Leadership Matters: How Being an AACUC Chapter Officer Aids Personal and Professional Development

young black executives meeting

5 minutes

Three regional leaders describe a sense of coming together, opportunities to learn from young people and support in developing confidence for public speaking.

In January, the African-American Credit Union Coalition’s Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism Friday conversation featured a panel of chapter leaders. Here’s what three of the presenters (all CUES members) said about how being an AACUC chapter officer has helped them with their personal and professional development.

AACUC chapters map
AACUC currently has five chapters.


Ashley Franklin
Ashley Franklin

Ashley Franklin
VP/Branch Operations
$28 billion SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union
Santa Ana, California

The murder of George Floyd was a watershed moment for America, but for Black folk, it was something different. There was a void, and it was almost indescribable because you had so many feelings and emotions. You felt broken; you were angry, scared, but mostly, yet ironically, you felt alone. … You just wanted a place to just be and not feel like you had to hold the weight for others too, because your own was heavy enough. Well, insert AACUC. Talk about leading through adversity. This organization stood up and said, “I got this, and I got y'all.”  

And we all came together. It didn't matter about the color, the title, the status; it didn't matter. We all came together, and we got to work in those precious moments of analyzing what just happened here, and what do we do now? How do we rise from the ashes in a moment like this? AACUC got us through as credit union professionals, as family, and I'm certain I speak for everybody when I say that I'm grateful. 

As if that wasn’t enough, there are professional opportunities to learn through mentorship programs, cross-cultural exchange programs (of which I am a part), DEI certification, emerging leaders (of which I participated), and the list goes on and on and on and on, the connections and the networking. Sharing my experiences or lack thereof with people, of all ages, races, and geographic locations. It's just phenomenal. Personally, I have benefited greatly from this organization. 

Carolyn Jordan
Carolyn Jordan

Carolyn Jordan
Chief Growth Officer
$1 billion Neighborhood Credit Union

I remember years ago when I initially joined AACUC, talking with Barbara Stevens [retired CEO of $48 million Houston Metropolitan Federal Credit Union] out of Houston, Texas. She always encouraged me to get involved in the work, get more involved. And I didn't always follow her words. 

But when I joined the [AACUC] chapter, what it’s really been able to do for me and my personal development is to really, really get involved at a local level … and to finally embrace some of those things that Barbara Stevens suggested to me years earlier. 

Even though I've been in the movement for 40 years, I'm learning from all of the young people. … There’s so many young people involved at AACUC now versus when I first got involved, and I'm learning all the new things. 

 What I really want to take forward is to be an influence and help those young people that are coming behind me because since I've been around for a while, I'm going to retire at some point. But you know, I think that the development from AACUC is helping me to be an influence in bringing them in and hopefully … having … that next generation be able to continue to move credit unions forward.

Jamie Keith
Jamie Keith

Jamie Keith
Manager/Member Services 
$50 billion SECU
Raleigh, North Carolina

I like to tell the story that … when I first met Renee [Sattiewhite, president/CEO of AACUC] and got introduced to AACUC, I told Renee, “I love it. I'm all for it. I’ve already drank the Kool-Aid. What do I need to do? What can I do?” 

You know Renee, she’s always prepared for a question, so her responses were along the lines of, “This is what you can do, and this is what we can do for you.” [I said,] “I'll do anything you need me to do, but I don't like speaking in front of people.” 

She said, “I know just the thing for you.”  

And since that moment, I think Renee has made it her intention to put me in front of people from that day moving forward. … At first, I didn't understand. I was like, “Well, why would she do this when I already explained I’m uncomfortable with it?” And it took me a while to figure it out.  

We had a conversation … a little bit later. And she said, “That was my purpose for you.” 

And from that moment forward, regardless of how nervous I got or how it affected me internally, I think about that conversation. It does something for you when you know you have someone that believes in you, trusts you and perhaps more importantly, someone that wants the best for you. And that part has transcended into my professional and my personal life because it’s given me the extended confidence that I felt was missing. 

Now, I still have a long way to go, ... but I do believe that I’m taking the right steps and with Renee and the rest of my AACUC family, I expect them to continue to push me and hold me accountable. 

CUES is the leading talent development solutions provider for credit unions in North America. We educate, develop and support credit union CEOs, executives, directors and emerging leaders through partnerships with premier business schools, live and online events, digital learning, networking and premium content. With more than 50,000 members and growing, we measure success one leader at a time.

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