MADISON, Wis. (12/18/15)--Madison, Wis., appears to be a credit union town, and not just because CUNA, the National Credit Union Foundation and the World Council of Credit Unions make their homes there.
When choosing the biggest business game changers in town, Madison Magazine in its “Best of Madison Business 2016” edition recently picked the leaders of two major credit union organizations in the city: Kim Sponem, president/CEO, Summit CU; and Steve Goldberg, CUNA Mutual Foundation executive director.
The magazine, which called each honoree a “change agent” for their work advocating and embracing change, described Goldberg as a “masterful” leader, and someone whose hard work has rubbed off on the rest of the business community in Madison.
“If CUNA Mutual was ultimately the institution that created some of the most significant changes in how businesses operate in civic Madison, it had the good sense to make Goldberg the face of that change,” the magazine said.
Goldberg is credited for rethinking CUNA Mutual’s corporate and employee contributions to charitable causes, and while the departure was controversial at the time, it has become the blueprint for philanthropy in the city.
Sponem, meanwhile, was recognized for a number of efforts, including her work to create a youth-run credit union.
“There are many examples of Sponem’s change agency, but one breathtaking example is the STAR credit union at the Boys & Girls Club,” the magazine wrote. “There, in the midst of the game tables, the computer labs, the kitchen and the music rooms, is a mini credit union office, with a window and a teller and a roster of members in their teens and younger, learning firsthand about saving money and making that money grow.”
Sponem, the magazine went on, has also been a champion for financial wellness for women and communities of color.
Her work to serve underserved community members earned her the magazine’s Brian Howell Excellence in Innovation Award.
“Credit unions hold a special appreciation for change in the world’s finance sector,” the magazine said. “Their very makeup connects them deeply to the people and communities that own them, and requires an appreciation for a response to change that must be nimble, flexible and effective. Kim Sponem’s ability to not just effect that change, but lead it, has marked her tenure as president/CEO of Summit CU.”