Marine Stories We consist of a diverse group of people brought together by common beliefs: Courage, Collaboration, Compassion, Commitment – and Advancing Lives. Our Marine community is rich with stories that inspire us professionally and personally.
Andrea gained a desire to help others from her parents, a school bus driver and nurse. Now at Marine, she is able to share her own experiences with financial struggles to help MCU members. Andrea explained that MCU helped her during times of financial hardship and now she is able pay it forward. “I have a soft spot because of MCU helping me when I needed it,” she shared. “Somebody believed in me and that was really special.”
After a successful career in radio broadcasting, Abby Martin, a Collections Representative at MCU since May of 2022, said she completely changed after having her three boys, two of which are autistic. “I’m tired,” she said with a laugh and added, “Some days are better than others.”
Colleen Flasch works as an operations specialist at Marine Credit Union. Whether she is helping members, other departments in MCU’s organization, or volunteering in the community, Colleen is passionate about helping others. “I feel the need to help people,” Colleen said. “It’s just me being me.”
Kassiah Vande Kolk
Kassiah Vande Kolk shared stories of her and her husband’s rescued pets during her Heart of MCU interview. Much like the “zoo” she has at home, Kassiah shared that her passion for her work at MCU keeps her busy too.
Ian Spohn shared that he didn’t have positive role models as a child to learn about financial stability and emotional intelligence. Yet, he shared that he eventually found the love and support he needed from his wife, Alison. Ian now gives back through his work at MCU and through volunteering with children who need support.
Weaving through the diverse, interesting and colorful stories of her life, Emily Cochran told the most difficult one to hear near the end of her interview … with an important message to help others who may be struggling.
Not liking to be bored, Caleb Chmielewski, Business System Administrator at Marine Credit Union (MCU), shared that he has been involved in several different positions and projects since starting at MCU as a college intern. “MCU was my first ‘big boy job’ and the only thing I’ve really ever known.”
Part of Marie Jacobsen’s story included a rare look into the life of her father, a nuclear physicist, who was part of an emergency response team to decommission nuclear reactors – one of the most notable saving Fukushima, Japan from nuclear destruction in 2011. Marie said she loves working at Marine Credit Union. “The support here has been amazing. I have never met more supportive people … ever. I feel very connected to them.”
Spring Mandujano finds ways with her work at MCU and outside of work to prevent her from getting bored. “You have to make yourself happy,” Spring said. “A lot are fearful of missing out,” she added. “I have a fear of too many options.”
Having worked in a both banks and high interest loan companies, Jon Kramer shared he found a good balance between the two at Marine Credit Union. “We can take someone who has bad credit, and we can convert that to good loans with good rates,” Jon shared and added that the key to helping people who are struggling financially is education. “Education,” Jon added, “one of my favorite things to do.”
As a young child fascinated with Japan, Jared Sedlmayr had the opportunity to study abroad immersing himself in the Japanese culture. After his returned he found his way to Marine Credit Union, where he is able to help others. “The world would be a better place if we all just reach out and help others. Everyone deserves basic happiness, comfort and security.” Jared shared. “The world needs more hope.”
Tara Kieler works remotely from her Platteville, Wisconsin home as a Regional Service Manager. “We can learn what it’s like in different departments,” Tara explained and said that it gives employees the opportunity to learn their “best fit” in the organization. This all serves MCU’s values of collaboration and commitment well. “I love our new values.”
Scott Runke is a senior mortgage loan representative at Marine Credit Union (MCU). He lives in Green Bay and covers the Green Bay and surrounding areas, “Basically Northeast Wisconsin,” he explained. “We are the mortgage lenders for the MCU field representatives.”
Hannah Dickinson explained that she oversees the front end of the collections process at Marine Credit Union (MCU) as the Collections Department Manager. “Collections has a bad rap,” she explained. “At MCU,” she said, “We take the compassionate approach knowing that everybody is coming from a different place.”
Cayla Gregory shared that she was fearless when she was younger. At one point in her life, though, Cayla explained, “I lost myself. I lost my balance.” But everything changed when she met her husband, Steve and she found her way through it all with him, her supportive work environment at MCU and a little ghost hunting!
Becky Potts serves Marine Credit Union (MCU) as the Director of Human Capital, Payroll and Benefits. She explained that it is important to her to do whatever it takes to enhance the employee’s life, health, and well-being and their families. “Employees are number one,” she added. “If we don’t have employees, we won’t have members.”
“I believe everything in life happens for a reason,” Tricia said while sharing that her parents divorced when she was a child. “My mom and dad loved each other, but they were not soulmates. They are happier now. Everything is just a stepping-stone so that you can learn and grow. Every challenge you go through … it strengthens your character.”
Paul Hansmeier grew up around family who instilled him with values such as honesty, humility, hard work and respect. His empathetic nature and desire to help others aligns with MCU’s mission. At MCU, he said, “I’m surrounded by like-minded people with common purposes. It’s not a negative environment. It goes back to the way I was raised.”
Liz Malott serves as the Sr. Vice President of Talent at Marine Credit Union (MCU). Liz shared that she never aspired to be a leader, but followed the advice of her mother and mentors along the way. She now helps to bring together a community of people who drive MCU’s mission of advancing the lives of people and in doing so, helps its employees reach their personal and professional goals.
Jenna Reedy shared she felt very supported by her Marine Credit Union (MCU) team while facing unimaginable challenges in her and her husband’s personal life. “Everyone is going through something,” Jenna said. “It’s their story. It’s important to have things like this,” she said of the Heart of MCU. It’s important, she said, “so we can hear each other, support each other and be grateful for each other.”
A self-proclaimed “country girl at heart,” Becka Wingham not only lives the country life at home but also appreciates the small community atmosphere at the Platteville branch. “Having our close-knit team is very important,” she continued. “We have each other to lean on and listen to when we are having a bad (or good) day. We are open with each other. And we trust each other.”
Ryan Holbrook shared what he appreciates about working at MCU. Ryan said, “I can’t think of anything bad working here.” He said he shares the same goal as MCU, “trying to do the best for our members and help them out as much as we can.” The payoff for Ryan “is watching members you’ve helped grow, turn their life around and fight their way out of financial hardship.”
Catherine Vorwald, MCU Member Service Representative, explained that her mother “has more compassion and courage than the rest of us.” Is that where Catherine gets her compassionate nature from? “Probably,” Catherine replied. “It’s just automatic. I expect everyone to have compassion. I think we need more of that.”
Motivated with passion and purpose, after losing his beloved grandparents, Aaron McCollum shared a glimpse of all he and his wife Patricia do to serve others. His purpose is, he said, “Simply, to make others feel valued. Not just by myself, but that God values them and wants that relationship with them.”
Jordan Rangel is passionate about caring on the legacy his father started 31 years ago – creating a traveling baseball team. After losing his father in a tragic work accident in 1996, Jordan took over in his place. The organization now serves 17 baseball and 13 softball teams and has built and runs a complex for the community youth. “I think about it all the time,” he shared. “To give back to the youth of the community … it’s pretty special to us.”
As a college intern and full-time Member Service Representative at MCU, Bella Leach said she isn’t sure what area of leadership she is most interested in, but she knew she wanted to pursue leadership after a previous manager saw potential in and believed in her. “I really like leading others,” Bella commented. “I liked seeing people grow and I liked seeing I could have an impact on others.”
Amy Bryant is grateful for her upbringing in Whitefish, Montana before that area, near Glacier National Park, was overtaken by tourists. She later went through challenges in her life but now is happy in her personal and professional life. She said that she aligns with MCU’s values in helping members overcome their own challenges. “I hope that I’m doing good … doing good with our mission. I have a lot of compassion. I know I’m in the right company with MCU.”
Growing up, Alec Everson shared he felt “lost” and “afraid.” But with his wife Alyssa at his side and his supportive work environment at MCU, he said his perspective has shifted. “There is a sense of purpose in this department,” Alec shared. “It’s a huge feeling to have helped people.”
Having to take time off to find herself and overcome mental health challenges aggravated by her past work experiences, Brittany shared that she is now able to help members at Marine CU. “People see their negative balances. They are not where they want to be right now, but I will work with you to help you get in a better situation. I will try to help you find yourself.”
Lynn Gorzlancyk’s background and passion for the fine arts is a “good blend” with her work as a Real Estate Loan Servicing Rep at MCU. She explained, “You have to be able to think outside the box and look at things from different perspectives. I’ve been able to bring that to my work.”
Erica Plaza is grounded in her traditional values in her personal and professional life. She said that Marine Credit Union’s core values “speak” to her. “I am where I have to be, career-wise,” Erica commented. “It is my calling to be here.”
“We aren’t the only place (members) are behind,” Courtney Shaw shared during her interview. “If they are behind on their house or car, they are probably living paycheck to paycheck.” Courtney said that having her training in financial counseling and having experienced her own financial hardships in the past helps her to dig deeper into members’ situations and put them on a better financial path.
Early on, Brooke Liu studied with the intention of working on mass murders and serial killers for the FBI, but her path led her to serving the community in security and banking. “There are times it is hard to work in fraud,” she said. “Identity theft is a traumatic event for members. You have to build a rapport with them. I let them know, ‘I will help you through this.’”
“I love learning,” Barb Kotsonis, who does a lot of training at Marine Credit Union, shared during her Heart of MCU interview. “That is why I love teaching. I will continue to learn whether I am in the classroom or not. My goal is to learn something every day, not just to quench your thirst for knowledge, but to keep yourself young.”
Arlys Lankey “technically” has been with MCU for 11 years but has been working in the banking field for over 30. What makes her great at customer support? “People say that I have great empathy, patience, and understanding for the person on the phone,” she answered during her Heart of MCU interview. And it doesn’t hurt having those 30 years of experience as well.
Taking after the examples his father and his “selfless” and “giving” mother, even as a young boy, Luke Zuiker was the kid who helped others out. Now in his role at MCU and as a CUNA certified financial counselor, he shared that he loves being able to help members realize things they hadn’t been able to before. “MCU is a more caring organization. I’ve always felt good about the loans I’ve written here.”
Cassandra Sears shares her own personal story of financial hardship and compares it to many of the members she now serves as an MCU Consumer Loan Officer. “It’s why I wake up and go to work,” she said. “Those are the people we are able to help. We really get to change the course of their lives just by listening to them.”
MCU Foundation Coordinator Kyli Hames shared her story of overcoming a drug addiction at a very young age. “I find light in dark situations,” she said. “I felt I was in quicksand, but I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. It seemed hopeless but I was still hopeful. We were all created to experience love with the Creator.”
Family is important to Meghan Lawrence, Senior Deposit Operations Representative. Meghan said she not only appreciates the compassionate and collaborative culture in her own department but that the collaboration between departments at MCU is “amazing to see.” She explained that same compassion is carried out to members as well. “For some members, you are the person they can confide in. Maybe they don’t have anyone else. They became like family.”
Bob Holtz, Inside Mortgage Specialist is a self-aware man. He said that MCU employees, like himself, might be “different from the norm” because they have the courage to have tough conversations and the compassion to help their members – however they can. “I wouldn’t change anything,” Bob said of his job at MCU. “I’m loving it.”
Brenda had a successful career in catering prior to a journey that how has her serving as Real Estate Loan Support Supervisor. She shared she was making cookies “as soon as I could stand on a chair.” Catering, she said, “was so fun … so awesome. It’s service. A different type. You can’t mess with some things. It has to be done exactly right.” With loan support, she added, “We have to make sure everything is signed correctly. Our team is responsible. We catch it and have to get it fixed.”
Mary Jo Healey
“Bank” Mary Jo Healey, Marine Credit Union (MCU) Market Manager said jokingly, “is a four-letter word.” The mission behind a credit union, Mary Jo said, “is in my bones. My number one priority is what is in the best interest of the member.” At MCU, Mary Jo said, “We always make sure to put our members in a better position when they leave than when they came in, or give them the tools to get there.”
Laura Mueller, MCU Director of Project Management Office, shared her personal story of her father passing when she was only 13 years old. She explained that she learned how to “keep your head down and work hard every day” from her dad. “He taught me a good firm handshake at the age of eight,” she added with a smile. “When my dad died my life forever changed,” she said. “I use that to propel me forward.”
Veronica Segovia emigrated from Puerto Rico in 2017 after Hurricane Maria devastated the island that she called home. Facing culture shock and racism after coming to the U.S. heightened her passion to serve people who have faced similar difficulties in their own lives. “I am an imperfect person trying to be like Jesus,” she shared in her interview. She said her job at MCU is rewarding in that it allows her to live her life helping others.
Following in the footsteps of her mother, who worked in banking for 36 years, Carrie Cimler, MCU Senior Mortgage Loan Representative, said she gets her caring heart from her mother. Mom always told me I had a good heart,” Carrie shared. “I like helping people. I have compassion for people who go through tragedy. Tragedy,” she added, “changes you and makes you a stronger person. Everyone goes through them … life events … that’s what makes a person.”
Valerie Plumb explained that the MCU branch she works out of is located across the street from a homeless shelter. “I hear their stories,” she said of those they serve in the area. “They are some of the best people. Some of them are just getting back on their feet,” Valerie added. “Life happens. Some of their stories are very heartbreaking. We are here to hear their stories.”
“It’s fun to be in the background and help to bring it all together,” Megan Webster said of working in project management at MCU. “The digital banking platform is like mom or grandma working all day making Thanksgiving dinner, but everyone gets to appreciate the meal when it’s done,” Megan said she is fulfilled working on projects at MCU because “it’s for the members.”
Jim Luce, Marine Credit Union (MCU) Senior Business Development Officer, said his parents taught him to recognize opportunities to help others. Jim said that MCU’s mission “really motivates” him. “It’s easier to get out of bed,” he added, “when you are doing something you are passionate about.”
Clark Doyle shared that MCU once approved his sister for a loan after she had been turned down everywhere else. “She was really sad she couldn’t get approved,” he shared. “She felt she wasn’t a good person or something.” Clark said he thinks it’s “pretty cool” to work for MCU, an organization that helps “a lot of people out of a lot of situations.” He said, “It’s great to see where we can put people in the future.”
At the age of five, Ervin Topcic and his family immigrated to the U.S. due to inhumane war crimes and an ethnic cleansing campaign in their village during the Bosnian War. Ervin shared stories of unspeakable events he and his family went through to emigrate and survive. He said that being successful now in his life and career, where he is able to support others, keeps him thankful. “You just gotta love life because you don’t know what tomorrow brings.”