JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (3/26/15)--Gail Lewis, director of consumer lending/credit manager at 121 Financial CU, Jacksonville, Fla., learned very early in her long career in financial services the importance of leadership in the workplace.
During a work-study program in high school, she landed a job reconciling business accounts at a bank. Her boss was the one who first imbued this idea in her.
"I had a great supervisor who set many of the standards I hold today--mostly, that a leader's role is to grow and develop people," she told Credit Union Magazine.
Since joining 121 Financial in 1983, Lewis has reinforced her belief in the importance of leadership many times over, including through the development of staff within her department.
As the lead on consumer and indirect lending, Lewis encourages and challenges her staff to grow within their roles at the credit union.
"Many people are satisfied in their positions, but they can't just be content," Lewis told Credit Union Magazine. "They're always learning--whether it's serving new members with different situations, understanding the regulatory environment, or handling changing times or a shifting economy."
Lewis also leads by example, especially in her community.
On her own time, the longtime credit union employee conducts financial education workshops, teaches financial counseling through the Credit Union Education Program and also serves on the education committee for the Northeast Florida Chapter of Credit Unions.
"Credit unions are about the community," she told Credit Union Magazine. "We say that and we back it up. I love that credit unions stand for helping and caring about people."
Lewis is one of three nominees for this year's "CU Hero of the Year" award, presented by Credit Union Magazine. The award recognizes those in the credit union movement who relentlessly promote the credit union philosophy, dedicate themselves to credit union principles, and make a difference in their communities.