Not much that goes on at the New Jersey Credit Union League (NJCUL) gets past Yvette Segarra.
But somehow her colleagues managed to pull off a surprise party last year to celebrate Segarra’s 25th anniversary with the league.
To make sure she would be surprised, only Paul Gentile (the league’s CEO at the time, now CUNA’s executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement) and a couple other people were involved in the party planning.
Other employees were a bit perplexed about the announcement that there would be an all-staff meeting one Friday evening. Segarra had no inkling what was going on until she walked into the room and spotted her grandson.
“It was absolutely wonderful,” she says of the event in her honor.
When Segarra arrived at the league in 1987, she didn’t know what a credit union was. But it didn’t take long for her to embrace credit unions’ people-helping-people philosophy.
“I love the credit union movement,” she says. “The league is part of my life. It’s not just a paycheck.”
As NJCUL’s special events manager, Segarra plans major conventions and conferences.
One of her duties is to line up keynote speakers, which over the years have included the likes of Christopher Gardner of “Pursuit of Happyness” fame and Joe Torre, when he managed the New York Yankees.
“I’m a good negotiator; I give myself credit for that,” Segarra says. “We save a lot of money.”
Some years ago, for instance, the league paid a hefty fee to bring in comedian Paul Rodriguez as a convention speaker. The next year Segarra called Rodriguez directly.
“I told him we had no money and asked if he’d come back,” she recalls. “He did for half the price.”
Another part of her job is building relationships with vendors, whether it’s coordinating a newsletter, selling booth space at conventions, or enlisting fund-raiser sponsors. She looks forward to working with new league CEO, Greg Michlig.
The secret to success in all such efforts is “treating people the way you want to be treated,” Segarra says. “If you treat people fairly, it works.”