In the CU Professionals Spotlight: Meet Heather Fleck
by Shawn Marie Brummer
Communications & Media Specialist
2/8/2019

Heather Fleck grew up just a few miles south of the city of Mandan, North Dakota where she lived with her parents and one younger sister. Their house was situated close enough to town that they were considered “city kids” by the other youngsters that rode the school bus; those children all lived on rural family farms and had a much longer bus ride each day.

Her parents were important role models in her life, and she observed how they worked to make ends meet. “Of course, at the time, we never knew how hard it was because they always made sure that family came first, and we were always surrounded with love,” she recalled.

As a child, she was part of a large extended family; her father had 10 siblings and there were 37 first cousins that Heather spent many weekends with, camping and spending time together. She attended elementary, junior high and high school in Mandan and was active in basketball and volleyball until her sophomore year, when a shoulder injury required surgery. She graduated from high school in 2000 in a rather large class of about 275 kids.

Heather was only 17 years old when she met the man she would eventually marry. Joe came from a large family farm near the small town of Flasher, North Dakota – about one hour south of Mandan. As a fifth-generation farmer, he had his future planned – and showed her that nothing was worth doing unless you have a passion for it. “Life is too short to not enjoy what you are doing every single day,” he said. With that in her mind, along with her parents’ encouragement to work hard to achieve success, she decided that she wanted to work rather than go to college right away. 

During high school, she had held a part-time job at First Southwest Bank in the Mandan Dan’s Supermarket location. She found she really enjoyed this kind of work, and accepted a full-time position at their location in Bismarck upon her graduation. However, after just a few years, she was ready for a new challenge. She found a new job in the claims office at Medcenter One, where she gained some valuable experience. However, when she moved to Flasher in 2002, the hours did not work well with such a long commute. An opportunity became available at Starion Financial, and Heather returned to the banking world. Just one year later, an opening at Railway Credit Union led her to the credit union industry – where she has been ever since.

“I had seen an ad in the newspaper for a teller job at Railway Credit Union,” she explained. “At the time, I didn’t understand the difference. But shortly after starting with Railway, I knew that I had found the right place for me,” she added. This coming May, Heather will celebrate 15 years of employment, the last five as the VP of Operations.

During her tenure, she has watched the credit union grow with a successful merger of Genie-Watt Credit Union. She has seen the addition of many electronic and mobile services, and was part of a team that selected their new data processor, and will be part of the actual conversion in 2020. She also saw the credit union reach a major milestone of $100M in assets.

In her VP of Operations role, Heather manages the debit and credit card programs. She serves as the administrator of the data processing system, processes all ACH/Share Draft files, and oversees all electronic services. In addition, she supervises two employees: The marketing manager and the member engagement director, and serves on the credit union’s strategic planning team.

One aspect of her work that she finds particularly rewarding is that she is able to help members through every stage of their life, and provide opportunities for them to reach their financial goals. “Credit unions understand that each situation is unique and that a one size fits all approach is not how we best serve our members. Credit unions genuinely care about the members, and are there for them through the good times and the hard times.”

Heather is especially excited about the “Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union” awareness initiative that will be launching this month in the Dakotas. “The fact that so many people don’t know the difference and benefits of being a credit union member makes this campaign really important,” she stated. “Even I was part of that problem at one time, as I didn’t know anything about credit unions until I started working for Railway! I’m excited about the ‘Open Your Eyes’ campaign that will give a nationwide voice to the benefits of credit union membership. There have been a number of new banks locate in our area over the past couple years, and we need to educate our community on the benefits of being a member/owner of a credit union,” she explained.

Besides striving to deliver a positive experience for Railway Credit Union’s members, Heather helps other community organizations as well. She is currently a member of the Missouri Valley Chapter of Credit Unions committee, and has served on the Flasher Park Board. She volunteers for the United Way Little Black Dress campaign and participates in their Day of Caring, and is a member of the “Flasher Mom Squad.” In 2008, she returned to school and received her Associate Degree in Business Administration from Bismarck State College, graduating Phi Theta Kappa. She is currently attending CUNA Management School with the encouragement of Railway’s President/CEO, and with a little help from CUAD’s William O. Knight Scholarship. She will graduate in July 2019, and says it has been one of the most difficult – and also most rewarding – experiences of her life.

On a personal note, Heather and Joe celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary in June 2018. They have a one daughter, Rylee (12 years) and one son, Logan (10 years). Rounding out the family is a blue heeler named Lily. In their free time, the Flecks enjoy watching the kids participate in sports, and cheering on the NDSU Bison Football Team.

“If anyone would have told me back in junior high that I would marry a farmer and live 50 miles from Mandan, I would have never believed them,” she concluded. But now, after 20 years together, she is convinced that she has followed the path she was meant to walk. In fact, she recently drove a tractor for the first time!

 

 

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