Staci Hering - Curating an Experience
Updated: Oct 11
Staci Hering, like so many of us, never expected to end up in the credit union industry. She has been a part of the Illinois Credit Union League for the past 10 years, serving as a Marketing and Event Coordinator and today is the Outreach & Engagement Coordinator. She finds ways to bring her degree in art education and apply it to the planning and creating credit union events – and if you’ve had the chance to go to the Illinois YP IMPACT Conference – you have seen Staci’s craft first hand! Staci also stays busy by getting CU Kind day up and running in Illinois, she serves on the CUNA YP Advisory Committee and somehow still manages to find time to get back to her roots and be artistic! We couldn’t be more excited to have the chance to talk to Staci about her whirlwind past month and we hope you enjoy it too!
Tell us about your time in the credit union industry and what has kept you here?
My credit union story starts nearly ten years ago, so I will try to give you the cliff notes version of it! It begins a bit unintentionally… but before you revoke my “I <3 CUs” card, the choice to stay and grow was very much intentional! So, ten years ago I was graduating from college with a degree in art education. The job market for new teachers back then was not exactly booming… and with my student loans looming and window to find a job in my field closing, I started applying everywhere. When the Illinois Credit Union League called me for an interview, I was hesitant. I didn’t really know anything about credit unions… But I needed a job and the philosophy of “people helping people” intrigued me. Needless to say, it did not take me long to start experiencing this “credit union difference” thing that everyone was talking about!
The dedication, cooperation, and compassion credit unions radiate totally hooked me. As I learned more, I felt a deeper pull to the mission, members and movement as a whole. I felt proud of how I spent my day and eager to do more. I felt like I had found my home. From this, I wanted to keep growing in the movement and help others realize their passion for credit unions, too. That was when I began working with our young professionals. Simply put, the YPs inspired me and I wanted to give them the same kind of inspiration in return. I began to view my work less like coordinating an event, and more like curating an experience. (That is the art teacher in me, I guess!) My role gave me the platform to create something unique for our YPs, and I am really proud of how our group has developed… and it’s only the beginning!
This year, the League has also added a new feather to my cap regarding outreach development. This is something I could not be more thrilled about because it allows me to focus on not only YP development, but community work as well (which has always been a passion that the credit union movement and I have shared!). I guess what I am trying to say is I love where the last ten years have taken me and am excited to see what the next ten will bring! One thing I can confidently say is that it will be with credit unions!
Tell us about where the YP Conference got its start? How do you choose the speakers, etc. What were you goals for this conference for the attendees?
Oh the YP Conference, how I love this event! So, this year we celebrated its sixth anniversary and it could not have been a greater success! With nearly 100 young professionals gathered from around the state, you can imagine it was anything but boring! The beauty behind this conference is its structure. We really try to create a unique atmosphere that breaks down walls while actively engaging and empowering our participants. The main goal of this event is to foster professional development by strengthening the skills needed to grow within the movement.
From this event we hope to inspire our YPs, ignite their CU passion and ultimately encourage life-long careers in the movement. Part of what makes this conference so unique is the peer-to-peer learning element. This conference is designed from the ground up by a committee of young professionals I assemble each year. Together, we create the theme for that year, an agenda based on topics they know to be relevant and valuable to YPs new to the industry, and presentations that are both informative and experiential. This process has a positive ripple effect for so many reasons, such as the leadership skills that the committee develops while executing the event and the comradery the participants feel while learning from their peers.
The energy created by this event is off the charts, and its effects are long-lasting! I cannot say enough good things about this event. Even reflecting on it now, I am overcome with a sense of pride and accomplishment for what our YP culture has grown into. Leading this group of amazing people truly gives me all the feels! I don’t know how I got so lucky!
What type of things do you do in working on the CUNA Young Professionals Advisory Committee?
Being asked on the CUNA Young Professionals Advisory Committee was such an honor! This year is my first term, so I have gotten the chance to participate in the amazing things put in motion by the committee over the last few years, such as the epic CUNA YP Conference! I am so excited to play a role in the continued development of this event and work on our other initiatives. We started this term with one question; “What can we do to help attract and retain young professionals into the movement?”
We want to put credit unions in the forefront of young people’s minds when they are considering their career options. That said, we have some things in the works that aim to do just that! Beyond that, I am just so excited to be working with and learning from some truly talented YP superheroes around the country!
CU Kind Day is coming up – how have you grown this in the state of Illinois and where would you like to see it go?
First, I have to say – AHHHH!! I’m so excited for CU Kind Day!! Now that I got that out, I would like to give a HUGE shout out to the Minnesota Credit Union Network, specifically Ben Hering (no relation that we know of, but we are working on tracing it back!). Minnesota has started something great, and we were so excited to bring the concept of a statewide credit union day of service to Illinois! When our league president, Tom Kane, began talking about this idea, I was all over it! I immediately started researching, collaborating with Ben, designing our brand and website, and creating plans to launch. I was fired up, but I wasn’t the only one! Support for this day has been League-wide.
We all want to see this day be a huge success for our credit unions, their communities and the movement that we are all a part of. Our credit unions immediately shared our enthusiasm and were eager to jump on board! The cooperative spirit of credit unions is so special, and to have so many people come together on this day with the sole purpose of spreading kindness hits me right in the heart! Right now, CU Kind Day has 55 participating credit unions and partners, and I think that number will grow even more before the day hits!
When promoting this day, we really left no stone unturned! My most favorite effort occurred at our Annual Convention which involved demonstrating the intentions of the day vs simply telling people. This was done by passing out “compliment cards” that said funny/feel good comments like “You are more fun than bubble wrap.“ This was an amusing and unexpected way for people to be introduced to the idea and direct them on how to get involved. Another way we are trying to grow awareness in our state (and beyond) is with our CU Kind Day Instagram account – CU.Kind. My goal for this account echoes the goals of the day; to Spread Kindness, Create CU Awareness, and Impact our Communities. It has been a total blast creating this content and growing our following!
I would love to see this initiative keep growing. Already, some amazing YPs in Mississippi (Shout out to the YPs of LEAD!) have made a plan for spreading kindness in their state on 10/14. The beautiful thing is that there is no end to how big this could get. There is no shortage of people who could use a little credit union kindness in their lives!
How would you suggest other young professionals get more involved in the movement?
The advice I would give to young people looking to get more involved in the movement is simply this: You get back what you put in, SO GO ALL IN! Always be looking for opportunities to learn more and grow your network. And if you are not sure where to start, ask someone! One thing I have learned about credit union people… We are always looking to fill up someone’s glass of credit union kool-aid!
Tell us about what you do outside of the credit union movement.
On a personal note, outreach has always been really important to me. For years I was a volunteer art instructor for a local community resource organization, and the past two years I been a part of an amazing volunteer group that performs monthly service projects. I also have a very clever Australian Shepherd at home that keeps my husband and I very busy! He is quite the socialite, so we love finding new dog-friendly spots to take him on the weekends. Lastly, it is really important to me to find time to be creative, even if that just means making a big mess with paint, it is my mess and I love it!
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 CultivateYP@gmail.com