Lauren Culp

My day job is manager for the Cooperative Trust, which was created to help grow young talent in credit unions and cooperatives and is part of Filene Research Institute, the credit union industry’s think and do tank.

The Cooperative Trust creates community in two ways: in-person, especially through its “crashes,” and online.

The crashes, which started in 2010, give younger credit union employees a chance to attend some of the industry’s most well-known events, including Filene’s Big.Bright.Minds conference and CUNA’s (the Credit Union National Association) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).

There’s an application process and the Cooperative Trust chooses 50 “crashers”—one from each state—for each event. Crashers get to network, both with peers and with older cooperative leaders, and there are a number of breakout sessions specifically for them. I was working in business lending at True North Federal Credit Union in Juneau, Alaska when I got to crash the 2016 GAC and it was a great experience.

Prior to joining the Cooperative Trust, I’d also connected with Filene as a member of the I3 group (which stands for Ideas, Innovation, Implementation)—the credit union movement’s collaborative innovation laboratory.” I’ve been working on testing Debt Dragon, which is a tool that helps college students understand and make decisions about college-related expenses.

Before I worked at a credit union, I didn’t really understand how their model helps consumers and communities. But over time I’ve come to appreciate the real differences cooperative finance makes and I could see myself working in the industry for a long time. It’s exciting and rewarding to share this message with my peers.

My most memorable caffeine was the espresso I first tried on a trip to France. Before the trip I focused on learning to say “un café” correctly so that I’d sound like a Parisian, not a tourist, when I ordered one. What didn’t occur to me is that the waiter wouldn’t just take my order, but would attempt to speak to me in French. I’d never had an espresso before and was quite unprepared for how strong it would be. My eyes were watering as I drank it, but that experience sparked a love of espresso.

My current caffeine of choice is an espresso and if I want a little extra caffeine, or just a drink that will last a bit longer, I order an almond milk latte to go with it.

My favorite place for caffeine is the Stone Creek Coffee on E. Washington. Filene’s offices are just a block down the road, so it’s very convenient. Plus, they have excellent coffee.

The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is Amelia Earhart. I’d like to know what happened to her—of course!—but what I’d really enjoy is the opportunity to meet someone who broke down so many barriers for women.

I wish I could talk with her about her experiences of being in a male-dominated field and what she had to do in order to prove herself. I read a story once about how she slept in her leather jacket so that it wouldn’t look too new!

 World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: understanding others’ point of view. If we could sit down over a cup of coffee, look someone in the eye and really hear what they had to say, I think we might be surprised by how much middle ground we’d discover.