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Mitchell Aviles - Starting At A Young Age

Mitchell Aviles is currently the Training Specialist at Farmers Insurance Federal Credit Union, but he got his first taste of the credit union Kool-Aid at a very young age. With a mother that worked for the California Credit Union League – he was bound too! Mitchell attended his first Hike the Hill Advocacy at age 15 and the passion ignited a spark that had him Crashing the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) and all in with the credit union movement a couple years later. Mitchell has also helped to start a young professional’s group at his credit union and has his eyes on Western CUNA Management School. Check out our interview with Mitchell below!

How did you get started in the Credit Union industry?

I got started at a very young age. My mother started working at the California Credit Union League when I was about 11. Back then, my mom would tell me I was “volunteering,” but looking at the laws now, I think the league may have been skirting some child labor laws. I would lick envelopes to send to member credit unions all day and soak up information about credit unions and why the Movement is the best for people and their finances. I think of that time as my first sip of Kool-Aid. From there, I worked a couple of odd jobs but always told people they needed to drop their bank and switch to a credit union. Then I was hired as a teller for Technicolor FCU in 2012, and today I am a trainer at Farmers Insurance Federal Credit Union.

What are some of the things you’ve done and continue to do to help advocate for the credit union movement?

My first step advocating for the Movement began when I was 15, my mother brought me to Hike the Hill in Sacramento with the League. At the time, I was very interested in politics and thought I would be governor someday. Once I started getting paid by credit unions I was working for I was allowed to Crash the GAC in 2015. That lit a fire like you wouldn’t believe, I was already one of the most gung-ho people at my shop but Crashing the GAC expanded my view and focused my passion. I’ve also completed my CUDE certification, advocated at GAC as a regular attendee, help found an YP Group at my credit union, and led a team of our YPs to Hike the Hill in DC with the CCUL.

Tell us about CUDE training and how it’s helped you evolve in your current and future positions.

DE was life-changing. I thought I loved the Movement before that beautiful week in Madison. It helped show me why we are here, how we can do better, and why we should. I have formed bonds with people across the country and world. I am a trainer at FIGFCU, and DE is a masterful experience in terms of training. I have incorporated so much of what we learned there into our on-boarding and experienced staff training. Personally, it has helped me be more empathetic, understanding that we are all different with different experiences. However, we all have something to say and add. The Beauty of DE is that there are no titles, and as long as you trust the process, you will treat everyone with the respect and empathy we all deserve. That is something I will take into my future opportunities.

Who are some of the most influential people in the CU industry?

There are too many influential people to choose from but, I will pick my top 3. Teresa Freeborn is someone that I look at as a force of nature. She is receiving a Herb Wagner Award this year, and she deserves it. My first interaction with her was in a group Teresa led during the Hike at GAC in 2015. I remember thinking to myself, “Who is this person, and how did she become so amazing?” Cortney Angeley would have to be another influential person. Now that she is in charge of the Cooperative Trust, she has the responsibility of shaping how YPs view the Movement and how engaged they will be, which will ultimately shape the future of the Movement. Last, I would pick Jon Hernandez. The things he has done for credit unions in California are awe-inspiring. If I can accomplish even half of what he has done for members around our state, I will consider it a career well lived.

Tell us a little about the YP group at your credit union. How did that start?

After crashing GAC, I came back with a fire that I wanted to join an YP Group in California. Unfortunately, we don’t have one, so I wanted to create something at my credit union. However, it wasn’t until we managed to get a couple more people to attend a Crash that Mayra Alcaraz (chair) Megan Tondreau (Communications director) Alfredo Blancarte (Former membership director) and myself we able to form a strategy and plan to get one off the ground. It took quite a bit of work, but we had our CEO and COO’s blessing, and it has been a great group. We were able to start up officially in March of 2018. Currently, we have about 15 YP’s and are hoping to send one to Crash the GAC this year, fingers crossed.

Wow that is impressive, what are some of the things your group does?

We have monthly meetings that range on topics of budgeting and personal finance to guest speakers like Mike Reuter, CUDE from WOCCU. All with the emphasis of growing us into Passionate Professional People. Since we started in 2018, we’ve sent about eleven people to conferences as either a Crasher or FIGFCU YP delegate. On top of that 5 YP members have been promoted within our organization. Additionally, whenever people attend a conference, it is required that they present at the next YP meeting. These presentations have been incredibly useful and aided in our growth as young professionals. My proudest accomplishment personally, however, was winning this year’s SCCUA summer Olympics. Something I have dreamed of since I learned about the SCCUA Olympics.

Is this something you feel should be done nationwide?

It kind of already is, with the Cooperative Trust and YP Council. I would say that I would like the two groups to get more involved at the state level, maybe have chapters for YPs within the council. I think every state league should have an YP group. When I look at the fantastic things, Wisconsin, Cornerstone, and so many other leagues that have an YP group have done. I can’t help but get a little jealous that my great state hasn’t started one... yet (stay tuned)

What’s next for you?

I have thought about this a lot, and I believe wherever I am called to next, I have to expand the number of members I help. Starting as a teller, I helped 20-40 a day, then as a call center rep, I helped 40-90 a day. Now, as a trainer, I don’t contribute to members directly, but the people I train do, which means I have an imprint on that member’s experience and service they receive. Each step of my career, I have expanded that number and quality. So wherever I go next, I want to be able to increase how many people I can help as well as how well I can help them. I don’t necessarily have my sights set on one position, but I hope that is where this industry takes me. Besides that, I know I need to attend Western CUNA Management School, which has been a goal of mine since my mother graduated, and I started in the industry.

CUltivate is people helping people with our mission to spread the word, connect the people, and give an outlet to share your stories. Know someone in the industry we should interview? Drop us a line at

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