Local GWLN Sister Societies Foster Personal and Professional Development

The Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) was established in 2009 by the World Council of Credit Unions with a mission to narrow inequality gaps for women, grow the pipeline of leaders, and engage with colleagues to address issues that are locally, nationally, and globally impacting women. GWLN does this by offering networking, mentorship, and educational opportunities that foster career and personal development. 

In 2012, the first Sister Society was launched, made up of local GWLN members and non-members who wanted to further GWLN’s global mission by making a local impact. Today, Sister Society meetings bring together credit union women to discuss credit union issues, exchange ideas, network with neighboring credit union leaders, and share lessons learned. 

There are now 162 established Sister Societies in 28 countries, including eight chapters within the GoWest region: Western Washington, Eastern Washington, Portland/Vancouver, Willamette Valley (Oregon), Treasure Valley (Idaho), Colorado, Phoenix, and Southern Arizona.

Each Sister Society organizes diverse events – both in-person and virtually – meant to empower and advance women at the local level that will ultimately strengthen their organizations and lead to stronger communities.   

“Our aim is to host one event per quarter, incorporating a mix of virtual and in-person formats,” explained Edina Rizvic, VP of Digital Experience at Columbia Credit Union and a Board Member of the Portland/Vancouver Sister Society. “These events cover a range of topics, including self-development, DEI, overcoming barriers and biases, community service, and career advancement.” 

“This year, we offered a negotiation course led by a college professor specializing in the subject,” Rizvic shared. “Additionally, we hosted a CEO panel discussion featuring women CEOs discussing career progression and development. Last year, we organized a one-day volunteer event at three different organizations in the Portland Metro area, focused on serving the underserved in our community. This event provided an opportunity for networking while giving back to the community.” 

The Western Washington Sister Society was recently relaunched by Wendy Cleveland, EVP and Chief Operations Officer at Sound Credit Union, and Shiela Finley, Senior Account Director at Kaye-Smith. At their inaugural networking event in May, Dolores Broeske, President/CEO at HAPO Community Credit Union, spoke on her leadership journey and her perspectives on promoting women in credit unions.

“Networking with other credit union professionals, especially other women, is powerful for continued growth and development,” said Cleveland. “GWLN Sister Societies provide a unique space for women to build relationships, discuss challenges and opportunities, and develop professional skills.”  

By mentoring talent and fostering members’ professional development, GWLN and local Sister Societies support and develop the leadership potential and career-advancing skills needed to drive the global credit union industry. 

GoWest supports the regional Sister Societies of the Global Women’s Leadership Network. Please contact Carmen Vigil, GoWest’s Senior Vice President of Credit Union Engagement and Development, at [email protected] to learn more about how to connect to your local Sister Society. 

Posted in Across the Region, Thought Leadership, Top Headlines.