Blake is a credit union consultant working primarily with CEOs of innovative, mid-sized credit unions with under $250mm in assets. He is avid supporter of the credit union movement, and is proud to devote his time and energy to help some of America’s most successful credit unions forge a pathway to a brighter economic future for America and lead the way in creating a new era for both consumers and the broader credit union industry.
Blake works primarily in the areas of strategic planning, data analysis, product development, marketing and project implementation. His flagship product leverages big data to help uncover new customers, explore gaps in the local marketplace, and deliver precise information on the local landscape.
A few project-based initiatives he has worked on include analyzing prepaid card networks, reviewing ATM networks and merchant services providers, building/selling credit card portfolios, creating business and mortgage lending programs, reviewing SBA loans, uncovering opportunities in auto lending, and developing marketing campaigns to reach gens x and y.
Blake has a strong interest in combating the payday lending industry and creating solutions to serve the underserved and unbanked consumer segment. He assisted in the development of CUBreakthrough’s cornerstone product, the Emerging Market Review.
Blake began his career in the credit union industry at the young age of 8, where he was a Board Member for the youth division of Alternatives Federal Credit Union, a community development credit union in Ithaca, NY. In college he worked the front lines as a teller, and has since acquired experience in business lending, collections, operations, and mortgage divisions of credit unions. He has also worked on a national level for the Executive Management of Opportunity Finance Network, a national network of CDFIs.
Blake is particularly interested in methods for consumer behavioral change to drive positive economic change. He serves on the Board of Directors of Ithaca Hours, one of the most well-know local currencies in the United States. Blake also advises and supports socially-minded start-ups in the electronic payments industry that seek to develop community-centric electronic payment systems. He graduated with honors of cum laude with a degree in Applied Economics from Cornell University in 2003.
Star is a consultant that advises organizations on strategic planning and implementation, market development, business operations, and proposal writing tactics. she has specific experience working with community development financial institutions (CDFIs) including credit unions, banks and loan funds.
Previously, Star worked with Partners for the Common Good developing a start-up, online-based enterprise for connecting lending partners and at the U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Fund providing senior level analysis and technical assistance to clients in the areas of funding, certification, and evaluation and monitoring. She has also worked with the Center for Policy Alternatives, the U.S. Department of Education, and the United States Student Association and Foundation.
Star received a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and was a Coro Fellow with the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs in Los Angeles, California.
Susan Brunner, CUDE
Susan is principal of Susan Brunner & Associates, LLC, specializing in planning and implementing community development initiatives. Susan applies entrepreneurial concepts and business development skills to build strategic collaborations and partnerships that promote economic opportunity for credit unions, businesses, organizations and communities. Susan’s experience as a small business owner for more than twenty years along with her extensive experience in marketing as well as non-profit and community development, brought her to the credit union industry more seven years ago. Working with La Cap Federal Credit Union in Louisiana, she developed a community art-lease program that created economic outreach opportunities linking the credit union and its services with the financial needs of the cultural industry in Louisiana. Since then, she has worked together with the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation as well as film production studios, theater owners and regional art councils to create programs connecting the cultural industry to credit unions’ lending products and services.
As Director of Community Development at Carter Federal Credit Union in Louisiana for over three years, Susan’s responsibilities included grant writing, creating community development initiatives, strategic planning, advocacy, press, media and public relations. She began a VITA program, an Alternative Refund Anticipation Loan program, and numerous financial education outreach programs, including a Biz Kid$ Summer Theater Camp Pilot Program. She developed a financial education certification program for credit union staff as well as created marketing and campaigns for community development initiatives. Susan specializes in creating community partnerships and collaborations that focus initiatives and outreach to low-income and underserved populations.
Susan is a proud graduate of the 2011 class of Credit Union Development Educators (CUDE) sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation. She has attended The Federation of Community Development Credit Union’s Community Development Management Institute. Most recently, in 2013, Susan joined the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions’ CU Breakthrough team as a consultant. Susan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Southeastern Louisiana University. She has served on extensive boards and committees, and currently enjoys serving as a member of the Biz Kid$ advisory committee.