Lourdes Cortez retired from her longtime post as CEO of North Jersey Federal Credit Union (North Jersey FCU) on December 31, 2020, leaving behind a remarkable legacy. She began her banking career with the credit union in 1984, when she began working as a teller. In the decades that followed, she progressed through numerous positions of increasing responsibility before becoming president and CEO in 2005.
She is a proud member of William Paterson University’s Board of Trustees. She also sits on the Board Development/Nominating Committee of the Board of Directors for Boys and Girls Club of Paterson and Passaic.
Under her leadership, North Jersey FCU grew from $161 million to $233 million in total assets, which is attributed to an emphasis on increasing commercial accounts that have grown from 15 to 32 percent over the last five years.
As the first Latina CEO of a major credit union in New Jersey, Cortez’s stewardship and commitment to serving a diverse community have both contributed to North Jersey FCU’s growth. North Jersey FCU is one of the first institutions of its kind to launch bilingual products and services, including a bilingual website. Cortez also instituted a gay-friendly environment providing benefits to employees and their partners long before equal rights campaigns became popular in New Jersey.
As president and CEO, Cortez is credited with furthering the credit union’s community involvement with an initiative called Operation Share and Care, which later evolved into the North Jersey Federal Credit Union Foundation. Also, part of her portfolio is the local launch of the Juntos Avanzamos initiative, making North Jersey FCU the first credit union in New Jersey to offer lending options and credit cards to ITIN (Individual Tax Identification Number) holders. Cortez also worked diligently to have North Jersey FCU become a member of CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution Fund), which helps to generate economic growth and opportunity within the local community.
Cortez is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Top Fifty Business Women of New Jersey award from NJ Biz and the Woman of Influence award from the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey. In May 2019, she received the Jefferson Award from the Office of the Governor of New Jersey for public service in the City of Paterson, and a Trademark Women of Distinction Honors Edition. In 2018, she received recognition as being the first Latina CEO of a credit union in New Jersey by 4CS of Passaic County and saluted by Senator Nellie Pou during Women’s History Month. Other awards include the Hope Saves the Day Award for efforts in supporting autism causes, the Brava Award from SmartCEO, and the CIANJ/Commerce Magazine Best Practices Award.