CHICAGO, Ill. (Sept. 6, 2023) – Leaders Network Financial, in partnership with Great Lakes Credit Union, is excited to announce the success of their first event in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. The event, which celebrated their partnership and forthcoming branch, was picked up by every major Chicago newspaper and TV news station.

“This event was a celebration of economic freedom and progress,” said Michelle Collins, a strategic advisor for The Leaders Network, and former community development banker. “Our credit union is dedicated to becoming a neighborhood staple and offering a variety of banking services to empower Austin residents.”

The Leaders Network is a trusted social justice organization, inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision of creating a “beloved community.”  Established in 2006, the Leaders Network is headed by a collaborative group of 50+ influential, multicultural interfaith leaders and community advocates, working together to strategize, organize, mobilize and actualize a better quality of life for marginalized groups.  The group currently represents more than 25,000 constituents. 

In addition to hearing speeches from Leaders Network, Great Lakes Credit Union, and Illinois Credit Union League leadership, attendees also witnessed the first deposit from the Leaders Network into Leaders Network Financial, to the tune of $250,000, and the dedication of the branch to the Leaders Network Founders Circle Members.

Great Lakes Credit Union is investing nearly $600,000 to help Leaders Network bring a branch to Chicago’s West side, which has become a financial desert.  Many of the residents must either use non-bank alternatives like currency exchanges, or leave the neighborhood to access banking services.

“The success of our partnership event and the excitement it generated locally is a testament to how important this branch is to Austin and to Chicago overall,” said Patrick Basler, Chief Experience Officer at Great Lakes Credit Union. “We are thrilled that Leaders Network selected us as their partner to make this happen, and we look forward to the branch opening in spring of 2024.”

About Great Lakes Credit Union

Founded in 1938 and headquartered in Northern Illinois, Great Lakes Credit Union is banking for a greater good. As a not-for-profit financial cooperative with over $1.3 billion in assets, GLCU is proud to serve around 80,000 members in Chicagoland and surrounding areas, and to give back to its members and communities through education, volunteerism, and partnerships. Learn more about GLCU’s accounts, educational initiatives, and community development programs at

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