Filene launches two new Centers of Excellence addressing evolving needs of credit unions, members, and the community

Dr. Lamont Black of DePaul University and Dr. Amy Hillman of Arizona State University named as research fellows

MADISON, WI (September 26, 2023) — Filene Research Institute recently launched the Center for The Credit Union of the Future with fellow Lamont Black of DePaul University and the Center for Leadership, Strategy & Governance with fellow Amy Hillman of Arizona State University.

The financial services industry is going through a period of rapid change and disruption. With continuously evolving technologies, changing consumer preferences and increasing workplace expectations, an enormous amount of pressure is on credit unions looking to keep up. Filene’s two new research center topics are reflective of the most pressing needs credit union leaders face today and aim to support credit unions’ efforts to adapt and explore new business models to survive and thrive in the future.

The Credit Union of the Future

Dr. Lamont Black
Dr. Lamont Black

Led by Filene Fellow, Dr. Lamont Black, the Center for The Credit Union of the Future will take an ecosystems approach to identifying and developing new business models that will ensure ongoing growth and sustainability for the credit union system. This exciting new research center will help credit unions prepare for what’s next by addressing:

  • Their future value proposition – how do they remain relevant and are they well-positioned to attract and engage potential members?
  • Are they applying the right data insights to help better serve members in the future?
  • Which trends in innovation and disruption should be prioritized?

Generous support for the Center for the Credit Union of the Future is provided by America First Credit Union, Kinecta, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, Orange County’s Credit Union, PSCU, Summit Credit Union and Trellance.

“I’m excited to be working with Filene to support innovation and transformation in the credit union movement. The credit union value proposition is powerful and we are here to help credit unions adapt in a changing world. This will involve the hard work of digital transformation including data and analytics as well as experimentation with emerging technologies like AI, crypto, blockchain, and the metaverse,” said Dr. Black. “The future revenue models for credit unions may look different than they do today. Our goal with The Credit Union of the Future will be to support credit unions’ strategic planning to “adapt and adopt” more quickly and efficiently as they evolve to serve future generations.”

“As a credit union, we have both a need and an opportunity to explore and experiment with new business models in the face of ecosystem disruption, new competition and changing consumer needs,” said Kim Sponem, President/CEO Summit Credit Union and Inner Circle sponsor for The Credit Union of the Future. “Filene’s work to identify and bring awareness to what the credit union of the future holds will ensure ongoing growth, sustainability, and relevance for the credit union system.”

Leadership, Strategy & Governance

Dr. Amy Hillman
Dr. Amy Hillman

Filene’s second newly launched research center also focuses on helping credit unions to strategically adapt but with more of an internal scope. Led by Filene Fellow, Dr. Amy Hillman, the Center for Leadership, Strategy & Governance will deliver fresh approaches to leadership and governance as credit unions look to renew and rejuvenate the ways they operate, do business, and develop talent. The key focus areas that this new research center will explore includes:

  • How are the expectations for leadership evolving?
  • What strategies can credit unions implement to stay relevant and competitive?
  • What are the proven best practices and optimal governance models?

Generous support for the Center for Leadership, Strategy & Governance is provided by Community Financial Credit Union, Desert Financial Credit Union, Suncoast Credit Union, TruStage, University Credit Union, and Visions Federal Credit Union.

“Boards are the lid on leadership, as much as we want to move forward rapidly, our boards either enable us to do that effectively or unfortunately they can hold us back. When we think about this center, it’s about how to set-up the right conversations with our team members and our boards so that we are poised to succeed in the future,” stated Christie Kimbell Filene’s Executive Vice President. One of the primary reasons Dr. Hillman was so excited to launch this new center was to help credit unions establish unique positions within a challenged field stating, “When you’re in an increasingly challenged industry you see the threats, but when you can take a step back and reframe you can see them as opportunities for your organization and for the entire industry – it’s a pretty exciting time for reimagination and redevelopment.”

The purpose of Filene’s new centers of excellence is to address the issues that credit unions are currently facing due to an industry that is rapidly evolving by delivering actionable strategies to implement now in preparation of the future. Relevancy is a key component for both new centers, in order for credit unions to continue to grow they must adapt and evolve their legacy business models to remain competitive, better serve future members and their communities. Filene is a critical resource and industry partner our industry relies upon,” stated Kevin Johnson, President/CEO Suncoast Credit Union and Inner Circle sponsor for Leadership, Strategy & Governance. “Many credit unions rely on their research to inform them how best to solve critical business challenges and opportunities. Suncoast Credit Union continues to invest in Filene’s Center of Excellence as it sees the value in collaborating with the other participating credit unions, learning from each other, the fellows and the collective research.”

Filene members and strategic partners will have a chance to engage with Dr. Black and Dr. Hillman at Filene’s big.bright.minds. on Dec. 5-6 in Scottsdale, AZ.

About Filene Research Institute

Filene Research Institute strengthens organizations through innovative research and incubation to improve consumer financial well-being. As an independent cooperative finance think tank, Filene’s membership network connects a community of leaders and bright minds to change lives through innovation, truth and cooperation. In addition to delivering cutting-edge, actionable academic research, Filene also provides incubators to test and scale solutions, events to spark organizations into action and advisory services to help accelerate and implement innovation. For more information, visit and follow on LinkedIn.


Holly Fearing

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