LLCU is joining in the celebration of National Hispanic Heritage month which runs from September 15 - October 15. The month-long celebration recognizes the significant contributions Hispanic/Latino Americans have made in the United States. We felt it was a perfect time to recognize our President & CEO, Robert Ares, an Hispanic-American who has made a tremendous amount of contributions to the communities he has served and continues to do so here in central Illinois. Please allow us to tell you more about Robert.
Robert was born in Cuba and later immigrated to the United States as a child with his family. At a young age, Robert played a vital family role, serving as a translator for his parents and working alongside his father. Robert mindfully witnessed the grit and determination of his family, which shaped his character to match.
Robert began his career in banking at the young age of 16, working as a part-time Teller as a junior in high school. Robert worked hard and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management graduating with honors while working full-time. While simultaneously advancing in his banking career in various roles, Robert earned his MBA from St. Leo University in 2005. Subsequently, Robert was promoted to Chief Financial Officer in 2005 and then to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer in 2009. After successfully leading the bank through the recession era of 2007-2009, Robert was elected as a Bank Director by the shareholders of the bank.
In 2018, Robert became the first Hispanic President & CEO of Land of Lincoln Credit Union [LLCU]. Today, he leads a staff of 140 employees at LLCU, while overseeing a credit union that serves 35,000 members throughout 28 central IL counties with 14 branches in 10 cities. His strong personal values and boundless determination are what guide his decisions. He leads with compassion and servitude and strives to find ways to better the lives of LLCU members, employees, and the community.
In the last five years under Robert’s leadership, LLCU has grown from a credit union with an asset size of $236 million to closing the first half of this year (2023) at $450 million. He has guided growth in locations as well, from 11 branches in 8 cities to 14 branches in 10 cities today. Robert leads the organization, and the growth efforts, guided by the following philosophy: Growth in Profit & Assets must be combined with Growth in Giving & Service. To this point, LLCU has made over $600,000 in monetary donations to non-profit community organizations in the five years under Robert’s leadership. Additionally, in that same time, LLCU employees have donated over 10,000 volunteer hours in the community. This priority of generosity at LLCU is largely attributed to Robert’s leadership values, which are a product of his servant heart. “Being a great leader means being a great servant,” states Robert. “Being a great servant means maintaining the priorities of God, Family, and Work…in that order, every time.”
When Robert was asked about his experience as a first-generation Hispanic immigrant to the U.S., he had this to share, “This great country has provided me with opportunities that I could have never imagined. And, ‘to whom much has been given, much is expected.’ It seems natural that I would want to bless it forward to our neighbors in the many communities that we serve.”
Keep an eye on our website and social media pages as we continue our celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.