Karl Graham, Alternatives Federal Credit Union
Karl Graham is the Director of Community Relations and Development for the Alternatives Federal Credit Union. Karl has worked at Alternatives for 28 years. Alternatives Federal Credit Union is a Community Development Financial Institution, located in Ithaca, NY. Our mission is “to build wealth and create economic opportunity for underserved people and communities”. Like all credit unions, we are a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative that provides savings, loans, and other financial services to our members. Credit union membership is based on a common bond. Our field of membership includes GreenStar Cooperative Market, Handwork, the Alternatives Fund, and people who live or work in Tompkins and contiguous counties.
Melissa Marquez, Genesee Cooperative Federal Credit Union
Melissa Marquez is Chief Executive Officer of Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union (GCFCU). Prior to joining the credit union in 2004, she served for 8 years as the General Manager of Progressive Neighborhood Federal Credit Union (Rochester, NY). Her formal education includes a BS in Political Science from Santa Clara University (1982) and an MS in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University (1991). With 20+ years’ experience in community organizing and development, including active service on the Board of Trustees for the Institute for Community Economics (1992 – 2002) and the Board of Directors of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (2000 – 2008), Ms. Marquez brings a broad perspective, keen insight and mission-driven focus to her work at GCFCU.
A long time credit union member and former Board member, Ms. Marquez joined the GCFCU staff as Senior Loan Officer in January 2004. Since that time, she has displayed outstanding knowledge, resourcefulness and leadership ability. As Co-Manager, starting in June 2005, her diligence and effort to mobilize the Board and Staff, and her capacity to leverage human, financial and social capital, brought the credit union back to strong ground after a period of significant financial losses and close scrutiny by the NCUA. In 2006, Ms. Marquez accepted the position of CEO. In the years since, the credit union has doubled in size from $6.8 million to $13.7 million in assets. Along with all the other CU staff, Ms. Marquez became a certified financial counselor in 2012 (Credit Union National Association FiCEP). She also volunteers as a tax preparer at the CU’s VITA site, which she helped to launch in 2007. With Ms. Marquez as CEO, Genesee Co-op FCU has achieved and maintained a level of stability and strong financial performance that was unprecedented in its 31 year history.
Sarah Ludwig, New Economy Project
Sarah Ludwig is founder and co-director of New Economy Project (formerly known as NEDAP). Since launching the organization in 1995, she has worked with hundreds of grassroots groups to organize and advocate for neighborhood equity and financial justice, and has spoken frequently at community forums and public hearings on a wide range of economic justice matters. In 2000, Sarah co-founded the coalition, New Yorkers for Responsible Lending, which has secured major state-level policy changes and now includes more than 160 organizational members.
Sarah received the 2000 Rockefeller Foundation’s Next Generation Leadership fellowship; the 2002 Union Square Award; the Ford Foundation’s 2004 Leadership for a Changing World award; New York Lawyers for the Public Interest’s 2008 Felix A. Fishman Award; and Chhaya CDC’s 2011 Architect of Change award. She served on the Federal Reserve Board’s Consumer Advisory Council from 2006-2008, and serves on the boards of directors of the Center for Responsible Lending, Consumer Federation of America, and North Star Fund. Sarah received degrees in law and urban planning from NYU, and since 2003 has taught a course on community equity in NYU’s urban planning program.