Pelham woman named Next Top Credit Union Exec
Published 2:38 pm Monday, November 16, 2015
By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer
PELHAM— After spending about 10 years with America’s First Credit Union in Pelham, Jimese Harkley was named CUES Next Top Credit Union Executive on Nov. 11.
Harkley, who serves as philanthropy and community relations manager, was nominated for her project idea “Community First Campaign.”
For the past two years, American’s First has helped increase corporate giving through employees who sell items, compete in tournaments and participate in activities to raise money.
“Most of all, when you are a corporate organization it is about more than having an office,” Harkley said in a Nov. 16 interview. “It is our responsibility to understand the needs in the community we serve and make an impact.”
Harkley was chosen from a group of applicants, under age 35, by a team of judges. The finalists were selected in September.
Harkley’s blog and video updates over the past few months provided the industry with an insight into the project’s progress, and ended with a presentation at CUES’ CEO/Executive Team Network.
After a four-part scoring process, that judged Harkley’s panel results, social media engagement, plus audience and online voting, Harkely was chosen as the winner.
“It feels amazing. It just means once I realized, being a young professional is about being innovative and sharing those ideas,” Harkley said. “It’s not about how old you are. Getting this award is so important because it helps me move forward with what we are doing (in the credit union industry).”
Harkley won a $20,000 educational prize package that includes registration, accommodation and economy airfare to two of CUES CEO Institutes. She said she will attend the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2016 and Cornell University in 2017.
Harkley said she is excited to learn from such well-rounded professors about the qualities of a good leader.
The classes will take Harkley through life simulations to teach her about all aspects of leadership, such as understanding poverty, helping members, taking everyone into account and how to effectively deal with conflict.
“Just the fact that I fought for this opportunity and won the opportunity to further my education, that is what I am most proud of,” she said. “Just showing that I can take charge of my field.”