Offering a helping hand
“My goal every day is to be a servant leader.”
“My goal every day is to be a servant leader and add value to others—members, staff, and community,” says Fran Sommerfeld, CEO of Sioux Falls (S.D.) Federal Credit Union.
“I try to pay forward the credit union hospitality I received as a young professional entering a new career and support collaboration within the credit union family,” he says.
Sommerfeld’s first job in the credit union industry was in 1991 as general manager of Flasher (N.D.) Community Credit Union. After taking subsequent positions as president/CEO with several other credit unions, he joined Sioux Falls Federal in 2009, where he oversees more than 120 employees in six branches.
Sommerfeld is a graduate of CUNA Management School and is a Certified Credit Union Executive. He also serves on CUNA’s Credit Union Powers Subcommittee, providing feedback to CUNA staff on pending legislative and regulatory proposals affecting credit unions.
“Fran is well-known as a mentor for those getting started in the industry, as well as a supporter of other credit unions, especially smaller credit unions that may struggle with certain resources,” says Shawn Marie Brummer, communication and media specialist for the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas. “He is always willing to lend his resources to help others in the industry succeed, truly believing that when credit unions thrive, everyone benefits.”
Sommerfeld is passionate about giving back to the community and supports many different charitable projects. He recently launched a project at the $282 million asset credit union called “Perky Coffee,” through which Sioux Falls Federal sells its own
specialty coffee and donates all proceeds to local charities.
In 2018, the credit union distributed nearly $17,000 from this project to local schools, hunger relief organizations, and a veterans’ group.
Charitable efforts don’t have to be large to have a big impact. Sommerfeld once granted a $50 loan to a family to purchase a Christmas tree. Another time he made a small loan to a young family to cover veterinary bills after its family pet was struck by a car.
“Credit unions do this kind of stuff all the time, and I’m not unique,” he says. “But I think this type of giving should always be counted among our most important accomplishments.”
Sioux Falls Federal recently formed a foundation to further expand its charitable outreach. “Although it’s still in its infancy, it will allow us to do even more for our community,” he says. “The foundation gives us opportunity to raise funds for important causes and over time will create positive change for the communities we serve.”
Under Sommerfeld’s leadership, Sioux Falls Federal’s positive community impact earned it the CU Social Good Award in 2019 from the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas.