Suzette Cowell

PODCAST: Serving through faith, community

The story of Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union starts with diversity and education.

June 16, 2022

Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union CEO/Treasurer Suzette Cowell tells the story of the $12.3 million asset credit union in this episode of the CUNA News Podcast.

Cowell joined the credit union movement after working at a bank that denied loan applications from a particular city ZIP code.

Not long after, she attended a Bible study at Friendship Baptist Church, where Pastor Bishop Duane C. Tisdale asked her to look into creating a financial institution for the church. The next day, she checked out the local library’s lone book about credit unions.

“I read it and I had this fire,” Cowell says.

In August of that year, a shooting in her neighborhood claimed three lives, leading to calls for peace and unity. One idea to achieve both: form a credit union.

“Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur asked if I would work on it for the community because the community really needed it,” she says. “That was the birth.”

Four years later, Toledo Urban Federal opened its doors on July 21, 1996. 

In this episode, Cowell discusses the formation of Toledo Urban Federal, the credit union’s focus on financial education, the importance of diversity, her belief in observation days like Juneteenth, and the role credit unions can play in a community.

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

In this episode:

1:20: An introduction to Suzette Cowell

1:40: Her belief in credit unions

2:20: Why Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union was needed 

5:10: The early days of Toledo Urban Federal

6:45: Meeting the community’s demand through education

8:07: Diversity at Toledo Urban Federal

9:00: Where the financial services industry can improve 

10:03: Cowell’s thoughts on Juneteenth

11:00: The importance of recognizing diversity observation days

11:35: Working with the members