The Research & Policy Analysis team focuses on research and data analytics to support CUNA's advocacy efforts. Their wide variety of backgrounds and expertise are leveraged to provide you with insights on the ever-changing economic environment and its impact on credit unions and their members.
Mike Schenk Mike Schenk
Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer for Policy Analysis and Chief Economist
Mike Schenk has over 35 years of experience in the financial services industry. In 1992 he joined the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) – the largest and most influential national trade association advocating for America's credit unions. There are over 5,000 credit unions nationwide, with a total of more than 130 million memberships and over $2 trillion in assets.
Mike is Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer for Policy Analysis and Chief Economist for CUNA and conducts economic research and supports CUNA’s public relations and advocacy efforts. His analyses regularly appear in trade publications such as Credit Union Magazine. He also is a frequent contributor to the financial media.
Schenk serves on the board of the Filene Research Institute, an independent, non-profit consumer and cooperative finance think tank.
He also serves on the board of Summit Credit Union in Madison, Wisconsin – a $5 billion financial cooperative with over 220,000 members. In his nearly 20 years on the Summit board Mike has served as Board Chair and has Chaired the credit union’s Asset-Liability Management and Risk Management/Internal Audit Committees.
Dawit Kebede Dawit Kebede
Dawit has more than eight years of research experience in academic, not-for-profit, and private industry. His previous research areas cover topics on trade, employment, consumer finance and policy evaluation using statistics and economic models as a tool.
Dawit worked for CUNA Mutual Group as the primary analyst for the Investor Guidance Center and Consumer Sales Channel of the TruStage Insurance businesses before joining CUNA. Prior to that, he worked as a project coordinator of experimental research that compared the effectiveness of micro-finance and low-wage factory jobs on the overall wellbeing of individuals. He also has teaching experience at universities in Ethiopia and USA.
Dawit earned a PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, majoring in Development Economics. He also has Master’s degrees from UW–Madison (Agriculture and Applied Economics) and Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Development Economics). He received his Bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness Management from Alemaya University in Ethiopia.
Ligia Vado Ligia Vado
Ligia (Ligi) Vado has over 20 years of experience leveraging economics and finance policy research. She joined the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) in 2022 – the largest and most influential national trade association advocating for America's credit unions. There are over 5,000 credit unions nationwide, with a total of more than 130 million memberships and over $2 trillion in assets.
Ligi serves as a Senior Economist in CUNA’s Policy Analysis department. In that role, she conducts economic research and supports CUNA’s public relations and advocacy efforts. Her work centers on data analysis and effective data visualization and she also contributes to the department’s forecasting function. Her views and analyses appear in trade publications such as Credit Union Magazine.
Vado has extensive experience developing data science solutions, machine learning models, as well as quantitative analysis. Before joining CUNA, she was an Adjunct Professor of Business Analytics at Thomas More University.
She knows credit unions – having served as an Insights and Analytical Services analyst for CUNA Mutual Group. Prior to that she was a Disaster Risk Financing & Insurance Specialist at the World Bank where she focused on policy research and supporting risk financing and international housing finance initiatives.
Ms. Vado earned a Ph.D. in Economics from North Carolina State University. She also has a master’s degree in Economics from N.C. State and an M.Sc. in Agricultural & Applied Economics from Texas Tech University. Her bachelor’s degree - in Economics & Finance - was earned from Thomas More University – Managua, Nicaragua. She holds dual American and Italian citizenships.
Contact our team and they'd be delighted to help you with any questions you might have.