In the Spotlight: Meet Tiffanie Kouf from M-O Federal CU!
by Shawn Marie Brummer
Communications & Media Specialist

Tiffanie Kouf was practically born into a credit union. Her first account was opened when she was just a few weeks old, and she still has that same account today. She grew up along with one brother in the small town of Lemmon, South Dakota, on the west-central border with North Dakota. Her father, Fred Gebhart, worked for many years for Dittus Incorporated, as a John Deere parts salesman. Her mother, Nadine, worked at a local grocery store for more than 30 years, then began working at a local financial institution. The family lived in town, but Tiffanie spent many hours and days at a friend’s ranch with her dad. She loved riding horse, and every opportunity she had to get in a saddle, help trail cattle, or work the branding, she would jump for it.

Throughout her school days, she was active in many activities, including volleyball, as a player and as a student manager, and she did stats for the boys’ basketball team too. She was a member of the High School Rodeo Club, a National Honor Society member, and participated in FCCLA (Family Career and Community Leaders of America) for four years. She was a member of the Girl Scouts from elementary school through her senior year, and graduated from Lemmon High School in 2004 with about 30 other classmates.

There had been a time when she thought about a career working with children, but after volunteering in a classroom for one afternoon, she decided that was not where her real talents were going to shine. One activity she truly enjoyed was working on crafts with her mom. Besides holding a full-time job, her mom decorates cakes for birthday parties, anniversaries, weddings, and other celebrations. Tiffanie would often go along to help set up the intricate wedding cakes and also to see all the decorations at the reception venues. If an opportunity arose where she could help in that area, she was more than happy to oblige, enjoying the creative outlet.

Following high school, she attended Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota. All through her college experience, she was extremely involved in Residence Life, and the Residence Hall Association. Residence Life strives to keeping students involved in campus activities to help them get the most out of their college experience. Within a few weeks of starting her freshman year, she became the Thomas Hall Vice President; her sophomore year she became the Thomas Hall President; and the second half of that year became a Resident Assistant. In her junior year, she became the Residence Life President. She also helped plan many activities, both on and off campus, including multiple volunteer events. She graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a Management Information Services Minor. She also received the Residence Life Involvement Award from the University.

Starting back in high school, her interest in crafts and decorating had led to a part-time job at the Flower Box, a flower shop in her hometown of Lemmon, where she worked for five years. She especially enjoyed getting creative with the flowers and the displays of gifts throughout the store, as well as being able to see the joy on people’s faces when she delivered bouquets. Occasionally, the flower shop would deliver balloons to a wedding reception, graduation party, or similar event – and her interest in planning special events grew stronger. However, she also knew that being an event planner meant working many weekends and evenings, and she didn’t see that working out for the long term.

“Little did I know at the time, but helping set up wedding cakes, helping decorate for special events, working at the flower shop, and my extensive involvement in Residence Life, was preparing me for my position as a marketing coordinator,” she stated.

Just prior to graduating from college, Tiffanie attended a job fair where she met Gail Broer and Deanna Decker from M-O FCU. She gathered some information about the Marketing Coordinator position they were looking to fill, and after reading the job description and responsibilities, she was hooked. She took the application and filled it out that same evening, and was hired shortly after.

“I started working for M-O Federal Credit Union right out of college in 2008, and I absolutely love what I do! No two days are the same. Working in a small credit union, I do a fair amount of work on the teller line. That allows me to get a first-hand view of how the members are responding to certain marketing efforts, what their main financial concerns are, and so much more. I can then use that knowledge to write newsletter and Facebook articles that will benefit them,” she explained.

Her duties cover a broad range. She oversees all events M-O FCU is involved in, from planning to cleanup. She coordinates volunteer activities, keeps staff informed about upcoming events and promotions, and designs and oversees all ad materials. She was instrumental in the successful implementation of a new website design, from pricing to design to context, and the member feedback has been extremely positive. She decorates for holidays, designs the bi-monthly newsletter, and manages the website and social media accounts. She also oversees the Pee Wee Penguin and the M-Oney Matters Teen Club, oversees the gift card and travel card program, and orders supplies for events and general operations.

“I enjoy knowing I’m helping members,” she continues. “I value the honesty of credit unions in what we do, and what we stand for. We don’t try and hide an ulterior motive, or sell you something you don’t need or want. It can be difficult having people think we are too small or too local to help them – quite the opposite! Because we are small and local, we care. We watch out for not only our members, but the communities we serve – the same communities many of our members work and live in. Plus, I enjoy the camaraderie that is shared among the credit unions to offer our members a great financial experience. I enjoy attending credit union events at the chapter level, the New Ideas Conference, the CUAD Summit, and even webinars to further my relationship with more credit union professionals and bring back great information to better help the members at M-O FCU.”

She has quickly assumed a leadership role in the greater community as well. She served as Vice President of the South Dakota Central Chapter of Credit Unions for two years, before being elected President in 2012, something she considers a great honor. Earlier this year, she was selected as a Crasher for the CUAD Summit. She is a graduate of Leadership Huron, and continues to serve as an Ambassador for the Huron Chamber & Visitors Bureau. She is also a member of the Federal Employees Program Council, and was recently named an Elder at First Presbyterian Church.

In addition, she is a frequent volunteer for United Way’s annual Day of Caring, and joins others from the SD Central Chapter when they volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program and the United Way’s Backpack Program. She also helps out with her church when they volunteer at the SD State Fair as ushers and information providers to those coming into the grandstands for the big shows.

Tiffanie just celebrated her 3rd wedding anniversary with her husband, Dustin. He works at a family-owned business, Lincoln Auto, a company that does parts recycling and 24-hour towing and recovery. Dustin was raised in Huron, home of “The World’s Largest Pheasant,” while Tiffanie was raised in Lemmon, home of the “World’s Largest Petrified Wood Park.” In her free time, she still enjoys spending hours crafting, making greeting cards, scrapbooks, repurposing furniture and décor pieces, cross-stitching, and making flower arrangements. Besides crafting with her mom, the two also like to go rummaging for fun bargains – usually craft related finds.

Tiffanie is on a bowling league, enjoys gardening, and she and Dustin enjoy cooking and exploring new recipes together, watching movies, going for walks and hikes, fishing, and spending time with friends. She also takes annual fishing trips with her dad each spring and fall. Nearly any vacation destination will include a good challenging hiking trail of at least seven to ten miles. Their most recent trip was to Glacier National Park, where they hiked to Grinnell Glacier/Grinnell Lake.

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