Kate Alexander began working at Southbridge Credit Union as chief sales and retailer officer – the first credit union position she’d ever held – in May 2016. Less than a year later, the institution’s board asked her to step in as interim president and CEO. A few months into that arrangement, the board asked her to take the position permanently, making her Southbridge Credit Union’s first female president and CEO.
The board’s request for Alexander to fill in temporarily may have been partly a matter of practicality. At the time of the previous president and CEO’s departure, Southbridge Credit Union was in the middle of a rebrand, and Alexander was already involved in many of those projects. And while Alexander may have been new to the credit union world, she had been working in the financial industry since 2003.
But once she stepped into the interim president and CEO role, it was clear that “this was it, she was our person,” said Lismarie Collazo, director of marketing and community outreach at Southbridge Credit Union.
“She’s a go-getter who’s helped push the institution forward not just by improving things for members, but also by improving things for our staff,” Collazo said. “She’s not someone who sits back, gives orders and watches to see what the team does. She’s all about getting herself involved, too, and asking, ‘What can I do to help?’”
Alexander has also long embodied the industry’s “people helping people” mantra.
She helped found the Tantasqua Education Foundation, a nonprofit that provides funding and resources to teacher-sponsored projects and programs, and is a member of the Sturbridge School Committee, among many other involvements. A mother of four, Alexander said she and her husband coached no fewer than five sports teams last year.
When asked to reflect on her proudest accomplishments since taking the helm at Southbridge Credit Union, Alexander demurred.
“I’m happy with the rebrand, but there’s still a lot of work to do. For me personally, to be a strong female role model for my four kids, three of which are girls, that’s a proud moment … But I feel like it would be jumping the gun pick a proudest accomplishment,” she said. “There’s still work to do to manage expenses, to bring the right product mix here that will help us stabilize and grow our membership base.”
Alexander continued: “Every day I ask myself, ‘Are the decisions I’m making allowing the credit union financial stability or providing a way to give back to the community?’ If we’re going to spend money on something, I want to ensure [it does one of those things]. … But also, and this is an aspirational goal for me, I want to make the credit union an employment destination, a place people want to work. I think that if you have motivated employees and they’re happy, all of the rest takes care of itself.” ■