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Credit Solutions

SAWIB08 Winner

Company: Credit Solutions, Dallas, TX
Company Description: Credit Solutions is the largest for-profit debt management company in North America today. Since 2003, our proven program has helped over 150,000 families eliminate more than $700 million of unsecured debt out of a total $1.75 billion of debt under management.
Nomination Category: Individual Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Best Entrepreneur – Service Businesses – up to 2,500 Employees

Nomination Title: Kari Cellegher, COO, Credit Solutions

1. Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated entrepreneur during the eligibility period (up to 500 words):

Kari Cellegher is Chief Operating Officer of Credit Solutions, the nation’s largest
for-profit debt management company. She successfully developed Credit Solutions
from 5 to nearly 1,000 employees by focusing on empowerment, creating a highly
diverse culture that rewards customer service excellence and promotes from
within. Under her direction, Credit Solutions has helped more than 150,000
customers eliminate approximately $700 million of a total $1.75 billion of
unsecured debt under management.

Her background spans both the corporate and political worlds; Kari is one of the youngest women ever to have run for U.S. Congress. She has used this training to hone her creative persistence, approaching each challenge with a fresh perspective and driving toward solutions that achieve results. Under her
leadership, Credit Solutions has become the debt-management industry leader, winning a J.D. Power and Associates Award, a Stevie® from the American Business Awards, and a top 3% ranking in the Inc. 5000. Kari championed ISO certification, USOBA accreditation and online best practices that have helped set high standards internally and industry-wide.

Kari’s closest advisors call her “a walking billboard for positivity” – and rightly so. Because Credit Solutions’ customers are vetted based upon financial hardship, Kari stresses the importance of maintaining a positive attitude. It is this tone that drives the entire organization. Kari regularly hits the call center floor to personally rally the Credit Solutions Sales and Client Services teams, reminding them that they are dealing with people from all walks of life who are under extreme financial stress: “Remember: Your #1 commitment is the customer. Every call is problem solving. This is how we get better as an organization. We know we are making a difference in the lives of people every day.”

Not only does she talk the talk, Kari truly is a mentor who fosters training, education and giving employees the tools they need to be successful. Helping
both her internal and external customers is what drives her. She is constantly studying to ahead of interactive marketing trends, federal and state
legislation, and management best practices, and she regularly makes available free copies of best-seller business books to employees, encouraging an ongoing dialogue about them via the company Intranet and monthly magazine. Her own writing and communications skills are unsurpassed. A former guest columnist for United Press International, Kari was recognized for her outstanding written communications while she was Program Director for the Richard B. Johnson Center for Economic Studies at Southern Methodist University, and as an Economic Analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank.

2. List the URLs (web addresses) of any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that you would like the judges to see that support your entry. IMPORTANT: List each URL on a separate line, begin each URL with http://, and enclose each URL in square brackets. For example, [http://www.yourcompany.com/pressrelease.html]:

NBC News video; click on the NBC icon in the left margin of the page:

Please visit http://www.creditsolutions.com/about_pr.php and click on the
following press releases:

• 8/20/08: Inc. 500 Lists Credit Solutions In Top 3% Of Fastest-Growing Private
Companies Driving U.S. Economy
• 8/18/08: Credit Solutions Leadership Goes Back To School Ritz-Carlton Style To
Study Customer Service Best Practices
• 7/16/08: Credit Solutions Call Centers Add Robust Call Monitoring Solution,
Setting New Online Customer Service Standard
• 6/30/08: Credit Solutions Eliminates More Than $600 Million in Consumer Debt
• 6/11/07: J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Credit Solutions Recognized for
Excellence in Satisfying Call Center Customers

3. Provide a brief biography of the nominated entrepreneur (up to 100 words):

Kari Cellegher is Chief Operating Officer of Credit Solutions, the largest for-profit U.S. debt management company. A great believer in best practices, she
describes herself as “radically enthusiastic about customer service.” Kari also teaches business communications at the University of Texas at Dallas, where she obtained a B.S. in Economics and Finance before earning her Masters in Strategic Communications from Seton Hall University. She is an active community
organizer, volunteering locally for Meals on Wheels, Hearts & Hammers, and the Girl Scouts of America. Most important, she says, she’s a mom; she and her two
young children live in Dallas.