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Home » A Q&A With Women’s History Month Honoree, Rachel Pross

A Q&A With Women’s History Month Honoree, Rachel Pross

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Women's History month

March is Women’s History Month and it’s a good time to remember that women have been instrumental in building the legacy of lifelong learning, community support, and innovative thinking that Maps Credit Union is founded on. In fact, women played a huge role in making all credit unions what they are today. Pioneering women, like Louise McCarren Herring (who was frequently referred to as “the Mother of Credit Unions”), and Dora Maxwell were strong advocates for consumer protection and financial empowerment. The legacy of these women lives on today, as credit unions continue to serve their communities and provide access to financial services for all.

 All month long, we’ll be honoring some of the women who play key roles in helping Maps build strong communities and support the financial well-being of its members; but first, we’re honoring Rachel Pross, our Chief Operations Officer.

Pross joined the Maps team in 2016 and now provides outstanding leadership for our operations division. She is one of the founding board members of Evergreen Armored Transport (one of the Maps operational subsidiaries) and serves as an advocate for credit unions by meeting with legislators and regulators both in Salem and in Washington, D.C.  Pross testified to Congress twice in 2019 in favor of the SAFE Banking Act and is a frequent guest speaker at events across the nation on topics ranging from regulatory compliance to leadership.  She has also lent her expertise to several industry publications including HuffPost Money and The Hill. We had a few questions about what inspires her and what she believes it takes to be a good leader.

Maps: What motivated you to become a leader in your industry?

Pross: I was the accountant for a small credit union in Tucson, Arizona, and the organization was experiencing a time of serious hardship.  I was offered the CEO job less than a year after I started working there, but I felt unprepared and unworthy to lead.  I called my dad for advice, and he said, “If you don’t seize the opportunity, someone else will.”  It really resonated with me, and I am so glad I took that job.  My career in credit unions has been a wonderful experience.

Maps: Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women? Tell us about someone personally or professionally who has inspired you.

Pross: Yes!  Absolutely!  I’ve met many amazing women along the way, but the one who stands out most is Kim Woodward.  Kim was my first boss upon moving to Oregon, and she was tragically diagnosed with ALS a couple of years later.  Despite suffering from a terminal illness, she still finished an executive management school program, and she was just unbelievably brave and determined.  She showed nothing but poise and strength in the face of adversity.  I’ll never forget her.

Maps: What motivates you when things get tough?

Pross: When things get tough, I turn to gratitude.  I’m married to the love of my life, Scott, and we have some pretty awesome (grown) kids.  I’m thankful for time outdoors, my side gig with the symphony, and my hilarious best friend, Jen.

Maps: What does good team leadership look like to you?

Pross: I love hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.  I want my teams to know they can come to me with anything and everything, but they also know I’ll first ask for their recommendations to problem-solve.  I think good leadership can be demonstrated in a number of ways but, for me, it’s about trusting and empowering employees to follow their gut instincts and make smart choices.  (And, when an executive decision does need to be made, it’s about setting personal feelings aside, making that tough call, and then giving my team a clear direction to pursue.)

Maps: What advice would you give the next generation of female leaders?

Pross: I’d say to be you—fearlessly.  There’s a lot of pressure out there to conform, and all that does is stifle your natural instincts and gifts.  Be you and learn how to leverage your strengths and passions to make a positive impact on whatever trail you blaze.

Maps: Who is your favorite female historical figure?

Pross: This is a tough one because there are so many.  RBG of course, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth…  but I think my favorite is probably Rachel Carson.  First, she has an amazing first name.  Second, she wrote “Silent Spring” and woke the world up about what we were doing to our environment.  She was bold and courageous despite enormous risk and, even though she was a scientist who could speak with authority in academic circles, she wrote directly to the public.  She faced powerful chemical companies (with far greater resources) head-on.  It had a huge impact.  One quote I read said that Rachel’s work was about “recasting humankind as part of nature— not above it.”  Wow.

 Stay tuned! We’ll be interviewing more of our amazing leaders as Women’s History Month continues.

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