Carol Schillios has formed cooperative partnerships to improve access to affordable credit, education and health care worldwide.
This is the video shown at the 2007 Herb Wegner Memorial Awards, where Schillios was honored with the Individual Achievement award by the National Credit Union Foundation.
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On six continents, Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE) Carol Schillios has worked with some of the world's neediest people -- and equally well with their nations' presidents, dignitaries, and villagers -- by forming cooperative partnerships worldwide that provide access to affordable credit, education, and self-sufficiency.
Through her Fabric of Life Foundation, Schillios' current projects are changing lives in Mali, Senegal, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. Her
hands-on work focuses on improving quality of life for women and their families. For example, in Mali, Schillios developed a cooperative
training center to teach former beggars how to generate income, stay healthy, plan families, and prevent AIDS.
Before this training, their livelihood depended on begging in the streets for money. In 18 months, Schillios was able to teach dozens
of young women how to own and manage successful cooperative businesses to support themselves and their families.
Schillios' results -- economic freedom and independence -- mirror the National Credit Union Foundation's mission: to promote and improve consumers' financial independence through credit unions.
"True to the spirit of the Herb Wegner Award, Carol brings pride in the worldwide credit union concept to everyone involved," relates nominator John Annaloro, president of the Washington Credit Union League. "Her partners in teaching micro-finance and selfhelp include some of the world's biggest economic development agencies: Freedom from Hunger, The World Bank, World Education, and the World Council of Credit Unions."
But unlike most foundations operating on a global scale, the Fabric of Life Foundation is essentially a solo project. Schillios founded her foundation to channel donations through legally tax-exempt structures. Donors can contribute funds, volunteer time, and open savings accounts in her projects' start-up credit unions.
In the U.S., Schillios has trained more than 300 credit unions in 41 states to change their thinking and behavior. Through her Schillios Consulting Group, her courses range from "Credit Union Values and Service Philosophy," to "Selling the Credit Union Way."
Schillios doesn't just teach; she creates an experience. She literally and figuratively takes credit union people on trips to third world countries.
"During her three decades in credit union work, Carol Schillios has achieved what many of us have only dreamed about," observes Bruce Rouillard, past president of the Washington Credit Union League. "She has passionately brought insights to us regarding the plights of others less fortunate; she has brought eloquence to the podium, and brought leadership to the floor."
"While it is customary for folks like me to recommend 'people of position' for the Individual Achievement Award," notes Georgia Credit Union Affiliates President Mike Mercer, "Carol Schillios exhibits a degree of commitment and personal sacrifice that is rarely achieved. Honoring Miss Schillios would send a strong message that it is dedication,
determination, and personal initiative -- not title -- that represents the kind of leadership important to the success of cooperative movements like ours."
"If Herb were alive today," concludes former co-worker Mary Olson, "he and Carol would probably be working side-by-side."
Video production by:
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC