First Woman & Minority At Regulator's Office Retires
In 1977, Delores Bledsoe became the first woman and the first minority hired by the Lansing, Mich.
Today, she says, more than 50% of the examiners in her division that oversees credit unions in metropolitan Detroit
"When I started, there were not that many female examiners in the nation," she said. "I guess they found out how
Equal opportunities for women and minorities is one of the many changes Bledsoe has observed during her 40-year
A few weeks after retiring, Bledsoe shared some of those observations with The Credit Union Journal. As the first
"There were a few little jokes now and then, but I was treated good."
Not The Secretary
Bledsoe did recall once being mistaken for a secretary to her male counterpart by one CU manager. And, at times,
"I did have to work harder, but I did it for me more so than anyone else," she said. "I felt like I was a pioneer,
Never mind that she was a woman, the job responsibilities alone could be overwhelming for anyone, she said.
"In the beginning, it's rough. There's so much to learn," she said. "You go to Lansing where they literally fill the
Her advice to others who follow her path: "It's going to be OK. No one is expecting you to know all this over night.
Bledsoe said she has always appreciated her job with OFIS. Admittedly, as an African American during a decade
"When I traveled to some of the one-traffic-light towns that had no minorities, I was a little afraid," she said. "But I
Truth is, the credit union industry is wonderful, Bledsoe said. "My heart is with credit unions," she said. "It's like a
When Bledsoe first started her career with OFIS, she recalled Michigan had 700 state-chartered credit unions, all
While the number of CUs has shrunk-there are about 300 state-chartered CUs in Michigan-the services they offer
For the most part, she noted, the hand posting of her early career has been replaced with computer-generated
While the changes in technology have helped the CU industry compete with banks and other financial institutions, it
"Credit unions as a whole are getting larger," Bledsoe observed. "For the most part, if it wasn't for the sign on the
Moreover, Bledsoe believes loss of the credit union tax exemption is not far off, because fields of membership have
"They want to be bigger and better and want to service larger areas," she said. "The distinction between the two is
While small credit unions are still the majority of institutions (but not assets), Bledsoe said she thinks many will not
"The people that started the credit unions were loyal to them," she said. "As they grow older, retire and die, credit
The competition may be too great, she believes, forcing many to merge. "I remember one time when my credit union
Changing Reasons For Mergers
That loyalty is not there anymore, she said. People don't hesitate to jump ship for a better offer elsewhere. And, with
"In the past, mergers took place because one was a problem institution," Bledsoe said. "Now, it's not uncommon to
Since her retirement a month earlier and the exit of her first post-retirement house guests, Bledsoe was still reeling
"This is wonderful," she said of retirement. "Right now, I feel like I'm on vacation."
But, admittedly, it won't be long before all that relaxing, vacationing and spending quality time with family and