Leading Ladies: Karen C. Harbin


Meet: Karen C. Harbin, President/CEO, Commonwealth Credit Union

800-228-6420 // 417 High St. | Frankfort // ccuky.org


Tell us about your career.

My Commonwealth Credit Union story began 34 years ago when I was hired as Chief Accountant. In 2000, a new chapter developed when through our credit union’s succession plan, I was slated to become the next CEO. Since transitioning to CEO in 2012, I’ve helped grow the credit union from 5 to 15 branches, reinvented the company culture from the ground up, and put the credit union on the map, earning national recognition among credit unions.

"I have an incredible bond with my identical twin sister, Sharen!"


What is your secret weapon?

My leadership style and recipe for success is equal parts collaboration and inclusion, with a heaping cup of respect for others. In 2014, I launched a corporate culture initiative. What I learned through this was that as a leader, you have to be vulnerable. There was a great deal that needed to be changed at all levels, and that included me being more open to listening to the communication and concerns from my team.


What leadership advice would you offer to other Leading Ladies?

Being a leader is not about dictating or micro-managing, but instead empowering your team to bring their A-game every time they walk through the door. Our staff is encouraged to think outside the box to help our members; not just delivering the service requested, but building that relationship and really looking at the member’s unique story. I believe that leadership is found at all levels. Every team member at Commonwealth Credit Union has to lead themselves in order to increase their personal effectiveness and performance.