The Envelope, Please…

‘Together we’re better’ is the motto of this year’s CU Hero of the Year.

May 05, 2014
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Joni Senkpeil

Together we’re better.

That’s Joni Senkpeil’s approach to serving credit unions—and it has served her well, too: She was named Credit Union Magazine’s 2014 Credit Union Hero of the Year by the publication’s readers.

Senkpeil, director of small credit union development at the Illinois Credit Union League, will be honored during CUNA’s America’s Credit Union Conference, June 29 to July 3 in San Francisco.

Her passion for credit unions, especially small ones, is evident in her every activity:

Senkpeil started the league’s Small Asset Size Credit Union Advisory Group, which aims to foster a stronger small credit union community.

She also launched a regional “lunch and learn” workshop series designed for small credit unions. The workshops are formatted strategically to minimize travel, time away from the office, and hotel expenses for participants.

Believing credit unions needed a single source for resources, Senkpeil also was instrumental in developing content for the league’s Small Credit Union Center
Website, including best practices, information on grant funding, strategic planning services, and common business templates.

Through her work, Senkpeil has given small credit unions a vital forum to network and help each other.

“We hold workshops all over the state to build awareness of what’s happening in different areas,” she explains. “We listen to what issues are important and bring in experts at workshops to address them.”

Senkpeil can’t envision a life without credit unions. “When I think about this industry built on a foundation of people helping people, run by volunteers, on a not-for-profit model, I can’t imagine turning my back on it. It’s absolutely my passion.

“When I walk into a smaller credit union, it’s amazing the effort, time, and devotion folks have for helping members,” she continues. “It’s difficult for them, but their desire to help members is so much more important. It provides so much inspiration to help credit unions where I can.”

It saddens Senkpeil to see the number of credit unions decrease, with smaller institutions more likely to disappear. The regulatory burden, growing sophistication of technology, and pressures of daily operations make it difficult for small credit unions to carry on.

“But they’re still needed,” she says. “Having fewer doesn’t make them less viable or important.”

The readers of Credit Union Magazine also honored these leaders as Credit Union Heroes:

  • William Armstrong, director, Northeast Community Credit Union, Elizabethton, Tenn.;
  • Dan Morrisey, CEO/treasurer, Queen of Peace Arlington (Va.) Federal Credit Union; and
  • William “Bill” Rissel, president/CEO, Fort Knox Federal Credit Union, Radcliff, Ky.

Voting for the Credit Union Hero of the Year took place on from April 1 to May 1.

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