2018 Advocacy Honoree - Navigant Credit Union

Navigant Credit Union
2018 Advocacy Nominee

One hundred and four years ago, a small community of French-Canadian immigrants living in the small town of Central Falls, Rhode Island had a collective problem. Like so many before and after them, they had uprooted their old lives and packed up their families to start anew in the United States. They were chasing this so-called American Dream – this gleaming, hopeful idea that, here, they could start new lives; own their own homes; and provide for their families.

The problem, though, was that avenues of realizing that dream didn’t yet exist for them. Traditional financial institutions of the time were hesitant to approve their loan requests because they didn’t know them. They didn’t speak their language. They didn’t trust them. 

So, a handful of these newly settled Rhode Islanders pooled together what little income they had, and created a financial institution of their own. La Credit Union de Notre Dame de Central Falls opened on March 9, 1915 with just over $20,000 in assets. Immediately, loans that had long been denied were approved. And dreams that had long been delayed were realized.

We’re including our history here because we believe it serves as a microcosm of the very purpose of the community credit union business model. Like hundreds of other credit unions across the country, we were founded on the idea of community. Our founders, like their colleagues in the industry over the years, believed that their friends and neighbors deserved the opportunity to achieve their financial dreams. Our purpose, as an industry, is to provide that opportunity.

We still believe in that purpose. And we believe it’s a purpose worth fighting for.

More than a century later, we’re now known as Navigant Credit Union. With more than $1.5 billion in assets and more than 85,000 members across 18 branch locations, we’ve been fortunate to grow into one of the strongest community credit unions in the country. As such, we believe we have a responsibility to champion the credit union cause in Rhode Island and across the country. And we act on that responsibility any chance we get.

Our CEO and President, Gary E. Furtado, has built a well-earned reputation as a respected leader in both Rhode Island’s local business community and in the credit union industry nationwide. Gary serves as the chairman of the CCUA’s Rhode Island Advocacy Committee and is currently serving his second term as New England’s representative on the Board of Directors for Credit Union National Association.

Under Gary’s leadership, Navigant Credit Union has proudly evolved into New England’s leading voice in the national credit union conversation. Every year, we send representatives to the annual “Hike the Hill” event in Washington, D.C. to meet with elected leaders to discuss important issues facing the credit union community. Back home, we host “Regulator Roundtables” and “Meet Your Legislator” days, giving local credit union leaders a platform to bring their concerns and opinions directly to Rhode Island’s policymakers.

We’re advocates for our industry because we know the community credit union model works. We know that local financial institutions, staffed and led by local people, have the potential to change lives and make communities better places to live and work.

We know this because over the course of 104 years, a simple idea that was launched in the basement of a church grew into an institution that has helped tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders achieve their financial dreams.