More than 80 credit union leaders launched the Kansas-Missouri Sister Society this month, in conjunction with the Heartland Credit Union Association’s (HCUA) SHIFT conference held in the Kansas City area.
The Kansas-Missouri Sister Society, in partnership with HCUA, the Global Women's Leadership Network (GWLN) and Sister Societies around the globe, strives to tackle the industry’s gender gap by providing women with the tools and resources they need to advance their career.
During the evening reception, GWLN Program Director Lena Giakoumopoulos shared the power, purpose and impact of the Global Women’s Leadership Network. Credit union leaders networked over pink cocktails and pink-inspired desserts.
To encourage a year of wellness, each attendee was encouraged to think of a wellness word for the year. Attendees chose words like “be,” “grit,” “patience” and “simplicity” and wrote their word on sheets of paper decorated with inspirational stickers.
In addition, the local chapter of Dress for Success was chosen as the Kansas-Missouri Sister Society charity of choice. Attendees were encouraged to donate women’s clothing and accessories or make monetary donations. About 100 items were donated and $350 in gift cards and cash were collected during the event.
Starting a Kansas-Missouri Sister Society was the idea of Nicole El-Chami, AVP of electronic services at Credit Union of America, Wichita, Kan. In 2021, El-Chami, along with a group of women credit union leaders, approached HCUA about creating a local chapter.
“I saw the power of the Global Women’s Leadership Network, and the impact it had on local regions,” said El-Chami. “Bringing that inspiration and collaboration to Kansas and Missouri credit union professionals will empower us individually and present opportunities for us to lift each other up.”
Today, the Kansas-Missouri Sister Society is led by a committee of 10 leaders from Kansas and Missouri credit unions and two HCUA staff liaisons. The mission is to inspire women to lead through professional development, mentorship, and networking.
“When Nicole contacted us about starting a Sister Society, we hit the ground running,” says Andrea Robinson Fuentes, executive director of external affairs and philanthropy for HCUA and one of the staff liaisons. “I was so proud to see how many of our credit unions embraced the Sister Society. The committee is amazing, and we have a great year planned with more events.”
In addition to the April 5 launch party, this local chapter will host three more events throughout 2022 focused on whole-person wellness and resilience.