Lisa Brown, Kabir Laiwalla, and Pam Brown-Graff
From left: Lisa Brown, Kabir Laiwalla, and Pam Brown-Graff

PODCAST: Pathways to growth

Credit Union Rock Stars Kabir Laiwalla, Pam Brown-Graff, and Lisa Brown on increasing membership and assets.

October 22, 2020

No two credit unions approach growth the same way.

That’s especially true of three credit union CEOs who recently spoke with the CUNA News Podcast about how their credit unions have achieved growth in recent years.

Platinum Federal Credit Union in Duluth, Ga., relies on virtual branches and committees to attract and retain members in areas that can’t support brick-and-mortar branches, says CEO Kabir Laiwalla.

Founded in 2000 to serve the Ismaili sect of Shia Muslims nationwide, the credit union has grown from less than $1 million in assets to more than $150 million in assets today.


When building a new branch, MED5 Federal Credit Union in Rapid City, S.D., created a space with a twist—a coffee shop open to the community, says CEO Pam Brown-Graff. The coffee shop brings potential members into the credit union for a jolt of java while also giving back to the community.

Lisa Brown has experience lifting credit unions from the brink of insolvency. As CEO of Tallahassee-Leon (Fla.) Federal Credit Union, she’s guided the credit union toward growth, doubling assets and growing capital from 6% to nearly 11%.

Her experiences with the National Credit Union Foundation’s International Credit Union Development Education (DE) program has taught her to think creatively to develop solutions for the credit union’s membership.

Laiwalla, Brown-Graff, and Brown are among 39 credit union leaders named as 2020 Credit Union Rock Stars by Credit Union Magazine.

Sponsored by Fiserv, the Credit Union Rock Stars program recognizes outstanding credit union professionals and volunteers from a wide range of disciplines for their exceptional creativity, innovation, and passion.

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

In this episode:

3:20: Establishing volunteer committees and virtual branches

6:28: Knowing your membership

10:09: Catering to a transitioning membership

11:27: Receiving the Growth and Progress Award

14:38: Finding the right vibe with coffee

16:30: Another avenue to bring people in

19:40: A “professional crisis manager”

24:16: The “trade show waltz” and how DE teaches to think outside the box

24:58: Becoming fearless