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Volunteer Corner & Testimonials


Carla Altepeter

President & CEO, Numerica Credit Union

Carla Altepeter, president and CEO of Numerica Credit Union, has been involved with the World Council since 1998 when she was a moderator at the World Council conference in South Africa, as well as served as a delegate for World Council in South Korea in 2000.

She is passionate about serving World Council and telling their story. "There are so many leaders in our industry who are unaware of the great work World Council is doing worldwide. As a member of the Worldwide Foundation Development Committee, I have the oppotunity to share stories and raise awareness."

Carla stays inspired by the World Council, "The work World Council is doing in developing countries worldwide to end poverty inspires me. The credit union model is an ideal financial model to help individuals and communities become self-sustaining and productive, thereby providing them with the means to lift themselves out of poverty. When people have access to money by pooling resources, the money can be used for productive purposes. When money is earned, particularly by women, children will be fed and sent to school thus the cycle of poverty can be broken."

Carla is pictured here volunteering in Busia, Kenya. She has continued to support the Busia Compassionate Centre for orphaned children. World Council initially partnered with US Department of Agriculture to develop farming programs to help provide food for the children. In 2010 when the funding with US Department of Agriculture expired, World Council continued their support of the children and ultimately raised money to build the children a new home. "The orphanage is now safe, and has a clean water supply and room to grow plants and raise animals to help the orphanage become self-sustaining. In addition to supporting the orphanage, World Council has taught community leaders about credit unions to give them the tools to safely manage individual and community resources. That is the real success for which World Council can be extremely proud."

Jozann Borenstein

Regional Slaes Executive, CUNA Mutual Group

Jozann Borenstein has been involved with the World Council for two years through the Global Women's Leadership Netowrk. "Being inspired by other women in my industry and learning from them motivates me to be better. World Council continues to breathe positive messages about the roles and challenges we face today and it gives me the ability to look at myself to reassure me that 'I am enough' and/or improve areas that I want to grow."

One thing Jozann feels is that throughtout the world, people may feel their challanges are unique, but what people will find is that you are not alone. "Others have your struggles, have started where you started, have made choices similar to yours and if you are open to learn and to hear guidance you will find the courage to make positive changes in your life both personally and professionally. World Council is here to help you get started and everyone in this organization is about it. The dedication is something any fortune 500 company would pay big bucks for!!"

Colleen Cabey

Board of Director/Supervisory Committee Member, Patelco Credit Union

Colleen Cabey is the Global Women's Leadership co-chair of the Bay Area Sister Society. She has been involved with the World Council for five years as a volunteer. Her favorite thing about volunteering is the effect on women's careers, financial literacy and leadership capacity. "I am inspired by my fellow volunteers who surprise me with their commitment and generosity. But the best reward is the small investments we make in each other blossom into positive impact on communities."

Sarah Snell Cooke

Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, Credit Union Times

Sarah Snell Cooke has served as chair and co-chair of the DC Sister Society of the Global Women's Leadership Network since 2013. "I admire World Council's efforts around the world to bring basic financial services and democracy to people, particularly women, who have never had either. Empowering women to help alleviate world poverty is brilliant, and World Council's foot soldiers often risk life and limb to do it."

Economic empowerment is the solution to oppression of every type,and World Council is at the forefront. "World Council is truly attuned to the needs of the areas it's serving, whether supporting AIDS orphans in Africa or creating a financial institution in a backpack that is strapped on someone's back to provide financial services in the most rural areas."

Teresa Freeborn

President & CEO, Xceed Finanical Credit Union

Teresa Freeborn has been involved with World Council of Credit Unions since 2000 when she was an inaugural member of the Global Women's Leadership Symposium. "I am so proud to be part of an organization that helps to empower people — beginning with financial wellness"

Teresa's involvment has grown over the years, "I love that I have an opportunity to raise the awareness of the fact that the industry we work in is global — throughout the world. I always tell my associates that they are part of something much bigger than Xceed. Having previously worked in the Canadian Credit Union system, and was recruited to come to a credit union in California while at a World Council conference in Sydney Australia, is proof of that! I am inspired everyday that they can do so much with so little."

Being involved with fundraising for the Global Women's Leadership netowrk is Teresa's focus at this time. "We are focused on helping women advance in leadership roles in our industry — worldwide. Can you imagine a world where women share the power with men on an equal basis? Our program provides coaching and mentoring that will help achieve this vision in our industry. It's noble work! And I am proud to assist in moving it forward."

Cynthia Held

Marketing Manager, San Mateo Credit Union

Cynthia Held has been involved with World Council for 11 years as an employee of SMCU and 8 years as a engaged member of SMCU's marketing team, supporting World Council's programs.

One of her favorite things about World Council is the outreach on a global scale. "I appreciate the understanding that we are all connected. Everyone has the ability to impact a life halfway across the globe and it can be done with a small donation of money or time."

World Council is making an impact on those who want to take charge for the betterment of the human condition. "The understanding that this is not about creating earth moving change individually but small rather individuals who can make a small impact and are will to unite with people globally together to make larger stride."

Brad Houle

President & CEO, C.A.H.P. Credit Union

Brad Houle was introduced to World Council 11 years ago by Barry Jolette.

One of the things that drew Brad in to want to be more involved with World Council was he loved seeing the positive impact it has.

"I like to associate myself with people who share the same values as I do. I'm drawn to people who have a sense of purpose, and that purpose is to serve others. Whenever you serve, it is honorable. When you do the right thing, you can't go wrong. I feel like it's my responsibility to choose the best course of action in everything I do. The people who serve the World Council inspire me because they embody these qualities of service beyond self."

Brad feels the World Council empowers people by helping them to become financially literate."Credit unions exist to serve their members. For that reason, we will always have our members' interests in mind first and foremost. We are intimately connected to our membership and that allows us to provide real solutions and specialized services that make a difference and change lives."

Brad's favorite involvment right now with World Council is with the Global Women's Leadership Network. "The Network is truly making a difference in the lives of people throughout the world. We are paving the way for future generations."

Susan Mitchell

CEO, Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates
Chair, World Council's Global Women's Leadership Network

Susan Mitchell has been involved with World Council since 1997 as an attendee, since 2007 as a volunteer and since 2009 as chair of the Global Women's Leadership Network.

Her favorite part of World Council is that it enriches her life, personally and professionally. "I believe that World Council makes a difference in member's lives — helping them to achieve greater security within their family and community. I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to serve."

World Council continues to inspire her. "Brian Branch has a relentless commitment to the cooperative spirit and his willingness to put "boots in the dirt" on a daily basis is more than inspiring — it is a call to action, a motivator to get involved. And, you can see it in his team — selfless engagement, tough conditions in the field, non-assuming, and a desire to change the world through financial empowerment and financial access to people of such diverse backgrounds. Often putting themselves in harm's way to touch a life. Amazing stuff!"

One thing that Sue wants to share about the importance of finacial empowerment is "the gut wrenching fear that comes from not having enough money to provide food, shelter and a safe environment for your family is not just a third world problem. It is our problem. It is every society's problem. World Council helps me to understand it is not hopeless — there is a systematic way to influence change and through their project engagements (including Global Women) they are making a difference in local and global communities."

Sue's favorite part about World Council are the importance of their projects that are carried out. "The project engagements — participating in day to day projects in the field as I recognize my small contribution can make a BIG difference. And, of course, the leadership of GWLN as it allows me to have frontline impact with women who want to be mentors, who want to advance their situation and who want to build the credit union impact as it is an important cooperative model for financial empowerment!"

Roxy Ostrem

Food Safety Compliance Manager, Boskovich Farms

Roxy Ostrem has been involved with the World Council since 2010 personally, but Ventura County Credit Union was a founding member of the Global Women's Leadership Network.

One of the reasons Roxy is passionate about World Council is she loves to help people. "Whether it is education, helping to put a roof over their heads, helping build a orphanage, it still remains People helping People. And help folks all over the world."

Roxy is inspired by World Council becuase their mission is to help people all over the world. She loves to hear and see how lives are changed forever, and how she can make a difference in her own communities. "The smiling, grateful people who receive the help keeps me going. A grateful heart is the most amazing gift, and I believe World Council see's and feels that after a project, program or visit is complete. We can sometimes take some of the smallest tasks for granted yet some of those small tasks can change people's life forever."

Alan Peppers

Emeritus President/CEO, Westerra Credit Union

Alan Peppers has been involved with the World Council for over 30 years. He attended his first World Council Conference in the early 1982, when Al Charbonneau was appointed as President/CEO.

Alan believes that credit unions are the best organizations to help people achieve financial success. "World Council is the leading international credit union organization, putting people before profits, to help comunities gain access to financial services. World Council's history and role in promoting the finanial cooperative model to ensure economic freedom for everyone"

Gail Rajikumar
Board Member, TATECO Credit Union - Trinidad and Tobago

Gail Rajikumar has been engaged with World Council since 2011 when she became a Board Member with TATECO Credit Union - Trinidad and Tobago.

As an Executive Board Member, Gail became more aware of the tools/resources available to local Credit unions. "I saw "hands on" the way that WOCCU promotes the sustainable development of Credit unions and other financial co-operatives."

Gail says she is inspired most by World Council because of its world reach to members particularly in developing countries. "The fact that it offers scholarships to participants in developing countries is "big' for me as I was the 2012 awardee of the Global Women's Leadership Network. The scholarship allowed me to attend a variety of workshops, be part of global discussions on issues facing the credit union industry. It also afforded me the opportunity replicate lessons learnt and develope lasting friendships."

Gail is quick to spread the word about World Council's services. "Each time I get the opportunity, I share with my membership and community that there are resources both technical and financial available for deserving projects. World Council offers partnerships with similar businesses which can assist with growth. There is a definite commitment to educating and developing the membership."

Her favorite part about World Council is the local impact. "For me, as Co-Founder of The Trinidad and Tobago Sister Society -local chapter for Global Women's Leadership Network, we try to get local credit union women together, exchange ideas, impact local credit unions, network among members and collaborate on projects. I just want to add that small projects do have a big impact and it makes a difference in the lives of our members and by extension our community."

Susan Rather

Board Member, Deseret First Federal Credit Union

In 2007, Susan Rather was elected to the board of directors at Deseret First Federal Credit Union. She has been a board officer since 2008. She joined the Global Women's Leadership Network of the World Council of Credit Unions in 2010 and initiated the GWLN Sister Society of Utah in 2015. "I've been interested in the work of the World Council for decades. I found a path that was open to me to become involved with the World Council when I learned about the Global Women's Leadership Network--which I joined in 2010 at the time of the conference in Las Vegas. The Network allows me to connect with credit union leaders in my community as well as globally, including women."

In Susan's professional work, she evaluates the impact of programs designed to assist people around the world in lifting themselves and their families out of poverty. "Sadly, I've learned that well-intentioned programs often fail to produce the desired outcome but at the recent CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference, I heard World Council Chairman Grzegorz Bierecki speak about what credit unions worldwide can do to promote financial inclusion, democracy and freedom. As a result of my professional experience and personal observations, I share Mr. Bierecki's perspective on the critical role credit unions can play—far superior to most other interventions because of the ethical principles upon which financial cooperatives are founded."

David Southall

President & CEO, Innovations Federal Credit Union

David Southall became involved with the World Council in 2009 when he was able to do a ‘field visit' to Costa Rica. He was able to share technologies, experiences, and philosophies with the leaders of credit union's in that country. The relationship continues today! "I enjoy sharing the good work of World Council with my credit union peers and community. It's very exciting to talk about World Council to credit unions who haven't had the opportunity to work with this organization."

David is inspired by World Council due to the many outreach programs and support World Council gives to our global credit union community. "World Council certainly understands the credit union philosophy of ‘People Helping People'! I personally enjoy seeing and hearing the success stories of rural credit unions engaging and attracting new members — also, knowing that emerging credit unions in developing nations will be able to serve their members and share the credit union experience because of the work World Council does."

Brandi Stankovic

Senior Partner, Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates

Brandi Stankovic became involved with the World Council 12 year ago. She has been a Supporter of World Council since 2003 and has fulfilled various roles including; speaker at the conference in Australia 2005, 2010 WYCUP nominee, 2007 Cooperative Learning, 2010 to current Global Women's Leadership Network Member, Global Women's Leadership Network Sister Society Advisor, and co-Leader of Nevada Sister Society. "I love contributing to the momentum that empowers women and young leaders. My passion and purpose in life is to energize people to earn anything they can dream."

Brandi's passion for the World Council continues. "The World Council reconnects me with the global cooperative essence. I love to learn about the challenges and triumphs of credit union leaders and people from different countries. I love to be reminded of our human connection and share with people. The World Council unites a cooperative spirit that is heard around the world"

One thing that Brandi wants to share in her mission is to let peole know that they have a CHOICE. "They are in charge of their future, financially and otherwise."

Patsy Van Ouwerkerk

Retired Presdient & CEO, Travis Credit Union

In August 2014, Patsy Van Ouwerkerk retired from Travis Credit Union, where she served as President and CEO for over 12 years. She had a distinguished 40-year career in the credit union industry, serving as the president and CEO of two other credit unions before Travis.

During her career she served on numerous national and state Boards and committees in the credit union industry including the Global Women's Leadership Network. She was one of it's founding members and has served as chair of the Global Women's Leadership Network Golf Committee.

Throughout her career, and since retiring, Patsy remains committed to helping young women and men succeed and often served as a mentor and role model. She continues to be involved in raising funds for organizations which assist disadvantaged youth as well as individuals who are economically challenged. Under her leadership Travis Credit Union was often recognized for their strong corporate giving and community involvement initiatives.

Steve Stapp
President & CEO, San Francisco Federal Credit Union

Steve has been involved with WOCCU since October 2007 - His first trip was a learning opportunity in Ecuador. He said it was a great opportunity to see how the credit union works in a developing country.

One of Steve's favorite things about serving WOCCU in this capacity is meeting people from all over the world with very diverse backgrounds and learning that all have the same common interest in helping people and promoting credit unions.

Steve is especially inspired when he see individuals benefiting from the credit union network in foreign countries. He has been touched by how the credit unions in Ecuador and Guatemala have helped women financial sustain their families and send their children to school.

Steve feels that the community needs to know about WOCCU's financial empowerment because when we bring people together with a common goal - both depositors and borrowers, along with financial education, we build a sustaining model that benefits the financial well-being of others. Sometimes it just a few thousand dollars and it changes the way that a family lives in a third world country.

Steve's favorite part about WOCCU's work is the individual stories - from staff and being empowered with a job to the individual that has benefited from the credit union out-reach program. He is always impressed when he sees the employees of MiCope Credit Union in Guatemala and wearing their uniforms and the pride that they take in the credit union.He was touched by the woman who had a small loan from her credit union to raise Guinea pigs and is now able to sustain her family. Also, how credit unions from around the world, and in the different systems, rally together to help one another. Working with the World Council of Credit Unions is more than representing a nation; it's being an Ambassador to people all around the world.

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