A Place Called Home: Findlay Alumna Succeeds Right Where She was Raised
This story is part of a series following University of Findlay alumni who have gone on to have meaningful lives and productive careers right here in the local Findlay community. Their stories provide a glimpse of the difference UF students and graduates make in the lives and businesses of our immediate area, and of the impact a UF education can have right here at home.
Success stories from and about University of Findlay are plentiful. As its alumni and their accomplishments can be found all over the world, UF’s wings have been spread out far and wide. However, many alumni choose to stay right here in the local community to carry out their meaningful lives and productive careers. One such person is Cathi (Topp) Kisseberth ’10, who recently became the new Chief Executive Officer of Hancock Federal Credit Union in Findlay, after the previous CEO, UF Board of Trustees member Dan Kennard, retired from the position.
As the 2006 valedictorian of Arlington High School, a rural school about 15 minutes south of Findlay, Kisseberth knew early the sacrifice and work needed to be an academic success. Smart, driven, and equipped with a knowledge of the surrounding community, she found herself on Findlay’s campus as an accounting major with a minor in finance after transferring from another university, and knowing that Findlay was where she wanted to settle down and start a career. “I wanted to be closer to this area again and it seemed like UF had a good business program,” she said. “My transition was made easy by scholarships and most of my classes transferring.” She lived at home and commuted to campus, spending much of her time on campus like most commuters do: going to classes and spending the time in between studying in the Alumni Memorial Union. She called the accounting club at UF “a great group to be a part of,” and credited it, along with her UF classes, with helping her to learn about how work beyond the undergraduate experience would be. But, Kisseberth said, it was the humanity and heart that really carried her success. “My time at UF was special to me because of the people that were there,” she explained. “The professors really cared about the students and I got to know them on an individual level. My classmates also made the experience a good one. We were all facing the same issues with trying to learn new things and balance a busy schedule, but we got to do it together.”
As a result of the support of the UF campus, she said, Kisseberth was, indeed, well-prepared for life after undergraduate college. She began her work with Hancock Federal Credit Union in 2008 as an intern in the accounting department while still an Oiler student. Upon graduating from UF, she started part-time as a teller while also tackling graduate school at Bowling Green State University, from where she earned a Master of Accounting. As a further testament to her preparedness, Kisseberth completed her Certified Public Accountant exam requirements in roughly six months, passing all four parts on the first try, which, she added, is a “rare accomplishment.” She had accomplished her academic goals with flying colors. It was time for Kisseberth to move on to a full-time career; and a productive career it has turned out to be.
Aside from leaving the credit union for a stint just short of two years as the assistant controller at Kalmbach Feeds in Upper Sandusky, Ohio (“I learned a lot from working in a bigger manufacturing company with a larger accounting department, and my colleagues were some of the smartest people I have met,” she said), Kisseberth moved through the ranks at HFCU, first, as the director of accounting, before being named the chief financial officer (CFO) in 2015. The chief executive officer position she newly holds was one that had been on her radar, and, in fact, on that she had been quietly working toward for a few years. “I spent a lot of time with [Kennard] learning more about all aspects of the credit union, including lending, IT, and marketing and operations, and this was beyond the finance area that had been my main focus,” Kisseberth said. “Dan was a great mentor to me and really encouraged me to become the next CEO.”
Her focus in her new role is to “keep HFCU financially and regulatorily secure, while doing as much as possible to support our employees, members and the greater community,” Kisseberth explained. Having been born and raised in Hancock County, and knowing the great deal of benefits that the area affords people, makes the importance of the surrounding community even that much more important to her. “There is something unique with how many of the organizations [within the community] interact with each other,” she said. “There are so many local non-profits that support great causes, and they are all rooting for each other.” She has been a part of the Hancock Leadership Program, is on the advisory board for the Findlay/ Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, recently joined Kiwanis, and serves on the Board of Directors for Findlay Young Professionals; the latter of which, she said, allows for the opportunity to help out the University that helped her toward success. “One of my favorite FYP activities is the annual mentoring program – Future Leaders Initiative – that we do with students in the College of Business at UF. It is a good way to give back to the next generation of leaders and I always learn new things from those students too,” she explained.
Kisseberth and her husband, Brandon, live in their “dream home,” a log cabin in Arlington built on property that was passed down from his grandparents, and the pair recently welcomed their daughter Peyton Grace in October. Both sets of parents, one set of grandparents and her sister’s family all live within five minutes of the little family, and that, coupled with the roots that have been set down even deeper as a result of her position at HFCU, means that Kisseberth will likely be around the community in which she was born for a long time; something for which the local area and the University of Findlay are very fortunate.