A compassionate career

Heather Kerr’s roots working with kids has aided her in a compliance role.

August 21, 2019

Heather Kerr’s career focused on children for 20 years—first as a third-grade teacher and then overseeing her own preschool and day care. 

Then, Kerr felt a pull to switch things up again, and she took on a position at Southern Chautauqua Credit Union, working a few hours a week on the teller line. Today, Kerr is the chief compliance officer at the $83 million asset credit union in Lakewood, N.Y. 

Compliance has always piqued Kerr’s interest. In 2009, while working as a head teller, there was an opening for a compliance officer position, and she went for it.

Kerr began working in the compliance department one day per week while she continued to serve as a teller. Her persistence and dedication paid off, as that one day a week grew into her full-time career.

The credit union now feels like her home away from home. Kerr is the liaison between the United Way and the credit union. “We had 100% participation in giving from our staff this year,” she says. “I am always willing to help where I am needed.” 

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Kerr also carries out random acts of kindness by covering shifts, making thoughtful gifts for staff, and simply listening if anyone needs it. Her colleagues return the favor.

When her mother was diagnosed with cancer, Kerr says that she experienced “acts of compassion.”

“My co-workers were great about allowing me to take care of her needs at the last minute,” she says. “They would allow me to call in and ask for the day off if she needed me. Their support was there when I needed it the most.”

Kerr was named volunteer of the year at her church and continues to spread the love to her husband of 32 years, two children, and grandchild. Her roots are never far from her, and that includes her work as a teacher.

“I have learned a lot over the years,” she says. “Owning my own business definitely helped me with my current career at the credit union. I learned about payroll, budgeting, and scheduling. I also learned how to manage employees and get the best from them. Little did I know how those skills would help me later in my life.”

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