scholarship winner comes home to lead | 2021-01-28

Kelli Holloway was waiting for her scholarship from Foundation of the State Employees Credit Union (SECU), Raleigh, NC, to pursue a career as a lawyer.

Instead, it led to her becoming vice president of membership education and outreach with $ 46 billion in assets. SECU.

Holloway’s path curved back to his hometown after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. An only child, she returned to Raleigh to help care for her mother while saving money for her law school education.

She hoped that being a fellow would give her an edge in finding a job at SECU, and she was soon offered a position as a financial services manager helping members get loans and mortgages.

Holloway has also made presentations to elementary and middle schools. After an executive saw her presentation, she became a member education specialist.

“It fits my passion and my goal,” says Holloway. “How great to have been able to make this my position.”

Today, Holloway leads a team of 10 employees who develop programs and presentations and support branch staff who help deliver them to members, schools, youth groups and community organizations throughout Carolina’s 100 counties. North.

Holloway describes herself as a “radical optimist” who is passionate about her faith and demonstrates “the radical acceptance” that life is different during a pandemic.

As a manager, she compares her “radical enthusiasm” for her team to the crowd in “The Price is Right,” where everyone encourages each candidate to succeed. She believes credit unions thrive on teamwork that gives everyone a seat at the table.

“There is a freedom to be radical,” Holloway said. “When you feel comfortable with the discomfort it shows good leadership, so that’s the kind of radical optimist I aim to be.”

“If we want to say that we are diverse, we have to walk it, we have to speak it, we have to show it.”

Kelli Holloway

Holloway is ready to speak to help others understand diversity, equity and inclusion opportunities, and is a member of the Board of the South Region Committee for Coalition of African-American Credit Unions. For example, she helped amplify an employee’s comment that management messages should be diverse.

“Performance matters,” Holloway said. “So if we’re going to say we’re diverse, we’ve got to walk it, we’ve got to talk it, we’ve got to show it.”

After the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor sparked protests, Holloway realized that “the employees were suffocated by the grief this moment brought”.

She has been tasked with leading a “Critical Conversations” course to help managers become sensitive to racial injustices and respond with empathy. More than 100 SECU managers have taken the 90-minute course so far, with plans to deliver it to several hundred more managers in the coming months.

Holloway sometimes feels the combined stress of social tensions, being a black woman in a leadership role, and juggling the challenges of career, motherhood, and caring for her own mother. She relies on faith to restore her spirit, while spending time with her husband Mike and daughters Ava, three months, and Zoie, three.

Holloway’s faith brings a “willing heart and servant leader” perspective to her work.

“There is no limit to your ability to learn more about others, to take care of yourself and to put yourself in their shoes,” says Holloway. “This is how you can change not only policies and procedures, but also minds and hearts. “

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