A financial literacy champion

Efforts serve a variety of people, from business professionals to newly released prisoners.

August 21, 2019

Jessica Sharon, director of financial outreach for Pelican State Credit Union in Baton Rouge, La., never just “shows up” for work, her co-workers say.

“You can always count on Jessica to make an impact on whatever she is working on,” says Leigh Porta, vice president of marketing and outreach for the $367 million asset credit union. “She goes the extra mile for the sake of the project and for helping others.”

Sharon joined Pelican State in 2007 as a marketing representative but soon discovered her talent for sales and events. She moved into business development and was successful at bringing in new clients.

“To this day, I love cold calling,” she says. “I guess it’s because I really enjoy talking to people.”

When the credit union’s management team saw her passion for financial literary, they promoted Sharon to director of financial outreach.

“The growth in our program over the past five years has been exciting,” she says. “We have grown from two counselors to seven and will add another team member to help supervise as we expand into new outreach areas in Louisiana.”

Completing the National Credit Union Foundation’s Credit Union Development Education program has been the highlight of her credit union career so far.

“This education helped me think about outreach in new ways,” she says. “It has changed my outlook on work, my career, and even my life, and strengthened my passion for improving the lives of our members.”

Pelican State’s outreach programs serve a variety of individuals ranging from business professionals to newly released prisoners who are starting new lives. In her free time, Sharon volunteers with the Junior League, Bank On Baton Rouge, and the Louisiana Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

“Helping members eliminate their financial stress and uncertainty is very rewarding,” says Sharon. “Knowing I am part of this motivates me to push harder every day.”

She also has learned that a solid professional reputation is crucial to success.

“I’ve worked hard to be a positive leader, fair and kind manager, hard worker, and team player who is open to suggestions,” Sharon says. “You may be the best widget maker this side of the Mississippi, but if you’re difficult to work with, no one wants you on their team. A good reputation and a good attitude are often the tickets to a long and successful career.”

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