Harlene Johnson

Johnson named 2019 Credit Union Hero of the Year

Leader demonstrates ‘selfless commitment to helping people in her community.’

June 4, 2019

Harlene Johnson, president of Light Commerce Credit Union in Houston, has been named Credit Union Magazine’s 2019 Credit Union Hero of the Year.

Johnson will be recognized at the 2019 America’s Credit Union Conference held June 17-20 at Walt Disney World® Resort, FL.

Sponsored by CUNA System Partner CUNA Mutual Group, this award recognizes credit union leaders who demonstrate outstanding commitment to credit unions’ people-helping-people philosophy and make a difference for their members and the communities they serve.

“I am who I am and where I am because of the grace of God and others who have poured into my life,” says Johnson. “I have built my career around helping people with their finances and encouraging them in their careers. I am honored to be recognized for doing what I enjoy and continuing to fulfill my purpose in life.”

”Harlene’s passion for her community and her financial expertise inspired New Light Christian Center Church to ask her to lead the chartering process for a new credit union,” says Ann Hayes Peterson, CUNA vice president of publishing and Credit Union Magazine’s editor-in-chief. “Light Commerce Credit Union was built with her passion. And its success is defined by her determination and leadership.”

“Harlene demonstrates a selfless commitment to helping people in her community achieve financial security,” says Robert N. Trunzo, CUNA Mutual Group president/CEO. “We are incredibly proud to partner with passionate, dedicated leaders like Harlene who live the credit union difference to make a positive impact in people’s lives. Congratulations on your well-deserved recognition.”

As a CUNA-certified financial counselor, Johnson plays a pivotal role in helping members avoid predatory payday lenders and attain affordable lending alternatives under a federal grant recently awarded to her $2.7 million asset credit union.

Johnson also works with members to improve their credit scores and create budgets to secure a better financial future. While Light Commerce Credit Union is small, Johnson looks for ways to make the most of its resources and sponsor support to provide robust options to members.

Other Credit Union Hero of the Year Award finalists were:

  • Cherry Dale, financial education director, Virginia Credit Union, Richmond, Va.
  • Diane Sandoval-Griego, financial empowerment and outreach manager, Guadalupe Credit Union, Santa Fe, N.M.
  • Bridget (Looby) Staffileno, vice president of community affairs, Catholic Federal Credit Union, Saginaw, Mich.

Read more about Johnson and the other finalists at