Hometown woman continues rewarding career in Milaca

FALCON HEIGHTS, MN (December 2, 2015) — After living and breathing by the philanthropic ideology of her workplace for over 22 years, Laurie Leciejewski received a promotion that moved her career at SPIRE Credit Union from Princeton to Milaca.

Now the branch manager of the Milaca location of SPIRE, Leciejewski is dedicated to improving the lives of community members by helping them both personally and financially.

The establishment of SPIRE Credit Union was motivated by the financial hardships of the Great Depression. In the 1930s, Edgar Archer found himself unemployed, with his debts stacking up and no means to repay them. In the time of economic uncertainty, banks were less than willing to loan out their measly financial assets. Archer could not get approved for a loan.

After finally securing a job with Midland Cooperative Oil Association, Archer asked his co-workers if they would lend him money to repay his debts. After finding seven others interested in pooling their assets, the group applied for a certificate of organization and founded what is now SPIRE Credit Union.

The maximum loan offered was $50 with an interest rate of 1 percent monthly on an unpaid balance. Archer was the first to apply for and be approved for a loan.

“This is when the whole people-helping-people philosophy came up,” Leciejewski said. “It’s a beautiful thing. Any profits that are realized through it are passed back to the people (of the credit union) in the form of dividends.”
Benefits of these profits include lower interest rates on loans, higher savings interest rates, lower fees and free financial advising services. SPIRE offers benefits packages to employers free of charge.

With 85,000 members and 16 branches, SPIRE is now the fourth largest credit union in Minnesota.
Leciejewski graduated from St. Cloud State University with a bachelor’s degree in finance. She started as a teller at SPIRE in Princeton in her 20s. She later worked as a loan officer and then became a supervisor.

After 22 years in Princeton, the promotion brought her to a new market in Milaca. Leciejewski is committed to helping members achieve their financial goals through SPIRE services. Whether it’s saving for retirement, a new home or a child’s education, she believes she can help her customers get to where they aim to be.

In 2014, SPIRE partnered with Greater Minnesota Credit Union and gave the Milaca location the SPIRE name. After combining their resources, the credit union is able to offer state-of-the-art products for convenient banking options such as mobile banking apps with Apple Pay compatibility.

Though credit unions used to have limited membership, SPIRE is open to all Minnesota and Wisconsin residents with a valid ID.

“We are a small town credit union. We are your credit union. We want people to know we are open to anyone,” Leciejewski said.

What Leciejewski loves about working at SPIRE is the connection she is able to make with her members on a daily basis. She reflected on an instance where what started out as Leciejewski helping a customer understand his credit report turned into the customer giving Leciejewski tips on how to choose a college for her son.

“I ended up taking notes from (the customer),” she said. “It’s a mutual exchange and it happens all the time. It’s not just unique with me. It happens at all of our 16 branches and that’s what makes me so proud.”

She said her career at SPIRE has been nothing but fulfilling.

“I feel so honored that I am a part of such a great company. I almost get tears in my eyes,” she said. “They have stood behind me through my whole journey of life so far.”

SPIRE helped Leciejewski with the purchase of her first home and allowed her to have a flexible schedule to raise her son.

She said the philosophy of her workplace frequently spills over into her personal life.

“The more you give the better you feel and you almost benefit more than the person receiving,” she said.

SPIRE’s devotion to its community is evident in the programs and events its employees take part in. On Nov. 19, employees from Princeton and Milaca branches gathered to make and package sandwiches for the 363 Days Food Program, which distributes the sandwiches to people experiencing homelessness in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

In October, SPIRE employees showed support for the American Cancer Society by wearing pink shirts. Funds earned from the sales of the shirts resulted in a $1,411 donation to the society. SPIRE is currently participating in a toy drive for children for the holiday season and has previously collected hats, mittens and gloves for Mille Lacs County Operation Community Connect.

SPIRE has won the Dora Maxwell award, given to credit unions that show social responsibility through projects within their communities, the past two years.

Dan Stoltz, the SPIRE CEO, calls this a net-giver philosophy. Stoltz was elected King Boreas Rex LXXIX for the 2015 St. Paul Winter Carnival and was the master of ceremonies for the Princeton Relay for Life in August.

Leciejewski has been working in Milaca since April and is enjoying every minute of it, ecstatic that she is fortunate enough to get paid to do something she is so passionate about and serve the community at the same time.

“Every day it’s a different day and you don’t know what you’re going to get,” she said.

About SPIRE Credit Union

A full-service financial institution, proudly serving Minnesota and Wisconsin residents since 1934. SPIRE is committed to providing smart products, great rates and excellent service with a goal to improve the financial lives for both personal and business members. SPIRE has 22 branches throughout Minnesota.  To learn more about SPIRE, please visit


Casey Carlson
SVP/Chief Marketing Officer, SPIRE Credit Union
651.641.2254 |

Tara Graff
SVP Marketing & Community Engagement, Hiway Credit Union
651.325.4145 |

More News