After working in the banking industry, Diane Sandoval-Griego wanted a change.
“I was looking for an opportunity in the financial industry that had purpose,” she says. “Although I was doing well, I felt like I didn’t fit in.”
After accepting a position as loan officer at $168 million asset Guadalupe Credit Union in Santa Fe, N.M., Sandoval-Griego moved quickly through several other positions to become financial empowerment and outreach manager, supervising a staff of seven that serves seven counties in northern New Mexico.
“I always enjoyed lending, but quickly realized the credit union difference,” she says. “It brought forth a passion in me for helping people that I didn’t realize I had.”
“Diane has a fantastic way of connecting with people, understanding the issues affecting our community and our members, and setting goals to assist our members,” says Nelson Medina, Guadalupe’s marketing director.
Building the credit union’s Financial Empowerment Department has been her greatest career accomplishment. “I am very grateful for the trust and support from management, staff, and our members,” she says. “This has allowed me to build community partnerships, work on product development, and advocate on issues that impact our members.”
Sandoval-Griego continuously strives to make financial coaching a key part of Guadalupe’s culture. Her team’s efforts have led to both new loans and lower delinquency rates.
“One product we developed is a predatory debt relief loan,” she says. “We’ve loaned out more than $250,000 and had 0% delinquency in the past two years.”
Nearly 60% of members who work with a financial coach for at least four to six months improve their credit scores by an average of 42 points. About 50% of members who receive financial coaching reduce their debt by more than $5,000.
“By working closely with other departments, especially lending, we help people qualify for the loans they need,” she says. “The product and service recommendations we make as part of the process set them up for success.”
In May, Sandoval-Griego took part in PSCU KnockOut, a 24-hour competition where credit unions come together to create breakthrough ideas. Her team’s idea to create a payday loan alternative took first place.
“We are always looking for opportunities to help people build savings,” she says. “We hope this product will help other credit unions across the nation in building members’ financial strength.”