Employee Spotlight – Tonia Houghton

Employee Spotlight blog cover tonia

This Employee Spotlight is on Tonia Houghton! Tonia is the Engagement Director and is tasked with ensuring that CU Engage has quality processes and procedures as well as providing project management direction. All the stars aligned when Tonia heard about a possible position opening within the company and she became part of the CU Engage team. Tonia started life as a singer but loves the credit union philosophy so much that she decided to change careers and has since focused her career around ways to impact credit unions. Tonia has blown the team away with her enthusiasm and ability to see projects through from conception to completion.

“Living Love Out Loud”

Tonia Headshot

Though she started her life in Las Vegas, Nevada Tonia moved to Central New York in the 80’s. She currently resides just outside of Syracuse, NY and appreciates the nearby lake, being close to the airport, and her husband’s job. Tonia is active in her community and does work with local charities trying to combat hunger and homelessness in her own backyard (so to speak).

Tonia is inspired by God, Family, Friends, Music and Art. An avid art collector, Tonia’s walls are the canvas for art that she picks up from her travels. She does her best to find a piece she loves when she visits new places. Her collection currently consists of art from 48 states and 3 countries. Tonia’s favorite vacation (so far!) was a trip to Italy. She loved everything from Rome to Florence to Venice.

Tonia is kind and helpful, always “Living Love Out Loud” and a great addition to the team at CU Engage. Want to know more about Tonia? Grab some Pringles and read on to learn more about how sunny and positive she is!

Q&A with Tonia

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?                                                                                                                A: So silly but, Pringles.   Maybe more like my nemesis.

Q: Are you messy or organized?                                                                                                                A: Both.  I have areas that are extremely organized, but I also have little piles of mess around.

Q: What is one thing about you few people know?                                                                                A: I seem like I am an extrovert to many but that is not the case.  I am introverted and need to make time to recharge regularly.

Q: Is the glass half empty or half full?                                                                                                      A: Honestly, it is always full.   Spilling over, making a mess on the floor and I love it!

Q: What makes you laugh?                                                                                                                        A: My husband. Good Lord that man is funny. He can make cleaning the bathroom funny; I swear.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working at CU Engage?                                                                A: The team.  They are some of the most intelligent, fun, caring people I have ever worked with.  It is great to see a team and leadership who cares for the clients and each other.

Q: What is your favorite holiday?                                                                                                             A: Thanksgiving.   It is a day that is centered around being thankful, being together with those you care for and love, and of course an amazing meal (that my hubby cooks).

Q: If you could only have one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?                                A: Full on Thanksgiving Dinner.

Q: What would you do if you won the lottery?                                                                                        A: Pay my bills, mortgage, do the same for those closest to me, pay off my Church’s expenses, and start or support a homeless youth charity/outreach in my community.

Q: What is your definition of success?                                                                                                     A: That is hard.  I guess whatever I am doing, as long as I can maintain my personal integrity, knowing I am always working for the best outcome, I feel that is a success.

Q: Do you have an office nickname?                                                                                                         A: Not yet, here at CU Engage, but in the past, I have been T, Tonga, and Red

Q: What are your pet peeves?                                                                                                                     A: Fibbing and when people put the toilet paper on backward!!

Q: What book did you read last?                                                                                                                A: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse.

Q: What was your favorite book, toy, or outfit as a child?                                                                    A: Book- Monster at the End of this Book, Toy- Stuffed Eeyore, Outfit- Wonder Woman Underoos (my poor mom struggled to get me to cover those things up).

Q: What is on your bucket list?                                                                                                                 A: Go to Japan, France, England.

Q: What is an ability you wish you had?                                                                                                 A: Speak Japanese, French, Italian

Q: When are you happiest?                                                                                                                        A: When I am with my family.

Q: Best advice you’ve ever been given?                                                                                                A: Do it even if you are afraid.

Q: What is something funny that happened to you recently?                                                              A: Since we have all been in lockdown, I have lost some inches, but can’t go shopping for clothes that fit.  Walking from my car to the house with arms loaded with groceries, my pants fell to my ankles…didn’t know if I should laugh, cry or break the eggs.

Q: Have you ever met anyone famous?                                                                                                    A: Yes.  Twitch, Shaquille O’Neal, Colin Powell, Scott Kelly, Ringo Star, John McEnroe, Greg Evigan (and the monkey), the Pointer Sisters, Tom Selleck, George Bush, John Rutter, Chuck Mangione, Tim Curry and more than I can list.

Q: What is on the radio in your car?                                                                                                        A: NPR (National Public Radio)

Q: If you were the newest crayon in the box, what color would you be and why?                          A: I would be a spring Green. I love spring when the world starts to come back to life and the ground is breaking with leaves that will soon be colorful flowers.

Q: What is your favorite 90’s jam?                                                                                                            A: Oh Boy. I am more down with The Planets by Holst is my Favorite or the Pines of Rome by Respighi, so I guess I am stuck between 1916 and 1925.

Q: What would the title of your autobiography be?                                                                             A: Always Trying

Q: Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?                                                                                                      A: Alligator

Q: First concert?                                                                                                                                          A: Billy Joel

Q: What does true leadership mean to you?                                                                                          A: Acting with integrity while supporting and enabling a team or individuals to be the best they can be.  Being a trusted advisor and supporting the goals of the team or individuals while challenging them to be better every day.

Q: Top three life highlights:                                                                                                                          A: Performing the John Rutter Requiem, singing with a world class opera company, Marrying my husband.

Q: Advice for new hires?                                                                                                                            A: Jump in with both feet.  Ask the question.  Don’t worry, we will support you.

Q: Describe CU Engage in 5 words or less:                                                                                              A: Trusted Partner Delivering Outstanding Results

Q: If you could learn to do any one thing, what would it be?                                                              A: Play the piano properly.

Q: When you have 30 minutes of free time, what are you doing?                                                      A: Thinking about the next thing.

Q: What is the coolest or most important trend you see today?                                                            A: I am so not cool, but I love the entire world of Biometrics.

Q: What chore do you hate?                                                                                                                    A: Any part of cooking, baking… Ugh even thinking about it makes me cringe.

Q: If you could pick one theme for CU Engage to turn into a book about the company, what would you choose?                                                                                                                                      A: Purposeful Leadership