So far in our staff interview series, you’ve heard from branch managers, an operations manager and many other positions. The latest standout in our staff interview series is Dane County Credit Union Board Director, Theola Carter.
What is the purpose of the Board of Directors at Dane County Credit Union?
As directors, we’re here to serve the membership. We do not to get involved in the daily operations of the credit union, which is the responsibility of the CEO. DCCU has a great CEO in Jon Lowrey.
The purpose of the board is to govern, remain abreast of the credit union’s health, strategize about the best course of action for the credit union to benefit all members, review policies and procedures, remain knowledgeable about regulations that impact credit unions, attend regular monthly meetings–as well as attend meetings or workshops that will help us be better directors–and, of course, hear member concerns and suggestions.
What is your specific role on the board and how long have you been a director?
I serve as the secretary to the Board of Directors. I initially started as an associate director to the board. This gave me the opportunity to learn more about the credit union ideal and the governance of DCCU; I had some great mentors on the board as an associate. Later, I became a member of the board, and I have served in the capacity of a director since 2013.
How do people come to serve on the Board of Directors at DCCU?
I recommend that anyone wishing to serve on the board apply to become an associate director. Associates are given the same privileges as a director, but they do not vote. Associate directors’ voices are valuable and their input is important. After being an associate, if you still want to serve, when it is time for elections, submit your name to be a candidate for director.
If you do not want to go the associate route, however, any member who’s passionate about serving can run for the board. Simply submit your name and necessary information. If you meet the requirements, your name will be included as a candidate on the election ballot when the election announcement is made.
What separates a board member from a typical member-owner?
We are one in the same. We are the typical member-owner: we’re from diverse and experienced backgrounds, and we volunteer our time and talents for the greater good of the credit union, and all its members.
Why is DCCU unique in the world of credit unions?
DCCU is special: The people are friendly and knowledgeable; they have each member’s best interest at heart. It is like going to Cheers–they always know your name and greet you with a welcome when you come through the door. They’re always willing to assist in any way they can. There are no strangers at DCCU. I have personally recommended several individuals to DCCU, and they say the same about their experiences.
What do you hope for the future of Dane County Credit Union?
I want the credit union to remain sustainable and financially healthy for future generations to come. I want DCCU to make a difference in members’ financial literacy and health.
What was the last really great book you read and why?
Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill. I like history, and this book tells the story of Ms. Aminata Diallo, who is torn from her parents when she is only 11 years old and transported to the New World. There she is sold to a plantation owner in South Carolina, and she overcomes, despite her circumstances.
Do you volunteer anywhere?
Yes, I volunteer or have volunteered for many organizations in Dane County, including: Wisconsin Public Television, the March of Dimes, Past Commissioner of Community Service and Affirmative Action for the City of Madison, and Girls on the Run. I enjoy helping people; I get joy when I can make a positive difference in the lives of others, who in turn help others. In helping others, I am helping myself.
Which sports teams do you root for?
The Badgers, of course! Is there any other team? How could I not root for them when I am an alum of UW- Madison? It is Bucky all the way!
What’s one professional or personal skill you wish you had that you don’t?
I wish I could speak several other languages. It is important to convey messages or communicate effectively with others so that there is complete understanding.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to others about life?
Nothing is guaranteed in life, but that does not mean that you should give up before you start. Get up and position yourself so that you can compete; don’t be afraid of failure, because even in the midst of failure, you learn something. But, don’t’ let the failure define you as a person: Use your missteps and mishaps as stepping stones to do better. Success is not defined in never failing, success is when you get up after the fall and move forward.
There will always be someone that will talk about you or try to bring you down in life, but you must push past it and pursue your dreams. Be in it to win it, but never forget where you came from and those who helped you along the way. Be humble and give back, and help others along the way in your life’s journey.
We are grateful for Theola’s contribution to DCCU and her desire to make life better for all members. She is a living example of the credit union industry’s founding principal: People helping People.