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When Cheryl DeBoer sees her Advia Credit Union members making sacrifices to get ahead, she understands the kind of pressure they’re under.
DeBoer’s ascension to the CEO’s chair at Advia began as a greeter in Michigan’s Credit Union Service Centers in the 1970s. “I was too young to work as a teller,” she recalls.
In the years that followed, she remained dedicated to her credit union career as well as her academic career and her family. As a single mother she raised a daughter and earned her bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees on nights and weekends.
In 2004, she became the president and CEO of the Kalamazoo, Michigan based credit union now known as Advia Credit Union. And since that time, she’s led their growth in membership and assets from $273 million to over $2.6 billion.
DeBoer remains dedicated to the credit union ideal while building that growth.
“Foundationally, credit unions are about people helping people,” DeBoer says. “To us that means helping them achieve a better position tomorrow than they are in today. And since that differs by the person, we’ve always worked to design our products with the entire membership in mind.”
Through the U.S. Treasury Department, Advia is a certified financial development credit union. As such it has dedicated 60% of its lending activity to low- and moderate-income communities.
“I remember being a single parent in need of money to pay off some debt,” DeBoer says. “It’s a difficult situation. And I remember the credit union helping me. So yes, we do small loans when people need a water heater or other emergency funds. And we have a team ready to help those members establish budgets and get on the right track financially.”
DeBoer commits to helping the entire membership to thrive. For example, Advia’s Advantage Plus Checking rewards feature Advantage Bucks service charge redemption, high yield checking rates, and discounts up to 1% on already discounted loan rates.
And when members choose to transfer higher-rate loans to Advia, their average savings is $3,000.
Advia takes the same approach within the communities it serves. Through its foundation, the credit union donates on average $300,000 each year to community causes and organizations.
"We want to elevate our communities the same we help elevate our members and we find many ways to do that: scholarships, financial literacy, helping start-up businesses and feeding people,” DeBoer says. “It also provides great opportunities for our employees to be involved and volunteer their time to worthy local causes. We’ve grown through the years, but we will always be local to the communities we serve.”