Cara Carlevatti says the rock star she would most like to be is Gwen Stefani of “No Doubt” because of the musician’s advocacy for strong women.
“There are a lot of women in leadership roles in credit unions in the state of New York,” says Carlevatti, member development coordinator for Great Erie Federal Credit Union, Orchard Park, N.Y. “Advancing in the credit union is something that young professionals can look forward to.”
As a young professional herself, Carlevatti embraces the credit union culture of community involvement. In two short years with Great Erie Federal, she has revamped the credit union’s youth savings program to include savings rewards such as savings deposits for report card grades. She also started a credit union library with books, DVDs, and games for both youth and adult members.
The financial literacy library allows members to borrow materials and then return them to the credit union at no cost. She has worked with local Girl Scout troops, day camps, and other local groups, bringing them to the credit union to learn the basics of financial literacy.
“Financial literacy is important at every age,” she says. “From the time children receive their first payment from the tooth fairy, proper money management is a lifelong skill. If you get into bad habits when you’re young, they’re harder to break when you’re older.”
Another important element of financial education is informing consumers of the advantages of credit union membership, adds Carlevatti, who was recently elected vice chairman of the Credit Union Association of New York’s Young Professionals Commission.
Her passion for education extends to Carlevatti’s personal life as well. She is studying for her MBA at St. Bonaventure University.
“You need to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way,” says Carlevatti, who advises young credit union professionals to do the same. “Credit unions have such a rich history. It’s important to stay true to credit union principles while adapting for the future.”
But current and future credit union leaders need to stay up-to-date on the members' evolving financial needs and the techniques to best serve those needs, she says.
Carlevatti also is an active participant in the “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” campaign.