ALAMOGORDO, N.M. - Otero Federal Credit Union said Juanita Whiteside, its longtime CEO and employee for 37 years, died on Aug. 13 after a long battle with breast cancer.
She had been CEO since Jan. 1, 2002.
The $284 million CU said during Whiteside's tenure, she presided over the transition from the old facility used more than 50 years to a modern, new headquarters building in 2010.
In 2011, Whiteside became one of the first New Mexico credit union CEOs to post on social media when she was inspired to dive into popular culture and form a flash mob. The event at Holloman Air Force Base was a surprise for the attendees of the annual Thanks Team Holloman event, which is held to say "thank you" to all the men and women and families of Holloman Air Force Base.
The staff at Otero practiced for a month before dancing at the event, which can be seen here:
Chosen For 'Healthiest CUs' List
In July, Otero FCU was one of four New Mexico credit unions on a list of the Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions in America. Otero was 78th on the national list compiled from more than 6,000 federally insured credit unions evaluated.
Dave Sheppard, chairman of the Otero FCU board of directors, described Whiteside as, "The best employee anyone could ever have," in a prepared statement. "I am very happy I had the opportunity to hire Juanita. It was one of the best hiring decisions we ever made."
Regina Colbert, senior vice president of operations, said of Whiteside, "The credit union was her second home, and we were all her second family, members and staff alike. It was through her mentorship and guidance I have grown within the credit union. Juanita put up a great fight against her cancer, working many days after chemo and radiation treatments. She was determined to be here every day over the years and even the past few months. Juanita was a fighter and courageous individual, one of the best bosses I ever had. I have not only lost a great boss, leader, mentor and coach, but I have lost a very dear friend."
Active On Many Boards
At the state level, Whiteside served on the CUANM board of directors, New Mexico Credit Union Education Foundation board of directors, CUANM Governmental Affairs Committee and CUANM Governance Task Force. She was a familiar face at many Association events and always available to assist other credit union leaders who could benefit from her experience.
Otero Federal Credit Union will be closed Friday, Aug. 21 to allow members and employees to attend services.