Middle Tennessee State University’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business has recognized Ascend Federal Credit Union’s leader with an award.
Ascend President and CEO Caren Gabriel received the Jennings A. Jones Champion of Free Enterprise Award during a rewards reception Oct. 26. This award is presented to an individual whose achievements “are in keeping with the highest traditions of the American system of free enterprise” and whose achievements highlight the individual as a role model to others.
“I am humbled and honored that the Jennings A. Jones College of Business has selected me for this award,” Gabriel said.
Under Gabriel’s leadership, Ascend’s assets have grown from $960.3 million in 2004 to more than $2 billion today. She was instrumental in key mergers including Maury Progressive Credit Union, Co-Op Employee Credit Union and Duck River Electric Membership Corporation Credit Union that resulted in 2,653 additional members and $11 million in assets. The National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) selected Ascend as the 2015 Federal Credit Union of the Year, and Ascend has been named a “Best Credit Union to Work For” by the Best Companies Group and the Credit Union Journal for the past two years.
From 1985 to 2004, Gabriel served Ascend as executive vice-president and general counsel, and in 2004 she was chosen by the Board of Directors to be president and CEO. She holds a bachelor of science degree in Marketing from the University of Alabama and a doctor of jurisprudence degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law.
Gabriel has served as a Director for CUNA Mutual Holding Company since 2012 and for the Tennessee Nature Conservancy since 2014. She is a former chairman of the Tennessee Credit Union League. She has also served on the Nominating Committee for NAFCU. In addition, Gabriel has served on a variety of community boards, including the Red Cross and the Rotary Club.
Gabriel splits her time between residences in Tullahoma and Nashville. She has three children and two grandchildren.
With 23 mid-state branches and more than 175,000 members, Ascend is the largest credit union in Middle Tennessee and one of the largest federally chartered credit unions in the United States. The exclusive credit union of MTSU Blue Raider Athletics, Ascend is federally insured by the NCUA.