Jeff Hayes believes in second chances. Fortunately for Hayes, credit unions do, too.
Before Hayes began working at North Star Community Credit Union in Cherokee, Iowa, 14 years ago, he worked in the banking industry. There, he struggled to find management teams that shared his attitude toward supportive and redemptive services.
It bothered Hayes when banks turned away customers with flawed finances because he believed those people needed expertise and counseling most. Hayes thought there had to be a way to help. And he was right.
“I often looked at certain situations through a different lens,” says Hayes, president/CEO of the $85 million asset credit union. “When I came to the credit union, my thoughts were validated.”
Hayes understands that many people struggle because they made mistakes when they were young or because they lacked financial education. Hayes believes those individuals and their families deserve the opportunity to get their finances—and their lives—back on track.
Credit unions, he says, are in a great position to help them do that.
“When you work in an industry where you have the ability to help people, I think you have an obligation to help people,” Hayes says. “I’ve seen people pull themselves out of the fire with the assistance of a kind, caring loan officer. I’d like to see credit unions do more of that. That’s what I think credit unions need to focus on.”
Hayes drives that message home at CUNA Management School. Every year, He spends two weeks in Madison, Wis., and countless hours teaching up-and-coming industry leaders, grading assignments, and mentoring students.
North Star Community sent Hayes to CUNA Management School as a student when he joined the credit union, and Hayes found it such a transformative experience that he seized the chance to return as a graduate assistant a few years later.
He’s been involved with the program ever since—for a full decade now—and he sees no end in sight for his involvement.
While Hayes enjoys developing the next crop of credit union executives, he also relishes the opportunity to reconnect with credit union philosophy and instill the significance of the credit union difference. “I do get something out of it,” he says. “I’m in a good place and I like to play a role in making CUNA Management School a good place. And we can make it even better.”
Hayes channels CUNA Management School’s energy and mission into North Star Community’s practices, policies, and procedures. That often translates to a sustained emphasis on rehabilitative programs and services, and a continued willingness to work with individuals who are ready to correct mistakes, improve their finances, and turn their lives around.
“I’ve seen that happen,” Hayes says. “That’s the type of experience I’ve had, and we all can help out a little bit more.”
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