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Joy Cousminer - NCUF 2006 Wegner Award Video

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Uploaded on Feb 22, 2007

Joy Cousminer forged ground-breaking partnerships with check-cashers and international remittance firms to serve low-income consumers.

This is the video shown at the 2006 Herb Wegner Memorial Awards, where Cousminer was honored with the Individual Achievement award by the National Credit Union Foundation.

More info on the Foundation:

About Joy Cousminer:
Joy Cousminer is described by her friends as a "vicious advocate for the underserved."

In 1970, Cousminer was a teacher, working for the New York City Board of Education Adult Education Program. While helping single Welfare mothers obtain Graduate Equivalency Degrees, she quickly noticed a common theme among her students: a lack of access to credit and a need to build savings. With the help of a former Catholic priest, she worked to charter what is now Bethex Federal Credit Union to serve the low-income people of the Bronx.

Thirty-five years and 13 mergers later, the credit union's low-income membership base has expanded throughout New York City. In underserved communities, the absence of banks complicates residents' ability to dig out of poverty. It denies them access to credit, and prevents them from saving. To help these underserved consumers, Cousminer uses her power of persuasion to get others to aid in her endeavors to provide affordable financial services.

In 1995, Cousminer forged a ground-breaking partnership with check-cashing operations offering more than 100 outlets open 24/7. The check-cashers agreed to allow Bethex members to cash checks for just $1.50 if members deposit 20% of the cashed amount into the credit union through a free on-site terminal. Even more important than the convenience, members are encouraged to build savings.

Most recently, Cousminer forged a first-of-its-kind partnership with three firms offering international remittances. These firms had closed their bank accounts and were looking for an alternative. Although they had been extending a lifeline for families and friends of immigrants working in America, without a financial institution to house their accounts, these vital outlets would be forced to shut their doors. Cousminer agreed to house their accounts at the credit union, resulting in lower prices for consumers.

Over the years, Cousminer has received many awards for her community service. In 1996 she received the Annie Vamper Award from the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (NFCDCU); in 1997 she was named a Bronx Visionary by the South Bronx Overall Development Corporation; and in 2004 she received the Visionary Award from the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project. Cousminer has also received certificates of recognition from the Cerebral Palsy Association of New York for providing employment opportunities for the disabled, and from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for Bethex's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site.

Cousminer has been an active member of the credit union movement. She has served on the board of NFCDCU and Bushwick Cooperative Federal Credit Union. She is a founding member of the New York City Financial Network Action Consortium, a certified intermediary building a network of leading CDCUs and strengthening their capacity. She is also a founding member of a committee dedicated to saving small New York City credit unions by providing back-office support through Credit Union Service Center. And she served as a member of CUNA's Small Credit Union Task Force.

Combining a rare ability not to take herself too seriously, but at the same time do very serious work, Joy Cousminer demonstrates the principles of the credit union movement every day of her life.

Video production by:
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC

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