In Memoriam: Joy Cousminer
Joy Cousminer, longtime president/ CEO of the former Bethex Federal Credit Union and one of the industry’s leading advocates of serving low-income members, passed away on Christmas Day in the Bronx, according to the New York Credit Union Association.
In 1970, Cousminer was a teacher, working for the New York City Board of Education Adult Education Program. While helping single mothers on welfare obtain Graduate Equivalency Degrees, she noticed a common theme among her students: a lack of access to credit and a need to build savings. With the help of a former Catholic priest, she worked to charter the Bethex Federal Credit Union to serve low-income consumers in the Bronx.
According to the National Federal Credit Union Foundation, which presented the former credit union CEO with the 2006 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for individual achievement, Cousminer leveraged her natural abilities to persuade others to aid in her endeavors to provide affordable financial services for underserved members.
In 1995, Cousminer forged a ground-breaking partnership with more than 100 check-cashing operations to allow Bethex members to cash checks for just $1.50 if they deposited 20% of the cashed amount into the credit union through a free on-site terminal, according to the Foundation.
What’s more, Cousminer founded the We Care Network of small asset credit unions in New York, with its goal for small asset cooperatives to work cooperatively to build and support each other, the NYCUA said.
She also served for many years on the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions’ board of directors. In 1996, she received the Annie Vamper Award from the NFCDCU.
She was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2013.
Two years later, however, in December 2015, the NCUA liquidated Bethex FCU after determining it was insolvent. The $1.3 billion USAlliance Federal Credit Union of Rye, N.Y., assumed Bethex FCU’s assets, member shares, and the majority of its loans.
“Joy Cousminer dedicated her life to providing financial services and opportunities to many individuals who had few avenues for economic advancement,” said NYCUA President/CEO William J. Mellin. “She was an unwavering advocate for credit unions and a true evangelist of the credit union philosophy. On behalf of the New York credit union movement, I extend my deepest condolences and sympathies to her family and loved ones. She will be missed dearly.”
In its announcement, the NYCUA did not list funeral services for Cousminer.