A Passion for Social Reform

September 23, 2009

Hispanics could invigorate stagnant CU membership growth.

Who: Carlos Calderon
What: CEO, OAS Staff FCU
Where: Washington, D.C.

Current top projects: Getting our credit union through the financial crisis and ensuring continued growth. I also am working on reaching the goals and objectives of the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals (nlcup.org) so we can take the organization to the next level.

Greatest opportunity for CU growth: Hispanics represent the largest and fastest-growing market in the U.S., but half of foreign-born Hispanics are unbanked or underbanked. Marketing to them is consistent with the credit union philosophy of serving our communities and also is a wise business practice, since their projected purchasing power will reach $1 trillion in 2010. Pursuing this untapped market is a way to invigorate stagnant credit union membership growth. We must act on this opportunity now before banks get the jump on it.

Hometown: Born in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Immigrated to McLean, Va., in 1975.

First job: Dishwasher at a restaurant in Virginia. My first credit union job was as a data processing operator at IDB-IIC Federal Credit Union here in Washington. During that time, I learned the job doesn’t define the person, but the person’s attitude is what’s important. And you must always build toward the future.

Best advice I ever received: Work hard, don’t take things personally, always focus on the objective and goal, know “it can be done,” and laugh at yourself along the way.

Person from history I’d like to dine with: Eleanor Roosevelt, because she probably had the most positive impact on social programs that have changed the fabric of our country—the Social Security Act and the Works Projects Administration, for example. The latter provided jobs not only for laborers, but also for artists, writers, musicians, and authors. She brought attention to civil rights, the need for low-income housing, and the importance of women’s equality. She inspired people to believe change was possible. She piloted all her accomplishments with determination and grace, and saw things very clearly. I would like to ask what motivated her.

Favorite vacation/trip: One where I can be with my family and have a break from e-mails and the telephone.