Women have long been a powerful force in the credit union world, with their presence and impact growing stronger each year. This summer, a select few emerging women leaders in the global credit union movement have been chosen to attend, and take part in, the 2014 Global Women's Leadership Forum and World Credit Union Conference, in Gold Coast, Australia from July 25 through July 30. You may be wondering what made these individuals lucky enough to be chosen for such a meaningful and valuable experience. Well, it has much more to do with hard work and ingenuity, than with luck. These forward-thinking women were applicants in the Global Women’s Leadership Network Scholarship, who were selected as candidates to present their projects to Network members at the 2014 Leadership Forum.
According to Nicole Bice, Business Manager for the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) (Madison, WI), there was an abundance of scholarship applications received from all over the world. From the initial group of runners-up selected by a WOCCU scholarship committee to attend the conference and present at the forum, an even more elite group will be chosen by Network members to receive Network support for the implementation of their projects. Those winners will carry out their projects from August 2014 through June 2015 and will return to the 2015 Global Women's Leadership Forum in Denver, CO, to present their project results.
The WOCCU is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions, from which the Global Women’s Leadership Network was born. The Network is a WOCCU initiative to advance credit union women in leadership. With more than 550 women from 35 countries as well as regional sister society groups in multiple locations in the U.S. and around the world, it provides a unique opportunity for credit union women to make a global impact by sharing business knowledge and experiences with industry peers.
The Network has offered scholarships since its inception in 2009 but this is the first year the scholarships have included the implementation of projects. “The scholarships provide credit union women leaders with the opportunity to grow their professional networks, learn from their peers and impact their credit union organizations and communities,” explained Bice.
Although the application deadline has passed (3/28/14), those who were eligible for the scholarship, had to be female emerging leaders in the global credit union movement. “Candidates were required to demonstrate the ability to effectively implement their proposed project and suggest appropriate engagement from the Network, such as volunteers, training internships, etc. Projects will foster the success of the applicant's organization by solving a problem or meeting a credit union and/or community need,” added Bice.
The scholarships offered by WOCCU are made possible through funding provided by annual Network membership donations as well as through sponsorships, such as that provided by CUNA Mutual Group (Madison, WI). CUNA Mutual was a Founding Level Supporter of the Network and has recently offered additional sponsorship support.
CUNA Mutual is sponsoring the WOCCU scholarship in an effort to show support for women in global credit union leadership roles. Plus, beyond the $20,000 scholarship grant, CUNA Mutual has expanded its support of WOCCU initiatives to become the only Diamond-Level supporter of the organization’s Foundation.
“Our expanded support to a long-time partner like WOCCU is a natural extension of CUNA Mutual Group’s commitment to credit unions worldwide,” said Faye Patzner, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, CUNA Mutual Group. “We are pleased and proud to sponsor the Global Women’s Leadership Network scholarship and become the only Diamond-Level sponsor of WOCCU.”
In response, Brian Branch, President & CEO, WOCCU, said that his organization is very grateful to CUNA Mutual Group for supporting the Global Women’s Leadership Network scholarship program. “This will go a long way in advancing credit union women leadership across the world.”
With last year’s scholarship recipients hailing from a diverse group of international locales including Jamaica, Canada, Macedonia, Thailand, Kenya, Malawi, and more, it will be interesting and exciting when the identities and related credit unions of the 2014 winners are revealed.
“We look forward to the impact that this year’s scholarship winners will have in their credit unions and communities through the implementation of their projects,” said Bice. “Together with the support of the Network, its members and supporters, we are building a global community.”
If you are female credit union leader looking to connect with fellow leaders in other credit union movements around the world in an effort to bring about positive change for your credit union, your community, and yourself, the Global Women’s Leadership Network may be for you.
Stay tuned for updates on this year’s winners, and info on next year’s scholarship application process.By Cyndi Cohen