Leadership that inspires and empowers

2021 CUES Exceptional Leader Jennifer McHugh values the power of mentorship.

Jennifer McHugh, VP/community engagement at $3.8 billion Royal Credit Union, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, was chosen as the 2021 CUES Exceptional Leader, and with that honor has come contemplation about what leadership means.

“I keep coming back to two words: inspire and empower,” says McHugh, who leads a team of 16 women in Royal CU’s community engagement department, serving 235,000 members in Wisconsin and Minnesota. “That’s what I’m trying to accomplish with my team. I want to inspire them to think about what they can do to make a difference. And I want to empower them to come up with ideas for products, services and programs that will make a positive impact in the communities we serve.”

Being an exceptional leader often starts with having an exceptional mentor, and McHugh considers herself fortunate that her predecessor, Vicki Hoehn, filled that role for her. McHugh spent nine years working for Hoehn—as community relations manager from 2011 to 2015 and as director of public affairs and financial education from 2015 to 2020.

“Vicki taught me everything she knew,” reports McHugh, a CUES member. “She helped put me in a position to compete for her position when she retired. There were no guarantees, but she gave me opportunities to develop my skills.”


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