Alternatives Federal Credit Union is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), dedicated to building wealth and creating economic opportunity for underserved people and communities, while providing traditional credit union services to its service area. It is a Community Development Credit Union (CDCU), member-owned, locally controlled and self-supporting, whose purpose is to meet the financial needs of the members of its community. Alternatives specializes in providing financial education and counseling and other supports for its members, assisting people to move from transacting to saving, to credit building and owning assets.
Since its founding in 1979 by a group of co-op businesses in Ithaca, NY to fill a need in financing of co-ops and small businesses in the area, Alternatives has grown in assets to just over $100 million, and to a membership of just over 10,000. Now for nearly 40 years, Alternatives has been a national leader and innovator in the world of CDCUs, providing convenient and flexible financial services to its members, as well as creating a broad range of new programs to better meet the changing needs of its members and the underserved in Ithaca.
Alternatives is regulated and federally insured by the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) and is certified by the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund of the US Treasury Department. It is an active member of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, the NYS CDFI Coalition and the NY Credit Union Association.
Alternatives offers members a full-range of financial services, ranging from checking, savings and mobile banking, to consumer, mortgage and business loans from a single facility located near downtown Ithaca, as well as a network of ATMs around Ithaca. With a full suite of consumer banking services available online, the single facility is less of an obstacle to excellent customer service than it might otherwise be.
For more information about the range of services offered, visit alternatives.org.
In addition to the credit union, Alternatives also has two other affiliates: Alternatives Impact and the Alternatives Fund. Alternatives Impact is a 501(c)(3) organization which can receive tax deductible contributions to support the community programs, and the Alternatives Fund is a 501(c)(6) organization that can engage in lobbying and provide other supports to the credit union.
Alternatives is currently in a very stable position, both in terms of its financial position and its staffing. It has established solid management systems, a strong balance sheet, an experienced and creative staff, and a very positive reputation, both locally and nationally. It has consistently passed its NCUA examinations with flying colors, even though its community development mission is not always fully appreciated by the examiners. Throughout its history, it has developed a distinctive participatory organizational culture which has helped its low-income members and newer staff feel more connected with the organization.
The organization finished 2017 with total assets of nearly $104 Million, including nearly $78 Million in loans, primarily in mortgages. This was against total member deposits of just over $92 Million. Net interest income in 2017 was $3.56 Million, resulting in organizational net income of $506,000 for the year. This represents continuation of steady financial growth over the past decade which has seen both deposits and loans more than double. Even so, Alternatives management and Board see great potential for further growth. The most recent strategic plan calls for annual growth in assets of 8% and growth in loans of 10% over the next 5 years.
Alternatives has a large staff for a credit union of its size to support the extensive range of community programs and its community empowerment mission. The current staff of 50 is led by a management team with key positions including CFO, Chief Lending Officer, Branch Manager, Director of Community Programs and Outreach, and General Counsel. The Loan Department has a staff of 10, making consumer, business and mortgage loans, as well as providing an unusual degree of technical assistance to borrowers. The Branch (retail banking) has a staff of 14, mostly a team of tiered tellers. In addition, there are 7 members of the Community Programs Team leading community and financial education activities and service programs like the Volunteer Income Tax Program, Student Credit Union, and Business CENTS. Other key positions include human resource, compliance, project management, accounting, information technology, marketing and development directors.
Alternatives is governed by a 12-member Board of Directors from among the Credit Union’s membership. They work through an active committee structure that includes loan policy, member experience, finance, human resources, governance, community relations and evaluation, and supervisory committees. The Directors bring a combination of professional credentials in cooperative or nonprofit management, law, finance and a deep understanding of community needs in Ithaca.
The Chief Executive Officer is the chief staff member and Alternatives’ primary representative to members, the local community, and to other organizations, including governmental regulators. S/he effects the vision and mission of Alternatives for the benefit of the members and the community, as articulated by the goals and policies set by the Board of Directors, and directs the overall operations of the organization and its affiliates to ensure that the vision, mission, work plan and budget are met, leading and managing the staff. The CEO is ultimately responsible for management and program operations, hires and supervises staff, interfaces with staff in specific program areas, supports the Board and its committees and supervises consultants, when necessary. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the CEO’s responsibilities can be grouped in four major areas: external relations, strategic planning, resource development, and organizational management.
The CEO is the primary spokesperson for the organization, and represents Alternatives to the broad range of publics it touches, not only in the Ithaca region, but also nationally. These include the credit union members, the residents, businesses, community and political leaders of Ithaca and Tompkins County in which Alternatives is based, and the users of Alternatives’ services, as well as many partners from beyond the local community. Those external partners include the many federal, state and local governmental agencies (e.g. NCUA, CUNA, CDFI Fund) that relate to Alternatives’ comprehensive range of programs and activities, the state and national coalitions that support and share Alternatives’ mission and goals (NFCDCU, NY Credit Union Association, Opportunity Finance Network, etc.) and other community and private sector leaders in Ithaca, whose partnership is critical to many of Alternatives’ initiatives. This requires the ability to articulate Alternatives’ social justice values and economic empowerment mission.
In strategic planning, the CEO works closely with the Board and senior management to shape the organization’s direction. This includes both the identification and assessment of new strategies and initiatives that might continue Alternatives’ identity as a trailblazing organization, and planning for the careful utilization of human and financial resources. Of particular concern to Alternatives is the ongoing question of when to stretch further to address changing community needs and priorities, and when to consolidate the existing broad range of programs and activities. In addition, annual program and financial plans need to be developed and implemented, with an eye toward carrying out Alternatives’ mission objectives and strengthening its own capacity to sustain itself.
A third major responsibility for the CEO is that of organizational development. In this role, s/he will maintain an ongoing knowledge of technological and product innovations relevant to Alternatives, and support and implement promising innovations, subject to Board approval as major changes. This includes implementing new services and programs and securing the revenues necessary to support them, consistent with the organization’s mission. This means gradually reducing reliance on grant support for community programs via its 501(c)(3) affiliate, Alternatives Impact, and achieving organizational growth to a scale that provides adequate internal support. Alternatives has a long history of attracting resources from a very wide range of sources for its innovative programming, but recognizes that such funding is dwindling. The CEO plays a key role in communicating with and nurturing funders, along with the Director of Development.
Finally, the CEO is Alternatives’ chief administrator, with oversight responsibility for program, organizational finances and management systems. Central to that effort is assuring the continuing presence of capable staff and quality systems. Working closely with and through the senior management team, the CEO must maintain a strong results orientation with clear performance indicators. This requires also maintaining a solid understanding of the financial condition and operating characteristics of both the many lines of business and program components that comprise Alternatives, and the organization as a whole, and the ability to communicate that condition clearly to the Board both through financial reports and appropriate commentary. Finally, and by no means least important, the CEO is responsible for creating a work environment that challenges and encourages staff, and enables them to achieve their greatest level of effectiveness and develop professionally.
The ideal candidate will demonstrate the following professional qualifications:
- At least 10 years of organizational leadership experience, preferably including direct credit union management experience;
- At least 5 years of retail financial service experience with a general understanding of community development finance tools and processes, as well as credit union systems and regulations;
- Demonstrated broad knowledge of and contacts within the credit union industry and/or the community development finance field, ideally including contacts within NY state;
- At least 10 years of executive level management experience, ideally including some experience with a community development financial institution;
- Demonstrated entrepreneurial aptitude to successfully manage continued growth of all aspects of the operation;
- Demonstrated record of successful financial management, including profit and loss responsibilities;
- Outstanding skills in oral and written communication;
- Demonstrated strong strategic planning and financial analytical skills;
- Demonstrated skill, experience, and success leading an engaged and participatory staff;
- Appropriate combinations of education and professional experience resulting in a strong capability in financial and organizational management;
- Must be bondable.
The ideal candidate will demonstrate the following personal characteristics:
- Clear commitment to Alternatives’ mission of building wealth and creating economic opportunity for underserved people and communities;
- Clear action orientation and strong motivational skills;
- Widely recognized leadership and personnel management skills;
- Reputation for creativity and innovation in achieving goals;
- Strong communication skills, including listening, speaking and writing in order to learn from and to inform and to influence a variety of audiences;
- Demonstrated comfort in working in and with diverse communities and organizations;
- A collaborative personal style that works in partnership with others – including members, staff, volunteer leaders and external partners;
- Personal flexibility to work with a broad range of personalities, cultures and styles; and
- A high degree of emotional intelligence.
The salary range for the position is commensurate with experience and comparable with that of other credit unions of similar size. In addition, Alternatives provides a comprehensive and flexible benefits package.
How to Apply:
For more information, or to apply, contact:
8801 Creekside Way
Highlands Ranch, CO 80129
Phone: 303 -703-6165