It’s 37 years into Cookie Yoder’s credit union career, and her verdict about it is simple: “I can’t imagine myself not being in this movement.”
It wasn’t necessarily that way at the start. Yoder, now president/CEO of City Co Federal Credit Union in Pittsburgh, joined the credit union movement for a very practical reason. “I needed a job,” she says. “I took one with [another] small, relatively new Teamster’s credit union and liked it.”
But it was still just a job until she underwent Credit Union Development Education (CUDE) training in 1984, two years after the National Credit Union Foundation program had begun.
“I was sort of strong-armed into going by friends,” she says. “But once I was there, it was a turning point for me—I no longer just had a job, I now had a career.”
Yoder attributes much of her success and work ethic to that experience. “Some of the most important friendships of my life came about because of it.”
This summer she traveled to Austin, Texas, to attend a CUDE session and celebrate the 30th anniversary of her graduation from the program.
She arrived at City Co Federal in 2011, when the credit union did not deal with cash—members would withdraw funds via check and then take the checks down the street to cash.
The credit union also lacked a credit card program or even money orders. Within a year, Yoder had City Co Federal dispensing cash, and offering a Visa credit card program that grew from $138,000 to $800,000 in one year—and positioned the credit union to participate in the Allegheny County Employee Benefits Fair.
This was an invitation she was very excited about: “Approximately 50% of Allegheny County’s 7,100 employees are within walking distance of our downtown branch.”
She estimates that if City Co Federal can successfully appeal to those employees, it can reasonably expect to grow to $50 million or $60 million in assets.
Yoder remembers walking around the fair, talking to members, to get a feel for their concerns and perceptions. “One man came up to me and asked, ‘Are you that girl?’ I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by that until I realized he was praising me.”
Apparently “that girl” was the approving moniker employees and members had given Yoder once she put her new approaches in place.
She’s also proud of having served on the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association Board of Directors for 23 years.
This credit union rock star, a Pittsburgh native—“I’m a ’Burgh girl'!”—loves ’50s music. “The lyrics and the melodies are classic.”