2023 CUES Emerge winner Jayde DelGado, CCM, advocates for a transitional housing loan program.
In this age of skyrocketing rent, the business case that Jayde DelGado, CCM, presented during the competition phase of the 2023 CUES Emerge program could not have been timelier. Providing details of a transitional housing loan program punctuated with an emotional personal story, DelGado impressed a team of judges who named him the 2023 CUES Emerge winner in October.
The CUES Emerge program, co-developed with CUES Supplier member Currency, offers a mix of virtual education, mastermind sessions and peer collaboration. DelGado, branch manager for $1.8 billion Harborstone Credit Union, Lakewood, Washington, was one of 36 up-and-coming credit union leaders selected to participate in this year’s program. He also was among the five finalists chosen to present their business cases in a live pitch show, hosted by Currency’s Tim Alpine on Oct. 4.
DelGado began his presentation with the story of a young couple whose lives were thrown into turmoil when their lease renewal came due with a $500 hike in rent. Already on a tight budget, the couple couldn’t afford the increase and decided to move. They found a great place in a nice neighborhood, but there was a problem: They were $5,000 short of the funds needed to cover first and last months’ rent plus security, pet and damage deposits. What could they do? Taking out a personal loan would be too costly because of their poor credit score, and they were reluctant to ask family or friends for the money. They briefly considered living in their car, but that would be impossible since they had a small child and another on the way.
DelGado told this story to establish the need for a loan program that would help couples like the one he described. He revealed that the story wasn’t hypothetical—it happened to him and his wife, Chelsea, eight years ago. Looking back at his brush with housing insecurity, he considers himself fortunate that he and Chelsea had the option of borrowing money from DelGado’s mother to finance their move. Today, they are doing well. They have improved their credit score, bought a home, and are providing a secure environment for their three children, Ava, Elliana and Oliver.
“I remember the relief we felt, the weight lifted off our shoulders, knowing we would be OK and wouldn’t have to live in the backseat of our car,” DelGado reflects. “It was a challenging time, but I’m grateful we were able to get through it and never look back.”
The problem of unaffordable rent increases has only gotten worse in recent years. “Not only is this something that I’ve gone through myself, but it’s happening currently to people I know,” DelGado says. “One of them, faced with this dilemma, opted to take the rent increase and get a second job. It breaks my heart to see someone work 70 hours a week when they have young children at home.”
A Natural Empath
Knowing people who are in this situation inspired DelGado to make transitional housing loans the subject of his CUES Emerge business case. “I’m a natural empath,” he says. “It doesn’t take much to get to my emotions. Rather than feeling powerless to help, I thought, ‘There’s got to be something we can do as a $1.8 billion credit union to provide these families with a lifeline.’”
As manager of Harborstone CU’s branch in Federal Way, Washington, DelGado has spoken to local nonprofits that affirmed the importance of providing financial support to assist these people with their moving costs. “That’s the No. 1 problem for many people—they can’t afford to move,” he says. “They don’t have the substantial deposits required to get them to their next destination.”
DelGado’s business case calls for a close-ended, unsecured loan designed to cover first month’s rent, last month’s rent and required deposits. The loan would cap out at $6,000 per family at 12.99% APR and a maximum term of 72 months. As a community development financial institution, Harborstone CU would be able to backstop the program with a CDFI (community development financial institution) grant.
To be eligible for the program, members would have to meet four criteria: (1) be employed for 12 months; (2) have a signed lease agreement showing the amount needed and where it would go; (3) have a minimum credit score of 520; and (4) agree to attend a financial counseling session with a certified financial counselor at the credit union.
“Through counseling, we can help address some of the root issues they’re dealing with and provide them with financial empowerment on a holistic level,” DelGado explains.
Building His Credentials
DelGado has used his empathy on behalf of credit unions members during his seven years of branch management experience. He first managed a branch in Port Orchard, Washington, for Alaska USA Federal Credit Union (now $11.8 billion Global Credit Union). Four years later, he became a branch manager at Harborstone CU. “I’ve been here three years now, and I’m loving every day,” he says.
Since coming to Harborstone CU, DelGado completed his bachelor’s degree in finance from Central Washington University. He plans to start working on an MBA and is looking forward to taking advantage of the prize package he received as CUES Emerge winner—coaching services from CUES Supplier member Envision Excellence and a scholarship to attend CUES Advanced Management Program from Cornell University.
DelGado plans to build his industry credentials with the goal of becoming a CEO someday. He has an excellent mentor to emulate in achieving this career trajectory: Harborstone CU’s President/CEO Geoff Bullock. Bullock, a CUES member, won the 2017 CUES Next Top Credit Union Executive competition, the predecessor to CUES Emerge, when he was a financial education specialist at Firefly Credit Union, Plymouth, Minnesota (now $4.7 billion TruStone Financial). Since his win, Bullock has taken on increasingly higher positions in the industry. He also generously shared his leadership knowledge as a CUES Emerge Mastermind, mentoring the 2020, 2021 and 2022 cohorts. With his move to Harborstone CU in October 2022, he affirmed the prescient nature of his NTCUE title by becoming a CEO.
“Geoff’s story shows the value of participating in the program,” DelGado says. “To see him go from winning Next Top Credit Union Executive to becoming a CEO, while passing on what he’s learned about leadership, I think is amazing. So much of his path is the path I want to follow. For him to show the way, to support me on my path and to be the biggest advocate for these programs that help give us the tools needed to take our careers to the next level—I’m so grateful for that every day.”
Bullock, meanwhile, is not surprised that DelGado prevailed in the competition. “I’m incredibly proud of Jayde,” Bullock says. “The whole organization rallied around him and was rooting him on. He is someone with a tremendous amount of heart. He’s compassionate, he’s driven, and I love his competitive spirit.”
Affirming the value of DelGado’s business case, Harborstone CU intends to pursue implementing a transitional housing loan program in 2024. “Jayde is going to speak about the project to our board in February,” Bullock reports. “It will take some time to work out the logistics, but the idea is great. It’s especially relevant to the housing issues we have in our market. Jayde identified a felt need in our community. That’s why we exist as credit unions—to meet the needs of the people we serve.”
Value in Networking
Reflecting on his CUES Emerge experience, DelGado is grateful not only for the opportunity to present his business case but also for the education, peer collaboration and networking that the program provides. The broad range of business titles represented by the 36-person cohort ensured a diversity of perspectives.
“It was phenomenal,” DelGado says. “Being a branch manager, I’m in a member-facing position, but we also had people from finance and accounting, from IT and development. … Everyone was contributing, everyone was sharing. It was amazing getting a view from all those different lenses.”
Like Bullock, DelGado is now a huge advocate of the CUES Emerge program. “I can’t stress enough how incredible CUES and Currency have been throughout the whole process,” he says. “Currency’s abilities in digital media, digital communications and production are second to none. And CUES is so invested in the leadership of this industry. They’re helping us live the credit union vision and be the best we can be for our members.” cues icon
Based in Missouri, Diane Franklin is a longtime contributor to CU Management magazine.