Skip to main content

Champion Highlight: Tansley Stearns

The “credit union difference” is a well-defined campaign strategy that is heard in marketing efforts of credit unions across the U.S. Key factors that contribute to that credit union difference are financial education, member voting, leagues, and networks, and more importantly, collaboration. No matter the asset size of a credit union, collaboration is a key element in the strategies of credit unions – achieving more together than they could individually. This rings true for our credit unions in the Great Lakes region. In 2023, credit unions and partner organizations led the ‘In the Cellar’ wine auction, a wildly successful evening bringing over $900,000 for Credit Unions for Kids (CU4Kids). A key success factor of the fundraiser – collaboration. According to president & ceo of Community Financial Credit Union and In the Cellar’s Board Chair, Tansley Stearns, collaborations among vendors/CUSOs, credit unions, industry experts and leagues played a huge part in bringing the event to life.

Credit Unions are among the top five fundraising sources for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN Hospitals). Knowing that mental health has become a real struggle in today’s economy, Stearns and the team at Community Financial decided to leverage the power of collaboration and credit union’s and start a fundraiser that would bring attention to CU4Kids and be an annual event for years to come. “When I moved back to the Midwest in June of 2022, I felt that, as a region, we were missing a marquee credit union fundraiser to enhance our collaborative giving and storytelling. We have all been touched by the deteriorating mental health impacting our youth,” stated Stearns. Since starting in the credit union space right out of college, Stearns has witnessed many successful CMN Hospital fundraisers come to life all over the United States.

“A long-life dream came true on September 22, 2023, when credit unions nationwide came together to fundraise $925,235 for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals focused on mental well-being at the inaugural In the Cellar event”, quoted Stearns. “Through In the Cellar, credit unions raise funds for their local hospitals, knowing that those dollars will be applied directly to mental health programs in their local communities with the opportunity to share a nationwide commitment. We can’t wait for this year’s event on September 20, 2024, in Chicago at the iconic Union Station to continue amplifying our impact.”

When asked why other credit unions should get involved with CMN Hospitals and CU4Kids, Stearns stated the importance of the heart of credit unions and the power of focused giving that ensures our story carries forward. “We have such an opportunity to bring positive change to life in partnership with CMN Hospitals and CU4Kids. CMN Hospitals make sure that giving is localized, so we have that elevated, unified story for our credit union movement”, said Stearns.