February 28, 2022Black History Month: Inspiring Leaders
In celebration of Black History Month, we decided to highlight one of PEFCU’s inspiring African American leaders to share their perspective on what working for a diverse and inclusive credit union really means to them.
This year, we’re featuring Jheniffer Alphonse, Assistant Branch Manager in Pembroke Pines!
Jheniffer has been working with PEFCU members for over 15 years. She began her career as a Teller, and has been promoted to numerous positions within the branch. She is now the Assistant Branch Manager at one of our largest branches. She is also a single mother of four with “kids” ranging from age 23 to nine years old, who are at the heart of everything she does. She’s worked tirelessly sending her children to college and is bursting with pride that all of them are honor roll students! Most recently, her son, Joshua, graduated college with a degree in Sports Management and is now in the NFL!!
“There is beauty and strength in diversity,” she says. “And I am a very strong woman.”
Jheniffer is incredibly happy to share some of her thoughts with us during Black History Month. She believes that the appreciation and acknowledgment of all Black people, their history, and their accomplishments show us how far we have come—and in many ways, how far we have to go. “It’s part of recognizing all of the people who helped build our nation and shape our culture,” she says.
Learn more about Jheniffer and her amazing journey below:
PEFCU: What are some things you remember fondly growing up?
Jheniffer: I remember leaving Haiti and coming to the U.S., not knowing one word of English. One day my mom just dropped me off at school and was like, “Have a good day.” I felt lost and was left to figure it out on my own.
PEFCU: What are some of the challenges you faced growing up?
Jheniffer: The challenges I faced growing up were with my grammar. To this day, that’s something I still struggle with. I also felt like I always had to work harder than the next person to prove myself.
PEFCU: How did you try to overcome those challenges and what were the results of your efforts?
Jheniffer: I overcame that challenge by teaching myself English—but I learned mostly slang! LOL. Through this, I learned that if you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude about it. I couldn’t just keep getting upset about it—you only live once! So, I showed myself how to do it.
PEFCU: What are some key moments and experiences that have shaped your thinking as an adult?
Jheniffer: You know how when you’re flying on a plane, they tell you to put your mask on first before you try to help others? “Putting my mask on first” and building my self-confidence have helped me become a better leader, mother, and friend. How can you lead others if you don’t know where you’re going?
PEFCU: What have your learnings been as a result of those moments and experiences?
Jheniffer: Nothing will work unless you do.
PEFCU: What strategies and tactics do you leverage to succeed at your job and career as a result of those learnings?
Jheniffer: One strategy: As a leader (or parent), if you want to inspire your team (or kids), you have to get down in the dirt with them. Nothing will work unless you work.
PEFCU: What are your dreams and aspirations for the future?
Jheniffer: I would like to see how far I can take myself and my team. I would also like to push my kids as far as they can go so that they can be their best selves in the world. As Maya Angelou said, if you’re going to live, leave a legacy, make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.
PEFCU: What are the things you feel need to change in the environment to enable the achievement of those dreams?
Jheniffer: We need to bridge the generational gap. Having a voice enables us to achieve those dreams. As a leader, we can all learn from someone who stood up for what we believed in with grace, dignity, and courage.
PEFCU: What kind of legacy do you think we should work on together to leave for the next generation?
Jheniffer: To leave them with more financial education than we or their parents had.
PEFCU: What would you say to your friends and colleagues outside of PEFCU about what it is to work at PEFCU?
Jheniffer: PEFCU is supportive and has opened many doors for me. When I talk to my friends and family and tell them that I just spoke to the VP of People and Culture, their response is, “Oh, wow! You’re allowed to talk to the VPs?” I respond, “Yes. Why? Wouldn’t you?” The fact that you can talk to the senior leadership and use your voice at PEFCU speaks volumes. I’m also proud that we are getting much more involved in our community and learning more about the culture.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Jheniffer!