No doubt about it. The CU Space is filled with spectacular people whose stories are too often untold—particularly those of the MANY women in the industry who are driving the kind of change needed in the communities they’re an integral part of.
And that, my friends, is precisely why CU Change Makers: Women On Work (WOW) was created. Sponsored by CRMNEXT’s Banking on Experience, this podcast launches its first episode today, and we can’t wait to share it with the world!
Joining forces to shine some light on the unsung heroes of the CU space are Stephanie Smith, Executive Director of America’s Credit Union Museum and JonTaylor, CEO of CU Sol—two people incredibly passionate about the movement and the people in it. So let the storytelling begin!
What’s covered in our inaugural episode?
An intro to our hosts, Stephanie Smith and Jon Taylor (JT).
Stephanie comes from a background in marketing, event planning, and fund raising—all of which she calls the “perfect storm of criteria” for taking on her current role at America’s CU Museum back in 2014. Her mother worked at a credit union from the time Stephanie was six weeks old, so she likes to think she has the cooperative principle running through her veins.
JT has been part of the CU movement for the past 15 years, holding several pivotal roles that ultimately led him to his current position as CEO at CU Sol.
These long-time friends met through the Museum years ago, when JT was first “floored at how special this place was.” In his words, “It really is a mecca for the credit union movement, and so many people have no idea it exists!”
More about America’s CU Museum—the birthplace of the movement.
Stephanie paints a vivid picture of the Museum’s layout and what it’s like to sit in the desk of the first-ever credit union manager. And while both hosts agree there’s really nothing like being there in person—breathing in the energy of the place where the movement began—the Museum has also pivoted with the times and joined the digital world.
Past, present, future: why preserving it ALL matters.
Stephanie presents so much fantastic info here about the Museum (listen in!) but it’s especially important to point out their recent “Moments in Credit Union History”, a 25-interview series sharing the stories of influential people in the movement’s history.
As Stephanie says, “We exist to share those stories, so you know that people have gone before you, and they have gotten us to where we are. We need to pay tribute to that.”
Keeping the history alive: an invitation to every CU.
Two appeals a year are sent to every credit union in the country to become a sustaining member of America’s CU Museum. Currently, about 2.5% participate. According to Stephanie, if they were to reach just 5%, the Museum would be fully sustainable and could probably look to create an endowment for going forward.
So, can your CU answer the call to help keep the history alive? We echo JT’s words when he says, “We can do that, right? We can do that!”
The “Women in Credit Union History” exhibit (coming Oct. 2022)
An interesting outcome of the “Moments in Credit Union History” series was the discovery that there weren’t a lot of stories being told about the many extraordinary women in the CU movement. So, for their 20th Anniversary celebration, the Museum decided to shine a light on those women. The inaugural “Women in Credit Union History” series rolls out this October, and it’s only the beginning.
CU Sol’s CU Safe Initiative (and other amazing efforts on the horizon).
CU Sol’s CU Safe Initiative is “an indirect, lending-inspired lending program” that supports survivors of domestic violence and connects them to organizations in the community that support them. Among those are credit unions that want to provide not only funding, but also financial fitness, credit, counseling, and healing—with the goal of providing “a hand up, not a handout.”
A major goal for 2022 is “getting this program to take flight,” says JT, “and just promoting that while also empowering many women in the movement.”
Partners with a purpose: the who behind the podcast.
Early on in their relationship, JT introduced CRMNEXT to the Museum. They were hooked from the start and have been advocating for it ever since. So, it only makes sense that CRMNEXT’s Banking on Experience podcast should host this exciting new series.
As JT puts it, “Through our individual goals at CU Sol, at America’s Credit Union Museum, and with new partners that have come in, like CRMNEXT, we’ve been able to really put this whole thing together. Now we can really focus on stories that need to be told with the podcast.”
Several women from the Museum’s “Moments of Credit Union History” (such as Sarah Bang and Lucy Ito) will be gracing the podcast, as well as a new “robust” list of ladies in the space (including a generational ep with Susan Mitchell and Brandi Stankovic).
Stephanie emphasizes, “It’s not going to be just the national players…We’re going to talk to women that are doing good in whatever environment they’re in, whether it be a small credit union, a League, or a CUSO that’s helping to meet a need somewhere else. It’s going to be a diverse program, and I think that’s going to keep it really interesting for all of us.”
To that we say—hear, hear!