CEO of Hawaii First Credit Union
Laura Aguirre had a humble upbringing involving public assistance and homelessness. As a result, she understands-perhaps more than most-how encouragement and kindness can change lives.
At age 17 and homeless she found a job working for a bank manually filing checks for customer’s statements. It was the start of a 15 year banking career that put her through Banking School and ended in a AVP position. In 1992, she moved to Hawaii and landed in the credit union world where she was hired on a month to month basis by a small credit union that the NCUA was close to closing down. There was a long list of things that had to be done to remain open and her banking knowledge provided the foundation to make this happen.
While it wasn’t the career move she envisioned, she absolutely fell in love with the credit union philosophy of ‘people helping people.’ Everywhere she looked she saw people who reminded her of how she grew up. Laura was determined to help underserved, low-income, and native communities.
As a 2002 Honors graduate of Western CUNA Management School the lightbulbs grew bright as she realized that “people helping people” could mean much more than offering basic financial products. CDFI certification was received in 2008 and the Hawaii First Community Resource Center was opened. A one stop shop offering access to financial education, including personal money management, debt solutions and credit repair, Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) for home purchase, higher education or financing a small business, assistance to job seekers and employment training, small business startup assistance and development, free tax preparation; and foreclosure prevention assistance. The center also boasts a computer lab and resource library open to the community.
NRS Community Development Federal Credit Union
Managing a credit union is Eunice Rogers’ second career. With a degree in engineering from Vanderbilt University, this Birmingham native was a trailblazer at a time when few African- American women could be found in the field; she was a charter member of the Birmingham, Alabama chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. Eunice worked for nearly 20 years for Bell South, before becoming the CEO of NRS (New Rising Star) Community Development Federal Credit Union, which was chartered in 1996.
Eunice threw herself into the credit union movement. She attended both CUNA Management School and the Federation’s CDCU Institute™. She is active in the League of Southeastern Credit Unions and has served as a liaison to state policymakers, representing District 7. Nationally, Eunice has served as Federation Board Chair and has served on the Federation’s Education and Training Committee, Membership Committee, and has been active in the Faith-Based Credit Union Task Force. She has served on CUNA’s Cooperatives Alliance and the Small Credit Union Committees and has participated in the Development Educators program. Eunice made a strong impression on a large credit union audience as a featured speaker at the NCUA PALs workshop in Orlando, FL. Her credit union is a member of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU), and she is a member of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), a close ally of the Federation. In 2010, Eunice received the Pete Crear Lifetime Achievement Award from AACUC. Remarkably, and despite all her national work and her duties managing NRSCDFCU, Eunice found time to serve as Chairman of the Planning Commission of the City of Birmingham and currently serves on the board of both the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham and the Alabama Association of Regional Councils. She is also the Chairman of the Alabama Asset Building Coalition promoting financial stability for individuals and families.
Rita was recruited as Secretary of the Board of Directors of the credit union in 1958. The credit union was facing tough times with the Division of Regulations. She recruited her husband and other friends and together they turned the credit union around. Under Haynes’ leadership the credit union moved to its current location and grew to over two million in assets with the help of Working for Empowerment Through Community Organizing (WECO). Key Bank, formerly Society National Bank, donated the building and a joint grant from Eli Lilly Foundation provided salary compensation for staff. She led Faith to become and SBA approved business lender, and in partnering with Fannie Mae and HUD.
Active in the Cleveland credit union community, Rita served as Chairman of Inner City Association of Minority Credit Unions from 1982-1992. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Cleveland Chapter of Credit Unions of the Ohio Credit Union League for 15 years and named Volunteer of the year in 1995. She is also a founding member of the Ohio Credit Union Foundation in Columbus, OH. Rita received the Tom Joyner “Hardest Working Women Award” in 2007.
Rita was elected to the board of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (NYC) in 1992, serving as its Faith Based CU committee chairperson until 2001 when she was elected Chairperson of the Board of Directors. She served in this capacity until 2006 and remained on the board until 2008.
The Federation led the fight for a CDFI Fund, which was established under President Bill Clinton in 1994. Faith was awarded a $350,000 equity grant in the first round in 1996 to build capacity, funded through the U. S. Treasury. Matching partners were foundations, banks, credit unions and church associations.
Her many accolades include the 2005 Pete Crear Lifetime Achievement Award of the African American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) in Nassau, Bahamas. Rita was honored by CUNA Foundation with the Herb Wegner Lifetime Achievement Award in Washington, D. C, in 2008. Rita was appointed to serve on the Credit Union Council for the State of Ohio by Governor Ted Strickland from 2008 until 2010. Rita retired as CEO of Faith Community United Credit Union in 2011 and is currently CEO Emeritus. In 2012 Rita was inducted into the Bill Herring Group, a foundation to support credit union education and expansion. The small credit union program of the Ohio Credit Union League was designated “The HAYNES CIRCLE” in recognition of her work with and for small credit unions of a 50-year period
Harriet B. May has made it her career and personal commitment to improve the financial lives of individuals, not only in El Paso, but those seeking financial security around the world. A native El Pasoan, Harriet’s professional journey began soon after she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1971. She worked her way through college at the former Northgate National Bank, but moved to the Government Employees Credit Union in 1974 where she launched a career that would over time, have a significant positive impact on the credit union movement … and, she’s just getting started.
After quickly rising through the ranks to various management and executive positions with GECU, Harriet was elected President and CEO in 1996. During her tenure at the helm, Harriet has led GECU to become El Paso’s largest independently owned financial institution in El Paso with $1.2 billion in assets, and more than 600 employees serving over 272,000 member-owners — more than doubling its size in her 11 years as president. In a recent study completed by Institute for Policy and Economic Development at UTEP, it is estimated that GECU injects roughly $125 million in to the community annually.
Harriet has given El Paso credit unions representation at state, national and international levels. Nationally, she serves as Treasurer for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and as Director of Town North National Bank, a bank owned solely by credit unions. She has been a member of the renowned Filene Institute Research Council, is a delegate to the World Council of Credit Unions and sits on the Pulse EFT Oversight Committee. In April, Harriet was appointed to the prestigious Thrift Institution Advisory Council and was invited to join other delegates at a private meeting with President George W. Bush to discuss financial literacy issues in America.
At the state level, Harriet has been involved with the Texas Credit Union League serving two terms as Chair for the organization that serves 700 Texas credit unions and more than 6 million members statewide. She was also very active with the Texas/Mexico Credit Union Relationships Committee, working with Mexico to improve the level of financial education for people on both sides of the border.
Harriet’s commitment to her community and to the credit union movement has been recognized by her peers time and time again. In 1997, Harriet was honored with a YWCA Reach Award for her achievements in the business community. In 2000, she received the prestigious Gold Nugget Award from the College of Science at the University of Texas at El Paso. Two years later, Harriet was inducted into the El Paso Commission for Women Hall of Fame. In 2005, she was rewarded for her efforts in championing small business in El Paso by being named Minority Business Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Harriet was selected to be a UTEP Distinguished Alumnus in 2007.
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