Credit Union News

The Latest Industry News Coverage

Celebrating ‘Women’s History Month’ with Ariana Balch

March is Women’s History Month, and the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues would like to take this time to recognize and celebrate women’s contributions across American history, society, and culture. The credit union movement is fortunate to have many female leaders and professionals serving members every day.

Ariana Balch, Vice President of Administration at UNCLE Credit Union, reflects on her own career and how we can better support future women in the credit union industry.

Tell us about how you started a career in credit unions.
My journey into the world of credit unions was an unexpected path that led to a fulfilling career. I had not initially set out to pursue a career in the financial services industry as my background was not in finance. However, my first interview gave me a glimpse into the credit union sector, and I was intrigued by the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. I started as the Senior Executive Assistant supporting the CEO and Board of Director’s. Being in this new industry I emersed myself in learning about the credit union movement and the financial industry. My CEO values education and supports employees on their learning journey. He encouraged me to attend credit union conferences and advocated for me to attend WCMS. Through these channels I grew my financial industry and credit union knowledge base. This helped me to further my career. Today, I am the Vice President of Administration which encompasses a wide range of functions that contribute to the overall efficiency, compliance and strategic direction of the organization while still supporting the C-Suite Executives and our Board of Directors.

What women leaders have you admired in your career?
There are two women who immediately come to mind:

Diana Dykstra, President and CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. As a woman in the credit union movement who embodies innovation, a commitment to education and strong leadership qualities is truly admirable and serves as a beacon of inspiration for others in the industry. Her innovative spirit is evident in her willingness to challenge the status quo and explore new approaches to addressing the evolving needs of credit unions members. Furthermore, her dedication to education is unwavering, recognizing the importance to continuous learning in a rapidly changing industry. She is a mentor to many and is committed to empowering others.

Sherry Javad, President and CEO of SMW 104 FCU. Shery’s visionary leadership and strategic acumen has propelled her credit union to new heights. Her dedication to empowering employees and fostering a culture of collaboration has made her a trusted advisor to her employees and to her Board of Director’s. Despite the size of her credit union, she remains steadfast in her commitment to serving the needs of her members with compassion. She understands her members and works tirelessly to find solutions to meet their needs. Sherry is also deeply committed to her employees. She leads by example, fostering a culture of collaboration and continuous learning. Despite the challenges she may face, she remains optimistic, always looking for opportunities to innovate and grow. She is admired for her dedication and compassion.

What advice would you give women looking to start their career in credit unions?
By following these tips, you can build a rewarding and fulfilling career in the credit union industry. Remember that your unique perspective and contributions are valuable assets that can help drive positive change and innovation within the industry:

  • Seek out mentors and allies: Look for mentors within the credit union industry who can provide guidance, support, and insights based on their own experiences. Building strong relationships with mentors and allies can help you navigate challenges, identify opportunities for growth, and expand your professional network.
  • Invest in your education and professional development: Continuously seek opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills through formal education, training programs, and professional certifications. This will not only enhance your expertise in the credit union field but also demonstrate your commitment to personal and professional growth.
  • Build your network: Networking is essential for career advancement in any industry, and the credit union sector is no exception. Attend industry conferences, join professional organizations, and participate in networking events to connect with other professionals and expand your opportunities for career growth and advancement.

In your opinion, what is the best approach to attract more women to the credit union workforce?
Some approaches I believe would help attract more women in the credit union work force are:

  • Mentorship and Sponsorship Programs: Establish mentorship and sponsorship programs to provide women with guidance, support, and opportunities for career advancement. Pairing female employees with senior leaders can help them navigate their careers more effectively.
  • Professional Development Opportunities: Invest in training and development programs that empower women to enhance their skills, knowledge, and leadership capabilities. Offer workshops, seminars, and networking events tailored to their specific needs and interests.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives: Implement policies and programs that promote diversity and inclusivity within the workplace. Ensure that women feel valued, supported, and respected in all aspects of their employment.
  • Recruitment Strategies: Develop targeted recruitment strategies to attract qualified women to the credit union workforce. This may include partnering with women’s organizations, attending career fairs targeted at women, and leveraging social media platforms to showcase the organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

By implementing these strategies, credit unions can create a more inclusive workplace that attracts and retains talented women.

What do you wish you knew at the beginning of your career that you know now?

  • Advocacy and Community Engagement: Get involved in advocacy efforts to support the credit union movement and advocate for policies that benefit members and communities. Engage with local communities to build trust and demonstrate the credit union’s commitment to social responsibility.
  • Building a Personal Brand: Take ownership of your professional reputation and actively manage your personal brand within the credit union industry. Cultivate a strong online presence, showcase your expertise, and demonstrate your commitment to the credit union philosophy.
  • The Power of Networking: Building strong professional relationships within the credit union industry can open doors to new opportunities, collaborations, and mentorship.

What are your future goals?

  • Community Engagement: Deepening my involvement in community engagement and social responsibility initiatives, using my position and influence to make a positive impact on the lives of credit union members and the communities we serve.
  • Committing to ongoing learning and development to stay ahead of industry trends, deepen my expertise, and remain a valuable asset to your credit union and the broader credit union movement.
  • Advancing in Leadership: Striving to progress into higher leadership roles within my credit union or the broader credit union movement.

Related News

Become an Industry Supporter

Get membership information

Please contact me about compliance

Contact me about Credit Union Solutions

Education & Professional Development