SXU Alum Named One of Chicago United's Business Leaders of Color
Saint Xavier University (SXU) alumnus Jose Garcia '92 has been named one of Chicago United's Business Leaders of Color. Chicago United, a corporate membership and advocacy organization dedicated to achieving parity in economic opportunity for people of color, considered the most influential, diverse and inclusive individuals for the list. The list is comprised of qualified, dynamic and visionary executives of color who have overcome obstacles and biases to ascend to leadership.
"I am both honored and proud to be named to such a stellar roster of board-ready, vetted individuals of color poised to further power Chicago's business community," said Garcia. "By recognizing high-performing leaders of colors, Chicago United provides an invaluable service of positioning and ensuring inclusiveness at the highest levels of Chicago company leadership."
Garcia was nominated by a colleague for not only his overall contribution to the workforce, but for his continuous involvement in service and non-profit volunteer work. Garcia finds that success does not equate solely to what one has done in the workforce, but also what they have done for their communities.
"Everybody has an opportunity to succeed, regardless of your background. It's up to each individual to progress in their career and the effort they put in will lead to success. The recognition I received is because I focus not only on myself, but on the communities we live in," said Garcia.
Garcia studied accounting while at SXU. After graduating, he began working as an accounting manager at Baxter Credit Union. Given the opportunities to succeed from his mentor, he obtained industry training as well as numerous designations and certificates. At just 29 years old, he became CEO of Caballeros De San Juan Credit Union in Chicago. Now the president and CEO of Northwest Community Credit Union (NWCCU), a full-service financial institution, Garcia has worked to diversify both membership and staff to better serve multiple communities.
As far back as Garcia can remember, he has envisioned working in a bank. He began to learn about finance when he was only a teenager so he could help his mother manage their mortgage. He initially planned to get an accounting degree from Southern Illinois University, but after his father passed away, he was directed to Saint Xavier after attending community college. He'd promised his father he would earn a degree and worked during the day and attended school in the evenings to keep that promise.
"The support system at SXU and the professors who accommodated my situation were incredible. The challenge of maintaining a job and being a full-time student helped prepare me for my career. I learned that in order to be successful, you need to have tenacity to address challenges. That is why I am able to give back to students what has been given to me," said Garcia.
NWCCU has a student-run branch at SXU's Graham School of Management (GSM), one of only a handful of on-campus, student-run credit unions in the country. Students get real-world experience, including work on the same type of projects that Garcia's full-time staff works on. Currently, students work on projects for social media, financial literacy, marketing and administrative logistics.
"I am a strong proponent of financial literacy, which we strive to include in the curriculum. We also do networking events to help students engage with other professionals. At the end of the day, we like to see our membership grow and our products and services be utilized," said Garcia.
Garcia finds that Saint Xavier's Mercy mission aligns well with his parents' beliefs. In addition to giving back to SXU students, he also volunteers with other non-profits in Chicago and has served on the boards of Latin United Community Housing and Association House of Chicago.
"Early in my life, my father said to me, 'Try to help others that are not as lucky as you.' This has become the foundation of my career and personal aspirations, especially in serving communities that are underserved or have experienced adversities, just like I did as a youngster living in a big city," said Garcia.
Garcia also serves on the GSM Business Advisory Council and has previously served on the SXU National Alumni Board of Directors. Garcia is grateful for the student-centered memories he has created over the past few years while sponsoring networking events and assisting with internship programs.
Garcia plans to continue to help people improve their financial lives for years to come. NWCCU is open to faculty, staff, students and the community. To learn more about NWCCU, visit the NWCCU at SXU web page.