Aaron Goff was an aspiring but inexperienced information technology guy who desperately needed a job when he started his credit union career.
“I didn’t have a clue what a credit union was,” he says. “I often joke it really took me 10 years to figure it out.”
Now president/CEO at $616 million asset Embold Credit Union in Milwaukie, Ore., he tells new employees about the moment it clicked for him and he realized why credit unions are amazing.
He and a co-worker were at a trade show when an older man approached them and described in detail how the co-worker had saved him and his wife from financial disaster.
“I turned to her and said, ‘That must have been quite the interaction. I bet you remember that like it was yesterday,’” Goff recalls. “She replied, ‘No, not really.’
“Stunned, I said, ‘Seriously, how can you not remember that?’ She responded, ‘I’ve had that same conversation 100 different times with 100 different members.’ That blew my mind as I realized we’re doing this kind of stuff every day,” he says. “I knew from that moment I would never work outside of credit unions again.”
Under Goff’s five years of leadership, Embold has:
Goff has created a culture focused on service and impact, encouraging staff to volunteer and be a force for good.
“We’ve reduced or removed hurdles for members with financial challenges, poor credit history, language barriers, and intellectual and other disabilities,” he says. “This is what credit unions were originally conceived for, and we constantly talk about that mission and how we can better serve it.”
Goff notes many people don’t usually consider the IDD community when thinking about the underserved.
“There’s a huge need,” he says.
Embold partners with nonprofits to provide financial literacy training and coaching to IDD people and their families. It also offers customized financial planning services, hires IDD employees, and more.
A passionate advocate for the IDD community, Goff is a longtime supporter of Special Olympics, and has taken more than 280 Polar Plunges to raise funds and awareness for the organization.
He also serves on the board of Exceed Enterprises, a nonprofit serving people with diverse abilities.
“I love what credit unions stand for and what we can do for members and our communities,” Goff says. “It sounds cliché, but I truly wake up every morning excited about furthering that mission and that impact."