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Herstory made as CU professionals in NC hear from top women leaders in the industry

Thursday, May 23, 2019   (0 Comments)
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A decade ago, the World Council of Credit Unions formed the Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) with the goal of facilitating a greater gender balance among leadership positions in the credit union industry.

GWLN Panel Discussion img
LGFCU Board Dir. Ruth Barnes and CCUL President/CEO Dan Schline
Top (L-R): GWLN NC Sister Society's Launch & Learn panel included Piedmont Advantage CU Retired CEO Judy Tharp, Travis CU Retired CEO Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, and Local Government FCU SVP, Legal and Compliance Dayatra Matthews.

Bottom (R-L): CCUL President/CEO Dan Schline greets LGFCU Board Director Ruth Barnes. Barnes is one of the key people to initiate the founding of the GWLN's NC Sister Society.

With 81 chapters around the world, the GWLN officially launched its 82nd on Wednesday, May 22 as 75 women and men attended the inaugural North Carolina Sister Society’s Launch & Learn.

The event, hosted by Local Government Federal Credit Union, Civic Federal Credit Union and Coastal Federal Credit Union in Raleigh, NC, featured a panel of “herstory” makers including Piedmont Advantage CU Retired CEO Judy Tharp, Travis CU Retired CEO Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, and Local Government FCU SVP, Legal and Compliance Dayatra Matthews.

Each of the leaders shared the unique challenges they’ve faced as women in the industry in addition to the lessons they have learned overcoming life and career obstacles.

“Sometimes in life, you have to step back before you can step forward,” Tharp explained as she recalled how she sacrificed adequate pay for the opportunity to fulfill the role of president/CEO of a new credit union at the age of 22. That experience and others in between shaped her into the leader she is today, where for 13 years she led the strategic growth and development of Piedmont Advantage Credit Union (now $350 million in assets) until she retired in April of this year.

Thinking on the big risks she took over the course of her life and career, like moving from North Carolina to Northern California in her early 20s with her husband, Ouwerkerk imparted this lesson: “Feel the fear but then do it anyway.” In Northern California, is where she later became CEO of Travis Credit Union, taking it from $1.1 billion in assets to more than $ 2.2 billion upon retirement.

And when it comes to “taking the plunge” into pursuing a new career opportunity, as Matthews explains, “So often, for whatever reason, we as women feel like we have to fit 100 percent of the qualifications to even take the chance on applying.” Matthews challenged the room to instead: “Be able to advocate for the skills and qualifications you have. If you meet, say, 60 percent of what the job requires, go for it!”

At the conclusion of panel presentations, the floor opened up for Q&A. During this section, participants had the opportunity to get advice and insight from the panel on a range of questions including what it truly takes to “climb the ladder” while raising children; how to start on the right foot entering the industry as a young professional; and as a male in the industry, how to be a better advocate for improving gender equality in life and at the workplace.

To learn more about the Global Women’s Leadership Network NC Sister Society, contact Day Matthews at

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