Merrimack Valley Credit Union’s (MVCU) President & CEO, John J. Howard, and Assistant Vice President of Member Support, Zobeida Duarte, were both honored during the Cooperative Credit Union Association’s (CCUA) annual APEX conference. Howard was named CEO of the Year and Duarte was named Young Professional of the Year.
The CCUA is a credit union trade organization that represents credit unions in Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The CCUA’s annual APEX conference brought together nearly 700 hundred credit union professionals for a three-day event at Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort in Uncasville, CT. Attendees enjoyed keynote speakers, educational breakout sessions, networking events and a trade show.
Howard and Duarte were honored during the APEX Awards of Excellence Ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 12. The CEO of the Year award recognizes a CEO that is a successful leader, especially in their “efforts to achieve growth in the many ways it serves its members,” and is “an inspiration to the team by constantly motivating them to excellence” (according to the CCUA website). Howard, who has been CEO of MVCU since 2018, has led three successful mergers that have grown the company into the fifth largest credit union in Massachusetts with $2.3 billion in assets. Howard has also played an instrumental role in developing the credit union’s workplace culture, resulting in MVCU being recognized this spring as a Best Place To Work by the Boston Business Journal.
During his acceptance speech (watch here), Howard shared a story from his time as a U.S. marine and thanked his family, credit union colleagues and MVCU team members. “I want to thank my team,” Howard said. “We have such an outstanding team and I am surrounded by excellent people. We have a strong culture that we invest a lot in, and it’s built by all of us.”
The Young Professional of the Year award recognizes a credit union professional under the age of 40 who is committed to the values and principles of the credit union movement and demonstrates exemplary leadership skills.
Duarte began working for MVCU in 2013 as a part-time call center representative and has worked her way up to her current role as AVP of Member Support. The Lawrence, Mass. native acknowledged her roots in the Merrimack Valley and her commitment to serving her community in her acceptance speech (watch here).
“I am so proud of the fact that the very city I grew up in is the same one where my career is blossoming,” said Duarte. “When I began working at MVCU ten years ago, I had no idea that I would be standing in front of you today. I was welcomed with open arms, presented with opportunities to grow, learn and eventually lead others. Most importantly, I am now in a position to give back to the community that has given so much to me. I am so glad that MVCU and the credit union industry are investing in young people—especially young women—and helping to elevate their voices and talents.”