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A panel focused on soft skills and the introspective aspects of women and leadership during the African-American Credit Union Coalition Conference Thursday in Charlotte N.C.
“A big part of this conference is reflection, and this session followed that theme,” says panelist Cathie Mahon, president/CEO of Inclusiv. “I think it’s a reflection of society that more women are becoming leaders, and it’s changing the notion of what good leadership is.”
Joan Nelson, board chair at Coastal Credit Union in Raleigh, N.C., who was inducted into AACUC Hall of Fame on Wednesday, says women bring a diversity of perspectives that create a better balance within organizations. She says others at Coastal look to her to keep the atmosphere on an even keel.
“They call me ‘the calmer’ because I tend to stay calm in difficult situations,” Nelson says. “I got there by going through stuff in life. When you go through stuff you understand what’s a real problem and what’s a momentary inconvenience.”
That’s not to say men haven’t provided the panelists with some important perspectives. Tracey Jackson, chief financial officer at Delaware State Police Federal Credit Union in Georgetown, recalls how she suspected her immediate supervisor was instrumental in her getting turned down for an internal promotion that wasn't a good fit. But when another position opened up that suited her better, he turned out to be her best advocate.
“He made sure I landed where I needed to be,” Jackson says. “That’s a champion.”
Women also have to find time to mentor each other, says Kelli Holloway, vice president of member education and outreach at State Employees Credit Union in Raleigh, N.C.
“It’s important people know your door is always open,” she says. “It’s not just our skill set, it’s our spirit that will make the difference. That spirit will take you to the next level.”