Diane Sandoval-Griego believes in giving people the power to succeed, whether it’s by providing financial counseling to create a better budget, finding programs to meet their financial needs, or pointing them to the nearest food bank.
Identifying those needs sometimes means stepping away from her desk and going out into the community.
“We were created for people helping people,” says Sandoval-Griego, financial empowerment and outreach manager at $168 million asset Guadalupe Credit Union in Santa Fe, N.M. “If we never leave our desks, it defeats our purpose.”
Known as Guadalupe’s catalyst of financial counseling and outreach efforts, Sandoval-Griego has been instrumental in financial education programs and services that are tailored to the individual needs of the community.
One example is the relationship Sandoval and Guadalupe have forged with the Taos Pueblo, a Native American community in Northern New Mexico. When the group expressed the need for more community members to buy houses, make repairs, or get caught up on mortgage payments, Sandoval-Griego developed a customized financial literacy program.
This effort not only promotes housing programs available to pueblo residents, it also puts a financial coach onsite at the pueblo on a regular basis.
That way tribal members who don’t have the means to go off-site can meet with the coach regularly to work on their financial goals, she says.
While the pueblo builds its housing infrastructure, the credit union works with residents to get them on track with their finances through education and better loans, including Guadalupe’s predatory debt relief program, Sandoval says.
That relationship is just one example of how Sandoval-Griego steps outside the credit union’s walls to develop programs that assist the community with their financial needs.
She’s also worked with the Santa Fe Farmers Market to develop a program to provide financial education to farmers and to provide funds through a micro-lending program.
Plus, a predatory debt relief program provides consolidation loans for members who are stuck in a predatory debt cycle, along with financial coaching.
Sandoval-Griego’s latest effort: Bringing community providers together to assist grandparents who must raise their grandchildren due to the opioid crisis. These grandparents don’t always know what resources are available, or they’re hesitant to seek assistance for fear of outing the children.
The work Sandoval-Griego does with financial counseling and outreach at Guadalupe fits with her passion for ensuring people can meet their needs and reach their goals.
“We don’t always have all of the answers, but we try as hard as we can to research and find some type of solution or recommendation to assist members,” she says. “You learn a lot from your own membership, and it’s important to listen not only to their needs, but also the obstacles they face that maybe can be corrected or rerouted.