Pam Brown-Graff has been as rock steady as Mount Rushmore during her credit union career.
Twenty-seven years ago, she started at Rapid City (S.D.) Medical Federal Credit Union, now MED5 Federal Credit Union.
She has never looked back. Brown-Graff says she loves her job at the $83 million asset credit union.
First and foremost, “each day is about what can I do for my staff, my members, and my community,” she says. “As much as it can be frustrating, I love to solve challenges. I want my people to have what they need to do their jobs. If we can do that, then our members are happy as well.”
A recent challenge was the design of the credit union’s new main branch in 2019. As CEO, she embraced the increasingly popular business model among financial institutions of creating an inviting open space, with nontraditional teller pods rather than lines and the added twist of a coffee shop as a gathering place.
“Our new building exemplifies our growth and commitment to the Rapid City/Pennington County area,” she says. “We are providing our members convenience, functionality, ease of service, and, most importantly, a coffee shop,” Brown-Graff says. “Where else can you drive up to the first drive-thru window, get your latte, then drive around the building to the second drive-up and make a deposit?”
Brown-Graff is quick to acknowledge the talents and dedication of her staff, board of directors, and supervisory committee. “I am beyond blessed to have a group of volunteers that embraces the same visions that I do,” she says.
Such dedication and collaboration are why MED5 Federal received the Growth & Progress Award from the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas in 2017 and 2018. The award is given to one credit union each year in North or South Dakota that has exceeded the state’s average increase in four categories: assets, shares, loans outstanding, and membership.
To stay strong and competitive in an ever-changing world, Brown-Graff believes credit unions must seek positive change.
“Complacency will be the stake in the heart for this industry because no matter how cutting edge we think we are, technology is already 10 steps ahead of us,” she says.
No matter how big or small, credit unions must respond to changing market conditions, innovate, and make informed decisions quickly—but also have fun in the process.
“Surround yourself with great people and great things are sure to happen—especially when times are tough,” she says.