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“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” is a phrase often used to encourage optimism and a can-do attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune. When speaking with credit unions facing big challenges especially with earnings or growth, I like to tell them about Teri Robinson and Pacific Northwest Ironworkers Federal Credit Union in Portland, Ore.

Robinson took the helm there in March 2010 – just in time to receive a letter that would forever change her leadership path. “The NCUA told us we were in net worth restoration and that we had been downgraded,” Robinson said, explaining that her credit union was struggling with its loan losses. “I was the new CEO and I remember thinking, ‘What have I done? Am I setting myself up for failure? Is it worth it to do this?’”

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