Greta Greathouse, chief of party for the Haiti Integrated Finance for Value Chains and Enterprises (HIFIVE), World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) development program in Haiti, has been honored with the second annual Leadership Award from the Global Women's Leadership Network (GWLN), a program of WOCCU. The honor was presented during the GWLN Forum held last month in conjunction with WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference in Glasgow.
The annual award honors outstanding achievements in support of credit union development, particularly as it relates to worldwide credit union women’s leadership development. Greathouse was in charge of WOCCU’s Haiti development program for just seven months before a devastating earthquake struck the Caribbean island nation in January 2010, taking more than 330,000 lives and rendering more than 1 million people homeless. The program lost it headquarters building, but all staff members survived the quake and immediately set about helping rebuild Haiti’s credit union movement.
“Greta exemplifies the leadership that we all aspire to,” said Brian Branch, WOCCU’s newly named president and CEO. “When the earthquake happened and most expats left the country, Greta stayed. She took care of her staff and let them find their families, then had them report back to work. Credit unions were back up and operating out of tents days after the disaster, well before other financial institutions.”
Significant progress has been made in the Haiti program since the earthquake, with HIFIVE this year taking over administration of a $10 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of the development of cell phone financial transaction capabilities for Haiti’s residents. The country’s caisse populaires, or credit unions, that were damaged in the quake also have begun rebuilding thanks to the more than US$1.2 million raised by the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions from members of the global credit union movement.
"Great leaders inspire others to act,” said Susan Mitchell, GWLN chair and chief executive officer of credit union consulting firm Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates in Boulder City, NV. “Greta inspired members of the Global Women's Leadership Network and the people of Haiti with her determination and commitment in never allowing the credit union to be cut off from its members. She knew it was a lifeline for the community. In dire circumstances Greta demonstrated great leadership and I was proud we had an opportunity to recognize her!"
Greathouse joins a growing list of GWLN leadership Award winners. Last year the organization’s inaugural award was won by Stan Hollen, president and CEO of CO-OP Financial Services, for his support of GWLN.