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Congrats to Christina Sauve, CEO: 40 Under Forty Honoree!

Cooperative Federal is proud to share that Christina Sauve, our CEO, is being honored with a 40 under Forty Award! Presented by the CNY Business Journal, this award "recognizes 40 people under the age of 40 who have excelled in the workplace and in the community."  Congratulations to Christina and the rest of the 2020 Honorees. 

Read about our Christina

Professional Accomplishments

Christina Sauve is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cooperative Federal, a community development credit union founded in Syracuse in 1982. She is a dynamic leader and a driven professional who has spent 15 years on Coop Fed’s management team, serving as Chief Operating Officer (COO) before being promoted to CEO in October 2019. As the successor to Coop Fed's founding CEO, Ron Ehrenreich, Christina is leading our organization into the future by engaging with our community's changing needs.

  • Christina was instrumental to Coop Fed earning the Juntos Avanzamos designation from the Inclusiv Credit Union Network in 2017, recognizing the credit union’s comprehensive programs that reach and serve the Latinx community.
  • That year she was also chiefly responsible for planning and opening a new Cooperative Federal branch office co-located with the Syracuse Housing Authority’s Central Office on Burt Street, expanding access to asset-building and banking services for a predominantly Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community that faces entrenched social and economic marginalization.
  • She introduced the Business Opportunity Fund in 2018, which is funded in part by the Alliance for Economic Inclusion and has invested over $1.4 million in minority/woman owned businesses and high-poverty communities.
  • Christina guided Cooperative Federal to embark on a strategic partnership with the Syracuse Financial Empowerment Center, an initiative founded by the City of Syracuse and Home HeadQuarters in 2019 to provide free financial counseling to any resident; the credit union is one of the counseling providers and service locations for the Syracuse FEC.
  • This year, during the first 3 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Christina led the credit union’s efforts to direct over $615,000 (as of 6/15/20) in economic relief funding to small business members and nonprofits.

These accomplishments follow a long list of major projects undertaken by Christina over her tenure with Cooperative Federal, including launching a full-scale mortgage servicing program, developing online and mobile services, adding and expanding additional branch locations, and many high-impact collaborations with non-profit and social-service organizations. Christina is the first Native American woman to lead a (non-Indigenous) credit union in New York state, and is the first female CEO of Cooperative Federal. 

Christina earned a BA in Psychology with Honors from Stanford University (2003) after graduating as Valedictorian of Solvay High (1999). Her college studies focused on social and cultural psychology, including research on Native American social representation, an internship with the Chickasaw Nation Ambassador in Washington DC, and studies abroad in the Dominican Republic.

Community Impact and Civic Leadership

Christina’s public service contributions demonstrate her dedication to inclusive and equitable community development.

She is currently a Board Member of Home HeadQuarters (2014-present) where she serves on the Business & Finance Committee and the Residents Committee; and a Trustee for the New York Credit Union Foundation (2020-present).

She previously served on the Syracuse Community Connections / Southwest Community Center Board of Directors (2011-2017 / various officer and committee roles), the Credit Union National Association’s Hispanic Outreach Committee (2012-2015), and Women Business Opportunities Connection (WBOC) Board of Directors (2009-2012). She volunteered for the Two Row Wampum Festival on Onondaga Lake (2013) and the East Side Neighborhood Farmers Market in Syracuse (2008-2010).

Through this work Christina has advanced homeownership and quality housing initiatives; nurtured neighborhood-based health, literacy, and social services; contributed to our region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem; honored the history of our region’s Indigenous Peoples; and helped shape the financial services industry to be more responsive and accountable to the communities they serve. 

Christina’s greatest impact is through her leadership with Cooperative Federal. During the past five years alone, under her management the organization has served 1,500 previously unbanked households, created or sustained 360 local jobs, supported 105 first-time homebuyers, and provided financial education and counseling to more than 3,000 community members.


Christina is a first-generation college student who was born and raised locally, attending public school in Syracuse’s Near West Side and Solvay. She chose to return to Syracuse after college primarily to spend time with her sister, who was born just a few months before Christina left for college. While Christina initially planned to move back to the Bay Area after a few years in Syracuse, she soon found her professional calling and met her future spouse. Her husband is a Paramedic and a Clinical Information Systems Specialist. Together they are raising their six-year old son. Christina and her family enjoy spending time together outdoors and getting together with their relatives -- parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews who all live in the Syracuse and Ithaca areas.

In her spare time, Christina is continuing to learn kanien’kéha (Mohawk language), which she started learning alongside her brother twenty years ago at the American Indian Center on N Salina Street in Syracuse. She is also conversationally fluent in Spanish.