Woke Ass People is a conversational series featuring Storytellers, Advocates, & Disrupters. Throughout this series we will be covering critical issues facing disproportionately marginalized communities, as well as amplifying socioeconomic and democratic participation.
Special Guest: Opal Ellyse Tomashevska
Opal joined CUNA Mutual Financial Group in 2014 and is the Director, Multicultural Business Strategy . She brings more than 18 years of professional experience in training, optimization, organizational development and business leadership in roles at SITEL, Dean Health, and American Family Insurance. Her current role as Director of Multicultural Business Strategy is dedicated to advancing the efforts of the Multicultural Center of Expertise, which includes gaining a deeper understanding of underserved consumers and communities.
Opal is also a published poet and spoken word artist. Her themes touch on all subjects from her own life and from the lives she has been blessed to observe. Her most touched on topic is social injustice of any form. The realities of American racial discrimination and the detriment of poverty world-wide are often explored and explained in ways that have double and triple meanings in her poems. In 2019 she released a full-length studio spoken word album titled, “My Name is Opal” the album is available on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal and everywhere music is streamed.
Opal received her bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and her Master of Science in Organizational Development from Edgewood College.
Opal currently holds a board position as the Director of Communications for the African American Credit Union Coalition’s Midwest chapter, and in 2020 she was named as one of Wisconsin’s 51 most influential Black Leaders by Madison365 Media.
Special Guest: Chris Morris, CUDE
Christopher Morris has worked in the credit union industry for over fifteen years in a variety of roles, always working to help credit unions improve their member’s financial lives. Outside of work, you can find him with his family or busy volunteering, painting, buying and listening to records, working on his house and missing karaoke.
Special Guest: Jimese Harkely, CUDE, JD
Hi there! I am Jimese Harkley, VP of Membership at CUES. I've promoted membership and engagement at a large credit union and previously with the Filene Research Institute. I bring over 15 years of credit union experience from the teller line to the leadership team. In 2015, I was named the winner of the CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec, received my Juris Doctorate, crashed the GAC, and became a Credit Union Development Educator. While not busy building my career, I am a wife to Alfred and mother to Zion, a freshman at the University of Alabama, and Sunni, a competitive dancer. You can also find me on the Peloton leaderboard!
Special Guest: Sam Jensen
Sam Jensen is a make people laugh, drink craft beer and go rock climbing with friends kind of person driven by community and a deep desire to bring people together. They currently live in Cheyenne, Wyoming with their partner Jess and their Goldendoodle Clementine. When they aren't outside or hosting game nights (virtual nowadays), they can be found working as a Training Consultant, running their own photography business and advocating for the underserved and underheard.
Special Guest: Angela Prestil, CUDE
Pronouns: she/her Senior Consultant CU Difference
As Senior Consultant for CU Difference, Angela brings a distinct specialty set in the critical areas of employee engagement, leadership development, and member loyalty strategies. She has helped hundreds of business leaders and young professionals through her coaching, mentoring, and professional development efforts. Angela delivers a highly valued perspective on how to help business drive growth and optimize their future success, having spent 20 years as a leader at Credit Union National Association (CUNA) as well as the past year fostering credit union growth through CU Difference. She is an active Credit Union Development Educator, building on the credit union industry’s “people helping people” philosophy.
Joey Batts & Meghan Jamison, CUDE, CCUFC
Hip Hop for the Homeless
Connecticut high school English teacher and regionally famous rapper, Joey Batts was faced with the realization that his impression of what a homeless person looks like was off base. After learning that he had students with food insecurity and housing needs, he looked for ways to help. Batts says, “The concept began with just realizing that homelessness affects so many people - of all ages, and many times, not the typical displacement cases we see with our eyes. Coming to the realization that the holidays are a difficult time of year for anyone, more even so for folks who don’t have a home or a support team behind them, so why not try to help?” In the years since it’s inception, Hip Hop for the Homeless has raised nearly $20,000.00 which goes directly to partner community agencies across Connecticut that support people with nutrition, housing, clothing, and job training needs.
COVID has complicated many things this year, we all know that. But one thing that remains clear is that the group of dedicated artists will continue to provide support to the members of their communities that need it most. Year seven of Hip Hop for the Homeless will see virtual performances for the first time, available to anyone with an internet connected device. While we’ll all miss out on the connection of sharing a physical space, more people will be able to see the show without fear of exposure to the virus and keeping our communities safe is what is most important.
Special Guest: LaTika Webster
LaTika Webster has spent over 20 years engaging the community and managing events through roles in higher education and nonprofit organizations. She has served as an event business development manager, community partnership manager and student affairs professional at multiple universities. LaTika has worked closely with a variety of constituencies looking to support and uplift underrepresented student leaders, strategic engagement with organizations that have a vested interest in the community, and advising and mentoring young professionals and former students.
LaTika currently serves as the Meeting Planner for the Indiana Credit Union League. The ICUL is the statewide trade association for Credit Unions in Indiana. LaTika has a demonstrated history of managing internal and external business and program coordination, leading the way for substantial change in representation in multiple industries, and partnerships through dedicated community involvement. Her personal philosophy on community involvement is utilizing her experiences to support growth in young professionals and impacting positive change and development within her professional experiences.
LaTika is a native Hoosier from Indianapolis, IN. She has has a Bachelor of Science degree in Legal Administration and a Master of Arts degree in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education from Ball State University.
She is a chapter committee co-chair and award winner as a member of the Iota Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Zeta Phi Beta is an international, historically African American Greek-lettered sorority that supports communities through action-oriented and community conscious programming. She also serves as a Board Member of The Glow Up Projects, a local minority founded nonprofit organization whose mission is to change the face of networking and bridge building through programs.
Special Guest: Jason Shonerd
Jason joined the credit union movement two years ago, and is a recent University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate with a bachelor's degree in history. He is passionate about the history of labor and work in the United States in particular. When Jason isn't researching or writing, you can find him kayaking or out on walks with his beagle, Bailey.
Special Guest: Craig Birchfield
Craig is a creative and strategist with eight years of experience leading creative teams across agencies and nonprofits. He is now working as a digital and brand strategist at Publix Employees Federal Credit Union in Tampa, Fl, where he lives with his wife, Alyssa. When Craig is not working, you can find him with a good book and a gin martini.
Special Guest: Chad Helminak, CUDE
Chad is the Director of DE and Cooperative Culture at the National Credit Union Foundation. In this role, he leads the Foundation’s signature Credit Union Development Education (DE) Program and creates customized training and resources to help credit unions leverage their unique business model and apply emotional intelligence to meet the needs of members. He is a trained facilitator and creative consultant with nearly 15 years of experience in the credit union industry specializing in the areas of culture & leadership development, strategic communications, and applied research & innovation. Prior to joining the Foundation, Chad worked at CUNA Mutual Group, Heritage Credit Union, Filene Research Institute and the Wisconsin Credit Union League. Since earning his CUDE designation as a participant in the 2009 DE Program, Chad has led trainings that have helped hundreds of other credit union leaders from the U.S., Africa, Asia, South America, the Caribbean and Europe to earn their CUDE designations as well. Throughout the years he has served on boards of community partners and non-profits, initiated state-level young professional networks, and created a financial education music album for kids.
Special Guest: Rachel Farrell (they/them/Rachel)
Pronouns: They/ Them/ Theirs/ Rachel
Rachel works at Northwest Community Credit Union in Eugene, Oregon, as an Industrial Hemp Program
Analyst with their BSACS.
Farrell is serving on the Board of Directors for the Willamette Chapter of Credit Unions and is a credit
union advocate and was a NWCUA 2019 YP Lead & 2020 Emerging Leader Program Scholarship
Recipient. Was a contributor with YCUP Pride fundraising event benefitting LGBQT centers in Portland,
OR, and has contributed to the NWCUA’s Anthem newsletter responding to the Supreme court ruling on
discrimination. Farrell is from Minneapolis, MN. They were involved in the queer community as drag
king and performer. Farrell was involved in Pride events and performed as a special guest for a LGBTQ+
youth center. Farrell also Marched for Social Change and Gay Marriage in Minnesota in 2013 and
participates as an advocate for equality in their community.