Maurice Smith, CEO of Local Government and Civic FCU, receives 2019 Annie Vamper Helping Hands Award

"I am consumed by this idea that there must be a way to eradicate poverty"

Maurice Smith, CEO of Local Government Federal Credit Union and Civic Federal Credit Union, and longtime credit union advocate, was awarded the Annie Vamper Helping Hands Award at the 2019 Inclusiv Conference in Los Angeles, CA. The award recognizes individuals who are making extraordinary contributions to the community development credit union movement and is named for Annie Vamper, who dedicated her life to serving low- and moderate-income people through credit unions.

“I am humbled by my selection as the 2019 recipient of Inclusiv’s Annie Vamper Helping Hands Award. At LGFCU, we work closely with Inclusiv to implement financial inclusion opportunities focused on the achievement of our members’ financial stability. We don’t see financial inclusion as elective; indeed, it is simply our obligation as citizens of this world,” said Smith upon receiving the award.

Smith advocates for the addition of diversity, equality and inclusion as an eighth principle to the existing 7 cooperative principles that guide credit unions.

“A focus on diversity, equality and inclusion is an opportunity for our industry to advance economic justice and human dignity for the people and communities community development credit unions serve,” said Cathie Mahon, Inclusiv President and CEO. “It is our honor to work with Maurice, whose commitment to financial inclusion is an inspiration to our movement.”

In addition to the Annie Vamper Helping Hands Award, Smith has received many honors over his almost 40 year career, including the African-American Credit Union Coalition’s Pete Crear Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year.

Smith began his career in financial services as a loan officer for State Employees’ Credit Union, joining LGFCU in 1992 as Executive Vice President. He was promoted to President in 1999, and named Chief Executive Officer in 2017. LGFCU and Civic FCU serve the financial needs of employees, officials, officeholders and volunteers of local government in North Carolina.

Excerpts from Maurice Smith’s Annie Vamper Helping Hands Award acceptance speech appear below and are shown in their entirety on the Inclusiv website.

“I’d like to take a moment to share a confession with each of you. I have an obsession and it’s eating me up. I’m losing sleep at night, and I am consumed with this idea that there must be a way to eradicate poverty. And I know what you’re thinking, he’s nuts. I’ve been called that before. How can you do that?

There are so many social determinants that lead people down this path of impoverishment. There are so many challenges in the world, societal ills, and sometimes this work is subject to the whims of political parties and administrations. There are scalability challenges and problems with sustainability. And much of the work is transactional in nature, with making loans and offering services, one product at a time.

But somehow I believe, here in this room, that you all share this sort of Pollyannaish view. That we can do something about humankind. That we can help people live better lives. And it’s become an obsession. I don’t know how to shake it. I wish I could find something easier to do. But I can’t shake this notion that somewhere in an audience like this – this inclusive membership with the dedication and commitment you have for your communities – that someone has the solution to how we address the challenges that people face each and every day of their lives”

-Maurice Smith, CEO of Local Government and Civic FCUs,
speaking at the Inclusive Conference in Los Angeles, CA

Maurice Smith.

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