In Memory of




Obituary for John Michael Pembroke

John Michael Pembroke, CUES President & CEO

To know John, was to love John. His legacy of love and service will live on through the people and organizations he so deeply loved and so positively impacted. John Michael Pembroke was born with the “luck of the Irish” to Dr. June G. Pembroke and Rev. Dr. Maceo D. Pembroke, Sr. on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1967 in Chicago, Illinois. He was delivered to his parents with a shamrock on his diaper. John Michael was named for two of his wonderful uncles: paternal uncle, John Henry Pembroke and maternal uncle, Jerry Michael Greene.

A preacher’s and teacher’s kid, a child of St. Mark United Methodist Church, a citizen of the neighborhoods of Chatham and Hyde Park, and the City of Chicago, John was exposed to and learned quickly from a myriad of cross-sections of life and society. At an early age, John Michael accepted and professed Jesus Christ as his personal savior. He participated actively in St. Mark’s ministries – Sunday School, the Children’s Choir, and Cub Scout Pack #3534, where lifelong friendships were formed. John loved and excelled at basketball, baseball, swimming, tennis, playing the piano and saxophone. His formative years were further enriched by summers spent with his extended family across the U.S.
From 2nd grade through high school, John was educated at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (“Lab Schools”). He was a talented and hard-working student and recognized as a National Merit Scholarship Qualifier. While John continued to grow and learn valuable lessons through his high school extracurricular activities including varsity basketball, baseball and band, he also gained foundational work experience as a high school intern at St. Mark UMC Credit Union.

In the summer of 1984, John participated in the prestigious Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Program at the University of Michigan. Upon graduating from the Lab Schools in 1985, John matriculated to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA and graduated in 1989 with a concentration in Finance. John's fraternity, Psi Upsilon, occupied the most impressive house on Penn’s campus, "The Castle”. John also played JV Basketball and participated in Heavyweight Rowing at Penn.

After graduation, John spent a few years in commercial banking at Continental Bank (now Bank of America), and then attended The University of Chicago Booth School of Business to obtain his MBA. He majored in Marketing and Policy Studies. Having earned Dean’s List honors upon receiving his MBA, John accepted a full-time position in brand management at Procter and Gamble.

In the midst of a stellar and demanding business career, John was blessed to meet and marry his first girlfriend and love, Monica Lynn Bowman. Monica and John were happily married and celebrated 27 years of marriage in July 2022.

John held leadership roles in marketing, e-commerce, and business development with Fortune 500 and emerging companies including Kraft Foods, Kellogg, Cox Enterprises, PSCU Financial Services, and Shared Vision. John left his mark on the business world by launching numerous new products, services, and media properties, as well as providing leadership and strategic vision to enable market-leading companies to achieve their business objectives and goals. In the process, John mastered and practiced the art of servant-leadership.

In 2013, John joined CUES (Credit Union Executives Society) as Chief Operating Officer. The CUES organization educates and develops credit union CEOs, executives, directors, and future leaders. After two years, John was promoted to President & CEO and served in this leadership role for more than seven years. He drove organizational growth and profitability in addition to greatly expanding CUES’ business education and leadership development offerings. Under his leadership, CUES membership tripled, member loyalty increased, and new and innovative talent development offerings were created.
John served on the board of Credit Union Diversity, Equity and Inclusion which is devoted to advancing DEI in business and society. He was also a proud member of 100 Black Men in Madison, WI. In 2018, he was named one of Wisconsin’s 42 Most Influential Black Leaders, by Madison 365. In March 2021, John was inducted into the African American Credit Union Coalition Hall of Fame.

John held several leadership roles at St. Mark UMC, including chairman of the Young Adult Ministry and board member of St. Mark UMC Credit Union. He also served on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, Junior Achievement of West Central Florida, On Track, and the Goodman Community Center in Madison, WI.

Recreationally, John, the son of a librarian, was an avid reader and music lover. He credited his Chicago roots and the privilege of growing up around gospel, blues, and jazz luminaries with his love of music. John devoted at least an hour every Friday listening to new music of different genres. He enjoyed sports and travel, citing a 2018 Black Paris Tour, which chronicled the influence of Black artists in Paris, as one of his best educational and cultural experiences.

John Michael Pembroke was a special and uniquely-gifted young leader who loved the Lord. His smile was unforgettable, and his wisdom, great sense of humor, fervent desire to serve, and munificence were comforting to all. In Jesus’ precious name, John Michael Pembroke’s legacy will endure through the lives and organizations he has touched and empowered.

John was preceded in death by his parents, the late Rev. Dr. Maceo D. Pembroke Sr. and Dr. June G Pembroke. He leaves to cherish his memory his wife, Monica; his brother, Maceo, Jr.; goddaughters Mia Gordon, Cameron Gordon and Amanda Sawyer; and a host of loving relatives, dear friends, close colleagues, mentors, and mentees.

Visitations will be held in Chicago at Cage Memorial Chapels (December 13 from 12:00 to 7:00 p.m.), homegoing service will be held at St. Mark United Methodist Church (December 14 at 11:00am), interment will follow the Homegoing Service at Oak Woods Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Mark United Methodist Church (8441 S. St. Lawrence Ave. Chicago, IL 60619). Please, make checks payable to: St. Mark UMC with Memo: John Michael Pembroke Memorial Fund.