Credit Union Times Luminaries

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Anjoli Walker, BCU: With a background in counseling, Anjoli Walker brings a gentle but firm demeanor to her role as manager of diversity, equity and inclusion at BCU. The seven-year veteran of the credit union was promoted in April and is responsible for building BCU’s awareness and infrastructure around DEI, an entirely new topic to the credit union. Taking input provided by every employee of the organization, Walker built a strategic DEI plan that she presented to leadership and all employees. She also implemented training for each of the credit union’s 750 employees on inclusive leadership and understanding microaggression. Walker, a Certified Diversity Professional, has been instrumental in creating BCU’s employee resource groups and its inclusion network.
Samira Salem, CUNA: As the first vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at CUNA, Samira Salem has worked tirelessly for the past two years to advance DEI at both CUNA and the broader industry. Salem has designed and implemented CUNA’s DEI strategy, which includes a DEI advisory group and employee engagement groups targeted at building awareness, empathy, community and inclusion. CUNA’s strategic plan includes metrics to measure progress toward its goals. Salem has organized popular DEI breakout sessions at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference, including two sessions this year focused on advancing communities and financial wellbeing. During the past year, Salem also led DEI training for all of CUNA’s staff and leadership along with workshops focused on unconscious bias, empathy, microaggressions and building an inclusive culture.
Rhotunda Conda, Golden 1 CU: Last year, Conda, vice president of human resources at Golden 1 Credit Union ($18.5 billion assets, 1,073,395 members), led a diversity, equity and inclusion engagement for the organization that included a diagnostic analysis of its strategic plans, organizational structure, employment policies and employee lifecycle processes. Based on employee and executive interviews and a talent management audit, Conda developed a three-year DEI strategy and roadmap and laid the groundwork for the creation of employee resource groups. In addition, earlier this year, Conda led the launch of In Our Own Words (IOOW), an audio series exclusively for Golden 1 employees that celebrates diversity and features the insights of employees. The first four IOOW episodes aligned with the organization’s recognition of Black History Month and featured four of its Black leaders telling their stories of struggle, perseverance, beauty and inclusion.
Maurice Smith, Local Government FCU: Smith, chief executive officer of Local Government Federal Credit Union ($3.6 billion in assets, 395,024 members) and Civic Federal Credit Union ($102.4 million in assets, 3,341 members) has been a trailblazer in making diversity, equity and inclusion an inherent value in the credit union industry. Smith initiated and continues to lead a systemwide discussion on the need for a new 8th Cooperative Principle centered on DEI, and his leadership resulted in the formal adoption of the 8th Principle by the Credit Union National Association. Both credit unions Smith leads have adopted the principle in their leadership policy, and he has invited other cooperatives to pledge their support for the initiative. A highly respected and influential industry leader, Smith serves as a board member of the African American Credit Union Coalition, where he has been honored with the Pete Crear Lifetime Achievement Award and inducted into its virtual hall of fame.
Lynn Heckler, PSCU: Believing that diversity, equity and inclusion is a journey rather than a destination, Lynn Heckler began leading PSCU on its DEI journey 12 years ago. Heckler, executive vice president and chief talent officer at PSCU, serves as the organization’s DEI executive sponsor alongside her day-to-day human resources management tasks. After forming a steering committee and five business resource groups as well as building awareness of the fundamental concepts of DEI across the organization, Heckler led PSCU in embedding DEI into its business processes. This has included establishing metrics and setting accountability goals for DEI outcomes in the areas of succession planning, talent acquisition and business processes. Thanks to Heckler’s efforts, PSCU has increased diverse representation in hiring in three key categories: race/ethnicity (+12.8%), gender (+8.3%) and veteran status (+24.2%).

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Richard Romero, Seattle Credit Union: Richard Romero stepped into the role of chief executive officer at Seattle Credit Union ($1.1 billion in assets, 54,647 members) with an eye toward equity and a passion for uplifting the communities the organization serves. Romero has built an organization with a majority BIPOC employee base, including leadership, that directly reflects its membership. A first-generation immigrant from Peru, Romero's expansion goals are aligned with the needs of those historically excluded from the financial industry through ITIN lending, citizenship loans to fill in any financial gaps for new Americans, and a minimal friction technology solution to combat predatory lending and misinformation. Romero has led the credit union’s growth to more than $1 billion in assets, earned and maintained Community Development Financial Institution designation since 2017, and was awarded the Juntos Avanzamos designation and regional recognition for his leadership and innovation.
Colleen Nerius, SAFE Credit Union: Within her first few months at SAFE Credit Union ($4.5 billion in assets, 244,724 members), Colleen Nerius, chief human resources officer, took on the monumental task of creating the first diversity, equity and inclusion strategy for the 80-year-old organization. Based on insights gleaned from difficult conversations at all levels of the organization, Nerius, along with Dave Roughton, chief executive officer, has led a DEI transformation that has included improving recruitment practices, adding training, establishing career pathways and creating employee resource groups. Further, Nerius led an organizational development team to become certified in Cultural Intelligence and leveraged their experiences to launch cultural intelligence and awareness training with all SAFE leaders in 2021, with plans to extend the training to the entire organization this year.

We are pleased to present the LUMINARIES Class of 2022 Finalists, who are being recognized this year for the many dynamic and inclusive ways they are driving the credit union industry forward.

The finalists were selected by our editorial team from several hundred stellar nominations in four award categories: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Executive Leadership, Innovation in Technology and Product Innovation.

This slideshow highlights the seven finalists from our DEI: Individual Executives category, in which we saw an amazing number of stellar entries.

The LUMINARIES Class of 2022 Finalists recently were reviewed by a diverse panel of judges from across the credit union industry, and a select group of winners will be announced on stage at the program’s first awards dinner and gala — set to take place Nov. 9 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C.

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