Anatoli Murha spoke Ukrainian before he spoke English, and his Ukrainian heritage continues to play a key role in his credit union career.
Both sets of Murha’s grandparents immigrated to North America after World War II. As a result, he has strong roots in his Ukrainian culture and community.
“Being of Ukrainian descent, I always knew that because of my name and where my grandparents were from, I had something to complement my upbringing in the United States,” says Murha, senior vice president at $500 million asset Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union (UKRFCU) in Feasterville, Pa.
In 2011, when Murha sought to change careers, his connections in the Ukrainian community alerted him to an opening at UKRFCU. Hired as a marketing and business development manager, Murha took on the challenge of understanding and fulfilling member needs, and developing a growth plan.
Providing financial services for the Ukrainian community in and around Philadelphia is important. Murha also wanted to use what he learned to give back to credit unions in Ukraine.
He reached out to the World Council of Credit Unions to learn how to do so. That led to a January 2020 trip during which Murha met with the Credit for Agriculture Producers leadership team in Kyiv, Ukraine. He then gave an eight-hour presentation—in Ukrainian—to the Kredyt-Soyuz credit union about business development and marketing in the U.S.
Murha says he learned just as much from his Ukrainian counterparts.
“They’re lending out money for tractors and tractor parts,” says Murha, who will take over as CEO at UKRFCU on Jan. 1, 2024. “It showed me more of a global perspective and the person-to-person role credit unions have. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Cherkasy, Kyiv, or Philly, you all have the same needs.
“That trip was a pivotal moment in my life,” he continues. “I never thought two years after that I’d be advocating on behalf of Ukraine because of a war.”
When Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, Murha and his UKRFCU colleagues felt the impact. Nearly all of the credit union’s 65 employees were born in Ukraine and came to the U.S. in the last 30 years. Many still have family in Ukraine.
Murha spends time listening and providing support to colleagues. He’s also involved in fundraising and donation drives, and advocating with elected officials.
“I do not hold back on my stance on Ukraine,” Murha says. “The resilience of the Ukrainian people is inspiring, and I will continue to support them.”