GWLN Focuses on Empathy in Leadership at GAC

2021 Emerging Leader Award recipient recognized for growing North Carolina Sister Society

March 02, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Members and supporters of World Council's Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) heard a live conversation on women, leadership and empathetic organizations, and recognized one of the group’s emerging leaders at a Wednesday breakfast celebration held in conjunction with Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).

Sponsored by PSCU and CO-OP Solutions, the event featured a discussion that World Council of Credit Unions’ President and CEO Elissa McCarter LaBorde led with Banafsheh Ghassemi, CEO and Founder of Tangerine Lab, on women and leadership, empathetic organizations, human-centered design in innovation and solution making, and financial inclusion.

Ghassemi emphasized that when credit unions are making decisions about how to serve members, they must understand the whole of a person before finding solutions for them.

“I’m sure, in this room, there are a lot of people who make decisions everyday about products and services and what they can do better for their clients. I would challenge you to spend an amount of time in the life of your members, not just through surveys or focus groups, but actually visit them,“ said Ghassemi. “Empathy is often described as walking in someone else’s shoes. But you cannot walk in someone else’s shoes until you take off your own. That means you cannot have judgment.”

Emerging Leader Award

GWLN also announced Dayatra Matthews, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel for Local Government Federal Credit Union (LGFCU), as the recipient of the 2021 Emerging Leader Award.

The annual award recognizes young women active making a significant impact on the industry and advancing the values of GWLN’s mission.

Matthews earned the award for her involvement in growing GWLN’s North Carolina Sister Society and organizing a meeting for them on Lady Justice: The Role of Women Leaders in the Fight for Equality and Justice for All, with North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.

“Even if we never see gender disparity completely disappear in our lifetime, never stop working,” Matthews told attendees her acceptance speech. “I don’t care if you’re a teller, receptionist, auditor, compliance analyst, CFO—lead where you are regardless of your position, knowing that through your work and your efforts, position with authority will come.”

Global Women’s Leadership Network Program Director Eleni Giakoumopoulos emphasized that strong women like Matthews are the reason there are now more than 4,500 members in 150 GWLN Sister Societies across 86 countries.

“We have Sister Societies that are leading across the world, that are doing lessons in personal defense, that are leading in talking about empathetic leadership, how to talk about salary negotiations, inviting and listening authentic speakers. So, I encourage you always to get engaged, learn about our Sister Societies, see what’s going on and give your time,“ said Giakoumopoulos.

This year’s GWLN Breakfast at GAC was the largest to date, with more than 300 supporters in attendance.

Global Women’s Leadership Network inspires, connects, and empowers women with the opportunities and resources to make a measurable difference …  in the lives of each other, in the lives of credit union members and in their communities. To learn more and donate, visit GWLN. To connect, find us on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter

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 90 countries. Worldwide, 82,758 credit unions in 97 countries serve 404 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at

Author Photo
Contact: Greg Neumann
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions
Phone: +1 608-395-2048
Elissa McCarter LaBorde (left) and Bhanafsheh Ghassemi
Elissa McCarter LaBorde (left) and Bhanafsheh Ghassemi
Eleni Giakoumopoulos (left) presents the 2021 Emerging Leader Award to Dayatra Matthews
Eleni Giakoumopoulos (left) presents the 2021 Emerging Leader Award to Dayatra Matthews

NOTE: Click on photos to view/download in high resolution.