By KATE GENO
During her 28 years in the community banking industry, Libby Calderone has found many opportunities in which to make a positive impact.
At the University of Illinois, an economics class sparked her interest in the banking world and she decided to specialize in banking and investments. She began her career at Northern Trust Bank in Chicago as an auditor where she was able to see the inner workings of banks and get an educational overview of their operations. She discovered that she enjoyed her involvement with community banks the most and felt that industry niche would allow her to have an impact on the future.
In 1987, Calderone answered a help wanted ad in the newspaper for a loan officer position at Earthmover Credit Union in Aurora. After being hired, she started out in the loans department and was gradually promoted to vice president, then chief financial officer and is now CEO of the credit union.
Due to the cooperative ownership structure of a credit union, Calderone says it is easier to make an impact on every aspect of the credit union to ensure it is meeting its members’ needs.
“A member-owned institution is more in-tune to the needs of its members,” said Calderone. “We are not-for-profit in the sense that profits are not the main focus. The main goal is to provide a better return to our members.”
She enjoys all aspects of her job including investments, financial management, and strategy development; but the most satisfaction comes from working with her staff and the credit union members.
“There are so many areas where we can make an impact,” said Calderone. “Our members have amazing testimonies of refinances and car loans that have made real differences to their lives. Additionally, watching my staff develop their careers is equally rewarding.”
After graduating from college and working for a large bank, Calderone says it was a primarily male-dominated industry. However, she never felt that stigma at Earthmover Credit Union. She was hired by a female CEO and is grateful to have had rewarding mentor relationships with both males and females in the industry.
“There is a greater percentage of female CEOs at credit unions than at banks,” said Calderone. “Four of the six members of the Earthmover Credit Union senior management team are women. I see many opportunities for women in banking.”
There are also many opportunities for Earthmover Credit Union to impact the community. Calderone and her staff participate in charitable work through the credit union’s “Earthgivers” program, which chooses a different community organization to support every month.
Calderone has personally dedicated her spare time over the past six years as a director for the Illinois Credit Union League Service Corporation. The Illinois Credit Union League is the primary trade association for credit unions in Illinois and provides its members with legislative advocacy and educational development opportunities.
Calderone is also involved with community outreach events through her church and volunteers her time to financial counseling events in Aurora. She has a son who is in senior high school and a daughter in college.