Eric Bruen & Judy De Lucca

PODCAST: Lessons from a crisis

CEOs reflect on what they’ve learned from past disasters and how it’s guided them during COVID-19.

April 23, 2020

At first glance, an earthquake and hurricane don’t appear to have anything in common with a global public health crisis.

But the lessons credit unions leaders learned from those natural disasters are ones they’ve put in place during the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.


Eric Bruen, president/CEO of $40 million asset Desert Valleys Federal Credit Union in Ridgecrest, Calif., and Judy De Lucca, president/CEO of $175 million asset New Orleans Firemen’s Federal Credit Union, joined the CUNA News Podcast to talk about their experiences responding to crisis situations and how those experiences have guided them during the current pandemic.

When back-to-back earthquakes struck the region in July 2019, Bruen and his team jumped into action to provide short-term emergency loans to members impacted by the disaster. As news about COVID-19 began to increase, Bruen relied on the lessons he learned during the earthquake response.

Leading a credit union through a crisis is also a familiar situation for De Lucca, who was the CEO at the credit union when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.

You can listen and subscribe to the CUNA News Podcast in Apple’s iTunes Store, Spotify, Google Play, and Stitcher Radio.

In this episode:

1:20: Why it’s important to be decisive

5:00: Implementing a “pod” system

9:13: Making the decision to offer emergency financial assistance programs

12:07: Experiencing a “state of risk”

13:39: The state of the virus in New Orleans

16:09: Adjustments to serve members

21:10: Technology is biggest difference since Hurricane Katrina

22:58: Providing essential care for employees