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The goal of the CUaware Council is to informally introduce all levels of credit union employees (and industry folks) to the CU Movement so we can all learn, share and grow. Here is where we will share personal insights on subjects related to the credit union movement, career development, industry expertise, CUaware events, and more. Subscribe today to be notified each time we post. Happy Reading!


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Latest CUaware Podcast episode interviews CUNA’s Kristin Ryan on career development

Posted By CUaware, Thursday, April 18, 2019

In the latest episode of the CUaware Podcast, Coastal CU’s Phil Kadzielawski sits down virtually with CUNA’s Kristin Ryan to talk about professional development (especially for young professionals), and how the training and conferences CUNA organizes can facilitate growth.

CUNA's Kristin Ryan
Kristin Ryan
Director of Learning Events, CUNA

Kristin is the director of learning events for the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). Her responsibilities include designing and developing educational leadership programs for CUNA as well as the strategic operation of the Creating Member Loyalty™ sales culture development system. She also leads the CUNA Young Professionals Committee who has developed offerings for young professionals in the credit union industry. Specifically, Kristin and the team created the National Young Professionals Conference as well as the Emerging Leader Award.

In the interview, Kristin shares tips on how young professionals in the credit union movement can advocate for their personal and career development, especially when budgeting for education is limited.

“You must always stay hungry for education and it is out there,” Kristin exclaims. “Some suggestions I would say are online sessions like [CUNA’s] Emerging Leaders Youth School. Another opportunity is to look in your area—check local. Does your league offer training? Leagues usually have very affordable options. Also check for scholarships.”

Listen to the episode today to hear more of Kristin’s insight on how to grow in the credit union movement, set goals for yourself, and be a greater impact at your own credit union and community.

The CUaware Podcast is available on or on iTunes. Lastly, if you have a podcast topic or suggestion, please contact Phil or Jeff Hardin using the email links on the podcast page.

Tags:  career development  Coastal Credit Union  CUaware  Podcast  young professionals 

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Barbara Mojica Arzate selected as Tarheel Chapter CUaware Protégé

Posted By CUaware, Monday, October 15, 2018
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2018

Barbara M Arzate, Tarheel ProtegeBarbara Mojica Arzate, an account manager with Coastal Credit Union, was named the Tarheel Chapter’s CUaware Protégé on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. Mojica will go on to the CUaware Protégé Competition finals at the LAUNCH Conference Jan. 31 – Feb. 1, 2019 in Charlotte, NC.

Mojica and fellow candidate Gioia Hackett (Local Government FCU) represented their respective credit unions at the Tarheel Chapter event hosted by LGFCU. Each contestant made five-minute presentations in front of the chapter board and credit union professionals in attendance. The contestants were also scored on a one-page essay that they submitted as part of the application process.

Mojica joined Coastal in 2017 and seeks to continue her career development at the credit union. She has an associates in graphic design from Mount Olive College and is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in business management with plans to master in business.

Mojica joins Upstate Chapter Protégé Meaghan King in the lineup of finalists moving forward in the competition, with others to be determined in the weeks ahead. Click here to see the upcoming events.

a collage of the tarheel event on 101018

Tags:  career development  Coastal Credit Union  CUaware  learn  Local Government FCU  networking  Protégé 

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CUaware premieres new ‘Protégé & Beyond’ blog series ft. past competition finalists

Posted By CUaware, Wednesday, July 25, 2018

In coordination with the kickoff for the 2019 CUaware Protege Competition season, the CUaware Council is excited to premiere its new blog series called "Protégé & Beyond." The series features interviews with former competition finalists, giving them a platform to share what they learned during and after the program.

"It's part 'where are they now' and part 'pay it forward,' said Coastal Credit Union's Sara Portis, the brainchild of the interview series. "We are pleased so many former finalists have taken to this idea and look forward to hearing what each of them have to share on their experience and where life has taken them post-protégé."

Dizzy Felkel and SPC CU staff from 2012
Dizzy Felkel (center), who worked at SPC Credit Union at the time, competed in the first year of the Protégé Competition in 2012 to become the first-place winner. Since then, he's returned from time to time to share his insight with professionals in the credit union movement through various League and chapter events.

The interview series will be posted monthly throughout the 2019 competition cycle. The first episode premiered this week on the CUaware Podcast and features the "OG" Dizzy Felkel, who won the inaugural protégé competition in 2012.

In the interview, led by Coastal Credit Union's Sara Portis and Phil Kadzielawski, Dizzy touched on a variety of subjects including what it was like being among the first to compete in the program, how to prepare to compete, and the importance of taking advantage of this platform and unique opportunity.

"I owe a whole lot to that competition," said Felkel. "The people at the manager [from SPC Credit Union] at the time. A lot of people invested in me and believed in me and it opened up a lot of doors for me, and it's led to a lot of cool things in life. That's why I dwell so much on 'make the most of it' because I'm living proof that this can change a life."


Special Thanks to our Featured Protégé!

Dizzy Felkel has a passion for serving the credit union industry, which has offered him incredible opportunities over the years. He works at Jack Henry & Associates under the Symitar division, where he focuses on small and mid-sized credit unions. He also offers training and public speaking services under his personal brand.

Dizzy holds the honor of winning the inaugural CUaware Protégé Competition in 2012. Educationally speaking, he holds an MBA from North Greenville University and is a graduate of the Southeast CUNA Management School. Dizzy resides near Charlotte with his wife and daughter.

Tags:  career development  Coastal Credit Union  CUaware  learn  networking  Podcast  Protégé  Protégé and Beyond 

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CUaware goes back to its roots, talks rise of blockchain and more in April podcast

Posted By Courtney Jackson, Thursday, April 5, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2018

“CUaware Podcast” hosts Paul Narcisse and Phil Kadzielawski have returned with a new episode for April that takes listeners back to CUaware’s roots as they interview the council’s co-founders Brandon McAdams and Patrick Livingston of Coastal Credit Union. The podcast episode also includes a segment on the rise of blockchain technology and the premiere of “Real Talk with Dr. Troy” led by SC Federal Credit Union COO Troy Hall.

McAdams and Livingston, tasked with a follow-up project as part of the CUDE certification program, started CUaware back in 2011 with a simple premise to fill a gap that exists within the credit union industry: staff often not knowing what makes credit unions and cooperatives unique and special. So, they started to host afterhours meetups to bring credit union professionals in the Triangle together for networking and knowledge exchange.

Coastal Credit Union's Patrick Livingston (left) and Brandon McAdams (right) were honored with the 2014 Cooperative Spirit Award by the National Credit Union Foundation for creating CUaware. Photo credit: Coastal CU

“We reached out to folks that were DE graduates in the area as well as people that we worked with and brought them in and said, ‘hey, we’re going to be at a local watering hole after work, just come and talk,” recalled McAdams.

“We also started off with buy-in from folks,” Livingston added. “Working with our management team and other credit unions’ management teams, and saying, ‘this is something that you want to participate in.’ So, it became an opportunity for real networking to happen.”

Later in the interview McAdams reflected on the growth of the CUaware Council, remarking on how they quickly realized this program had great potential to expand and make even more of an impact on the lives of professionals in the Carolinas and beyond.

“Once we realized that people were coming back and people in other areas wanted something similar, we realized that…the two of our efforts weren’t enough to keep up with demand," said McAdams. "We needed some funding, to expand out and we looked at each other realizing, this was that next step. Now, we have the League involved, CEOs coming and we have a lot of people’s attention and we don’t want to mess up."

CUaware today has five active regional councils in both states, hosting events throughout the year focused on four central themes: education, volunteerism, protégé, and advocacy. The League’s existing Protégé Competition was also added to the CUaware “family” in 2014 and has since expanded, adding a Protégé Mentor program for sustained career development for CU professionals of all ages.

Kadzielawski and Narcisse are both past participants in the Protégé programs, and have shared in a past episode the impact these CUaware programs have had on their own careers and lives.

For McAdams and Livingston, CUaware was among their first experiences serving in a strong leadership role at a time when their careers were just beginning. And from then to now, they carry the lessons of that experience into their roles at the credit union today.

“In my role at the time, I was not managing anybody or had a marketing background,” McAdams continued. “CUaware was an opportunity for me to lead and show a different skill set. It’s not just a networking opportunity.”

“It’s allowed me to explore creativity [at my job] in way that’s better than what it would have been without the experience of going through that,” Livingston added.

Listen to the full interview and more on CUaware’s podcast page or access the podcast on iTunes here. Lastly, if you have a podcast topic or suggestion, please contact Paul, Phil or Jeff Hardin using the email links on the podcast page.

Tags:  Coastal Credit Union  Credit Union Development Educators  CUaware  CUDE  Podcast  Protégé 

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