Caren Gabriel was president and chief executive officer of Ascend Federal Credit Union headquartered in Tullahoma, Tennessee from 2004 until her retirement in 2023 after 38 years of service with Ascend. Under her leadership, assets grew from $960.3 million to more than $3.9 billion. With 28 financial centers and more than 257,000 members, Ascend is the largest credit union in Middle Tennessee and one of the largest in Tennessee.
In 2006, Ms. Gabriel spearheaded a massive re-branding campaign that included a name change to set Ascend apart from its competitors. In so doing, she launched an aggressive branching strategy that includes new and remodeled facilities, an 80,000-square-foot corporate headquarters, and an increased focus on a sales and service culture. Over the past 18 years, she has orchestrated annual member returns totaling more than $100 million. To help ensure the viability of credit unions nationwide, she organized an employee campaign that resulted in approximately 79 percent of Ascend employees supporting the Credit Union Legislative Action Committee via payroll deduction.
Ms. Gabriel 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. From 1985 to 2004, she served Ascend as executive vice-president and general counsel, and in 2004 she was chosen by the board to be president and chief executive officer. Ms. Gabriel currently serves on the CUNA Mutual Group Board of Directors, The Nature Conservancy of TN Board of Trustees, and the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Advisory Board. In addition, Ms. Gabriel is a former chairman of the Tennessee Credit Union League and has served on a variety of community boards, including the Red Cross and the Rotary Club.