Stephanie Schwenn Sebring

What makes a good leader?

Caring about people and fresh ideas are key attributes, according to Nancy Rappaport’s executive team members

September 30, 2015
by Stephanie Schwenn Sebring, CU Management

Nancy Rappaport, CCE, has been president/CEO of $82 million/10,250-member PriorityONE Credit Union of Florida, Sunrise, since 2006, just before the Great Recession. She successfully helped the credit union grow to $82 million in assets from $80 million, diversify its loan portfolio and strengthen staff morale. Here, her administrative team members describe what it is that makes Rappaport’s leadership style work.

In the photo, below, members of PriorityONE CU’s team chat in the CU’s Sunrise branch. Pictured, from left, are: Sheila Jaggon, Jose Janvion, Pat Nobles-Walling, Ralph Pulles, Melissa Betancourt , Vanessa Soto, Heather Mobayed and Nancy Rappaport.

members of PriorityONE CU’s team chat in the CU’s Sunrise branch. Pictured, from left, are: Sheila Jaggon, Jose Janvion, Pat Nobles-Walling, Ralph Pulles, Melissa Betancourt , Vanessa Soto, Heather Mobayed and Nancy Rappaport

What’s unique about Rappaport’s leadership?

Executive Vice President Deana Hennessy, responsible for lending, IT, marketing, collections, and accounting, has been with the CU for 19 years. She has witnessed the extraordinary transformation under Rappaport’s leadership. “Nancy’s management style is totally different from any I have ever worked under,” says Hennessy, a CUES member. “She is not only genuine and caring, but a great listener as well. Her detailed, organized yet empathetic approach enables her to be a teacher, mentor, and leader. You always know what to expect. We’ve worked hard to get here, and we have an excellent team in place.”

Why don’t more organizations lead this way?

VP/Operations Emma Borrego-Rodriguez has been with the CU for four years and in banking since the early ’80s. “It’s all about empowerment,” answers Borrego-Rodriguez. “Nancy has put an amazing team together. There are no power struggles. We sit down and look at the pros and cons of any issue, with no animosity. She makes people feel comfortable in their ability to make decisions. There will be mistakes, but we don’t get stuck on the mistakes. Instead, we learn from them and move forward.”

Is transparency really that important?

“Yes,” says Human Resources and Compliance Officer Kamir Soto, who has served the CU for nine years. “Nancy believes in all of us and what we can contribute. She forms relationships and empowers her team by giving us freedom to do our jobs. The relationships she cultivates are unique. It’s a mixture of keeping things as honest as possible, from the executive team, direct reports, to branch staff, but also the flexibility to change course when the need demands.”

This is bonus coverage from “She Turned the Ship.”

With 25 years of marketing and communications experience, Stephanie Schwenn Sebring established and managed the marketing departments for three credit unions. As owner of Fab Prose & Professional Writing, her focus is assisting credit unions and industry suppliers with their communications needs.

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