As vice president at Generations Credit Union in Rockford, Ill., Denise Leonard wears many hats. But it’s a fashion statement she’s happy to make.
“My day goes so quickly—that’s my favorite part of my job,” she says. “The day flies by because there’s always something to work on, whether it’s engaging directly with members, keeping operations running smoothly, or implementing product and service improvements. But ironically, it’s also the least favorite: knowing there’s always more I could or should be doing.”
As one of four full-time employees at the $21 million asset credit union, Leonard’s background as a computer programmer, systems analyst, and high school business education teacher serves her well.
“I enjoy resolving issues and researching the causes,” she says. “Members and co-workers can count on me to get to the bottom of a problem. I enjoy having new challenges, and every day offers the opportunity for something new.”
Leonard began her credit union career as a part-time member service representative while pursuing her teaching certificate.
After teaching full time for a year and part time for two years, Leonard pivoted to the credit union to improve people’s financial acumen.
And she has.
“She is passionate about giving people the opportunity to improve their financial aptitude through education and one-to-one mentoring,” says Generations President/CEO Karen Jurasek.
For example, Leonard worked with a member with special needs whose parents wanted him to be more financially literate and independent. Using products developed for the underserved and setting up a model for him to follow, Leonard enabled the member to become more financially self-reliant.
She met with the member regularly to monitor his progress and provide feedback on his successes and setbacks.
As a board member and now its chair, Leonard has been a catalyst for change in reshaping the mission of the Rockford Area Chapter of Credit Unions, making it more purpose-driven and valuable. The chapter sponsors an awareness campaign in the fall that culminates in an International Credit Union Day celebration at a local coffee shop.
Leonard also is treasurer at the Ida Public Library in Belvidere, Ill.
“Serving on the library board has given me the opportunity to be involved in and help our community,” she says.