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From the CEO
June 30, 2021

Dear Members:

A couple of months ago, I participated as a mentor for the African American Credit Union Coalition’s (AACUC) pilot program “1-to-1 Woman Mentoring Program.” 1-1 Woman is a program initiative to address the stigmas of racism and feminism by pairing women from diverse cultures to learn from each other the barriers that create blind spots, which hinder social and economic development. The goal of the program is to break the typical mentoring standard of business professionals being more likely to mentor someone from the same culture.

I was honored to be asked to be a part of this program. Over eight separate sessions, I was given the unique opportunity to mentor a very smart, driven young woman from a completely different part of the U.S., career field, and racial background. Each mentor/mentee pair discussed a wide range of professional topics, such as her goals and ambitions, resume preparation, cultural views, professional presence, conflict resolution, and more. After the program concluded, my mentee reported that she was now thinking differently about her ability to speak up and express her thoughts and ideas as a result of a conversation we had about not needing a particular title or position in order to think and move like a leader. In fact, it was inspiring to see all the young women in the program growing and learning to be more confident in their abilities, and many of them reported increased confidence as a result of having a mentor helping them reflect on their strengths and skills.

For me as a mentor, I personally grew from the experience by gaining a better understanding of the unique challenges that African American women face in the workforce. The AACUC did an outstanding job of creating an open and safe environment for both the mentors and mentees to share their thoughts, views, and experiences. There was structure around the program with discussion topics that forced the participants to delve into sensitive issues, and there were ground rules in place to make it known that this was a safe space to discuss such topics. Participants were told to come with an open mind for learning—the mentee learning from the mentor, and the mentors gaining a better understanding of the unique issues facing African American women. For more details about the program, including a list of those who participated, you can read this article by the Credit Union Times.

In addition to the 1-1 Woman Mentoring Program, the AACUC continues its great work of offering educational and developmental opportunities that are much needed to encourage equality for all individuals. We support the AACUC in their mission to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), which is why we made our second annual donation of $10,000 on the Juneteenth holiday (June 19). Recently recognized as an official federal holiday, Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S.

Corporate One continues developing our leadership and staff awareness, DEI educational classes in addition to holding our “Be Heard” sessions. “Be Heard” stands for “Hearing Everyone Allows for Real Discourse,” and these sessions are giving our staff the opportunity to dialogue with our leadership and each other on DEI topics. I would love to hear what your credit union is doing to embrace and encourage DEI. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at 614/825-9351 or mashley@corporateone.coop.

Best,
Melissa Ashley
President/CEO