Taking Financial Wellness Outside the Four Walls: Community Engagement at Leaders Credit Union
“Being a part of the community engagement team allows me to use my passion for relationship-building and helping others to really make an impact in our member's lives,” Evan Flora, Community Engagement Specialist at Leaders Credit Union said.
As a local not-for-profit financial institution, the core of Leaders Credit Union’s mission is to help the community in which it resides to move forward in financial wellness and education. Seeing members succeed by relieving financial stress and achieving their goals is what propels every decision at Leaders. Since the start of the credit union, there has been a component of engagement with the community. Although it may have been called other things like business development, there has always been an outreach component of Leaders to support the employer partners and to teach financial education.
The community engagement team at Leaders is made up of three full-time financial champions, Shea Brown, Director of Community Impact, Carrie Cantrell and Evan Flora, both Community Engagement Specialists. This team is a section of the marketing department because Leaders wants to focus on reaching outside the credit union just as much as it focuses on communicating the mission and brand of Leaders itself.
“The Community Engagement (CE) team looks to serve community partners as a Human Resource benefit that provides free financial wellness tools that help employees achieve financial freedom,” Flora said.
The community engagement team covers most of West Tennessee, including Memphis/Shelby County, to serve the needs of employer partners and to be involved in the community through the chamber and other nonprofits and civic groups. In addition, they teach over 50 financial literacy classes a year. Over the past decade, this team has grown as Leaders has expanded into new markets. For instance, now that Leaders operates three branches in Northwest Tennessee, they now have a team member who covers that territory.
"I have never felt so comfortable about being vulnerable regarding my finances,” Latrina Morman, Director of Operation at Lifeline Blood Services said. “The team at Leaders Credit Union has a way of making you feel comfortable and empowered to make great financial decisions. Each one shares insight that makes financial literacy obtainable for our community. "
The CE team looks to serve community partners as a Human Resource benefit that provides free financial wellness tools that help employees achieve financial freedom. As an extension of an employer partner’s HR department, the community engagement team seeks to help members set up their direct deposits and give them specialized savings accounts to fit their needs.
“I love being a part of the Community Engagement team because I believe that it allows me the opportunity to influence others in a positive way,” Carrie Cantrell said. “Being able to spread financial wellness and be involved in the community has been such a blessing to me. It is a joy to come to work every day to work alongside changemakers who are dedicated to serving our community.”
All the financial champions who work for Leaders advocate for their neighbors, employer partners and communities, and they volunteer their time and talents with various civic groups and nonprofits throughout West Tennessee. The Community Engagement team’s passion for financial wellness takes the mission of Leaders outside the four walls and into the community. One of the ways they do that is by becoming certified financial counselors so they can better serve the community and employer partners they interact with. The CUNA (Credit Union National Association) Financial Counseling Certification Program strives to further equip financial professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to help encourage members to make wise financial decisions.
“The Community Engagement Team does just that, engages with our community. I enjoy being able to share about the credit union difference with local teachers, nurses, and employers while also teaching important financial literacy information to students and adults alike,” Shea Brown said.