Emily Szymkiewicz

Name

Emily Szymkiewicz

Company/Organization

United Federal Credit Union

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What Does Your Company/Organization Do?

United Federal Credit Union is one of the most trusted financial institutions in Southwest Michigan. We are the place our Members turn to keep their hard-earned money safe and sound, and have options for them to get a loan for a car, home, or business. When a financial need comes up, over 177,000 Members count on United to deliver on our promise to understand what they are going through. Our tag line is “We get U”, and that speaks to the heart of our philosophy. United takes the time to listen and understand what’s going on in our Members’ lives, and then offer real financial solutions that make sense for their unique situation. Beyond the finances, however, United is a team of community-minded people who work together to improve our neighborhoods. We put our values into action by volunteering, partnering with inspirational community organizations, and lending a helping hand when our hometowns need it most.

Age

35

Accomplishments

  • 2019 Graduate of the Leadership Accelerator
  • Secretary/Treasurer of United Way of SWMI
  • Executive Committee Member of the Greater Southwest Chapter of Credit Unions
  • Past Board Member of 100 Women Strong

What else do you hope to accomplish by the age of 40?

Be a positive role model and provide motivation and inspiration to the next generation of young leaders in our great community.

Education

  • Grosse Pointe South High School, Class of 2002
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Retail Management from Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI – GO GREEN!

Residence

Stevensville, MI

Where were you born?

Grosse Pointe, MI

What was your first job?

Aside from babysitting, my first ‘real’ job was as a pool lifeguard at Lochmoor Club in Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan.

Best advice you ever got?

Treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO.

Who inspires you most?

My parents and grandparents. My mom’s father moved from the Ottawa Valley, where he worked on the family farm, to Detroit in 1936 at the age of 19 to pursue a higher education, which at the time was unheard of. At a young age, he had to make difficult choices that forced him to grow up quickly. He worked hard to obtain his bachelor’s degree in the 1940’s, while raising a family and embarking on a career in the steel business. My paternal grandfather moved from Nova Scotia, Canada to Detroit when he was just 13 years old in search of better opportunities. He joined the US Navy when he was just 17, fought in the Battle of Okinawa where he sustained injuries that would remind him of the war until the day he died. He pursued a career in law enforcement and raised 8 wonderful boys, while also managing residential real estate in Detroit. He was more than fair with his tenants about rent and always made sure all of his tenants’ children were signed-up for school – something he valued very much. My parents both had great role models in both of their parents, which they displayed throughout their own lives, and passed onto me and my siblings.

That one thing about you we’d be most surprised to learn.

I played Ice Hockey in high school on one of the first Women’s High School Ice Hockey Teams in the state of Michigan, and we won 2 state championships.

What do you love to do in your downtime?

Spend time with Jason (husband), Hadley (daughter), Sloane (daughter), and extended family. In the summer we enjoy being outside and the natural beauty this area provides. I’d love to get back to traveling in a post-COVID world!

What book are you reading now?

With 2 small children, I don’t have a whole lot of downtime, but I am working my way through, Where The Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens.

Volunteer activity you love the most.

I love meeting and engaging with people in the community, regardless of the cause. Last year specifically, I was fortunate enough to volunteer through United Way of Southwest Michigan, where I serve on the Board  of Directors, and make people’s Christmas a little bit brighter by providing gift cards from our generous community. I will never forget the joy and expressions on their faces, knowing that they would be able to make their families’ holiday a little bit brighter.

What motivates you to give back to your community?

The goodness in people. Right now, we live in a world of much uncertainty and we can easily forget the beauty in the world and in people. Making people happy and seeing their smiling faces of gratitude brings me so much joy and motivation.

What Superpower would you most love to have?

Teleportation. With the majority of my family not local to Southwest Michigan, I could see them whenever I wanted!

What has been the most eye-opening thing about the coronavirus pandemic for you, personally?

The concept of simply slowing down. We are always in such a rush to go to soccer practice, go to this event, meet up here, etc. Although these times are uncertain and unprecedented, I saw a lot of families simply just enjoy their time being together – which is so important to the family unit.

What does the honor of being named to the 40 Under 40 most mean to you?

I feel extremely honored to even be considered. I’ve watched so many others be awarded over the years and always been extremely impressed with the leaders of our community. To be recognized with a group of 39 other individuals who are making an impact in Southwest Michigan, is very exciting and humbling!