Credit Union Women, Young Professionals Dive into Diversity & Inclusion

WYCUP, GWLN Forums kick off day two in The Bahamas

July 28, 2019

NASSAU—Members of two World Council of Credit Unions’ programs aimed at reaching young professionals and women engaged in action planning and learning sessions during forums focused on diversity and inclusion at Atlantis Resort in The Bahamas.

The World Council Young Credit Union Professionals (WYCUP) and Global Women’s Leadership Network each held forums ahead of Sunday night’s opening ceremonies at the 2019 World Credit Union Conference (WCUC).


The WYCUP Forum welcomed professionals seeking to learn or support youth in the credit union movement. Brandi Stankovic, an executive coach and motivational speaker who serves as chief strategy officer at CU Solutions Group, led WYCUP members in developing an action plan for the week of WCUC. 

Stankovic asked members to identify a challenge that is limiting their leadership abilities and solicit suggestions on how to improve in that area from their WYCYUP colleagues. She said it was something they should be able to use going forward.

"It’s not only for you, but also for the individuals giving the ideas. So often, when something is a challenge for us, we shut down the idea of looking for solutions. But we can't do that and still grow into the leaders we want to be," said Stankovic.

WYCUP members got philosophical in a workshop led by Chad Helminak, director of development education and cooperative culture at the National Credit Union Foundation. Helminak encouraged attendees to align their values with the values of the credit union movement—and explore ways to leverage those values to drive new ideas and deeper levels of engagement among their colleagues and members.

Eli Zgonjanin, CEO of FULM Savings House of Macedonia, spoke on the importance of WYCUP alumni giving back to movement to guide the next generation of young professionals.

GWLN Forum

GWLN members heard from three women who gave different perspectives on leadership and teamwork.

Erin Wolf, managing partner at SuiteTrack, gave a presentation entitled “Teamwork: Giving and Receiving Feedback.”

Two executives from CO-OP Financial Services also spoke at the GWLN Forum. CO-OP Chief People Officer Cheryl Middleton-Jones discussed the skills necessary for successful networking, while Chief Experience Officer Samantha Paxson talked about shifting leadership norms by embracing traits once seen as detrimental to leadership.

"When I was young and starting out in business I was told to keep my head down and take direction. But what I found was, when I was authentically myself and I sought to understand the people that work around me, or beside me—the product team, the sales team—the more I thought about creative ways to help solve their problems, the more I personally moved up and the more challenges I was able to solve for my company," said Paxson.

Paxson also urged executives in the audience to move away from an exclusive approach to leadership, to one that's more humanistic and inclusive. 

Tonita Webb gives keynote address

Members of both groups then participated in a Diversity & Inclusion Networking Luncheon, featuring Seattle Credit Union Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tonita Webb as keynote speaker.

Webb took a deep dive into diversity and inclusion programs, saying they're easy for credit unions to talk about and plan for—but often very difficult to implement.

"If you have a diversity and inclusion program, and you’re not addressing implicit bias and microaggressions, you’re going to have people leave," said Webb.

She encouraged credit union employees to push for programs that ensure women and minorities can feel safe to talk about those issues, because full diversity, inclusion and equity is only possible once that happens.  

Still to come

The 2019 World Credit Union Conference officially begins Sunday night with the opening ceremonies—which will include the annual parade of flags and a first-ever opening night keynote address from Connie Dieken, a leading strategic advisor to C-suite executives on five continents.

Follow conference activities and see daily event photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #WCUC2019.

The 2019 World Credit Union Conference is presented in collaboration with the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU). It runs through Wednesday, July 31.

World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.

World Council has implemented 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 85,400 credit unions in 118 countries serve 274 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at

Contact: Greg Neumann
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions
Phone: +1 608-395-2048
Brandi Stankovic instructs WYCUP members
Brandi Stankovic instructs WYCUP members
Tonita Webb takes a deep dive on diversity and inclusion
Tonita Webb takes a deep dive on diversity and inclusion

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