Recommended Reading (4Q 2018)

Callahan’s associates offer their take on the best books for credit union leaders.


by Michelle Obama

Summary: In this memoir, former first lady Michelle Obama chronicles the experiences that have shaped her from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With honesty and wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it in her own words and on her own terms.

Review: On first blush, you might not think this memoir would fall under developmental reading for a business leader; however, Becoming had me reflecting on my leadership style and asking whether I’m pushing enough pushing both myself and those in my personal and professional circles. Although I largely knew the talking points before picking up the book, I was still inspired by the grit and determination displayed by Michelle Obama and the message that there is no substitute for hard work. I was inspired by the courage to challenge one’s definition of success, and if it doesn’t feel right, to swerve to a new course. Most importantly, I was inspired by the power of encouragement. As leaders, we have the ability to encourage ourselves, and those around us, to collectively strive for a better tomorrow on whatever course we’ve chosen.

Katy Slater, Senior Vice President, Callahan & Associates

Democratizing Finance: Origins of the Community Development Financial Institutions Movement

by Cliff Rosenthal

Summary: When the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund was created in 1994, it established a national network of community development banks and microenterprise programs. It also helped launch Cliff Rosenthal’s career as a pioneer of community development banking. But the idea of CDFIs dates to the founding days of the nation, with Benjamin Franklin and his small business loan funds. Rosenthal, who led the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions for more than 30 years, details that long history, including the successes and failures in creating financial inclusion in the United States.

Review: From Ben Franklin through the post-Civil War Freedman’s Bank and the birth of credit unions, and then to the political machinations and grassroots work that led to the creation of CDFI fund itself, Rosenthal’s book lays out the importance of inclusive financing to communities and businesses that otherwise would have limited options. Credit unions are major players in the CDFI movement, as the principles and motives of both align neatly. As someone who has written about member-owned financial cooperatives for 20 years, I found Democratizing Finance both deeply informed and informative. I recommend it to credit union leaders who might want to join CDFI advocates in convincing Congress to once again save the fund from the budgetary chopping block. The current administration argues that adequate financing options now exist for underserved communities and microentrepreneurs, rendering the fund unnecessary. Cliff’s book can help inspire a response.

Marc Rapport, Senior Writer, Callahan & Associates

This article appeared originally in Credit Union Strategy & Performance. Read More Today.

April 1, 2019

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