Former CEO of $3B Credit Union Joins Sparrow`s Advisory Board

Sparrow Team
Sparrow Team

This is the official Sparrow account.

See author page
Edited by
Daniel Kahn
Daniel Kahn
Daniel is the co-founder and COO at Sparrow. Daniel is responsible for the day-to-day operations of a company, working closely with other members of the executive team to develop and implement strategies to support the growth and success of the company.
Daniel was a 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 lister in the Education category.  Daniel was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina and graduated from Duke University in 2020.
See author page
Reviewed by
Camden Ford
Camden Ford

Camden leads Sparrow’s business operations – everything from product management to business analytics. After graduating Cum Laude from Duke University where he studied Civil Engineering, Camden worked as a Consultant for A.T. Kearney where he worked in their Strategic Operations practice. With a strong background in analytics, Camden strives to deliver data-driven conclusions and insights.

See author page
November 10, 2023
Gene Pelham - the former CEO of a $3B credit union - joins Sparrow's Advisory Board.
As the former CEO of Rogue Credit Union, a $3B financial institution, Gene Pelham has been on the forefront of credit union innovation for over 40 years. Today, he joins Sparrow’s Advisory Board to help shape how credit unions connect with Gen Z.

NEW YORK – April 6, 2023Sparrow, a two-year-old financial technology startup that simplifies and streamlines the student loan process, announced today that Gene Pelham will join its Credit Union Advisory Board. Having been the CEO of two credit unions, Pelham brings over 40 years of industry experience to one of the fastest growing educational financing platforms in the country.

“Our partnership is a huge win for every credit union struggling to connect with Gen Z,” said Sparrow CEO and co-founder Harrison Hochman. “With Gene’s guidance, Sparrow is extending its platform to allow credit unions to gain the benefits of student loans without becoming a student lender. Most notably, our clients leverage student loans to swim 10 years upstream of the competition to ‘memberize’ Gen Z while they’re still in college and introduce the other products offered in their ecosystem.”

There are key moments in the life of a consumer where credit unions have the opportunity to build resilient member relationships. Sparrow’s cracked the student lending code and I am excited to support their mission.  They’ve introduced ‘memberization’ into the student loan process where credit unions can quickly offer a robust student lending program without impacting current operations, projects, or having to offer the student loan off their books.

Gene Pelham, Former CEO of Rogue Credit Union

Effectively engaging Gen Z

In a 2018 study, Cornerstone Advisors found that of the borrowers who used their primary credit union to find a student loan, 65% opened a checking account, 57% opened a credit card, 44% opened a savings account, and 20% obtained a mortgage. Despite these facts, less than 5% of credit unions are student lenders. Those that watch from the sidelines do so for a myriad of reasons: regulatory exposure, resource constraints, project saturation, etc.

Sparrow’s turnkey platform allows credit unions to bypass these challenges while reaping the benefits of student loans. With marketplaces launched on Sparrow, credit unions ensure all borrowers that pass through are either current members or submit applications for membership.

Driving Gen Z membership while increasing revenue

Since launching with Sparrow, credit union partners have experienced immediate impact, including:

  • Increased the average percentage of members who find funding for their student loan by 5.53x compared to the industry average
  • Increased the non-interest income that credit unions make on student loans by 144%
  • Accelerated membership of Millennials and Gen Z, with the average age of new members being 29 years old

About Sparrow

Sparrow was founded in 2020 by Hochman, Griffin Morris and Daniel Kahn. Since its founding, Sparrow has facilitated the search of over $300 million of private student loans with its credit union partners. Credit unions use Sparrow to offer their customers a white-labeled student loan marketplace. Founded by students for students, Sparrow’s mission is to make education accessible and affordable for all. Learn more at and follow us on LinkedIn.

Media Contact

Sparrow Labs Inc.

Sparrow Media Inquiry

Dive deeper in student loans