Cardinal LogoThe winner of the 2018 Game Changer Award is Christine Blake, CEO and President of Cardinal Credit Union.

Christine is being honored for her leadership at Cardinal Credit Union which has worked to provide top notch financial literacy education for our community’s children.

On September 10, 2012, Cardinal Credit Union opened the first high school student credit union branch in Northeast Ohio. The fully-functioning, student-run credit union branch on the Mentor campus of Lake Catholic High School has been officially co-branded as the SmartStart Cougar Branch. The Cougar Branch serves as the centerpiece of a disciplined, integrated financial literacy education program, focusing on promoting positive money management skills such as thrift, smart spending, informed use of credit, and the benefits of regular savings and investing.

Since the start of the Cougar Branch in 2012, Cardinal has served as Lake Catholic’s financial literacy partner, educating more than 300 students and some 230 parents. Cardinal teaches 5 classes each semester, with an average class size of 30 attendees.

Through its collaborative partnerships with Lake Catholic and other area schools, Cardinal has learned that teachers are pivotal to the success of financial education. As an essential community partner, however, Cardinal knows that it must do everything in its power to assist in providing teachers with the training and resources they need to be effective.

Cardinal has been proactive in its mission to solve the problem of the lack of information and financial education facing our youth. Through numerous meetings with school faculty and staff at local area schools, Cardinal has opened the discussion concerning the need and importance of personal financial stability.

Cardinal also hosts a yearly scholarship competition along with 17 other area credit unions in the spring. The event is called Mad City Money and is held at Lakeland Community College. 177 students from 40 different high schools around Northeast Ohio participate in a budgeting competition where teams of 3 students each compete for $9,000 in college scholarships.

What makes someone worthy of the Game Changer Award?

Judging is based on the following criteria:

  1. Reside in or have a business located in Lake or Geauga County
  2. Be a cutting edge, forward thinking individual, business or business group that has “Changed the Conversation” resulting in casting Lake or Geauga County in a positive light
  3. Successfully completed one of the following:
    • Improved or renovated a process
    • Changed the delivery of service
    • Demonstrated cutting edge thought in some aspect of technology or manufacturing
    • Invented or created a new product
    • Started a unique business to meet the need of our changing economy




Skoda Minotti LCC