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Speaking Topics

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DEI: It’s More Than Meets the Eye

This session provides a foundational understanding of what Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is; covers nine dimensions to consider in the workplace; and leaves participants with ideas for how to take personal action to create a more inclusive workplace.

Best Practices in Board Effectiveness (Breakout or Keynote)

The most effective boards spend 80% of their time looking forward and 20% looking back, but many organizations flip these numbers in execution doing a lot more reviewing than strategizing. This session provides tools and insights to help credit union boards achieve greater success through intentional actions in regular board meetings, strategic planning, and volunteer recruitment and development.

Setting a Different Table: Expand Your Talent Pool to Win the War for Talent (Keynote)

As an increasing number of prospective employees choose entrepreneurialism or freelancing in the gig economy, credit unions must reinvent their relationship to recruiting, retaining, and promoting talent. This session will help leaders understand how to build organizations—from the teller line through the Board of Directors– that attract a wider talent pool, full of people with unique strengths, backgrounds, and skillsets.

Defining Your Why (Workshop Style Session)

Credit unions are mission-driven financial institutions, organized for the benefit of their members. Regulatory burden, pressure to make earnings, and a fiercely competitive landscape can bog leaders down and take attention away from this core purpose. This inspiring session will energize participants, helping them reconnect with the reasons they give their time and talents to the credit union, and refocusing on the credit union’s role in serving its members and community.

Defining Your Path to Success

Wherever you may be in your career—as you consider how to build for your future or how to leave your organization better than you found it—being intentional is critical to success. By understanding the core values that drive you, developing a personal mission statement built off those values, and developing a network of advisors who can keep you on track, you are certain to find fulfillment in your career today and throughout your leadership journey. This workshop-style session will guide you through the key steps necessary to move you forward, leaving you with tangible takeaways that you can put to use immediately in defining your own path forward or growing next generation leaders at your credit union.

Soft Skills Rule!

In this 60-minute session, attendees will explore the value of soft skills: What are they, why do they matter, and how do we get them? Understanding that 85% of career success comes from developing these skills, but 78% of training dollars are directed elsewhere, there is a disconnect. This training will help leaders overcome that disconnect to flourish.

The Wisdom of Paul Simon

This engaging and entertaining session delivers leadership lessons that stem from “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover,” to “Call Me Al,” taken straight from the songs of one of the most beloved performers and songwriters of all time, Paul Simon.

Who Needs a Coach?

Discover the pros and cons of executive coaching, and how to start a coaching relationship that will drive you to greater performance.

Hire Right the First Time

This session leads hiring managers through the important obstacles, opportunities, and pitfalls that can result in effective hiring… the first time! We know the war for talent is fierce. These strategies will keep you on the winning side!

What’s Your EQ?

Learn how to harness the power of emotional intelligence in the workplace and beyond. You’ll leave this session with a clear understanding of what EQ is, why it matters, and how you can leverage EQ to be more effective in your professional and personal relationships.

Members Behaving Badly

An increasing number of credit union employees are expressing concerns about member behavior. Misogyny, discrimination, and prejudice are just some of the words that have been used to describe the behaviors that employees are experiencing in the workplace when dealing with members. Credit unions exist for the sole purpose of serving their members. But what happens when those same members create a toxic work environment for the employees who are there to serve them? In a challenging recruitment environment, organizations that lead with DEI can help managers create a great workplace where employees feel valued, heard, and safe. This session will walk through the trends in increased difficult member behavior and will share activities and strategies that have been effective in creating safe and positive workplaces for members and employees.

Ace the Job Search

It’s a competitive world for job seekers. The pressure is high for people looking to make their next career move. Far too many job candidates make easily correctable mistakes that could sink their chances to advance. This session dives deep into the hiring process, from the perspective of someone who works with job seekers every day. You’ll walk away ready to land that dream job!

Navigating a Multi-Generational Workforce

From Traditionalists to Gen Z, the workforce is made up of different generations. Often, conversations about age focus on the future and younger generations. In reality, our workplaces include a variety of generational cohorts that each have different experiences, beliefs, and values. This session will review the various generational cohorts in the workplace and create an understanding of why age diversity matters and what to consider in navigating a multigenerational workplace.

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Sonya Watkins
Meet Sonya Watkins
Director of Recruiting

With 28 years of experience working in retail banking and focusing on delivering exceptional member service, Sonya understands that the best results are achieved by creating an atmosphere of trust where diversity is encouraged. Sonya advocated for greater department synergies and additional training and development to enhance member service delivery. She also offered members Financial Literacy services to improve their financial well-being.

Sonya worked within branches and corporate offices, gaining insight and extensive knowledge of the overall vision and long-term strategy for the organization. This knowledge assisted Sonya in promoting into roles with increasing responsibility within Alaska USA Federal Credit Union.

Most recently, Sonya served as Vice President of Branch Administration, in the Alaska Region where she was responsible for branch operations, market trends, product development, banking strategies, service delivery, coaching, and development.

Sonya is a performance-driven business professional with high integrity, strong work ethic, and exceptional leadership skills. She is a meticulous and resourceful business leader with proven success leading productive branch teams throughout the Alaska region. Sonya has demonstrated effective communication through networking with other business lines and collaborating with colleagues throughout the organization.

Sonya is enthusiastic about “People Helping People” and believes this begins with ensuring a more inclusive workforce within the credit union sector.

Sonya holds a Diploma from Western CUNA Management School for strategic management and financial planning, Certified Diversity Recruiter’s Certification (CDR), and Harrison Assessments Debriefing & Coaching Accreditation.

Jaime Marks
Meet Jaime Marks
Director of Recruiting

A seasoned executor with an entrepreneurial spirit, Jaime brings over two decades of financial institution experience. She honed her skills in the heart of the credit union movement, gaining rich and invaluable experience in her various leadership roles within retail branch networks, operations, commercial and consumer lending, strategy, and people operations. She thrives on forging genuine connections, improving processes and empowering individuals through effective mentorship and coaching to ensure talent has the skills and support needed to be the best in the industry.

Jaime has been instrumental in enhancing operational efficiencies and profitability of numerous financial institutions. Her deep understanding and care for employee development and member experience has enabled her to significantly improve both the member and team-member journey.

Jaime is an unwavering champion of Diversity, Equality, Inclusion and Belonging (DEI&B) and believes that a thriving credit union should reflect the vibrant tapestry of its community. Giving a voice to those who have no voice is her personal mission.

Having served as Board Chairwoman, Vice-Chair and Board member with various organizations, Jaime continues to dedicate her time, talent and treasure within her community of San Diego, California.

Tracie Kenyon
Meet Tracie Kenyon
Executive Development Partner

Tracie delights in helping people find their true potential and she’s passionate about credit unions. Her 38-year career has spanned four states, four credit unions, and two leagues; she recently retired after 22 years as the CEO of the Montana Credit Union League. She’s made long-term contributions to each organization she served: building a self-funded health insurance trust, launching a 501(c)3 aimed at financial wellness, developing a training department, creating a secondary mortgage program, starting a marketing department, rebranding, and rebuilding cultures.

During her tenure at the Montana League, she was recognized by her peers with the two highest awards, the Eagle Award, and the Eugene Farley Leadership Award.

Her commitment to continuous improvement led her to become a certified professional coach with the desire to employ the “starfish principle” – helping one credit union executive at a time be the best they can be.

An engaged professional, her previous board commitments include Filene Research Institute chairman, American Association of Credit Union Leagues chairman, Western CUNA Management School (WCMS) board treasurer, and National Credit Union Foundation board member. She continues to serve on the faculty of WCMS.

Tracie has a master’s degree in professional communication (MPC), bachelor’s degree in psychology, Certified Professional Coach certification, PCC (Professional Certified Coach) designation, CAE (Certified Association Executive) designation, and CUDE (Credit Union Development Educator) designation.

Ciara LaVelle
Meet Ciara LaVelle
Project Manager

Ciara LaVelle started her career in the credit union industry in 2012. She recognizes the credit union movement’s impact on the financial wellbeing of its members, particularly those that are traditionally underrepresented. She is an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion and primarily focuses on embedding those core values at the heart and soul of the credit union movement. Her passion for serving the underserved has led Ciara to join Humanidei as a Project Manager.

LaVelle has experience in leadership, branch operations, lending, and DEI. Throughout her eleven-year career, she has led enterprise initiatives that positively impacted the organization, its membership, and the community. Ciara is at her best when she is making a difference.

Ciara is actively engaged in her local credit union league chapter and serves as a board member for a community-based diversity coalition. She capitalizes on opportunities to use her voice for inclusion, as she believes that our strengths lie in our differences.

Ciara is a certified Sales Consultant and has also received a certification from Georgetown University in Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace.

Frieda Afandi
Meet Frieda Afandi
Vice President- Administrative Services

Frieda was hired as the Corporate Services Manager at O’Rourke & Associates in 2010, and has continued to grow her career with Humanidei, becoming the entity’s Vice President-Administrative Services in 2023. During her time with the organization, she has been an invaluable resource providing support in all operational aspects of the firm.

She provides crucial project management oversight, including marketing administration, vendor management, and working with financial institutions nationwide on executive search and benefits consulting projects. Her particular areas of expertise include market data analysis and candidate development.

Since O’Rourke’s partnership with Humanidei, Frieda has become the firm’s Certified Diversity Recruiter, responsible for coordinating and recommending processes to ensure equitable practices in candidate sourcing and screening. Her expertise in effective communication with candidates and her years of experience in executive recruiting position her to be an ideal resource for candidates and credit unions seeking to expand their diversity recruiting processes.

Frieda holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a minor in Criminal Justice from San Francisco State University.

Carl Clark
Meet Carl Clark
Senior Consultant, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Carl Clark began working in the credit union industry in 2008. Working primarily in marketing and public relations, Carl is an excellent public speaker that enjoys spreading the word about the virtues of credit unions to all who will listen. He is well-versed in Board governance and has created trainings and programs that help connect communities and businesses with resources that help them thrive. He has experience in community outreach and facilitating discussions around strategic planning.

Carl believes that credit unions are a reflection of the communities they serve and the people who lead those institutions should also reflect that community. This belief is what led him to Humanidei and a career of matching diverse talent with inclusive organizations.

Carl is actively engaged in his local credit union league chapter and served as the chapter president for several years. Carl also devotes time to mentoring youth in the greater Charlotte (NC) area.

At every phase of his career, Carl has worked to be a connector and liaison. Carl has a passion for credit unions and a belief in what they can accomplish in local communities. Carl holds a master’s in business administration from Pfeiffer University and a bachelor’s degree from Murray State University. Carl is a certified Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE) and a Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC).

Oscar Porras
Meet Oscar Porras
Senior Consultant, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Oscar Porras started his career in the credit union industry in 2001. He has primarily worked with community members of modest needs, credit union professionals of diverse backgrounds, and immerging markets with a focus on the Hispanic community in Oregon and California. That experience has led Oscar to Humanidei as a Senior Consultant for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Porras has experience in branch operations, lending, and community outreach. In each of his roles he has helped create, develop, and implement products and services that have helped guide immigrant community members and those of modest means into mainstream financial services.

From working with youth, professionals, and board members, Oscar is driven by the belief that everyone deserves an opportunity. The credit union industry will serve as a catalyst for diversity, equity and inclusion by purposely and intently providing opportunities for different ideas, opinions, and lived experiences. Credit unions will continue to grow and stay relevant by becoming a reflection of the communities they serve. Oscar is a certified International Credit Union Development Educator and has also received a certification from Georgetown University in Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace.

Jill Nowacki headshot
Meet Jill Nowacki
President/Chief Executive Officer

Jill Nowacki started her career with credit unions in 2001. She has taken on leadership roles at credit unions and state and national trade associations. Now, she is using her experience and passion to lead Humanidei, a human capital strategies firm committed to making credit unions the workplaces and volunteer causes of choice for today’s workforce.

Nowacki has practical experience in politics and communication; human resources and strategic planning; community development and marketing. With each role, her purpose remained the same: Help credit unions realize their full potential to expand the economic capacity of members and communities.

Jill has deeply engaged with credit unions across the country, working with Boards of Directors and executive teams to foster growth. They need products, services, and technology to meet member needs, but the true differentiator is in credit unions that leverage the value of human capital to make their systems work best.

As the President/CEO of Humanidei, Jill helps credit unions increase relevance and win the war for talent at all levels, from front-line staffing through the Board of Directors. By strategically addressing the value of human capital, credit unions can create environments where people bring their best, authentic selves to work; resulting in diversity in thought, increased innovation, stronger succession planning, and ultimately: Relevant, growing credit unions that expand the economic capacity of the members and communities they serve.