November 2023 Newsletter


A Note From Our Chair

Lily Newfarmer

Greetings CUWLA Members,

Happy Fall Y’all!

We now have our 2nd annual conference under our belts, and I’m overcome with the value-added content of the presentations, the positive feedback we’ve received, the networking opportunities, and the deeper, authentic connections made while at the conference! We’re already planning for next year’s conference and can’t wait to spend time with you all once again!

We are nearing our year-end goal of 250 members, with a current count of 213. Only 37 members to go! We can do this! Referrals continue to be the fastest way we grow, and after the conference, our sponsors are doing their part, too, which speaks volumes about your interactions with them and their opportunity to see CUWLA at work through those interactions. Sponsor support plays an essential role in the sustainability of CUWLA, please know that we are diligent in determining who we present to our members.

As a reminder, CUWLA is partnering with Filene in an Innovation Group research study with a focus on using Filene’s innovation methods to identify solutions to the talent challenges facing small credit unions, such as succession planning, development, staffing, recruitment and capacity, to name a few, all areas critically important to the success and sustainability of small credit unions. We are very excited to be part of this research and look forward to sharing the outcome of this work with you all.

With the recent retirement of CUWLA Founder and Board Member Winona Nava, I’m happy to announce that Theresa Trimble has been appointed to complete Winona’s unexpired term. Congratulations Theresa, we’re excited to welcome you to the Board!

And finally, this is the time of year that we take a moment to pause and reflect on the many things in our lives for which we are grateful, both personally and professionally, both past and present. And although it doesn’t define it, our past helps shape our future and contribute in a positive way to others traversing the same path we’ve traveled. For CUWLA, that means giving of ourselves to one another and to those who have helped us along the way, and reaching out with acceptance and solidarity, making CUWLA and our members stronger.

At CUWLA, we’re grateful to all our members for their contributions and commitment to our vision and purpose and grateful for the opportunity to serve those who have yet to join us.

Until we meet again, I wish you every success and encourage you to be safe, be kind, and be your best self.



2nd Annual CUWLA Conference

58 members came together for the 2nd annual conference at the SFO Marriott in Burlingame, CA to network, learn and connect with on-site sponsors.

Speakers and topics included:

  • Dima Ghawi, “Shattering Limitations and Daring to Thrive”
  • Scott Butterfield, Your CU Partner, “Business Development – Growing Your Membership”
  • Donna Dyer, TruStage, “Energy Leadership”
  • Amy Downs, “Hope is a Verb”

Here’s what some attendees had to say when asked, “What was the single most valuable thing you learned at the conference?”:

  1. Women will accomplish great things in numbers – our industry has a bright future because we have capable women taking our challenges seriously – seeking solutions instead of redefining the problem.
  2. Make sure to step out of our comfort zone regardless of our fears or other constraints
  3. “Hope is the medicine of your 911” – when all seems down and lost, there is always hope.
  4. Other female CEOs share the same struggles as I do, mostly the inner battle within yourself is normal!
  5. There were so many things, but I think the most valuable impact that I felt was the reaffirmation and confidence in myself as a leader and my connection to the other women of CUWLA. The camaraderie I felt in the room was nothing short of amazing.

Mark your calendars for the 2024 conference to be held Sept 22-24 at the TruStage Lighthouse in Madison, WI!


Get To Know Azul

Azul and her father

Name: Azul Sanchez

CU: Comunidad Latina Federal Credit Union

Asset Size: $8.5M

Membership: We serve those who Live, work, or workship in Santa Ana, CA.

Year became a CEO: 2022

Years in the CU industry: 16

How did you get introduced to credit unions? I left Bank of America, disappointed with some of their “questionable” practices. A previous co-worker shared she got a job at a CU and told me it was AMAZING! I thought that all Credit Unions were the same and applied to a different one by mistake. It was the best mistake ever!

What keeps you in credit unions? So many things, the ability to truly make a difference in the lives of those we encounter. The philosophy of “people helping people” and the cooperative spirit I have experienced.

Family: I am blessed to have both of my parents. I also have a brother, sister-in-law and four handsome nephews.

Pets: I have two fur babies. Mia and Max! They are teacup chihuahuas about 2lbs and 4 lbs.

Hobbies: Love hiking, reading, and karaoke.

Something about me that might surprise you: I find it easy to love, easy to forgive, and easy to say YES. New experiences make me happy. Helping others makes me happy, and enjoying every little second is important to me.


Mark Your Calendars

Registration for the Meet & Greet will be emailed and posted in Basecamp, so be on the lookout. We can’t wait to see you there!
A special thank you to CUNA and CUNA Mutual for their support of CUWLA.