Raffael Crockett expands credit union brand across South Florida PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 15 June 2007

Active ImageGrowing up in Greenwood, Miss., Raffael “Ralph” Crockett had dreams of becoming a musician and even studied classical piano.

But having an accountant as a father proved to be a stronger influence. Dabbling in tax preparation as a teenager under his father’s tutelage, Crockett followed an academic path in college that eventually led him to pursue a career in business.

Today, classical music’s loss is banking’s gain as Crockett presides over BrightStar Credit Union (BSCU), one of South Florida’s largest credit unions.

Pictured above is Raffael Crockett.

In April, Crockett, Brightstar’s president and CEO, was recognized with a profile in the inaugural edition of the Who’s Who in Black South Florida.

In 1999, Crockett joined BrightStar (formerly the Broward Schools Credit Union) as vice president of business development after spending 10 years with the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

At NCUA, he worked as a problem case manager in the Special Actions Division covering 10 Southeastern states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“It’s challenging to help troubled institutions survive and pleasing when you can deliver them back to their owners,” Crockett recalled.

As an NCUA case manager, Crockett was involved in solving management or financial problems that arose at credit unions in his region. Often, locations were faced with losing or had lost their traditional membership base and as a result needed help to refocus and regroup their financial strategies.

“I did that job and it was a very good position, a fond career and it was a tough decision to leave,” Crockett said.

Family considerations and a desire to change his “road warrior” travel lifestyle prompted Crockett to accept the BSCU offer.

In 2002, Crockett assumed the presidency of BrightStar after the passing of his friend and mentor, James Ray, a former CEO who had been instrumental in bringing him to the company three years earlier.

BSCU, first chartered in 1946 to serve employees of Broward County Public Schools, changed its name in January 2005.

“We’re still the same great credit union — owned by the same folks, our members — and with the same friendly staff,” Crockett said in a press release announcing the name change and expansion of client base.

“We’ve simply changed our name to help us get the word out that we are now open to the community. The BrightStar Credit Union name will help us to deliver low-cost financial services to all people in South Florida,” Crockett continued.

Since Crockett assumed Brighstar’s presidency in 2002, its total assets have increased from $223 million to more than $262 million, as reflected in the organization’s 2006 annual report.

Today, BSCU serves its approximately 38,000 members in Palm Beach and Broward counties through six branches and a main banking center.

Crockett moved to Florida in the 1990s. Before joining BSCU, he  held positions with the Southeast Banking Corporation (which later merged with First Union, now Wachovia) and the Internal Revenue Service.

BSCU celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006 and wants to be seen as a driving force of change within the community.  It offers a variety of services to members including savings, checking and money market accounts as well as auto and home loans. 

Crockett’s mission for the member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative is simple.

“I have the desire to deliver the credit union to the people in this public and we’re the best deal in town founded on helping people,” he said. 

A quiet giant who’s not willing to laud his own achievements, Crockett “pays it forward” to the younger generation through his involvement in mentoring and volunteering programs in Broward County Public Schools and the community-at-large.

“What I do speaks for itself,” Crockett said.

He is a 1984 graduate of Rust College, Mississippi’s oldest historic black college, founded in 1866. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from the school.

Crockett also spent some time at Mississippi State University, where he initially pursued his passion for music.

“To be an example of the result,” he said, is his goal as he participates in career day and mentoring programs at local area schools. 

Crockett lives in Pembroke Pines with wife of 20 years, Carla, an advising coordinator at Florida Memorial University, and their nine-year-old daughter, Morgan.

 His hobbies include listening to music and deep-sea fishing.

For more information on BSCU, visit www.bscu.org. For a copy of Who’s Who in Black South Florida, which sells for $24.95, please visit www.wwbsf.com.

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