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A stronger voice to advance the credit union industry.
Kenricka Gardner wants to make an impact.
She’s getting that chance at $505 million asset Arlington Community Federal Credit Union in Falls Church, Va., where she was hired as vice president of member experience in early 2023.
The 11-year credit union veteran, who was previously vice president of remote services at a different credit union, caught up with America’s Credit Unions to discuss Arlington Community’s focus, what she wants members to experience, the importance of diversity, and what Black History Month means to her.
Kenricka Gardner: There’s an internal focus on aligning our entire organization with our purpose. As I hit my one-year mark at Arlington Community, I am excited to partner with our culture and marketing teams to deepen our connection to purpose.
It has been inspirational to focus on how we can uplift our communities through individual member service and narrow the financial gaps that exist. I see great things ahead for the Arlington team and its members.
A: We try to deliver remarkable service. We know our members want to self-serve most of the time, so we work to ensure that we are constantly improving our digital experiences. But when digital isn’t enough, remarkable service is about listening, hearing each member’s story, meeting them where they are, and finding a solution that makes an impact. Delivering great services is a balancing act. We want our members to have access to fast and efficient digital service while always feeling seen and heard. Most of all, we want them to believe that we care—because we do.
A: Black History Month is a time to acknowledge and celebrate the invaluable contributions Black Americans made to the development of our nation despite unimaginable circumstances. It also serves as a time to reflect upon the work that still needs to be done to address many challenges that persist.
A: I feel that our diverse team of employees helps us connect with members and understand their goals. It comes down to values in action, and our members believing we care about them and their financial journeys—regardless of background or economic status. We try to meet people where they are and help them get where they’re going. The fact that our community’s diversity is represented in our team, coupled with our authentic desire to “listen, hear the story, and find solutions,” makes for an inclusive experience. We are deeply committed to educating and teaching, as well as serving. When you educate and teach, you lift.
A: Credit unions are well-suited to leverage their cooperative model to address financial disparities. We focus on financial education to empower members at all stages of their journeys, promoting financial inclusion through our service model of listening to the member’s story and finding solutions.
A: I would like to see more representation among executive leadership teams and boards of directors.
A: Yes, there was an obvious shift in 2020 after the killing of George Floyd. This is when I noticed companies started to invest more in DEI or prop up their existing DEI teams.
However, I am proud to work at an organization that had DEI efforts in place long before. Our staff truly reflects the diversity of the membership it serves, and I am excited to see the focus on DEI expand in the coming year to reflect the credit union’s growth.
A: I enjoy gardening and Oenology—the study of wines. However, my three sons keep me very busy.