In 1970, as a student teacher, Richard Vega was invited to join Central Bergen Credit Union by Alice Falb. At the time, the credit union was in a garden apartment, with limited filing space. . Board meetings were held over some homemade cookies, and loans were approved only when there was enough money. In 1974, Vega was asked to serve on the board of this fledgling credit union. Two decades later, he was elected its chairman.
Central Bergen Credit Union, now known as Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union, currently enrolls over 19,000 members and holds more than $166 million in assets. The Board of Directors of the Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union is comprised entirely of volunteers. The Board’s primary goal is to set policy with their sights on helping its members. Unlike a traditional bank, the credit union’s clients are members and they each have ownership in the credit union.
“It feels like a family,” Vega says. “The board members know many of the members. We want to serve them and to hopefully put them in a better financial situation.”
During Vega’s tenure as chairman, the credit union has undergone many changes, mergers and incredible growth, and his work is finally being recognized.
In October 2014, Vega was honored with a service award from the Credit Union League. He was nominated by CEO Glenn Guinto for his many years of service overseeing the direction of the credit union and for being involved in its many community projects over the years. Last month, Vega was inducted into the Credit Union House Hall of Leaders. He is the longest serving board member in the state of New Jersey and the first from the state to receive this recognition.
“Rich has dedicated his life to Greater Alliance,” says Guinto. “He has been available to the credit union to help with our growth and our community efforts for as long as I have known him.”
The credit union was founded in 1937 to help teachers get loans when other financial institutions wouldn’t approve them. At the time, the maximum loan amount was $50. Teachers were only paid 10 months of the year, so the credit union would hold money for them to make the summer months easier.
Vega began his 40-year career with the Hackensack public schools in 1968. He started as a middle school English as a Second Language teacher and also taught foreign born adults during the evening. He then transferred to Jackson Avenue School as the assistant principal, yet continued teaching the evening school. He returned to the Hackensack Middle School as assistant principal, and capped his career as principal at the 5ive/6ix School.
Vega was born in New York and still lives in the Bronx. Now that he is retired, he enjoys bike riding, visiting museums, painting and cooking for his two sons.
Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative, existing solely to serve its members in Bergen and Passaic counties within New Jersey. As a financial cooperative, Greater Alliance offers the best-in-market rates, world-class service, and a full menu of personal and commercial financial services.
Greater Alliance maintains three branches in Paramus, Hackensack and Paterson with over 5,000 Shared Branch locations and 30,000 Surcharge Free ATMs throughout the country. For more information regarding Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union please visit www.greateralliance.org or call 888-554-2328.