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Louise McCarren Herring, The Mother of Credit Unions

You might imagine that the early pioneers of the credit union movement were a bunch of middle-aged men in business suits. But what if we told you that one of the youngest standouts among them was a 23 year old woman fresh out of college looking to make a difference. Her name was Louise McCarren Herring.

It was the early 1930s and people were suffering from the great depression. Herring began to notice a loan operation taking advantage of desperate consumers. People who borrowed from these “bucket shops” were charged outrageous high interest rates and would end up in a lot of debt just to put food on the table.

Beating the Bucket
Herring heard about a Boston man named Edward Filene, who was crusading to launch a new type of financial institution called a credit union. She loved the idea of a cooperative, owned by the people who deposit their money there. She subsequently set up 13 credit unions to serve her Kroger employees.

In the beginning, credit unions were kept relatively small so the volunteers could handle running operations. As the movement swept across the country, advocates decided to establish a nationwide organization. They met in Estes Park, Colorado in August 1934. Kroger sent Herring as their delegate to the meeting.

Not only did she end up serving as the secretary for the conference which went on to create the organization now known as the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), but back in Ohio she helped create the Ohio Credit Union League. Her tenacity earned her the selection as Ohio’s representative to the new CUNA board.

Following Her passion
As the first managing director of the Ohio Credit Union League, she traveled all over Ohio to help people start their own credit unions. She was a firm believer in equal and fair access to quality financial services, helping organize over 500 credit unions.

For nearly 30 years, Herring was recognized for her commitment and dedication to helping others through credit unions. Helping people was her passion, and she felt credit unions could provide for people of all walks of life.

For more information on Louise McCarren Herring and her accomplishments in the credit union industry, click here.

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