Andrea Finley - Volunteer. Advocate. Rockstar
We were blown away by the AACUC Commitment To Change Series and after hearing Andrea Finley present we knew we had to interview her. What Andrea has accomplished in the Credit Union Industry is quite remarkable, and she is just getting started.
Tell me about your day to day as a financial wellness counselor.
As the Financial Wellness Coordinator for Spero Financial, I have the honor and privilege of helping our members better understand their finances. I strategize to make sure we have the right tools and resources available to our members. I also work closely with our community partners all while remaining available for one-on-one counseling sessions with our members. One day I am working on new content for upcoming videos and the next day I could be teaching a personal finance class for a local non-profit (virtually now-of course). My days can vary but everything I do is working towards the goal of empowering our members to be financially healthy.
GAC is one of our favorite events every year, tell me about your CRASHER and Mentoring experience.
I first crashed in 2019 with the biggest class of crashers. 100 crashers went to GAC that year! I would describe crashing as a catalyst event in my career. Not only did I learn about credit union advocacy and get to see it in action, I also learned a lot about myself in the process. I am a big believer in the notion that we can all learn something from someone no matter what our perceived differences may be, and my crash experience proved that. I also had the honor of serving as a crash mentor for the 2020 GAC. My biggest take away from my experience as a mentor is you do not have to have a leadership title to lead others. You never know what opportunities may come your way because of relationships you’ve developed.
I love this mindset; meeting people is so important. Let’s build on that, you attend GAC, take in all the information, get super pumped up then COVID hits and everything locks down. How did you pivot and what changed for you?
It forced me to think outside of the box and not shy away from my ideas. The biggest change was the methods I used to continue to reach our communities. All my personal finance classes are now taught virtually, and I have even started an on-demand video series for our community partner, Habitat for Humanity. It’s a blessing in disguise because now we are reaching even more families than previously because we’ve eliminated the challenge of scheduling conflicts and childcare obligations.
AACUC is doing some amazing things, what do others need to know about AACUC and how did you get involved with them?
AACUC is one of the leading organizations when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. They’ve been doing DEI before it was on everyone’s radar. I was first introduced to AACUC when I crashed the GAC in 2019 and was invited to attend their networking social event by a member. Prior to that meeting I had never met an African American in the credit union industry who held an executive leadership position. I found myself surrounded by executives who looked like me! It is hard to describe the impact discovering AACUC had on me. I left that meeting with new career aspirations and truly felt like my opportunities were endless. Representation really does matter. I became a member as soon as I returned home from that trip. What I like the most about AACUC is how inclusive they are. In June, the AACUC launched Commitment to Change: Credit Unions Unite Against Racism. This initiative focuses on unification, education, conversations, and investments that will move the credit union movement into a future where diversity, equity, and inclusion can thrive. I currently volunteer as a diversity trainer for AACUC and I have facilitated some impactful conversations. AACUC creates safe spaces for us to have these difficult but necessary conversations in order to make our industry a more equitable one.
All the AACUC sessions have been so informative and inspirational. You also won the 2020 CU Rockstar, congrats on that, what was this like?
Wow. So yeah, that was a huge surprise and honor! I am very passionate about financial inclusion and my work with our local non-profit partners reflects that. I think what makes our community partnerships unique is our flexibility as an organization to meet our partners’ needs. A lot of our success has come from me introducing myself, stating what I’m passionate about and then asking them how I can help serve them? Their answers have been the starting point for a lot of unique programs that truly serves our community members’ needs. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done at Spero Financial to make financial health accessible for everyone.
Where did all your volunteering passions come from?
My parents have always had a heart for service. We saw this daily growing up. Our home was always open. My dad would help anyone who needed it and my mom just has a beautiful heart for people. She truly sees you and goes the extra mile to make sure you feel valued and cared about. They have always shown the love of Jesus. I’m glad some of it rubbed off on me.
Between Spero Financial and volunteering with AACUC and of course supporting my crasher mentees, I reserve the rest of my time for my family. I think it’s so important to know what drains you and what refuels you. My family refuels me, so I am a big advocate for work-life flexibility.
What is next for you heading into 2021.
I’m looking forward to saying goodbye to 2020 and creating new exciting experiences to engage people in DEI and financial inclusion.
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