Meet the members of the Freedom Credit Union senior management team.
Glenn S. Welch | President and Chief Executive Officer
Glenn joined Freedom Credit Union in 2016 and has nearly four decades of experience in the financial services industry. He is responsible for the ongoing management of all aspects of the credit union’s operations; ensuring financial accountability and stability commensurate with the best interest of the credit union, its members, employees, and the general public; and serves as key advisor to the board of directors, keeping them fully informed of the condition of the credit union and on all factors influencing its financial and organizational health.
Prior to joining Freedom, Glenn was president and CEO of Hampden Bank from 2013–2015 before its Berkshire Bank acquisition. He graduated from Western New England University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration/finance and earned his MBA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
A resident of Brimfield, Glenn is on the board of the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the Cooperative Credit Union Association, and is active on many other boards throughout the Pioneer Valley. He is a board member and treasurer for the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, and a board member and past president of Way Finders (formerly known as HAP Housing). He is also on the board of Pathlight (formerly the Association for Community Living) and Develop Springfield.
Gina Noblit Giannetti | Vice President, Human Resources
Gina joined Freedom in 2016 and manages all human resource functions including administration of recruiting, diversity, employee relations, employee engagement, all state and federal compliance and compensation and benefits programs, training and payroll. She also provides counsel to executive and senior level managers on human resources issues, including providing input to the business and strategic planning process, as well as coaching and counseling for all employees.
Gina earned her master’s degree in human resources from American International College, and her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Westfield State University. With nearly four decades of HR experience in health care and manufacturing, she also earned her Credit Union HR Compliance Professional certification.
A resident of Westfield, Gina serves on the board of directors for the Employers Association of the Northeast.
Kara B. Herman | Vice President, Retail Administration
Kara joined Freedom in 2007 and has more than three decades of banking and credit union experience. She oversees all aspects of retail branch banking and marketing functions.
Kara earned her bachelor’s degree from Westfield State University followed by her designation as a Certified Credit Union Executive from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) through the University of Wisconsin, School of Business. Kara is also a certified trainer through the American Society for Training and Development. She is a member of the CUNA Operations and Member Experience Council and a board member for the Pioneer Valley Chapter of Credit Unions where she currently serves as chapter treasurer.
Active in the Westfield community where she resides, Kara joined the board of directors for the Stanley Park of Westfield Inc. in 2020 and was elected to the executive committee in 2022. She has served on the fundraising committee for the development department at Stanley Park for more than five years and is a previous recipient of the President’s Award for volunteerism.
Cheryl L. Podgorski | Vice President, Operations
Cheryl joined the credit union in 2012 and has nearly four decades of operations experience in the banking and credit union industries, having held several senior management positions throughout her career. She oversees the credit union’s information systems, vendor management and operations departments, including the call center, deposit services, loan servicing and electronic services.
Cheryl earned her master’s degree in business administration from Western New England University and holds a Six Sigma Green Belt certification. She is the past vice president of the board for the Bilingual Veterans Outreach Center of Mass Inc., and was recognized in 2021 for her continued service and dedication to veterans’ causes.
Jeffrey M. Smith | Chief Lending Officer and Vice President
Jeff joined the credit union in 2013 and manages its commercial, mortgage and consumer lending functions, in addition to overseeing the collection department. He has four decades of lending experience in the financial services industry and has held several senior management positions throughout his career.
After a BS in finance from the University of Maine, Jeff earned his MBA in finance from Western New England University. He has been an instructor with the Center for Financial Training since 1996, teaching courses on subjects such as real estate finance, marketing, accounting and analyzing financial statements.
Active in his local community, Jeff is a member of the Realtor Association of Pioneer Valley and also lends his talents to a diverse range of other organizations including the Northampton Rotary, Elks Club, American Legion, Look Park, Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech, Boys & Girls Club and Friends of the Homeless.