Our Consultant Team

CU Breakthrough™ draws on the collective expertise of the CDCU movement to help all credit unions expand their outreach and impact in underserved communities. Our experienced consultants can help your credit union to meet the needs of new and emerging markets within your field of membership.

Susan Brunner
Susan BrunnerCUDE

Susan is principal of Susan Brunner & Associates, LLC, specializing in planning and implementing community development initiatives. Susan applies entrepreneurial concepts and business development skills to build strategic collaborations and partnerships that promote economic opportunity for credit unions, businesses, organizations and communities. Susan’s experience as a small business owner for more than twenty years along with her extensive experience in marketing as well as non-profit and community development, brought her to the credit union industry more than seven years ago. Working with La Cap Federal Credit Union in Louisiana, she developed…Read More

Scott Butterfield
Scott Butterfield

Scott Butterfield’s passion for the credit union movement is deeply rooted in a belief that the movement’s future success depends largely on maintaining its unique philosophy: “not for profit, not for charity, but for service.” For more than 100 years, this service-first approach has made credit unions a welcome alternative to profit- driven institutions, and Scott believes credit unions have never been more vital than they are today.

Scott is a trusted advisor to the leaders of more than 45 credit unions located throughout the United States, from Alaska to Louisiana. …Read More

Luis Caballero

Luis Caballero has more than 15 years of experience working in the credit union industry and non-profit sector.  Throughout his career, Mr. Caballero has implemented successful asset building programs and lending initiatives specific to the needs of LMI consumers and underserved communities.  Some of these initiatives include: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), Low Income Tax Clinic, Affordable Housing Programs, Financial Education Programs, Individual Development Accounts (IDA), Alternative Payday Loan Programs, Affordable Auto Loan Programs, Hispanic outreach  programs, and the CDFI Fund FATA program. Mr. Caballero’s grant writing efforts have led to multiple grant awards totaling several millions of dollars, from a variety of public and private sources…Read More

Alison Carr
Alison Carr, CUDE

Alison Carr helps coordinate the Federation’s membership development and engagement efforts. Ms. Carr is also serves is a Senior Consultant on the Federation’s CU Breakthrough team, providing expert services to too CDCUs. Previously, Ms. Carr served as the Director of Learning Events for the Credit Union National Association, Madison, Wisconsin. Prior to joining CUNA, Ms. Carr was the Vice President of Corporate Development for Point West Credit Union in Portland, OR. While at Point West she provided oversight to the credit union’s human resources and training functions, including employee recruitment, compensation, and employee relations, with an emphasis on staff training & development and…Read More

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Paola Diaz-Torres

Paola Diaz-Torres is the owner of Impacto Consulting and Partner of PM4Dev (Project Management for Development Organizations) with 14 years of experience as a Project Manager, 7 years working with over 60 Credit Unions in 24 states in projects including new charter applications, establishment of 501c3 nonprofit affiliates, grant applications, business & feasibility planning, community and low income markets development & planning, secondary capital requests, Low Income and CDFI certifications, governance issues, etc, independently and as a consultant to the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. Additional experience includes: microenterprise, microfinance, small businesses development, and nonprofit management specializing in the areas of program design, monitoring, evaluation…Read More


Blake Myers

Blake Myers is a credit union consultant working primarily with CEOs of innovative, mid-sized credit unions with under $250mm in assets.

He is avid supporter of the credit union movement, and is proud to devote his time and energy to help some of America’s most successful credit unions forge a pathway to a brighter economic future for America and lead the way in creating a new era for both consumers and the broader credit union industry.

Blake works primarily in the areas of strategic planning, data analysis, product development, marketing and…Read More

Terry Ratigan

Terry Ratigan leads fundraising efforts for the Federation and plays an important role in program development, training, technical assistance, managing the Federation’s Housing Counseling Network and the Federation’s advocacy work. As a member of the CU Breakthrough consulting services team, he provides expertise on CDFI certification, recertification, grant writing, strategic planning CDCUs around the country. In 2008, Mr. Ratigan worked with Bill Myers to develop the Emerging Markets Review (EMR), an analytical tool that helps credit unions to grow by expanding services throughout their field of membership.  In 2009 he developed a statistical random sampling methodology for target market analysis that has helped to double the number of CDFI certified credit unions.  This breakthrough methodologyp…Read More

Hilary Reeves
Hilary Reeves

Hilary Reeves spent 10 years as a journalist before leaving the newsroom to become a consultant. Reeves holds a bachelor’s degree in Editorial Journalism from the University of Washington, and is a former president of the Western Washington Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She currently provides internal communications support for the Federation, as well as various writing and editing services. Reeves lives in Seattle with her husband and two young daughters…Read More


Sarah Sanders
Sarah Sanders

Sarah Sanders has worked to improve the organizational strength and financial position of nonprofit organizations and CDFIs for over eight years.

Sarah has extensive experience conducting market research and recommending growth strategies. She has assisted over 30 mission-driven organizations with market analyses tailored specifically to their organizational needs. She is an effective fundraiser and has obtained over $30 million in government and foundation grant funding and tax credit authority for clients. Sarah is an experienced group facilitator who enjoys guiding strategic planning exercises, board working sessions, classroom training and delivering research findings and project presentations. Sarah takes pride that her design and…Read More

Sheila Schat

Sheila Schat has spent fifteen years working with innovative nonprofit organizations finding solutions to America’s most pressing social issues. She is dedicated to increasing impact through direct service and advocacy efforts, and expanding reach through digital strategies. For ten years, Schat oversaw community development and asset building programs at a community development credit union in Santa Cruz, California. While there, she worked collaboratively to integrate financial products and services, free legal services, and social services to effectively address long-term family financial stability. Schat also managed a credit union 501©(3) affiliate and raised over $9 million for diverse organizations…Read More

Adam Schwartz
Adam D. SchwartzCUDE

Adam D. Schwartz is the founder and principal of The Cooperative Way a consulting firm dedicated to improving the operations of cooperatives by utilizing the seven cooperative principles and to solving cooperatives needs for capital. He has served cooperatives from different sectors for 20 years and has extensive knowledge of the key ingredients that lead to sustainable success for cooperative businesses.

He has provided strategic guidance to purchasing co-ops and credit unions on how to grow membership and provide better service. He has worked with electric and…Read More

Deirdre Silverman

Prior to her work at Alternatives, Deirdre served as an administrator at several human service agencies in Ithaca, New York, focusing on mental health issues, housing for people with special needs and for the homeless. She also taught Sociology and Women’s Studies at Ithaca College, and has participated in research projects on health issues, women’s work, and asset building initiatives. Deirdre has a B.A. in History from New York University, an M.A. in Sociology from the New School for Social Research, and pursued Ph.D. studies in Sociology at the City University of New York…Read More


Star Wilbraham

Star Wilbraham is a consultant that advises organizations on strategic planning and implementation, market development, business operations, and proposal writing tactics. Ms. Wilbraham has specific experience working with community development financial institutions (CDFIs) including credit unions, banks, and loan funds.

Previously, Ms. Wilbraham worked with Partners for the Common Good developing a start-up, online-based enterprise for connecting lending partners and at the U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Fund providing senior level analysis and…Read More


Mel West

Mel West is President of West Business Concepts, Inc., a performance-consulting firm in Tacoma, WA. He has a passion for helping people succeed both in their personal and professional lives. He relates his work to being in the logistics business, where he helps his clients identify and achieve success, so they can go from where they are to where they want to be. It was through his passion and work, where the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce recognized West Business Concepts with the Veteran-Owned Business Award during the 2012 Spotlight! On Business Awards.

Mel brings over 20 years of management experience with leadership roles in the financial services industry, manufacturing, and…Read More

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