CUNA is now America's Credit Unions.
A stronger voice to advance the credit union industry.
As a 17-year-old, Shea Brown looked to get out of school a little earlier each week. He got that chance through a dual-credit program where he worked as a part-time teller at a Florida credit union.
Shea slowly immersed himself in the movement, and he now serves as director of community impact at $924 million asset Leaders Credit Union in Jackson, Tenn.
“It started as just a job,” says Brown. “I wanted to make money and have flexibility.”
Brown’s journey continued as he worked through college breaks and had credit union mentors who encouraged him to get involved in local chapters, the league, and CUNA.
“After I graduated college, I started to take seriously that this could turn into a career,” Brown says. “I started to learn more about the movement, get involved, and advocate for credit unions.”
He remains an advocate today, loving how his position allows him to do something different every day, whether it’s hosting financial education workshops, building community partnerships, visiting local schools, overseeing select employee groups (SEGs), or organizing L.E.A.D.S. teacher grants.
Brown’s breadth of activities led him to be named the 2023 Marketing & Business Development Council’s Business Development Professional of the Year.
“I was nominated by the marketing team at Leaders, and I was impressed by the recommendations of several of our SEGs,” says Brown, who’s in his sixth year at Leaders. “It shows our impact in the community and how we've served a variety of employers and their employees.
“I’m grateful they took the time out to recommend me—our whole team, really—for meeting with their employees, teaching financial education classes, and trying to serve their needs every day.”
Brown believes building community relationships starts with high-quality service at the branch level. Members recognize that, and Leaders’ reputation precedes Brown’s team when they attend chamber meetings, community events, and member appreciation nights, and teach financial education classes.
“Whatever we do, we want to engage folks, be where they are, and learn what their needs are,” he says, adding that financial education is the biggest part of his team’s job. “Things are always changing, but the mission and education are constant. We want to help our members achieve financial freedom and reach their financial goals.”
New additions to Leaders’ financial education offerings this year include a podcast, virtual classes, and financial reality fairs. Brown co-hosts the Pocket Change Podcast alongside colleague Maddie Steele, giving listeners tips to spend, save, invest, and take control of their finances.
“We try to make it easy for people to digest and understand,” Brown says. “We educate members about financial tools, products, and resources that can help them on their financial journey. We also have external guests who talk about programs that support our community. It's been fun to engage with our community that way.”
Brown is continually looking for new opportunities to engage, believing his career has progressed due to his efforts to learn and grow.
“Our movement has grown stronger,” he says. “There may be fewer credit unions now, but we're coming together and building stronger and better credit unions. We’re able to share more and pull our resources together. I'm proud that I've stuck with the movement, that there are a lot of younger folks joining the movement, and that we’re helping people on their journey.”