Board of Directors
We are member-owned and member-operated by a volunteer Board of Directors, elected directly by the membership of the credit union. Our current Board leadership is listed below where you can also learn about the diverse background of each Director.
A Culture of Caring: Board Statement on Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity. Inclusion. Belonging. These are more than just words at Affinity Plus. They breathe life into the everyday actions that improve the lives of our employees, members and communities.
Robyn CousinBoard ChairRobyn Cousin joined the Affinity Plus Board of Directors in 2015. She retired in December 2019 as business representative with Middle Management Association (MMA), an independent unaffiliated public employee union which represents over 3,200 supervisors employed by the State of Minnesota. Cousin remains active on the State of Minnesota Rule 114 Qualified Neutrals Roster. Prior to joining MMA, Cousin had a long career in public education in the Minneapolis Public Schools, managing the district’s community partner and volunteer programs. She brings a multitude of experiences serving on several boards, primarily with nonprofits at both the local, state and national level. Cousin’s special talents are strategic planning, organizational development, training and development and work in the field of volunteerism, community involvement, equity and inclusion and racial justice. Cousin holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial education and a Master of Education degree in vocational education from the University of Minnesota.
Chad TrenchBoard Vice ChairChad Trench joined the board in 2020, after serving 3 years as a volunteer of the credit union’s Supervisory Committee. He is currently a Director of Operations at Special Olympics Minnesota, where he also served in a Director of Development position. Trench holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Supervisory Management. Other interests include youth sports, inclusion and mental health awareness.
Deb BednarzTreasurerDeb Bednarz was appointed to the Board of Directors in November of 2018, while concurrently serving as chair of the credit union’s Supervisory Committee. Bednarz has spent more than 8 years on the Supervisory committee in the past 15 years. She has more than 20 years of budget and financial experience in the public sector, including positions with the Minnesota State Colleges & University system, the U.S. District Court of Minnesota, and Minnesota Management & Budget. Her passion for credit unions began as Peace Corps volunteer where she worked with village-based credit unions and cooperatives in Lesotho, Africa. She has a Master’s degree from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.
Demetrius ChesterSecretaryDemetrius Chester joined the Affinity Plus Board of Directors in March 2019. Born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, Chester's career includes operations, finance, and information technology in the healthcare and financial services industries. He is a Senior Business Systems Analyst with Target Corporation. Amongst a variety of community involvement, he serves on the Board of Directors for Damascus Way Reentry Center and is a member of the Advisory Board for the Communications Studies Department at St. Cloud State University. Chester holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies and religious studies, and a Master of Arts degree in human services and executive leadership. He also serves as Senior Pastor at New Covenant Church of God in Christ a historic Black church located in South Minneapolis.
John CarlsonDirectorJohn Carlson joined the Affinity Plus Board of Directors in 2021. For more than ten years he has worked for Rochester Public Schools, currently as the executive director of finance. Earlier in his career he worked for two different credit unions where his positions focused on member service and then project work along with supervision of staff. As part of his work with the school district, he also serves on the boards of MN Trust and MN Association of School Business Officials. He has both Bachelor’s and Master’s of business administration degrees from the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
Vichita ChoiDirectorVichita Choi is an elected Board Director for Affinity Plus Credit Union. She is currently the Director of Finance and Operations with First Quadrant Advisory where she oversees Finance, HR, and IT. She is experienced in financial planning and analysis, strategy, capital investment, operational management, and process improvement. Choi holds an MBA from the University of St. Thomas and a B.S. in Finance from St. Cloud State University.
Margaret EganDirectorMargaret Egan was elected to the Board of Directors in 2017 after being a member of the credit union's Supervisory committee. Her leadership roles with the credit union include Chair of the supervisory Committee, Board Treasurer, and chair of both the Board's Governance and Nominating committees. Special interests for Margaret are improving services for the underbanked and meeting the needs of more diverse communities. Margaret's career experience has been in financial management; serving as a municipal finance director and as a consultant to local governments. She also has volunteered on the board of a Northeast Minneapolis neighborhood association, volunteered as a child advocate for the guardian ad litem program, and currently serves on a heritage preservation commission. Margaret has a master's degree in public administration from the University of Kansas and resides in Ely, MN.
Karen ForemanDirectorKaren Foreman joined the Affinity Plus Board of Directors in 2013. She is currently serving a four-year term as a Mankato City Council member, representing Ward One around East High School and Washington and Kennedy Elementary Schools. Foreman is also currently serving as chair of the Highway 14 Partnership. Foreman previously has a 30-year career with the State of Minnesota as a senior administrative staff support manager in higher education at Minnesota State University Mankato and Minnesota State University Moorhead. Foreman is active in AFSCME, and has served as a local President, as President of AFSCME MnSCU Policy Committee for 10 years, and was a member of the Council 5 Executive Board.
Joe KhawajaDirectorJoe Khawaja is an elected Board Director for Affinity Plus Credit Union. In addition to his responsibility as a Board Director, Joe also serves on the Governance Committee. Joe joined Affinity Plus Credit Union's Supervisory committee in 2019. He is currently the Chief Financial Officer at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS). Joe is responsible for finance, enterprise risk, information technology, accounting, property management, organizational excellence, and business compliance. Joe is experienced in public, private, government, and non-profit sectors rebuilding balance sheets, raising capital, managing growth, operational excellence, transformation, corporate restructuring, mergers, and synergies. Prior to LSS, Joe was CFO for Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. He has held financial leadership roles with Federal Reserve Bank, Cargill Inc., and Aramark Corporation. Joe is a frequent speaker at Finance summits. He has earned an MBA in Finance from Capella University, Executive Certificates in Leadership from University of Notre Dame, and a B.S. in Accounting from City University of New York. Joe was named a 2020 CFO of the Year by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal.
Contacting the Board
Please let our Board know your thoughts, concerns and ideas. You may contact them by writing to:
Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union
c/o Board of Directors
175 West Lafayette Frontage Road
St. Paul, MN 55107
Serving on the Board
We're currently not accepting applications for the Board, but if you're interested in serving, you'll have another opportunity. The call for candidates occurs in the fall of each year, and new Board members begin their terms in March.