Dawn Dunkelberger is an executive at North Memorial Federal Credit Union, but that doesn’t stop her from working the teller line when needed or driving to an elderly member’s home to walk through how to use online banking.
“Dawn is the epitome of a team player,” says Bud Heifort, vice president of lending at the $53 million asset credit union in Robbinsdale, Minn. “Dawn sees what no one else sees in people, and that level of compassion is rare today.”
An 18-year veteran at North Memorial Federal, Dunkelberger takes members’ needs to heart.
“We’ve got to be there to hold their hands so they feel like they’re part of a community,” she says. “Credit unions have to make sure members are safe and sound, and that they’re respected.”
Dunkelberger joined North Memorial Federal at the urging of her mother-in-law, who was the credit union’s CEO. Two years later, she was promoted to vice president of financial services, the post she holds today.
“I was nervous about the whole nepotism thing for quite a few years,” she says. “On my own, I did monthly reports on what I accomplished, and submitted them to the board chair to make sure they were comfortable. As it turned out, they were more comfortable than I was.”
Coming from a job at another financial services company, Dunkelberger was amazed at the credit union ethic.
“I couldn’t believe how when credit union people got together, even if you were from a different credit union, you could swap stories and ask for advice,” she says. “People are more than willing to help.”
Dunkelberger’s passion for credit unions, especially smaller ones like North Memorial Federal, goes beyond helping her colleagues and members. She’s active in advocacy, lobbying for credit unions in the Minnesota statehouse and the U.S. Capitol.
She participates in the Governmental Affairs Conference and the state Credit Union Day at the Capitol each year.
“Small- and medium-sized credit unions need to make sure legislators understand what the credit union difference is,” Dunkelberger says. “I love telling them the real stories of credit union members, and opening up their minds to how we can make a difference.”
She believes service is at the heart of successful credit unions.
“Let’s give people confidence that they can be savers and control their own destiny,” Dunkelberger says. “We have so many opportunities to help people and make them successful.”