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KIM BABINGTON “literally knows someone in every room she walks into in Southern Illinois,” says Dennis Schaefer, CEO of $292 million asset SIU Credit Union in Carbondale, Ill.
That’s largely because Babington has an uncanny ability to remember faces, names, and personal details.
“I may have met somebody briefly a year ago and I’ll remember his or her name, face, and the kids’ and dogs’ names, too,” she says.
Babington’s recall talent is something she has used since she was 16 years old.
“When I worked for a pizza parlor I knew every repeat customer’s tastes,” she says. “Later, at another credit union, I remembered the account numbers of every member I dealt with.”
Babington, who has been in the industry since 1980, worked at a San Diego credit union for 14 years. When her father became ill, she moved to back to her hometown.
At first she took on the role of vice president of operations at the credit union.
But SIU’s leadership soon realized Babington not only had a business development background from her stint in San Diego, she also demonstrated exceptional skill remembering names and faces—and making friends.
In 2014, SIU created the position of vice president of business development specifically for Kim, and partly in response to the competition.
“We needed to get our message out,” she says.
SIU had started as a university employees credit union but later obtained a community charter.
In her new role, Kim expanded the credit union’s outreach to include working with organizations and causes ranging from Special Olympics to Feeding the Seniors.
She also developed a financial literacy program in 2014 directed at everybody from middle-school students to Boys and Girls Clubs to senior citizens.
At the four or five educational sessions she presents at the local high school, she addresses such topics as setting up checking and savings accounts, budgeting, credit scores, and more.
Babington finds that many senior citizens are afraid to use ATMs or bill-pay services.
“But I’ll take my laptop to a seniors’ computer class and show them how safe, secure, and convenient those services are,” she says.
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