ONE COLLEAGUE DESCRIBES Rebecca Cardwell as analytical and very creative, noting “the two qualities don’t often come in one person.”
But that’s what it takes to accomplish Cardwell’s many initiatives at University of Virginia (UVA) Community Credit Union in Charlottesville, V.A.
As vice president of community relations, Cardwell pursues relationships with other nonprofits and local businesses that improve quality of life and strengthen the credit union’s branding in the marketplace.
“It enhances the community nature of our credit union,” she says. “It’s much easier to ask for business from individuals and organizations where you’ve established relationships based on shared interests and goals.”
For instance, Cardwell developed a partnership between UVA Community and Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) to help people improve their homes through energy efficiency and renewable updates. Through her efforts, the Fair Housing Authority selected UVA Community as one of 18 lenders to offer lowcost PowerSaver Loans to fund home improvements.
“Along with lowering consumers’ energy bills, the program puts area contractors to work,” she says. “There’s a ripple effect. Picking the right partner benefits the credit union and the community.”
Cardwell’s passion for sustainability prompted her to work with city and county governments and another nonprofit to create Solarize Charlottesville, which provides volume discounts and UVA Community financing on solar energy system installations.
Cardwell leads the credit union’s robust financial education program, which includes:
Always looking for ways to help the underserved, Cardwell leads UVA Community’s participation in the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. This year, the credit union prepared more than 450 returns for lower-income taxpayers.
Cardwell recently completed Leadership Charlottesville, the Regional Chamber of Commerce’s nine-month program that features group projects focused on engaging the community to solve local issues.
Now, she’s working with a coalition of credit union leaders to implement a statewide campaign urging people to check their credit reports each year, and with Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail to implement a financial education program for inmates.
UVA Community colleague Cassandra Riggin has learned from Cardwell “to be fearless when it comes to presenting and implementing innovative ideas.”