Meet Miracle Maker Chuck Cockburn

Chuck CockburnWe’d like to introduce you to our Miracle Maker and our CFO and Senior Consultant Chuck Cockburn, who has brought his 40 years experience in the credit union world (including 12 years at the NCUA as Director of Statistics) to CU Strategic Planning.
He has profitably grown credit unions while significantly improving service and morale, a legacy he has left from coast-to-coast. For example, when the boards of Hudson Valley and Digital Credit Unions needed the best, they hired Chuck—and his team built a foundation for long-term success. Today, long after his departure, these credit unions are multi-billion dollar, thriving organizations.
Chuck’s consistent mastery of “the turn-around” at credit unions he’s touched is the reason the founder of CU Strategic Planning recruited him. With CU Strategic Planning, he excels at helping with net worth restoration, mergers, board governance and mentoring the CEOs of small credit unions. He has been an invaluable part of the team these last four years.
We’ve asked some of our other miracle makers what superpower they would like to have, but withChuck, we didn’t need to. He’s already got his superpower, and he’s using it on behalf of credit unions around the country every day.
Thank you, Chuck.

Meet our Miracle Makers – Stacy Augustine!

StacyA-Headshot-SmallWe’re continuing to profile the amazing staff of miracle makers at CU Strategic Planning with our President, Stacy Augustine!

Stacy came on board as President officially in the summer of 2013, but she’s been an unofficial advisor and advocate since well before that.

During Stacy’s childhood, her father served as President and CEO of a credit union trade association. Raised on the values of the credit union movement, she has long believed that credit unions are the best self-help tool available to the consumer.

She said recently, “Since working at CU Strategic Planning, I’ve seen credit unions that are going beyond saving consumers ‘financial’ lives and truly saving lives—whether it’s providing a car that makes it necessary for a worker to get to work and support their family, seed capital for a start-up business or providing healthy food financing that gives kids access to healthy fruit and vegetables. Even with my love of credit unions, I didn’t realize that their impact could be felt so deeply.”

We are so thankful she is with us, and we rely on her problem solving, creative thinking, and ability to think about what’s coming around the corner. She helps all of us in the office make the impossible possible: in short, miracle making.

Thank you, Stacy, for all you’ve done for CU Strategic Planning and the credit unions we serve!

Miracle Maker Carrie Ostrem

CarrieOstremOne of the miracle makers here at CU Strategic Planning is Carrie Ostrem, our Director of Certification Services.

She brings a real talent for helping our client credit unions leap over hurdles in their way as they work to get certified. She can help them to identify issues and work through them to a successful outcome.

Carrie says that she appreciates how CU Strategic Planning can empower credit unions to help the underserved in their community. She told us, “Community development is essential to the prosperity and well being of communities throughout the nation.”

We asked Carrie if she could have a super-power, which super power would she choose (in addition to making miracles for clients, that is) and she told us she’d like the power to fly. “I’d like to be able to easily travel to see those I don’t see often and connect with people I’d love to be in more contact with.”

That’s about the nicest use of a super power we’ve heard.

Thanks for all you do, Carrie!

Trendwatch: More and More Credit Unions Are Certifying Their Staff as Community Development Certified Financial Counselors

There’s a growing trend among credit unions to certify their staff as Community Development Certified Financial Counselors.

One of the emerging credit unions is JetStream Federal Credit Union, which has seven branches in the Miami region and Puerto Rico.

They recently announced that their entire collections team has earned the designation of Community Development Certified Financial Counselor.

jetstreamfcuA spokesperson for JetStream FCU said of the program, “This designation is certified by the National Cooperative Business Association through its Community Development Initiative. It’s an essential tool for organizations serving moderate and low income populations, and an effective way for financial institutions to better serve their members when they face difficult times.”

With more than 75 percent of its members classified as low income, building a community development program to serve distressed members has been a priority for JetStream Federal Credit Union. The credit union was granted the designation of CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) in 2013 by the Treasury department.

The Collections team at JetStream Federal Credit Union

The Collections team at JetStream Federal Credit Union

“The skills we have acquired by earning this certification has provided my team with valuable knowledge that we can use every day to help us better understand and advise members who may be facing financial hardships,” explained Collections Manager, Maria Morales.

Interested credit unions can learn more about Community Development Certified Financial Counselors at

More About JetStream FCU

JetStream Federal Credit Union is a full-service financial cooperative with $157 million in assets, serving over 20,000 members. The 66-year-old credit union has 7 branches located in Miami, Miami Lakes, Doral and Hialeah, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Miracle Maker Profile of Wendi Gephart!

Wendi #1We’re continuing to feature some of the amazing miracle makers with CU Strategic Planning. Today, we visit with Wendi Gephart, our Director of Research and Grant Writing.

Wendi’s been with us since July of last year, and is passionate about helping our client credit unions assist people who are trying to climb out of poverty.

Over her nearly 20 years in the grants field, Wendi has earned an amazing 98% funding success rate, with almost $120 million funded. She has worked with dozens of nonprofit organizations, colleges, local, state, tribal, and regional governments, advocating for the arts, education, the environment and social justice.

Wendi says that she feels like nearly her entire career was in preparation to join the CU Strategic Planning team. As a leader of the most successful credit union CDFI grant writing team, she’s earned the title of miracle maker.

In addition to writing and managing grants, Wendi pays it forward by sharing her expertise as a teacher of grant writing and business plan development at Seattle Central Community College.

It’s an honor to work with you, Wendi!

An Interview with Helen Godfrey-Smith, Shreveport FCU

CDFI Connect has a great interview with one of our dear friends, CEO Helen Godfrey-Smith, at Shreveport FCU. Read on to see what a leader in the credit union movement is doing to build the financial capacity and credit-worthiness of her members, and the community at large:

Under the leadership of CEO Helen Godfrey-Smith, it specializes in reaching out today to what it calls the “unbanked and underbanked.”

As a CDFI and a Member of OFN, it is also an aggressive proponent of consumer education, promoting in its literature the importance of “thrift, savings and the wise use of credit” and advocating programs that help their members “manage and control their financial well-being, thus moving them to financial sustainability.”

Read more.