John Herrera’s Wegner award acceptance speech as Chair of the Latino Community Credit Union is as moving and thoughtful today as it was that evening.
In 2003 Latino Community was only $11 million in assets, relying on credit union deposits and just ramping up its loan operations. But its initial success and impact were already noteworthy.
Herrera’s speech touches a number of important themes:
- The “family” of supporters-over 20 on stage with him;
- The Movement has developed an “accent”-an accent on people and community;
- His staff: they speak five languages, are from 16 countries and routinely work beyond closing hours until everyone is served.
But his two most vital messages, more relevant than ever, start at:
5:00- “Our story is your story”- a shared vision for all persons to have access to affordable financial services;
8:45- “Immigration and the treatment of immigrants”- There are “no illegal human beings.” Immigrants are a critical aspect of America’s democratic enterprise. The first credit union was created by and for immigrants, who couldn’t speak English.
Here is the full speech, just over 10 minutes with the family of supporters on stage beside him.
Questions for Today
When was the last time you heard a credit union leader speak this movingly about their credit union’s addressing critical economic issues for its members?
When have you witnessed a more concrete example of the movement gathered around a common vision?
Which credit union leader has spoken recently or more eloquently about the role of the immigrant community for America?
Can you identify another time such as this evening, when you were proud to be a part of the credit union movement?
Hopefully this speech reminds us of who credit unions can be at their best; and whether we are building on the legacy we have been given.