She offered immigrants regard. They offered her cooperative credit union brand-new life. | Credit Union Journal

As CEO, Winona Nava thinks that all of her cooperative credit union’s members need to have the ability to gain access to every service or product, no matter their situations or making power.

“Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, no matter what choices they have made in their life, where they came from, or any other obstacles they face,” stated Nava, the president and CEO of Guadalupe Credit Union in Santa Fe, New Mexico. American Banker has actually chosen Nava as one of its Most Powerful Women in Credit Unions for 2022.

Nava signed up with Guadalupe as CEO in 1991 after discovering it was teetering on the brink of closure with a little over $10 countless properties. She saw a chance to turn the beleaguered organization around.

One of the starkest examples of Nava’s dedication to her concepts came some twenty years earlier when she made the strong transfer to start specific taxpayer recognition number providing to broaden monetary access to regional homeowners who did not have other paperwork (the Internal Revenue Service problems an ITIN to individuals no matter migration status to enable them to fulfill their tax responsibilities).

It was a more recent idea and tough to execute ITIN loaning at the $271 million-asset cooperative credit union, Nava remembers. “Some staff and credit union members weren’t open to the change and some resigned,” she stated. But Nava continued, discovering bicultural homeowners to fill positions and supplying cultural level of sensitivity training to staffers to optimize monetary addition.

“Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, no matter what choices they have made in their life, where they came from, or any other obstacles they face,” stated Winona Nava, president and CEO of Guadalupe Credit Union.

Frank Gargano

Nava likewise understands what it resembles to deal with monetary problems. As a single mom, she worked numerous tasks to finish her own education while supporting herself and her kid. During her journey to end up being a cooperative credit union CEO she constantly worked to assist others like herself by promoting variety and addition at every turn.

Learning and mentor others how to prosper has actually been Nava’s mantra. Hired as a collector at State Employees Credit Union Santa Fe in 1978, Nava accepted every chance to find out brand-new abilities and advance, working her method up the ladder over more than a lots years to executive vice president.

When she took control of as CEO of Guadalupe, Nava hired a brand-new board that thought in variety and equity, and dealt with state and federal regulators to put Guadalupe on a course to development and survival. Within a year, the cooperative credit union supported and ended up being a center of services for a varied mix of clients in a state with among the greatest hardship rates in the U.S.

Around 2000, Nava dealt with the board to broaden its concentrate on serving immigrants. Since then, Guadalupe’s services have actually broadened to backwoods where customers did not have monetary gain access to. The cooperative credit union’s 7 branches now serve 5 counties.

With assistance from a National Credit Union Foundation grant, Nava opened a branch in a part of Santa Fe with a high immigrant population, using prolonged hours for members who worked long shifts in the hospitality and building markets. The initial area in a shopping center outgrew its area within 18 months and broadened to turn into one of Guadalupe’s busiest branches.

The cooperative credit union — which now uses about 100 individuals and serves more than 25,000 members — acquired neighborhood advancement banks accreditation in 2010, allowing Guadalupe to extend more than $6 million in unique grant funds within New Mexico. 

Nava motivates all personnel — consisting of collections, branch supervisors and loan departments — to end up being licensed in monetary therapy. 

“Financial coaching is an everyday activity here,” she stated, including that the cooperative credit union uses monetary literacy and training through youth programs and likewise through homeless shelters and low-income assistance and justice programs. “If we meet people where they are with coaching efforts, we can help people discover paths to build and design their own lives,” Nava stated.

When last summer season’s Rincon Fire in the Pecos Wilderness threatened neighborhoods in the neighboring mountains — requiring the little Rincones Presbyterian Credit Union to leave — Nava offered short-lived area at a Guadalupe branch for the displaced cooperative credit union personnel to run.

In 2020, Nava ended up being a co-founder of the Credit Union Women’s Leadership Alliance, which has actually assisted the female leaders of little cooperative credit union team up on fixing issues and breaking down organizational and neighborhood barriers. Nava, among 13 creators, values how the group assists females lead cooperative credit union “with strength and confidence,” keeping in mind that lots of bigger organizations generally are run by guys.

Many have actually observed her work. Early next year the National Credit Union Foundation is honoring Nava in Washington, D.C. as one of 4 winners of the distinguished 2023 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for impressive specific accomplishment. 

Nava’s next huge obstacle will be among her hardest: She’s retiring at the end of 2023. An executive search has actually started, and Nava is starting the tough procedure of releasing tasks that controlled her life for 3 years, so other team member can establish and find out brand-new abilities. “After 31 years in my current role and 13 years at my previous credit union, retirement will be a big adjustment for me,” Nava stated.


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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