cooperative environment in the credit union world, you can do anything.”
Women who’ve influenced Kim throughout her career.
Cathy Bond comes immediately to Kim’s mind as someone she wanted to be like, “because she is all about helping her community and helping her members.” And, in fact, it was a conversation with Cathy that really got Kim thinking seriously about going for her current position.
Nancy Bard also made a huge impression on Kim. “She was just so passionate about credit unions,” says Kim, “And I love that she spoke her mind…I really think she is a pioneer in our movement.”
A brief history of the Insurance Trust, why it’s unique, and where Kim’s taking it.
The Insurance Trust is the last Trust of its kind in the country for credit unions, and the support its seen since it began in 1963 is consistent and ongoing. In Kim’s mind, it’s simple: “Our Trust is strong because our Maine credit unions are strong.”
With member lending programs that protect CUs and their members, employee benefits programs, and commercial programs (such as bond and management liability and workers comp), the Trust offers a multitude of different programs.
And then, of course, there’s one of Kim’s crowning achievements: Her MEWA.
How Kim created her MEWA (Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement).
For the 20 + years that Kim’s been working with the credit union movement, people would ask her: “How come we don’t have a health insurance association plan? Why don’t we all buy our health insurance plans together?” And for a long time, she wasn’t in a position to make it happen.
But, once she was — it took off like a rocket. “In two weeks, our credit unions gave us $72,000 to help offset bills, and we were off and running. It was fast and furious,” says Kim.
While there were huge hurdles to leap (you’ll want to tune in for this tale) and it was “the hardest project” Kim’s ever worked on her life, it’s also been one of the most fulfilling. Currently, the Bureau of Insurance in Maine recognizes them as a $7 million insurance company.
“I get goosebumps actually talking about it,” says Kim, “because there’s so much more that we can do like this if we bring our credit unions together.”
Top tips for other orgs interested in creating a MEWA.
Kim’s #1: “Get a lot of rest.” 😉
She also emphasizes the massive team effort required to get this going, so find someone who has experience coordinating these types of programs. (NOTE: Kim is more than happy to chat and share specifics on what worked for her.)
Kim’s advice for other women in the space.
1) “You don’t always have to be the smartest. As long as you’re passionate and people know you care and you work really hard, you can do anything you set your mind to.”
2) “If you show how much you care, it doesn’t matter what your job is in the credit union movement. You can be a leader starting today.”
“To me, leadership has nothing to do with the title. It has to do with people buying into your passion and wanting to make a difference…and seeing you wanting to make a difference. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
What’s on the horizon for Kim and the Insurance Trust?
This year, a main focus is changing their corporate structure to enable them to share back with more credit unions. Kim’s hope is that, as they do business (in AND outside of Maine), they’ll have more negotiating power with carriers.
Kim’s also looking for opportunities to take the extra administrative burden away from a lot of things for CUs “by coming together and aggregating those services.”
And, of course, Kim’s primary goal? “Just helping our credit unions…helping them to help their members.”