As the saying goes, it’s not what happens to you, but how you handle what happens to you that truly matters. And life has surely happened to Amy Downs, president/CEO of the $256 million Oklahoma City-based Allegiance Credit Union. While interviewing her, I felt as though I was catching up with an old friend. Her disarming disposition and charming southern accent would never allude to the tragedy she’s endured and the obstacles she’s overcome.

Perhaps successfully rebounding from a near-death experience gives one perspective and a quiet confidence – when you know you’ve come close to death and survived, life’s small annoyances become just that – small. However, Downs certainly earned that perspective.

Downs’ unexpected path to the credit union industry began after she flunked out of college. The only thing certain in her life at that time was her need for a job. She applied for a position as a drive-thru teller at the $84 million Wesla Federal Credit Union in Shreveport, La., and got the job. For Downs, the position was simply a means to an end – she could work daytime hours and she liked the schedule, but the job felt like a consolation prize for flunking out of school.

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Tahira Hayes


Credit Union Times

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