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Old credit union, new to Las Cruces


In New Mexico since 1936, Nusenda Credit Union has opened a convenient branch in Las Cruces. The company is inviting new customers to join and is providing an on-site location for the many existing customers already in the county.

Nusenda president/CEO Joe Christian has been with the company for 35 years having started as a data processor shortly after completing graduate school.

“I have the role I have today because the New Mexico state placement office tracked me down after I graduated from NMSU (New Mexico State University)” he said.

A credit union is a nonprofit financial cooperative, a democratically controlled financial institution, Christian said. Members vote for the board of directors and the directors oversee the credit union. There are about 2,000 members who live in Las Cruces and have been asking when the company was going to open a branch here.

While the doors at the Pan Am Plaza at 1715 E. University Ave. opened a couple of weeks ago, a grand opening is planned for Saturday, Aug. 14.

“We focus on the needs of our membership,” Christian said. “And as our members do more business we give back to the communities. It’s the ‘power of we.’ We combine resources, financial capability and financial development to work with the community. People are drawn to Nusenda because they want to give back to the community.”

He said the funds Nusenda is able to support communities and members with come from the return that the financial co-op makes.

“Our members received $48.6 million in direct financial benefits,” he said. “That is saving each member the household equivalent of $470 per year.”

Member services with the credit union include not only savings and checking but also financial planning and investing advice.

Nusenda and its philanthropic arm, the Nusenda Foundation, provide funding and other support to make communities better places to live and work. Through its Community Rewards, Financial Education Innovator and microlending programs, Nusenda, and its members have given back to Las Cruces-area organizations.

Christian said one of the things Nusenda does is distribute financial capability curriculum to schools.

“The idea there has been identified for a long time that a lot of our youth could use some information about how to make money grow and how to save money,” Christian said. “We work with a combination of people we employ who work with teachers to understand and do the education.”

It was in 1936 that a group of Albuquerque Public Schools educators got together and formed a credit union, he said. It became a financial cooperative and, over time, merged with other credit unions. Finally, in 2015, what was formerly the New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union outgrew the name and was changed to Nusenda, a variation of a Spanish term about the service and interaction the company provides.

“The root is small, local,” Christian said. “You know your members names, interact on a personal level, help make great financial decisions throughout the years. It was demonstrated during the pandemic as we had to make a lot of adjustments to make sure our members were being helped.”

The best way to describe what’s possible in the Las Cruces is to visit the branch or call, he said.

“We are really looking forward to becoming part of the Las Cruces community,” he said.

Christian said time has flown by for him since his NMSU graduation and becoming part of the credit union.

“It’s hard to explain where the time went,” he said. “Just trying to do our best to help people makes my day go faster.”

Nusenda Credit Union, headquartered in Albuquerque, is the state’s largest credit union with more than 230,000 members. It has more than 20 branches throughout New Mexico in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Taos, Los Lunas, Socorro and now Las Cruces. Connect with Nusenda Credit Union at www.nusenda.org.