Maria Horn, Marine Credit Union (MCU) Service Advisor, works out of the La Crosse, Wisconsin West Avenue branch office. She regularly deals with loan questions, specialty accounts, fraud cases, and other more difficult situations. “I do everything except write loans,” she said in her Heart of MCU interview. Although Maria has only worked at MCU since December of 2021, she explained she has already been promoted four times and has experienced great growth opportunities at MCU. “I came here for a career change,” she explained. “I am thirsty for knowledge. I have learned a lot.”
Leadership seems to be second nature to Maria, a La Crescent, Minnesota native. After high school, Maria moved to La Crosse to attend school and started her career in social work at the Family and Children’s Center. Maria explained that she loved the work and “would have stayed if they had been able to pay me.”
Maria explained that although her work was fulfilling, the low-paying work left her with “depleted savings” and having to work a second job. She explained that she stayed on for the kids she served. “It took six to 12 months to gain their trust,” Maria added. “I created relationships with them. I had experienced how broken the system is.”
Maria shared that her parents divorced when she was only one year old. “Due to legalities, I was forced to have visitation with my father. I was abused the entire time.” Maria shared, adding that talking about her past has helped her to heal.
“I blocked it (the abuse) out for years,” she continued. At one point, Maria shared what was happening to her with her sister and told her mother that she no longer wanted to go to visitation. She added that her father had a previous history with the law for physically abusing her mother. “She’s lucky to be alive,” Maria said of her mother. And at the same time … Maria also shared that she has forgiven her father and loves him. “There was a cycle of abuse in his family,” she explained.
Maria called herself the “whistleblower” in the family. After she started talking about the abuse in the family, others came forward as well. “Everyone started talking,” she explained. Maria expressed her deep gratitude for her mother, her “one caring parent.”
After 32 years, Maria said she has had time to heal. As a result of all she has experienced, she said, “I am mentally stronger and now able to help other people. It has not been easy, but it has been worth it.” She shared she has been able to help many others just by telling her story. In turn, she explained that others share their stories with her. “They haven’t been heard before,” she explained. No one, she said, “should have to suffer alone just because you can.”
Not only in her personal life but also professionally, Maria seems to have always ended up in leadership roles in service to others. Starting as a host at a favorite local coffee house, she worked her way up to a co-manager position. The popularity and success of the establishment, Maria said, was humbling to think about. “We put our heart, tears, sweat, and blood into that place,” she commented.
But there came a time when Maria felt it was time for something different. She said she felt she was part of creating a foundation there for continued success, so she was ready for her “next challenge.” It was soon after that she was referred to MCU. She started as a member service representative but soon worked her way up. “I am always ready for the next challenge,” she explained and added with a smile, “I’m always yearning for more.”
Maria talked about how much she appreciates her team and how she is able to have empathy for members from her own experiences with financial hardships. “I really care,” she added.