In the CU Professionals Spotlight
by Shawn Marie Brummer
Communications & Media Specialist

Stephanie Finck was born and raised in the small town of Napoleon, North Dakota, located just south of I94 about halfway between Bismarck and Jamestown. While she says that she has had many people who have influenced her throughout her life, her mother was first and foremost in forming her core beliefs, and her work ethic.

“My mom was a single parent who raised five children while working two jobs to stay afloat,” she shared. “She worked hard through many trials and tribulations on her own and fought through the daily life struggles of juggling the need to work while raising small children. She was very compassionate, always opening our home to strangers in need. There were very few holiday meals when we didn’t have someone extra at our table because they didn’t have family to spend it with. While she is no longer with us, I remember how she stood up for the underdog, was loyal to those who supported her, and was very passionate about things important to her. Some can look at this as being stubborn; I prefer the word passion,” says Finck.

Stephanie’s family lived in town, but the children spent a good deal of time on their grandparents’ dairy farm. She was too young to help with the milking, but she enjoyed hours of playtime “helping” to bring the cows home, feeding calves, riding in the tractor with her grandpa, and feeding chickens. There was also time to ride on the three wheeler, play tag, gather eggs, and play hide-and-seek.

Stephanie attended Napoleon Elementary School and graduated as an honor student from Napoleon High School with a class of 27 students. She was a talented basketball player and a member of the Napoleon Imperials team. During her senior year, she was also voted Homecoming Queen – but what she remembers more vividly is that Edgeley High School “edged” them out for a spot in the state tournament. She was a strong runner, and even qualified for state as an 8th grader in distance running. Getting into trouble during her school years was not really an issue for Stephanie; her mom was the high school secretary and was always the first to know – before she ever made it home.

At the age of 14, she started working summer jobs. Since the family had one car, she needed to find work close by – so she worked at the school, painting classrooms and waxing floors, and helping to set up bulletin boards. She also helped in the finance office and even mowed lawn and helped maintain the football field. Later, she worked for several summers at the NDSU Extension Service performing office and secretarial duties.

Stephanie recalls that her family had always had their accounts with the local credit union. She remembers it was frequently mentioned in conversation how the credit union had been so good to them. When it was time for her to open her first account in high school, it was the natural place to start: First Community Credit Union.

Following high school, Stephanie attended and graduated from Bismarck State College with an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science for information processing and computer software. She describes herself as strong and motivated learner who believes that education comes in a variety of formats. She fulfills her life-long learning goals through reading, research, and life lessons.

Stephanie’s credit union career began in 1995, when she was hired as a Member Service Representative at the Napoleon Branch of First Community Credit Union (FCCU). In this position, she says she was able to meet many of the members face-to-face and learned how she could really make a difference. She found it very rewarding to be able to problem solve, and to use compassion while meeting members’ needs.

In 2002, she transitioned to a Loan Processor at the Napoleon Branch, and one year later, she was named Loan Officer at the Wishek Branch. In 2007, she was promoted to Loan Processing Assistant Manager & Plastic Card Program Manager and relocated to the Jamestown Administration building. Then, in 2009, FCCU created a new Operations Department and Stephanie was named Operations Manager. Shortly after, the title transitioned to VP of Operations and then to her current title of Chief Operations Officer.

Now, it has turned into a 20+ year career for Finck, who says that each position she has held has been rewarding in different ways, and has provided opportunities for personal growth within the industry. “I truly believe the varied experience in working in both the frontline and back office positions has made me stronger and more prepared for running the Operations Department,” she stated. “To fully understand the impact your decisions can make, it is extremely helpful to have the experience from both sides,” she added.  

As COO, Stephanie’s responsibilities are vast and all-encompassing at FCCU. Working with other managers, department heads and their teams, her responsibilities include: Overseeing all plastic cards functions; payments areas, including ACH, check processing, and online banking; member service, including all teller functions and new accounts; member relations including the call center; plus compliance & risk management; and employee training. Still, she has found a purpose and a fulfilling career in the credit union industry.

“I enjoy the meaning behind what we are here for. 'People helping people' is a great philosophy to live by! There are many things a person does in life, but when you can devote that ‘something’ to a purpose – that’s when great things happen and where exciting energy begins,” she remarked. “The people I work with also make work enjoyable. I have a team of some of the hardest working individuals – work ethic is outstanding as well as their years of commitment to the credit union. When you spend more time at work than you do with your family, you need to enjoy the company that surrounds you and strive to be going in the same direction. While we do work hard, we also find time to share stories about our families and laugh a little along the way, too!”

One of the biggest improvements she and her team has implemented at her credit union is an organized training program for employees. “When I first started with the credit union, the only training we had was shadowing someone at our branch, which created a great deal of inconsistency. The only ‘procedures’ we had were notes we may have jotted down. Fast forward 20 years, and we now have an intranet with a knowledge base full of hundreds of procedures for staff to reference as well as training manuals for classroom sessions, weekly webinars for refresher training, and so much more. My team has been an active part in this development over the years and I am amazed at how far it has come. With the credit union’s growth, consistency and knowledgeable employees are very important to our success.”

Besides being an influential leader at her credit union, Stephanie has found ways to influence the greater community as well. She has previously served as Chapter Board President of the James Valley Chapter of Credit Unions. She has also been a member of the Red Cross Board of Directors, served on the CUNA Operations Sales & Service Committee, and was a member of the Relay for Life Committee, to name just a few. She has been a volunteer for Kids Against Hunger and the Salvation Army. In addition, she was named CUNA Operations Sales & Service Professional of the Year in 2014 and was a 2010 Elly Award winner.

In her personal life, Stephanie has been married to her husband, Darin, for 19 years. They actually met as co-workers at the credit union, and she says he is her favorite work “souvenir.” Darin still works at FCCU and is their Chief Lending Officer. The couple has two children: Son, Jared, is a junior at NDSU studying business marketing; Daughter Jordan is a sophomore at Jamestown High School who enjoys playing basketball, just like her mom!  Rounding out the family is their one pet, a black lab named Sadie.

Stephanie recently joined a fitness center and has found a great support network that is helping her to achieve her personal health goals. She especially enjoys the Body Pump and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) classes. Finally, when she is not working or “working out” you are likely to find her shopping or watching nostalgic Hallmark Christmas movies while relaxing at home. 



*Editor’s note: Do you know someone at your credit union or another credit union, 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. In addition, if you know someone who should be featured in the Spotlight, we encourage you to also consider nominating them for one of our annual awards. Each year, CUAD honors credit union employees with prestigious awards, including Professional of the Year, Rising Star, and Volunteer of the Year. Award applications are now open! Click here for more details.






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