Coopera Founder & CEO Warren Morrow Passes Away
Des Moines, Iowa—The national credit union movement and Hispanic business community have lost a key voice in their outreach efforts to serve Latinos. Warren Morrow, CEO and Founder of Coopera, died unexpectedly early Wednesday morning. He was 34.
Morrow was born in Mexico City to an American father and Mexican mother, and moved to Tucson, Arizona in grade school. He often spoke of how assimilating into the U.S. culture helped shape his life. Specifically, his mother, a well-educated woman, struggled with the transition to American life and had to start over by working her way up from the bottom. This left a lasting impression on Morrow that he carried with him into adulthood.
A 1999 graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa, Morrow and his friends formed a non-profit while in school called the Latino Leadership Project whose mission was to help underprivileged, young Hispanics have the opportunity to receive a college education.
Through his work, Morrow realized the base cause he was trying to address was financial instability in the Latino home. In a 2011 Des Moines Register article, Morrow said “I came to realize that the disparity in education was a symptom of a larger problem. The root issues are the disparities in access to assets, access to wealth, economic stability in the household.”
In 2004, he and his friend, Max Cardenas, founded Diverse Innovative Solutions to help businesses partner with the Latino community. Over this time Warren saw that credit unions were philosophically aligned with his vision and could be the ideal conduit to bring dignified financial services to Latinos nationwide. So in 2006, his company evolved to become Coopera through a partnership with the Iowa Credit Union League.
“Warren had a powerful vision that outreach to the underserved Hispanic community should not be philanthropy,” said Murray Williams, Chief Operating Officer, Iowa Credit Union League, which has owned Coopera since 2006. “Instead, a business could do well by doing good – and everyone would benefit.”
Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and Coopera formed an exclusive, national partnership in 2009 to help credit unions reach out to this community. Among other products, they launched a Spanish personal finance website for credit unions, El Poder es Tuyo–The Power is Yours.
In addition, Coopera and its sister company, The Members Group, recently partnered to provide credit unions with the Coopera Card, a reloadable Visa prepaid card built specifically for Hispanic cardholders.
Coopera has grown to be the preeminent leader of Hispanic outreach in the credit union movement. Beyond its partnership with CUNA, Coopera works with several state credit union leagues, including New York and Texas. Morrow had begun fielding inquiries from Fortune 500 companies on how to better break into the Latino market, Williams said.
“Warren was such a positive person, and he brought his enthusiasm and charisma to our office. He was a great leader and a wonderful employee for more than six years. Warren was a good friend to many of us and throughout the credit union industry, and he will be sorely missed,” said Patrick S. Jury, President/ CEO, Iowa Credit Union League.
Miriam De Dios, Vice President, Coopera said the legacy Morrow has created will live on through their company. “It is our mission to continue with Warren’s passion and vision of Coopera as as we move forward.”
Warren is survived by his wife Christina Fernandez-Morrow and 7-year-old daughter Ariana.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made in his honor to the “Warren Morrow Memorial Fund” at Des Moines Metro Credit Union, 100 University Ave., Des Moines, IA 50314. Condolences can be sent to Coopera at 1500 NW 118th Street, Des Moines, IA 50325.
Funeral arrangements are pending and more information will be posted on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/events/159311174185484/, when it becomes available.
Coopera is an Iowa-based economic development firm focusing on emerging markets that present unique growth opportunities for financial institutions. Coopera’s bicultural and bilingual staff works with clients to assess their needs and develop custom solutions. Coopera is majority owned by the Iowa Credit Union League and is a strategic alliance partner of the Credit Union National Association. For more information visit www.CooperaConsulting.com.