Vision, Heart, and Spirit

Vote until May 1 to select our CU Hero of the Year.

April 1, 2015

One of the best parts of this job is meeting the people on the front lines. We profile them each year as Credit Union Heroes.

For eight years, we’ve honored these heroes—nominated by our readers—who:

  • Exhibit boundless energy, talent, and courage;
  • Are tirelessly dedicated to credit union principles; and
  • Make a difference in their communities.

This year’s assembly of heroes:

• Sandra Cano, assistant vice president, business and community development, Navigant Credit Union, Central Falls, R.I. Cano joined Navigant to bring hope to the area’s disillusioned and underserved residents, already reeling from a city bankruptcy.

She carried out a vision to make the credit union relevant to all members, by creating an engagement committee so staff could better understand growing populations. She started a young professionals group because she knew they’re the future members. And she developed trust with the small-business community.

• Charles Elliott, president/CEO, Mississippi Credit Union Association. For 35 years, Elliott has served with heart and drive, dedicating himself to the survival of credit unions and the financial well-being of all citizens.

Nearly 150 credit union employees in the state lost homes during Hurricane Katrina, and Elliott was instrumental in helping them recover. He spent hours raising funds for employees affected by this disaster, driving trucks of food and clothing to those in need.

• Gail Lewis, director of consumer lending/credit manager at 121 Financial Credit Union in Jacksonville, Fla. Education is her forte—and she shares that credit union principle and the spirit of learning as she develops her staff and works in her community. Lewis started as a teenager reconciling business accounts at a bank. She regularly conducts financial education workshops, and she volunteers each month at the Job Corps.

She also serves as an adjunct instructor at Florida State College of Jacksonville, and teaches financial counseling for the Credit Union Education Program.

Where would this movement be without people with the vision to serve underserved communities, the heart to care for employees when disaster strikes, or the spirit to share the credit union message of sound financial health?

It’s time to select Credit Union Magazine’s 2015 Credit Union Hero of the Year. Cast your vote here by May 1. We’ll honor this year’s winner at the joint America’s Credit Union/World Credit Union Conference in Denver, July 12-15.

ANN PETERSON is Credit Union Magazine's editor in chief.