Battle buddy. Wonder Woman. Yellow Rose of Texas.
A cloud of glowing titles follows Claudia Burkett beyond her position as executive vice president/chief operations officer at $252 million asset Education Credit Union (ECU) in Amarillo, Texas.
Each description has been hard-earned, and tells much of her life’s story.
Burkett began volunteering when she was dating the man she’d later marry. Mark, a member of the Texas National Guard, was deployed overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan over a six-year span.
“Mark understood volunteerism,” she says, “in his case volunteering to go overseas. It inspired me.”
As part of a group of soldiers’ wives—“We called ourselves the ‘battle buddies’”—she showed up for many volunteer activities.
“From my 29 years at ECU, I was able to reach people who needed to learn basic money-handling skills,” Burkett says.
Her two daughters and son (now 31, 26, and 20) bestowed the “Wonder Woman” moniker on her in recognition of her mastery of skills and chores she took over from their father.
Once Burkett’s credit union peers heard that, they started using it, too.
One title she’s especially proud of came in 2013 when then-Texas Governor Rick Perry awarded her the Yellow Rose of Texas Award—the highest award the state confers on women.
At ECU, Burkett is admired as a great motivator and a woman willing to get down in the trenches to help out.
She can be seen giving an employee a proud high-five for a job well-done or a hug when needed.
“She will never ask anyone to do something she is not willing to do herself, or has not already done herself,” says Lindsey Murphy, ECU vice president of marketing.
Burkett has been known to throw on an apron and flip hotdogs and hamburgers at community events, and even dress up as Scottie Dog, ECU’s children’s account mascot. “I like to be able to help my team in any way I can,” she says.
She has done nearly every job there is at ECU, starting as a loan receptionist and working her way up to the No. 2 position—filling in as chief financial officer or teller as needed along the way.
How about CEO? “That’s a position I would proudly serve,” she says.