When Credit Union Times first launched the Women to Watch, we wanted to focus on those women working within credit unions. It’s been an honor to be able to recognize those who challenge the status quo and push creative solutions to address what ails their credit union and oftentimes, the industry as a whole.
What we discovered is that it is just as important to shine the spotlight on those women who have been tirelessly dedicated to providing support to credit unions. The list is far from complete, but we thought this Women to Watch focus report would be a good start to showcase those who choose to champion the credit union mission every day. You'll find detailed profiles of each of these amazing women online at www.cutimes.com/W2WCUSupporters.
Benavidez has spent her entire career working directly with clients in the credit union industry. Her primary focus is in client service and product delivery and installation. She has worked tireless hours with many in the industry, from executives to IT staff to teller trainees, to ensure the success of conversions, system upgrades, and client support. Beyond her experience, what sets Benavidez apart is her ability to do so with an ever-present cheerfulness, flexibility, and determination to get the job done right. Prior to starting Corelation, a San Diego-based core processing vendor,she was with Symitar until the company was sold.
Philosophy She Lives By: Be true to yourself and others. It’s hard to lead others if you are not honest with yourself and aware of your own limitations.
General Counsel and
Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, NAFCU
Hunt acts as staff liaison to the federal regulatory agencies, assists in handling the development and implementation of NAFCU's regulatory policies, and conducts analysis, interpretation and explanation of policy issues impacting NAFCU's members. She also analyzes and manages litigation for NAFCU. Prior to her current position at NAFCU, Hunt was associate director of regulatory affairs.
Before joining NAFCU, she worked as the legal counsel to former Sen. Andrea Nuciforo, Jr., (D-Mass.) and Senate Chairman of the Joint Committee on Banks and Banking, where she delved deeply into credit union and financial services issues. Hunt has also worked as a law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. A graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park and William and Mary School of Law, she is a member of the Virginia and Massachusetts Bars.
Philosophy She Lives By: There are two that come to mind. One is to stay positive and not get mired down by the minutia. The second is to not have a philosophy – what worked yesterday doesn’t work today so you have to be flexible.
Executive Vice President for CU Experience, PSCU
McDonald manages all the departments that impact the credit union experience from sales to account management and product implementation to risk operations, Contact Center support and AdvisorsPlus consulting.
She has over 25 years experience in strategy development and revenue enhancement and spent some 10 years focused on the payments industry prior to joining the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based PSCU and led the sales and account management group of MasterCard’s Strategic Partnership Team. Under her leadership, the team exceeded volume and revenue goals.
Before MasterCard, McDonald established and managed a consulting firm that provided strategic development and marketing and branding solutions for companies in many industries, including financial institutions. Her previous experience also includes director of market development for Meridian Management, the marketing arm for the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, and transforming Cadmus Communications from a traditional publishing and fulfillment company into a marketing services provider for Fortune 500 companies.
Philosophy She Lives By: To whom much is given, much is required. We have a responsibility to give back. That has lot of energy to it. It’s important for every individual regardless of where you are in an organization or life that you find way to give to others. That’s how success is created all the way around.
Senior Vice President/Deputy General Counsel, CUNA
At CUNA, Dunn represents credit union interests before the NCUA, the Federal Reserve Board, and other federal agencies.Dunn is the chief staff liaison to CUNA's Examination and Supervision Subcommittee and to the CUNA Federal Credit Union Subcommittee. She is also a liaison to the CUNA Governmental Affairs Committee and Community Credit Union Committee. She writes a bimonthly column for CUNA's Credit Union Magazine and oversees the production of CUNA's RegWatch and regulatory analyses on all proposed and final regulations affecting credit unions, as well as Operation Comment, CUNA's Web site to facilitate comments from the credit union community to regulators.
Prior to joining CUNA in 1987, she served on the staff of NAFCU and on the staff of the U.S. League of Savings Institutions. Dunn has a bachelor's degree from the University of Arkansas, a master's degree from George Washington University, and a law degree from George Mason University School of Law.
Philosophy She Lives By: Just be the person you look up to. Be your own heroine.
The Members Group
A former credit union CEO, Manus knows what it takes to make community financial institutions thrive. Prior to joining The Members Group in Des Moines, Iowa, she served as the CEO of the $301 million Greater Iowa Credit Union in Ames, Iowa, where she said she engineered a significant turnaround of the institution, achieving substantial profitability and membership growth. Manus said she also led a multi-million dollar business acquisition, adding to the credit union’s overall value for members. A veteran of the credit union industry, she has been active on committees and volunteering both with the industry and her local community. Philosophy She Lives By: Always push to seek opportunities rather than waiting for something to happen. Look for the possibilities rather than accepting or saying something can’t be done or accomplished.
President/CEO Mitchell, Stankovic and Associates
Mitchell has spent over 25 years providing consulting services to corporate America, specializing in the financial services industry. She got her start as a system analyst in the computer industry and progressed to hold positions ranging from vice president of sales to senior vice president of research and development in Fortune 500 companies. She was instrumental in the implementation of SB7, the Redlining Community Reinvestment Act legislation and she facilitated the capitalization of de novo banks with the Comptroller of Banks for the State of California. She has consulted with Bank of America, Citicorp, and Chase.
Philosophy She Lives By: For me it’s about continuing to engage, being relevant, making a difference, being positive, authentic and working hard. Let your light shine. Be grateful every morning, live in the moment, be guided by and live true to your core values.
The Dynamic Duo
Executive Vice President, Markets and Strategy,
CO-OP Financial Services
Willard is responsible for strategic planning, product development, marketing and market research, and CO-OP Financial Services’ push into emerging technologies.
With more than 25 years of marketing and strategic planning experience, half of which has been in the credit union movement, she joined CO-OP Financial in July 2006 as vice president of corporate development.
In 2008, she was promoted to senior vice president, business development and marketing, a post that included responsibility for the company’s 22-member relationship management team and the client services department.
Philosophy She Lives By: An unexamined life is not worth living.
Vice President of Marketing, CO-OP Financial Services
With more than a decade of integrated marketing experience, including 10 years working with the credit union industry, Paxson was hired in November 2005 as vice president of marketing, for CO-OP Financial Services in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Her responsibilities include strategic marketing for all products and lines of business including the firm’s CO-OP account and trade and consumer advertising, brand building, public relations and national media buying. Her previous marketing agency work included travel and tourism, automotive and consumer goods accounts.
Philosophy She Lives By: I believe in curiosity, imagination and moxie. I’m passionate about uncovering the way to the best possible outcome even if it risks expediency. The easiest solution often isn’t the best solution.
Chief Finance and Strategy Officer, Filene Research Institute
Gabel is responsible for identifying trends and opportunities outside the credit union system. Through her high energy style and a natural ability to coax people and ideas forward, she brings new business models, people, and opportunities together.
Prior to joining Filene in Madison, Wis., Gabel served as vice president of strategic direction for the $1.6 billion Spokane Teachers Credit Union in Liberty Lake, Wash.
In her first assignment at Filene, she served as the chief innovation officer where she led the prestigious i3 group. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Eastern Washington University, and a member of the Berkeley Innovation Forum at the University of California Berkeley, Haas School of business. Gabel also graduated from Harvard Business School’s Women’s Leadership Forum.
When she’s speaking and traveling, Gabel is mentoring and connecting, constantly looking at trends.
Philosophy She Lives By: Do what’s right even when no one is looking.