Contact: Rafael Morales, Communications Officer
212-809-1850 ext. 206
(November 17, 2005 – New York, NY) The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) recently announced that CDCU-veteran Joy Cousminer, President/CEO of Bethex FCU (Bronx, NY) and long-time Board Member of the Federation, will be the recipient of the 2006 Herb Wegner Award for Individual Achievement, the credit union movement’s highest honor, which recognizes individuals’ unwavering dedication to the philosophy and ideals of the credit union movement. The award will be presented to Cousminer at the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards Dinner at the Washington Hilton (Washington, D.C.) on February 26, 2006.
Cousminer’s career with credit unions began in 1970 when she founded Bethex FCU to provide “welfare mothers” with access to emergency cash and opportunities for financial education. In the beginning, the credit union was almost completely volunteer-operated, but under Cousminer’s leadership Bethex FCU has grown to serve over 10,000 low- and moderate-income individuals with assets of nearly $9 million. In the past year they CDCU opened a second branch in the Mott Haven area of the Bronx Empowerment Zone.
Cousminer was also a founder of the Lower East Side People’s FCU (New York, NY) and the Brooklyn (formerly Bushwick) Cooperative FCU (Brooklyn, NY), two other nationally recognized CDCUs in New York City.
Over the years, Cousminer has received much acclaim for the innovative programs offered and unorthodox partnerships undertaken by her credit union. One such partnership brought Bethex FCU together with city check-cashers to offer CDCU members with affordable check-cashing and electronic deposits into their credit union account from over 130 check-cashing sites across the city of New York. The partnership encourages savings by requiring that at least 20% of each transaction be deposited directly into the members’ credit union accounts.
“The importance of the Wegner award is not its recognition of me, but rather the recognition of the low-income people we serve, and the need and value in serving them,” explained Cousminer. “The South Bronx and other poor communities are often overlooked; hopefully, this award will raise awareness about the situation in these areas, both within the credit union movement and beyond.”
Joy recently stepped-down from the Federation’s Board, but continues to be very involved in Federation-sponsored programs and initiatives. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Cooperative FCU and the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA).