Five Inducted Into Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame

05/18/23 (Biloxi, MS) – Five Mississippi credit union leaders were inducted into the Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame during the Mississippi Credit Union Association Annual Meeting & Convention.   The Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame was Founded in 1994 to recognize deserving individuals who have dedicated a lifetime of service to the credit union movement. Induction into the Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame is the highest credit union honor bestowed upon an individual within our state.

The 2023 inductees are:

Victoria “Chris” Diabin’s volunteer service with Sunbelt Federal Credit Union began in 1986. She served on the supervisory committee through 1995 and was elected to the board in 1996 where she has served terms in each officer position.

During her tenure on the board, the credit union grew from $12 million to $280 million in assets, added seven locations, a new state-of-the-art operations center in Hattiesburg, expanded their field of membership to include over 200 select employee groups and five counties, and now serves more than 38,000 members.

Throughout the years, Chris has been actively engaged in credit union advocacy. As a participant in the annual CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference, she regularly visits with Mississippi’s federal legislators to communicate issues important to credit unions, helping our elected officials understand how their decisions impact credit unions and their members. She is also a long-time supporter of the Credit Union Legislative Action Council, the federal political action committee for credit unions.

Sunbelt CEO Chris Hammond said, “Chris regularly attends conferences and leadership events in the credit union movement to stay current on the latest trends & knowledge for use in her service to the credit union. Her accounting knowledge has made her an integral part of the board, and she is very well respected by her fellow board members.”

Elizabeth Edmondson was hired as manager of North MS Medical Credit Union in 1989. In 1993, she became manager of Esco Credit Union, now Community Partners FCU, located in Newton. Along with the board of directors, Liz was instrumental in helping grow the two-person credit union operating out of a back-office storage room to a community credit union serving more than 2,000 members. Liz continues to work part-time at Community Partners Federal Credit Union.

In 2006, her experience and reputation as an innovative and forward-thinking small credit union manager led her to a role with the Mississippi Credit Union Association as a Small Credit Union Specialist. In this role, Liz was a valuable source of help, knowledge, and support to the small credit unions of Mississippi.

Community Partners Federal Credit Union President/CEO Deloris Little-Staats said, “Liz always honed her skills through continuing education and development, but she does not boast of her accomplishments. She’s always eager to help, and her knowledge and experience have benefited so many other credit unions.

As affectionately spoken by her husband Frank: “Liz has a heart for people and loves to help them accomplish their goals. She can talk all day about credit unions and their benefits to the people they serve.”

Lisa Graham’s lifetime of credit union service began in 1978 as a staff member of Keesler Federal Credit Union. In 1990, she became the lending manager for Gulfport VA FCU, now Gulf Coast Community Federal Credit Union. In 1999 she advanced to vice president of operations & lending, and in 2001 was promoted to President/CEO.

At Gulf Coast Community FCU, Lisa’s leadership accomplishments include:

  • Successfully implementing Rex Johnson’s High-Yield Lending Strategy to deliver full financial solutions to credit- and income-challenged members.
    Creating a full-service mortgage department.
  • Leading the credit union through numerous challenges, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the 2008 economic recession, the 2010 BP Oil Spill, and the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, with almost no service interruptions to members.
  • Implementing financial counselor certification training for all lending staff to better meet the needs of low-income and credit-challenged members.
  • Opening two new branch locations and redesigning two existing branches with state-of-the-art technology.
  • Introducing new technologies such as Mobile Banking, online account openings, instant-issue, and personalized debit cards.

Lisa was also instrumental in Gulf Coast Community Federal Credit Union receiving the Coast Chamber of Commerce’s 2006 Tapestry Award for Outstanding Small Business, receiving the Best Places to Work in Mississippi recognition, and being selected the 2012 Community Credit Union of the Year by the Credit Union National Association.

Her personal recognition includes being selected by peers as Mississippi Outstanding CEO of the Year in 2013 and as a Mississippi Business Journal Top CEO in 2016.

Lisa strongly supports continuing education and encourages her staff to build their skills and knowledge to grow professionally. When Lisa started as CEO, one of her first goals was to completely revise the staff development program so that employees were paid based on abilities, knowledge, and skill rather than tenure. Lisa has worked tirelessly to build a company culture based on this goal and brought forward a vision of knowledgeable, empowered employees passionate about helping people fulfill their financial dreams.

Lisa’s staff members say her passion for her credit union is inspirational, her generosity is unmatched, and her compassion for others is immeasurable. She is a trailblazer who constantly searches for new ideas, asks for suggestions, and seeks advice from her team before making decisions. She encourages her staff to leave things better than they found them and to question things with boldness. Lisa’s leadership style can be summed up by the advice she always gives her team: “Always do the right thing.”

Through both words & action, Lisa is an outstanding example of a strong, compassionate leader.

Cliff Partridge Jr., also known as “Bunky,” entered service with Meridian Mutual Credit Union in 1987 with the credit committee. In 1990 he became a director and was chosen treasurer/secretary. In 2011 he became the chairman of the Board, a position he still holds today.

During his tenure, Meridian Mutual Federal Credit Union has grown from $7 million to $56 million and now serves more than 6,500 members.

Throughout his service, Bunky has been crucial to the success of Meridian Mutual, supporting numerous programs, technology advances, and modern solutions that enhance the member’s experience and their opportunity for financial success. He leads by example, listening to the credit union’s employees and guiding them with wisdom from his own experiences.

Personally involved in his community as a first responder, Bunky believes wholeheartedly in the motto “People Helping People.” Whenever the alarm goes off in the community, financial or otherwise, you will find Bunky Partridge ready to help.

Kim Sadler began her board service with Rivertrust Federal Credit Union in 1990. In addition to serving on the board as assistant secretary, she has served on the Marketing & Membership Committee, the Building Committee, and as chairperson of the Educational Committee.

As a member of the Building Committee, Kim and other board members worked tirelessly and diligently to ensure that the credit union’s move from downtown Jackson to a new location in Pearl was seamless. She was helpful in assisting with the credit union’s name change from Mississippi Telco to Rivertrust Federal Credit Union.

Kim is known as a leader with innovative concepts and practical ideas about implementing those concepts. She is dedicated to the credit union’s mission and purpose. She puts member needs first when making decisions that affect the credit union. Through her belief that the members are the credit union’s greatest assets, Kim has been a guiding force in the credit union’s progress throughout the years.

About the Mississippi Credit Union Association
The Mississippi Credit Union Association (MSCUA) is the state trade association for 66 credit unions in Mississippi that provide financial services to more than 700,000 consumers who choose credit unions as their financial services partner. MSCUA advances its mission of Advocating Mississippi Credit Unions’ Success by being a premier source of advocacy, collaboration, and knowledge for its member credit unions.