As part of our monthly series where we interview experts here at BECU, we sat down for a conversation with Debbie Wege, Cooperative Community Advocate with the Cooperative Affairs team.
What do you do at BECU?
Because BECU takes its role seriously as a not-for-profit member-owned credit union, I am tasked with a unique and exciting position as BECU’s Cooperative Community Advocate. I am a longtime champion of our cooperative principles and values, and it is my role to find creative space for our people to engage in thoughtful work around these principles, building empathy and deepening our understanding of member needs. Examples of this include conducting experiential activities that give a taste of what it is like to walk in the shoes - and navigate the challenges - of those dealing with finances when times are tough. I also help coordinate staff conversations about how to balance the business needs of having a safe, sound, and growing credit union alongside our intentional focus on thoughtful member solutions. All of my work is to help expand our collective mindset around providing principle-based value and solutions to improve member financial health.
I also engage in work to support our role as a thought-leader and team player within the collaborative credit union movement as a whole. As a longtime member of the Credit Union Development Education Certification program, I support on-going training programs, workshops and activities through the National Credit Union Foundation and the Northwest Credit Union Association. These bring credit union professionals together to deepen our commitment to the purpose of credit unions.
My role expands into the local community where I represent BECU in areas that promote local, inclusive and healthy economies. This includes building relationships with other cooperatives, especially as a board member of the Northwest Cooperative Development Center, which works to foster community economic development through the cooperative business models.
Additionally, I serve on the board of Seattle Good Business Network and engage in their People’s Economy Lab. And I work with the National Council for Financial Opportunities, which is a non-profit focused on working in tandem with credit unions to provide targeted financial services to unbanked and under-banked community members looking to build a foundation of financial stability
How does BECU bring the co-op principles to life?
I have been proud to work for over 29 years at a credit union that works daily to bring our co-op principles to life in a multitude of ways. For example:
BECU supports the distribution of value and service to our members through quality products and services at little or no cost to the member, including the Reprice Program for our Visa® cards and other select loan products that may automatically reduce your interest as your credit improves, and and we offer up to 2% of your down-payment in the form of a First Time Home Buyer Grant.
BECU also supports the principle of democratically controlled membership by conducting an annual Member Summit every spring. We hold electronic voting of our Board of Directors to enable all members to participate in the selection of our governing body. The Member Summit is our annual meeting and member celebration, which members can attend in person, live streaming or watch later.
These are just some of the ways we live up to our values – and check out BECU &You for more, along with the overall products and services we offer to provide value to our members.