Orchestrating a comeback

Traci Donahue guides credit union back to viability.

August 21, 2019

Serious injuries from a car accident cut short Traci Donahue’s plans to be a music teacher, but she put to use her orchestration skills to lead a credit union’s return to viability.

When she took up the CEO baton at $160 million asset Cross Valley Federal Credit Union in 2015, the credit union was under a prompt corrective action with a capital ratio of 5.98%, a failing lending program, several lawsuits in progress, and abysmal staff morale. 

Today, the credit union in Wilkes Barre, Pa., is back in sync. It’s well-capitalized at 8.12%, with low loan losses and staff members who are proud to nominate her as a Credit Union Rock Star.

After recovering from her injuries and lacking funds to return to school, Donahue went to work as a bank teller. The mail courier, who served on a credit union board, introduced her to credit unions.

“He told me I wasn’t suited for the banking industry,  that I was a credit union person,” Donahue explains.

She had never heard of credit unions, so she researched and found one that was hiring. She interviewed and “was hooked immediately.”

Donahue held increasingly responsible positions at her previous credit union before becoming CEO at Cross Valley Federal. 

“I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I was up for the challenge and went in with eyes wide open,” she says. “I had a lot of peers tell me I was crazy, but I decided that I was coming in with one plan that had to work. There was no Plan B. This would either make or break my career.” 

Donahue spent her first year putting out fire after fire. “The staff really stepped up for me,” she says. “We tracked our progress and how that progress impacted the financials.

“I still love every aspect of the credit union,” Donahue says. “There’s never a boring day or one where  I’m not doing something that enriches the lives of not only our members, but our employees. I always search for ways to improve what we do and how we do it.”

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