By Barb Kachelski, CAE
Changing jobs is a time to take stock. After 23+ years at CUES, I've accepted a new job as executive director of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. While packing up boxes of photos and office paraphernalia, I’ve also been pondering which are the most valuable leadership lessons to “pack and take” on the 7.2-mile trip to the new office.
So please indulge me while I take a trip down memory lane and highlight what I’ve learned from just a handful of the great leaders I’ve known. (CUES board and staff members, I’m limiting this list to retirees or people who have passed away!)
Leo Budde, my dad–Dad was born on a dairy farm and worked in the dairy industry his whole life. When I decided to major in English in college, and fretted that I might not find a job when I graduated, he told me, "The cream always rises to the top." (In other words, "Calm down. If you are good, people will notice and you’ll find work you enjoy.")
Then … And Now
8/8/1989–When I joined CUES as VP/membership, my interview suit had shoulder pads and I was the sleep-deprived mother of an eight-month-old son.
4/19/2013–On my last day as SVP/chief operating officer at CUES, much will have changed but many things are very much the same. I’m excited to take on a new challenge. I’m a bit nervous. Joe Kachelski is still my sweetheart. Family (including my 24- and 21-year-old sons) is still my No. 1 priority.
4/22/2013–I begin a new journey of leadership and learning as executive director of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
Isabelle Maier Budde, my mom–Her full-time job was being a mother to her nine children, and she also had a part-time job while we were in school. It's hard to pick just one lesson from Mom; I'll cite two: 1.
"Brighten the corner where you are." (She meant make a difference for the better … or, on occasion, "clean your room!") 2. "It doesn't cost anything to be nice."
Fred Johnson, retired CUES CEO, West Point graduate, Vietnam veteran, and my boss for 23+ years–"Stress? This isn’t stress. Nobody’s shooting at us." I hear him saying this in my mind when I’m feeling like I had a tough day at work.
Ludelle Morrow, retired credit union CEO and past CUES chairman of the board–Her lesson was not a verbal one, but she modeled strong female leadership and believed that associations should dare to dream big. Under her leadership, the business plan to establish CUES' CEO Institute program was initiated.
Rick Craig, retired credit union CEO and past CUES chairman of the board–I always enjoyed listening to Rick speak, and it dawned on me one day that it was because he knew how to listen so well. This gift, the ability to focus on the needs of others, was in keeping with his deep-seated passion for his priorities: family, faith and the credit union movement.
Shelley Clarke and Carol Humenick, CCE, deceased CUES Board members–Shelley and Carol both became ill with terminal cancer while serving on the CUES Board. They made it to CUES Board meetings–either in person or via conference call–in spite of radiation and chemotherapy. Both of them were–and are–inspirational to me. They chose happiness and caring for others during the course of their illnesses. What models of female leadership and grace under pressure!
So many other friends and colleagues have played a role in shaping my career and imparting wisdom to me. I will sincerely miss the daily experience of working with and for credit union leaders from around the world.
It has been wonderful to make a career out of my passion for adult education. My work with CUES has been extremely fulfilling, in large part because I have seen so many credit union leaders advance in their careers and do good things for their own customers.
Although I will miss being part of the CUES team as it builds on its successful 50-year foundation, I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to lead another international association with the same goal. Credit union leaders and cosmetic dentists share a genuine interest in helping people.
So CUES members and staff, know that I am packing memories of so many of you on my short journey. And AACD members, I’m looking forward to learning many more new lessons from you.
Barb Kachelski, CAE, is CUES' SVP/chief operations officer.