Vicki Ponzo loves everything about credit unions: their principles, their philosophy, their people—you name it.
And if you happen to be her hairstylist or a bus passenger with her and aren’t yet a credit union member, you’ll likely be on the membership rolls the next time you meet.
“My hairstylist’s son needed a car and I suggested going to a credit union for a loan,” Ponzo recalls. “The next time I saw them, she told me they had and she was so grateful for the advice.”
She also advises fellow bus passengers to check out what credit unions have to offer.
Ponzo joined the staff of the Illinois Credit Union League nearly 40 years ago when she was looking for a shorter commute. “At the time, I didn’t know what a credit union was,” says Ponzo, who is the senior vice president, education and member resources.
Since then, she’s been a tireless advocate for the credit union movement.
“She knows what makes credit unions unique in the financial services industry,” says her colleague Melanie Murphy. “She always asks, ‘What’s the best for our member credit unions?’ or ‘How will this help credit unions?’ when making decisions about new programs, products, services, and initiatives.”
Recognizing the challenges faced by smaller credit unions, Ponzo created the Small Asset Size Conference, which is specifically geared toward the needs of small credit unions and also provides networking and potential partnership opportunities.
Working in partnership with the Illinois Credit Union Foundation, Ponzo also has helped credit unions secure the resources they need to make a difference for their members—from grants and scholarships, to computers and software, and once, even a request for a toilet.
“Credit unions have given me lifelong relationships,” Ponzo says. “My career has been very rewarding. It’s a good feeling to go home and know you’ve helped credit unions so that they can help their members—be it with a loan, a budget, or financial education.”