Celebrating Women's History Month

Meet three trailblazers who helped shape the cooperative landscape.

CUCollaborate Staff


Mar 6



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CUCollaborate Staff

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CUCollaborate Staff

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Louis McCarren Herring

As we celebrate Women's History Month, it's essential to recognize the remarkable contributions of women to various fields. Today, we spotlight the pivotal role played by women in the credit union movement, specifically Louise McCarren Herring, Dora Maxwell, and Angela Melville. These women were trailblazers who helped shape the cooperative landscape and championed the values of service and community.

Louise McCarren Herring, the "Mother of Credit Unions"

At just 23 years old, Louise McCarren Herring embarked on her journey as an activist for the not-for-profit cooperative movement. Recognizing the profound impact of debt on people's lives, she dedicated herself to establishing credit unions in her native Ohio. Herring co-founded the Ohio Credit Union League and was instrumental in the creation of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA, now America's Credit Unions). Her tireless efforts led to the formation of over 500 credit unions, earning her the title of the "Mother of Credit Unions." Her legacy continues to inspire credit unions globally.

In honor of her contributions, America's Credit Unions annually presents the Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action, recognizing credit unions that embody the cooperative principles of service and community engagement. Additionally, the Ohio Credit Union System presents the Louise McCarren Herring Lifetime Achievement Award to individuals who have dedicated their lives to advancing the credit union movement in Ohio. Her legacy can be seen and felt throughout the credit union system.

Dora Maxwell and Angela Melville - Champions of Social Responsibility

Dora Maxwell was a leader in the New York credit union scene. Alongside Louise McCarren Herring, she played a crucial role in establishing CUNA and advocating for the cooperative philosophy. Maxwell's legacy lives on through the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award, honoring credit unions for their impactful community projects. This award is presented annually to deserving credit unions across leagues, associations, and elsewhere, recognizing everything from financial education to charity and fundraising events.

Angela Melville, a field representative for the National Credit Union Extension Bureau (CUNEB), made significant strides in organizing credit unions, particularly in the Southern United States. Despite her short tenure, Melville's contributions were invaluable. She authored the first guide to credit union practice, providing essential resources for the movement's growth and development. Melville's efforts have led to tremendous improvements and growth in the credit union industry.

Honoring Women's Contributions

The history of the credit union movement is intertwined with the stories of remarkable individuals who defied norms and championed change. From Louise McCarren Herring's visionary leadership to Dora Maxwell's commitment to social responsibility and Angela Melville's pioneering efforts, these three left an indelible mark on the cooperative landscape. Of course, these women are just a few among many who have shaped the credit union movement. Their dedication, resilience, and commitment to service paved the way for credit unions to thrive and fulfill their missions. As we reflect on Women's History Month, let us celebrate the amazing contributions of all women, then and now, and continue to honor their legacy by upholding the principles of cooperation and community engagement.

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