Amber Bailey, education manager for Cornerstone League’s Experiences and Events team, has just received her Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE) designation from the National Credit Union Foundation. Bailey graduated with 47 other credit union professionals in the April 26–May 21 DE class.
“The experience is what makes DE incredible,” Bailey said. “I have been in the credit union industry for 11 years, and I learned more about how I fit into the bigger picture and the overall movement than ever before.”
Bailey says it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in your position; you’ll take away something valuable from this program if you put in the work. And the work for this virtual class was spread over a four-week time frame.
“They did a wonderful job not overwhelming us,” Bailey said. “It allowed me to focus on the important information provided during the sessions and catch up on work the remainder of the week. I also had a team behind me, supporting me along the way. That support made the ability to focus on DE much easier. Huge shout-out to the Experiences and Events team for always being cheerleaders for each other.”
Bailey points to a heartbreaking and frustrating aspect of the subject matter discussed during training.
“We have done so much incredible work toward the major development issues, but there is still work to be done, and it causes you to get emotional talking about it,” Bailey said. “Knowing there might not be a solution to the problems, or at least one that is within reach, is frustrating when you want to take steps to make changes. It can be overwhelming. I walked away from this experience understanding that we won’t be able resolve everything overnight, but what we can do is practice empathy toward others and find creative solutions. It may not solve the overarching issues, but what we do will make an impact in some way.”
The most interesting thing Bailey learned about herself during this experience had to do with finding her voice to make change in the world around her.
“There is so much I can do to impact the greater good,” she said. “Oftentimes, people feel they don’t have a voice, or that they are one person who can’t make changes to the world around them, but that’s simply not true. If we all took steps to understand the credit union movement, the history, and the development issues our members are facing every day, we would understand we have the ability make an impact.”
Every DE class thinks theirs is best. We hear it all the time. What inspires this fandom? Bailey has a theory.
“Your DE classes build a network of people who share the same passions you do, but they also have different perspectives,” she said. “We shared stories and laughter, and we worked together in our teams to produce incredible projects. The content itself causes you to reflect inward. Doing so with a group of individuals supporting you who are all going through their own reflection results in relationships that are priceless.”
“The project we worked on requires strategic thinking, research, and high attention to detail,” Bailey added. “We had brilliant minds working together to create solutions—a process that would be difficult for one person to do alone. But of course, the true ‘best class ever’ was April 2021.”
As for how the DE class could influence her career trajectory, Bailey is clear-eyed and optimistic about the possibilities. She also knows how many of today’s credit union executives have earned their CUDE and put it to its best use elevating their organizations and their people.
“The valuable skills you learn through this program are transferrable anywhere you go,” Bailey said. “Emotional intelligence alone is a highly sought-after skill, and this program allows you to practice and apply EI to real-life situations. You are also building your team skills through the process of your project. I think the program ignites passion in people that they may not even know they had, and that passion spills over into your performance. I love what I do, and DE reinforced skills that are valuable to my role at work, which allows me to continue to grow and teach others.”
As to her DE project that all graduates must develop, Bailey says she hasn’t yet decided what the project will be.
“I want something that will truly make a difference, so the idea is taking some time,” Bailey said. “I cannot wait to create one that will make an impact in the future and a lasting impression in the credit union movement.”
Tamra Gaines, VP of experiences and events, said Bailey’s DE designation was a natural next step in her career.
“Amber’s background in credit unions and her passion for fostering the growth of others made her an ideal candidate to become Cornerstone's next DE,” she said. “In the short time since her graduation, Amber has already jumped into creating her project with laser focus on how we continue to elevate the value proposition to our members through education and development."
“DE was truly a life-changing experience,” Bailey said. “You are reminded quickly that what you do matters. If you ever need to feel that fire and passion for the movement, this is the education you need."