CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec cover slide - CUJ 071918.jpg
Meet your Next Top Credit Union Exec
The Credit Union Executives Society recently named the 10 semifinalists for its annual Next Top Credit Union Exec competition. Out of 163 nominated candidates – representing emerging leaders age 35 and under from the credit union industry – the list was cut down to 23, and the Top 10 was selected in part by a public vote. The top five vote-getters automatically advanced to the Top 10 phase, and five additional applicants were chosen by a special judging panel of former NTCUE finalists.

The Top 10 now will submit a blog post update about their project to To provide additional value to the competition experience, they each will receive an executive coaching session from DDJ Myers, a Silver CUESolutions provider, for their succession planning, executive recruitment and leadership coaching services. A judging panel of two CUES members and Deedee Myers of DDJ Myers then will score the Top 10’s applications and blog posts, narrowing the competition to the Final Five, who will move on to the finals.

The five finalists will receive additional coaching, airfare, accommodations and registration to CUES’ CEO/Executive Team Network, Nov. 5-7 in Nashville, where they will give their final presentations. The winner will receive further coaching, airfare, accommodations and registration for two CUES’ CEO Institutes, a total prize package valued at $20,000.

Read on to find out more about the 10 semifinalists and their projects.
Symantha Sermino, Northwest Community Credit Union  - CUJ 071918.jpg
Symantha Sermino, 34, commercial loan processor, $1.1 billion Northwest Community Credit Union, Eugene, Ore.
Walking the Walk: A framework for credit unions to use to implement another language.

Member experience is at the top of everybody's list these days. When thinking about the member experience, have you tried to think about any members who may be getting left out of the conversation? At my credit union I am seeking to improve the experience of our Spanish-speaking Latino and Hispanic membership. We currently do not offer materials in Spanish. We would like to, but where does one start such a journey? There are many considerations before moving forward – everything from compliance in documentation translation to personnel, to cultural education, and more. What we really need is a guided approach – a road map – so I am building one.
Lynette Cupps, MAX Credit Union  - CUJ 071918.jpg
Lynette Cupps, 35, VP organizational development, $1.3 billion MAX Credit Union, Montgomery, Ala.
Supporting small businesses and community organizations beyond money: Provide cost effective professional development to smaller credit unions, local small businesses and nonprofit organizations to support the credit union movement, community advocacy, and employment stability and economic growth. For small businesses, the increased costs in compliance, wages and technology demands wise allocation of each dollar. Forming strategic partnerships with strong credit unions to deliver training can maximize the staff and training development costs associated.
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Mackenzie Schultz, 25, loan processor, $552 million Blackhawk Community Credit Union, Janesville, Wis.
Next Step: In 2018, caps were placed on predatory lending, which has paved the way for our credit union, among others, to step in and help our members stuck in a terrible payday lending cycle. Payday lending goes deeper than the need for quick money. It is a lifestyle rooted in misinformation, poor financial decisions and unexpected hardships. Along with our tangible budget tools, we have programs to help save, as well as participating in hard-to-have conversations that can truly save our members’ well-being. Our comprehensive alternative is a process to get our members out of a crippling lifestyle, and back to feeling confident about their finances.
Lorna Adams, Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union  - CUJ 071918.jpg
Lorna Adams, 34, talent management specialist, $1.7 billion Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union, St. Louis
Rethinking our Onboarding Experience: Our onboarding program felt uninspired and didn’t effectively communicate what we needed our new employees to retain. A cross-functional team collaborated to determine exactly what we should share. Fast-forward one year, and the major overhaul of our new employee orientation program is complete and has been relaunched with a great deal of success. As a credit union, we work to have a positive impact on our members and our newest employees all see the importance of serving with excellence from the start.
Jodi Maus, Central Minnesota Credit Union  - CUJ 071918.jpg
Jodi Maus, 33, talent development specialist, $1 billion Central Minnesota Credit Union, Melrose, Minn.
Management Course: Central Minnesota Credit Union has grown rapidly over the past several years, which increased the need for additional leadership positions throughout the organization. With the addition of these management positions, it was recognized that we needed to offer these emerging leaders opportunities to develop their skills. As with many credit unions, each year we were only able to send a few key leaders to off-site conferences to increase their management skills, so we started developing our own leadership courses, customized to fit our needs. The CMCU leadership and financial leadership courses focus on current managers, as well as those interested in a management career path.
Aubrey Gallagher, Heartland Credit Union - CUJ 071918.jpg
Aubrey Gallagher, 31, compliance assistant, $318 million Heartland Credit Union, Hutchinson, Kan.
Creating a Culture of Compliance and Political Advocacy: My goal is to create a “Culture of Compliance and Political Advocacy” throughout my credit union. This will be achieved in part by implementing compliance “games” such as word-searches and trivia activities – complete with prizes and rewards – during my routine branch visits. In addition, a deeper awareness of political advocacy will be fostered by highlighting specific credit union-friendly legislation that is coming up for votes (via email, posters, etc.), educating co-workers about who their legislators are and how to contact them, and by being a resource for anyone who wants to participate in political advocacy efforts.
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Emily Strybosch, 31, brand specialist, $4.4 billion Libro Credit Union, London, Ontario, Canada
Plan with Purpose: How might we help our members plan for their future and keep them on track to achieve their personal prosperity? At Libro, we believe in coaching our owners (what we call our members) to help them achieve prosperity. Prosperity means something different to everyone, and having a personalized plan and coach is how we assist our owners in reaching their goals. My project is looking at how we can expand our coaching model to more of our ownership and help them stay on track. Through design thinking, my project team will look at how to help owners plan for the future and also how to encourage good financial behavior. We all know we should spend less than we make – the theory seems simple but it is much more complex.
Blaine Bartholomew, Unitus Community Credit Union  - CUJ 071918.jpg
Blaine Bartholomew, 35, AVP of member experience, $1.1 billion Unitus Community Credit Union, Portland, Ore.
Member Rewards Account Program: My project creates a Unitus member rewards program that improves the following areas:
1. Clearly communicates the benefits of being a member owner
2. Promotes member saving
3. Reinforces the credit union difference
4. Demystifies negative connotations associated with credit unions (“local”)
5. Attracts and retains members, especially millennials.
Brittany Martin, Mill City Credit Union - CUJ 071918.jpg
Brittany Martin, 24, business development specialist, $348 million Mill City Credit Union, Minnetonka, Minn.
Transforming Youth Saving: The banking experience is transforming, and the way we incentivize youth members for saving should do the same. Kids today are getting fewer opportunities to have the same experience I did when I would make an in-branch deposit. With the advances in mobile banking technology, parents don't always have a reason to physically take their child to a branch. With my project, we are transforming the way we incentivize our youth members for saving. Deposits are tracked electronically, and prizes are mailed directly to the youth member with a note encouraging them to keep saving to reach the next prize level. Problem solved.
Clark Duncan, Fort Knox Federal Credit Union  - CUJ 071918.jpg
Clark Duncan, 26, branch manager, $1.5 billion Fort Knox Federal Credit Union, Radcliff, Ky.
FLIP the Switch: The Future Leaders in Innovation Program (FLIP) is a curriculum-based program designed to create a culture of innovation within your credit union, and the industry as a whole. Not only will this help create a culture of innovation, but when employees feel valued and heard they are more likely to stay within an organization. FLIP gives employees an opportunity to be leaders within their own company as well as at the industry level.