Lois Kitsch, national program director at the National Credit Union Foundation, is set to retire May 1, after “an illustrious and influential career” spanning over 13 years with the Foundation.
Kitsch worked in credit unions prior to joining NCUF, including working her way up to CEO of Sarasota Municipal Employees CU in Florida. (Sarasota Municipal Employees recently changed it name to 1st Street Credit Union, now a $30 million institution based in Sarasota, Fla.)
She then became immersed in international work with the World Council of Credit Unions. Kitsch focused on international development projects aimed at building financial capability through cooperatives in some of the world’s poorest areas. Her work took her to more than 40 countries including the Philippines, Haiti, Macedonia and many throughout Africa.
Brian Branch, president and chief executive officer at WOCCU, said his organization had “the privilege of Lois’s leadership and diligence in the field from 1996 to 2004. Lois was one of our most outstanding project directors, making a real impact on credit union performance in the Philippines, introducing higher performance standards and providing the know-how to achieve them.”
One of her most notable projects and accomplishments was traveling to Afghanistan during wartime in 2003 and 2004, working with WOCCU and the World Bank to assist in the creation of credit unions there.
After spending seven years as WOCCU's regional manager for Europe and Asia, Kitsch then worked as the director of field projects for the Filene Research Institute where she spearheaded the creation of programs aimed at assisting credit unions to better serve low-wage working families.
“Lois is living proof of the power of one,” said Gigi Hyland, executive director at the Foundation. “Over her distinguished and varied credit union career, she has inspired thousands of credit union people worldwide to use their skills to make the world a better place and give a hand up to those in need.”
Mark Meyer, CEO at Filene, described Kitsch as the “Mother Teresa of Credit Unions.”
“Fearless. Lois has travelled the globe to plant the seeds of economic empowerment by placing it in the hands of the people through cooperative finance,” he added.
Kitsch will now be assisting with the first two Credit Union Development Education Trainings in 2018 (in April and June) and working with Chad Helminak, who has recently been hired by the Foundation as director of credit union development and cooperative values engagement.
“This time is bittersweet for me,” said Kitsch. “I will be forever grateful to the Foundation for allowing me to do the work that I love.”