In the CU Professionals Spotlight
by Shawn Marie Brummer
Communications & Media Specialist
1/4/2019

Nikki Doherty grew up in the small town of Tulare, South Dakota, located about 50 miles straight south of Aberdeen. From kindergarten until seventh grade, she attended school with the same group of 16 kids in the community of about 200 people. “Everyone knew everyone in town,” she recalled. “It truly was the best place to grow up. You left the house in the morning, came home for lunch at the noon whistle, home for dinner at the 6 o’clock whistle, and back for bed when the street lights came on.”

As a child, Nikki’s mom taught her to be grateful for all the blessings the family had. As a result, she learned to be a “glass is half full” type of person, and to always look for the good in people. From her father, Nikki learned to communicate with others as equals. “My dad would always tell me – ‘they put their pants on one leg at a time just like you do.’ He also taught me that there is no small job. That has truly stuck with me as well,” she added.

Because the town was so tiny, her father decided to move the family to Rapid City, joking that he didn’t want Nikki to marry a distant relative. There, she joined a much larger class of more than 420 students, and later graduated from Rapid City Stevens High School.  

Her first relationship with a credit union was after she had started her job as a cashier at Stagebarn Quick Mart while still in high school. She wanted to open a checking account, and after calling several financial institutions to see what minimum balances was required, she found a place that required only a $5 deposit. It was Dakota United Methodist FCU in Rapid City. Since she was only making $3.25 per hour, she was glad to find a place that still welcomed her!

It was during her senior year of high school when Nikki’s mom introduced her to the profession of court reporting/stenography. Nikki was impressed with the potential income she could make, and so she enrolled at Southwest Technical College (now Minnesota West Community & Technical College) in Jackson, Minnesota, where she received her court reporting certification and diploma. While she had been a shy person all through high school, her college days not only taught her professional skills, but how to be more socially outgoing. In fact, she so successfully broke through her shyness, that once she went to work as an actual court reporter, she discovered that having to remain silent during her entire work day was not a good fit. “I quickly learned that I am a communicator, and that job did not allow speaking,” she laughed.

After her short stint as a court reporter, Nikki tried her hand at other careers. She worked as a corrections officer in Sturgis during the Bike Rally. She tried her hand as a workers comp claims examiner, and even worked one 12-hour shift at a bacon packing plant. However, she was increasingly aware that her strength was in marketing.

An opportunity arose when her family moved to Sioux Falls in 2002, and she was hired as a marketing coordinator for Sioux Falls Bell Federal Credit Union, now Voyage FCU. She worked there for 11 years, and then was hired as the Marketing Specialist at Sioux Falls Federal Credit Union (SFFCU). Recently, she celebrated her fifth anniversary at SFFCU, and says she can’t believe how fast the time has gone. “I guess every day is a great day when you get to fulfill your passion with coworkers that are like family,” she stated. “We have a long-standing joke that I hope to be inching my way down the hallway at SFFCU in 35 more years – talking marketing concepts and media placement. Can you imagine the capabilities in 35 more years?” she added.   

In the credit union industry, it seems Nikki has found her calling. “First and foremost, the credit union philosophy really gets in your blood, and I am so lucky that it aligns with my passions,” she stated. “It truly is a pleasure to market products and services that have the best interest for our member-owners in mind. My work also offers me a vast variety of tasks, which I really enjoy. No two days are ever the same, and the way in which I complete tasks changes with technology every day. SFFCU has helped me stay abreast of many new technologies and also allows me to spread my wings for innovation.”

In addition, she enjoys the challenge of breaking down stereotypes about credit unions, which helps drive her marketing and creative skills. Throughout her credit union career, she has played a role in name changes, mergers, and launching of new products and services. “From coming up with monthly ice breakers for team meetings to leading the Spirit Team, I have been fortunate enough to come up with ideas and incorporate those into plans,” she said.  

One of her favorite projects has been the development of SFFCU’s own special blend of coffee – Perky Coffee. “What makes this coffee unique isn’t the name, packaging or being able to work with a local coffee brewer to select our very own brew, but has been the fact that 100% of each sale goes towards a selected charity. I have never heard of 100% pay back to the charity for a fundraiser of this type. I am very proud of this project and believe it represents the credit union philosophy to the fullest,” she shared.

Along with her gratifying work, Nikki also enjoys the camaraderie she has developed with others in the industry, both coworkers and other credit union employees. “And as you grow older, I truly believe you really start to feel good in your own skin – know your strengths and capabilities. Since I started at SFFCU, my direct supervisor, Joey Rotert, and the entire leadership team has amazed me. They allow you to reach for the stars and come up with the crazy big ideas to help you land on the tailored perfect idea. For those connections, I am forever grateful,” she concluded.

Nikki plays a part in the success of many other organizations as well. She has served as the marketing liaison on the Southeast 605 Chapter of Credit Unions for seven years. She served on the Marketing Board for Volunteers of America for two years, served on the Board of Directors for Dakota Spirit, and was named Contributor of the Year for Dakota Spirit in 2017. She is also a coordinator for the Valentines Classic Cheer and Dance Competition and a coordinator for the Winter Chill event for River City Cheer. Then, in her free time, she volunteers at The Banquet, makes no-sew blankets for the Sioux Falls Police, carols at nursing homes, and spends time supporting Rake the Town, Habitat for Humanity, and Relay for Life.

On a personal note, Nikki has been married to her “amazing husband,” Shawn, for 23 years. He was recently promoted to Manager for the Midco Tech Ops Center in Yankton, South Dakota, which prompted them to move closer to his work. The Doherty’s have two children. Daughter Megan, 20, was an all-star cheerleader for 15 years and is now cheering on an all-star team in California. Meanwhile, she is also attending USD Business School online and working. Son, Brandon, just turned 18 and graduated from high school a year early. He is taking a gap year before starting college and works on the skateboarding business he started a few years ago, called LUNR. Nikki sees some definite marketing and entrepreneurial talents developing there!

Recently empty-nested, the Doherty’s are enjoying the smaller community of Yankton and living just five minutes from a lake with their one pet, a Schnoodle named Charlie. They recently learned how to play cribbage, and are hoping to add boating to their list of activities this summer. Above all, Nikki enjoys the times when the entire family can be together. Finally, even though she is well known for her marketing skills, what really stands out about Nikki is her unique laugh. She has long been identifiable by a unique sound – described as a cackle by some. But that doesn’t bother her. “Out of everything I could be known for, I will take that unique laugh,” she concluded.

 

*Editor’s note: Do you know someone, either employee or volunteer, who has an interesting story? Nominate someone for the CU Professionals Spotlight by emailing their name and a brief explanation of why they are “Spotlight” material to Shawn Brummer.

 

 

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