inVest48 energizes with education, collaboration, and leadership awards

Published by: Melanie Koch

May 1, 2024 | Education & Training

The 2024 inVest48 conference may be a wrap, but the energy and spirit of collaboration at the event will inspire attendees for months to come. Nearly 400 credit union professionals and 300 industry partners descended on Columbus last week to collaborate, learn, and celebrate several exemplary leaders in the Ohio Movement.

League President Paul Mercer and Board Chair Bill Burke kicked off inVest48 introducing the League’s Board of Directors and underscoring the defining characteristics that make credit unions a great choice for consumers and businesses in 2024. Mercer noted, “credit unions are the best option in today’s financial marketplace for providing a people-first approach, and you are the leaders ensuring a bright future for Ohio credit unions.”

A main stage highlight for attendees, Brandon Smith, author of The Workplace Therapist, led a deep dive into managing urgency overload through a theory he calls “The Hot Sauce Principle.” In his session, Smith explained how leaders can strike the right balance between urgency and speed to be more focused and avoid chaos and confusion.

On the final day of this year’s collaboration-filled event, attendees celebrated the outstanding strategic direction and contributions of this year’s credit union leadership award winners.

Louise McCarren Herring Movement Advancement Award

Gary Soukenik,recently retired President and CEO of 7 17 Credit Union, was honored for long-lasting contributions to the Movement. A 46-year credit union champion in the Mahoning Valley, Gary applied his visionary leadership to transform the credit union into a thriving financial powerhouse that serves over 100,000 members in six counties. He was among the first in that area to launch ATMs and ITMs, he championed diversity, equity, and inclusion, and has been a constant advocate for credit unions, helping to drive legislative action when needed. Gary’s commitment to fostering cooperative principles and cementing 7 17’s values into their brand promise has left an indelible mark on the Credit Union Movement.

Robert Kloss Professional Achievement Award

This award honors an outstanding credit union executive for their professionalism, integrity, dedication, and leadership. Michael Barr, President and CEO of Commodore Perry Federal Credit Union, was recognized for embodying the cooperative spirit of the credit union community. Mike generously shares his expertise to help other credit unions navigate CDFI grants and core conversions. Under Mike’s leadership, Commodore Perry Federal Credit Union has secured CDFI grants totaling more than $3.5 million. The grants allowed the credit union to extend outreach into underserved communities. Mike also has been a staunch supporter of credit unions becoming eligible depositories for public funds, working with the League to advance the role and influence of credit unions in the financial marketplace.

Claude Clarke Advocacy Impact Award

James Tebbutt, General Counsel of KEMBA Financial Credit Union, was awarded for outstanding dedication to advocacy on behalf of the Movement. His work on the League’s Advocacy Action Committee paved the way for credit unions to participate in Ohio’s suite of linked-deposit programs like the Ohio Homebuyer Plus Program. Jim has willingly shared KEMBA Financial’s experience with other credit unions, helping more Ohio credit union members achieve a brighter financial future.

Attendees wrapped up inVest48 with a keynote address by Dr. Jennifer Golbeck, Director of the Social Intelligence Lab at the University of Maryland. She led an informative and insightful discussion on “Building Trust Between Humans and AI to Supercharge Your Business.” Golbeck has worked extensively to understand developments in AI and how those impact consumers in everyday life. She shared that the average person is not aware of how much personal information companies overtly collect and how it may be used to drive business, sometimes at the unintended expense of privacy.

Save the dates for 2025 inVest48: April 21-23, 2025, at the Hilton Columbus Downtown. For more information on this or next year’s inVest48, contact Director of Member Success Melanie Shaner.

Contact Melanie Shaner for questions or assistance.

Melanie Shaner
Melanie Shaner Director, Member Success E: mshaner@ohiocul.org
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