MD|DC Credit Union Association launches DEI Speaker Series

COLUMBIA, MD (December 11, 2020) — The MD|DC Credit Union Association kicked off its Signature DEI Speaker Series on December 8 with a panel of experts who shared insights on the value and impact of diversity, equity and inclusion. Over 70 attendees heard from CUNA’s VP of Diversity Equity, and Inclusion Samira Salem, Coopera CEO Victor Miguel Corro and UW Credit Union’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and inclusion Shelia Milton.

“The series offers credit unions the opportunity to deepen their knowledge, increase awareness, and inform individual and organizational actions to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said MD|DC Credit Union Association President/CEO John Bratsakis. “It’s a part of a multidimensional program that will provide meaningful tools and resources for credit unions on their DEI journey.”

Embracing DEI is a business imperative, according to Samira Salem VP of Diversity Equity, and Inclusion at CUNA. Calling it a matter of survival for credit unions, Salem says, “To remain relevant in this changing marketplace, we need to better understand these consumers and that means we need to become more diverse, more equitable, more inclusive at all levels of our organization.”

Salem says CUNA recently conducted an evaluation of Coopera’s Hispanic outreach program and Inclusiv’s Juntos Avanzamos designation and found that credit unions with the programs performed better than those without such efforts. “We found that credit unions that participated in these Hispanic outreach programs grew their membership more than credit unions that did not. They experience larger increases in loan and asset growth, greater earnings than those that did not participate in those programs. Plus we found that participation in programs didn’t harm portfolio growth.”

Coopera CEO Victor Miguel Corro says being deliberate about inclusion can help credit unions drive growth. “Diverse voices and diverse viewpoints are a good thing. There will be better connections with consumers as we see our country is already 40% multicultural so that means that there are segments in the market that actually need to be understood, need to be studied, so we know what products and services they need in the financial space.”

UW Credit Union in Madison, Wisconsin embarked on its DEI journey with an assessment focused on robust listening and adopting a framework that made it an organizational priority. “We realized DEI was in our heart, but we weren’t explicit about it,” said Sheila Milton, UWCU’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “We needed to embed it in our values.”

UWCU developed a vision statement and is in the process of incorporating DEI language into the credit union’s existing core values. Milton says, “We recognize that DEI is a journey” and that “Advancing racial justice is an ongoing commitment without a finish line.”

The MD|DC Credit Union Association’s next installment in the DEI Signature Speaker Series will be held in February.

About MD|DC Credit Union Association

The MD|DC Credit Union Association is the regional trade association for credit unions in Maryland and the Washington region that serve more than 2.2 million member-owners. Credit unions are not-for profit financial cooperatives that are locally controlled and owned by the people they serve. For more information, visit


Michelle Byrnie-Parker
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