3 questions, 3 young professionals, 1 future

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Accordingly, I thought it privy to seek out a few young credit union professionals – men and women who in ten years will be our leaders – to get a better sense of what makes them tick and how their combined passion for this movement can inspire us to believe in the beauty of our own dreams.

Blair Wolston, Financial Advisor

VSECU, Burlington VT


What are a few things about this industry that capture your imagination and impassion you?

My imagination is captured by the potential of our segment of the industry. By the numbers, credit unions account for about 8% of the overall wallet share of all financial institutions in this country…8%! To me this represents yuuuge potential, as well as serious concern. Perhaps I’m biased but I believe that financial cooperatives would be the preferred financial architecture for the majority of consumers if they only knew what it meant. Who can argue against a democratically controlled 1:1 open-membership, not-for-profit financial model? Ok, other than lobbyists and bankers…see my point? I love explaining to our members that “we are banking for the 99%” or “it’s just like your food coop, except with money.” Then those flashes of light begin behind their eyes as they look around the branch, as if seeing it for the first time, and that really completes the circuit. I think awareness is our primary inhibitor of gaining more market share, not support of the model. We need to hire more storytellers and empower them to share the #CUDifference on social media and with their communities. My credit union recently opened up their policy on social media, encouraging staff to log on during the day. I believe it has brought more awareness to our institution in an organic way and *gasp* we are still providing outstanding member service.

 About Blair: Blair is extensively involved in the movement, earning CU Magazine Credit Union Rock Star in 2016, Crashing the GAC in 2017, and joining the Credit Union Young Professionals of Vermont Board in 2017. Over the past two years Blair has been enrolled in a new program at his credit union that develops retail staff into registered representatives through the acquisition of insurance and securities licensing. 

Daniel Marquez, Branch Manager

LincOne, Lincoln, NE


What is one piece of advice about this industry you would give to another, aspiring young credit union professional?

 The best piece of advice I can give to emerging leaders within the Credit Union Movement is to keep going. Learn as much as you can from as many pioneers as possible. Sharing stories with seasoned industry professionals, valued members, innovative young professionals, and community leaders can introduce so much about what it means to serve the underserved. I have been involved with non-profit organizations as an event coordinator and philanthropist and that has provided me with a strong network of professionals, encompassing the sense of community. Outreach and involvement is crucial for young professionals in our industry as we transition into leadership roles within our respective Credit Unions. We must keep going!

About Daniel: Daniel is involved in a slew of community action organizations, from host of Lincoln, Nebraska’s LGBT PRIDE Festival to Young Professionals for Credit Unions. He Crashed the GAC in 2017 and this year was awarded the Nebraska Credit Union League’s “Young Professional of Year” award. Also in 2018, Daniel received his CUDE designation.

 Shannon Cahoon, Community Development Manager

Fibre FCU, Longview, WA


What is the one thing that you would encourage all young credit union professionals to get involved in?

Just get involved! Take advantage of opportunities for new challenges at your credit union, but also remember that we are a movement. Join your chapter or local YP group, apply to Crash something, attend Association or League workshops or events, or just go to local credit union networking events (or start them). Raise your hand and express your interest. I’ve always had the mindset that I work for both my credit union and the credit union movement, and it’s served me well in my career.

About Shannon: Shannon has been with Fibre for a little over 7 years. In 2015, she Crashed the GAC and took home the CUES’ “Next Top Credit Union Executive” title in 2016. She currently serves on the YCUP Board for Oregon and SW Washington, the SW WA Chapter of Credit Unions, and the National Youth Involvement Board executive committee.

To invest yourself wholly in your passion is an engine of remarkable power, and one that truly serves a view that the world really is what we make of it. No one gets to predict their future – but we can find our passion, and give it our all.

The credit union movement is filled with empowered advocates, who are tirelessly changing lives for the social good. But if each of us identified our own CU-passion, and collaborated on a collective “why” that goes beyond “people helping people”, then we can inspire others to follow us into the future, and that would be magical.

I would like to extend a personal “thank you” to Blair, Daniel, and Shannon for being willing to share and for continuing to inspire the flame.

Michael Murdoch

Michael Murdoch

Michael, CUDE, CCUFC, (he/him) has primarily held marketing and communications roles within Pacific Northwest credit unions. Michael serves as a CUNA Diamond Awards and Conference Committees Member, Co-Chair of ... Details