Paying It Forward
'I'm living the American dream because my CU extended a helping hand.'
A FIRST-GENERATION immigrant, Alice Clements saw first-hand the benefits of the credit union community when her credit union stepped up and helped her family.
“I’m living out the American dream because my credit union extended a helping hand so our family could purchase our first home when the banks wouldn’t consider us,” Clements says.
Now, through her work on the board of directors for the $690 million asset Consumers Credit Union in Gurnee, Ill., Clements is there for others. She also serves as treasurer and asset/liability management committee chair.
Since 2006, Clements has dedicated countless hours to make the board more effective, productive, and professional. She took a Harvard Graduate School of Business course on board effectiveness and applied what she learned. To measure the board’s impact, she implemented a quarterly survey that enables each director to provide anonymous, unbiased feedback on board activities. As a result, credit union leaders have seen increased engagement and more consistent efforts from all board members.
Clements also placed a renewed emphasis on continuing education for directors. She suggests courses that might appeal to other board members and provides information to help them get involved. With her extensive knowledge of technology, Clements has been invaluable when it comes to evaluating the credit union’s business plan and technology road map.
She works well with Consumers’ leadership, deftly offering suggestions and recommendations without overstepping the line between board oversight and operational expertise. “This skill reflects that Alice’s business acumen, insight, knowledge, and engaging personality have earned the confidence of volunteers and employees at all levels of the credit union,” says Hal Coxon, Consumers’ vice president of strategy.
While a credit union helped her family achieve the American dream, Clements says it also taught her the importance of saving money and the role of youth savings programs. She now is a strong advocate of financial literacy programs for Consumers’ young members.
“As a mother of two teenagers, I had so much fun contributing to the strategy for helping our teens on their journey toward financial awareness and responsibility,” she says.
Her greatest satisfaction is to see other families live the American dream—thanks to financial support and convenient, mobile services from Consumers. According to Clements, it means they can “do their very best in life, whether it’s taking care of family, getting the best education, entering into an exciting career after graduation, or celebrating other treasured moments.”