We Can and Will Make a Difference
Elard J. Phillips, Chairperson
Over the past several months, our national health crisis has created unprecedented change and uncertainty. Our hearts ache for the members we’ve lost, hope for a speedy recovery for those currently affected by the virus and we are happy for those who have recovered. I’m proud to say that AgFed is financially strong and stable, and our staff and volunteers remain committed to going above and beyond to help our members and our communities weather the crisis.
However, another crisis has reached a boiling point recently, and I and the Board, management, and staff of AgFed feel personally compelled to respond.
I’m speaking, of course, of the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Armaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks. These deaths were just a few examples of a long, shameful history of abuse of authority and violence against people of color, and it has sparked outrage, protests, and strife across the country.
People of every background, gender, color, culture, age, and ethnicity are banding together to say “no more”. The abuse must end. And I’m proud to say I and AgFed stand with them in every way we can.
Black lives matter.
We pray for and work towards justice, healing, and peace for our nation and for the families and loved ones of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Armaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks and the millions of others affected by the violence and racial inequities of every kind. The “conversation” will be difficult, but necessary.
Profound, institutional change is coming. Law enforcement methods must and will change. But it cannot and will not end there. Every other business, community, institution, faith, family, and person, including AgFed, must and will seek and enact change as well.
We all need to look deep inside ourselves and our communities to consider and confront these difficult issues of race with compassion, understanding, humility, and love, and to improve our culture of inclusion and opportunity for all.
Of course, credit unions have long been a crucial beacon of opportunity and access to financial services for marginalized and mainstream communities all over the world. As institutions owned and controlled by our members, credit unions have always had a uniquely strong connection to their membership.
And I’m proud to say as I look around in Board and Management meetings at AgFed, I see and hear an incredible, valuable range of people of all backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints. Still, no matter what our record, there’s always room for improvement, and the leadership and staff of AgFed will be working diligently to ensure and improve inclusion, access, and respect for all.
One person, one conversation, one decision, one policy at a time, we can and will make a difference, and play our part in the changes and solutions to come.
Elard J. Phillips
Chairperson, AgFed Board of Directors