GAC Coverage: NC Credit Unions Conclude Successful Hill Visits

Nearly 80 NC credit union representatives converged on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to share their stories with members of Congress. Even though credit unions are holding up very well in the financial crisis, there are still some relevant issues on the table – so it was good to meet with lawmakers and relate these issues.

For lawmakers, the credit union visits were a refreshing change of pace from the daily grind of hearing about meltdowns and taxpayer bailouts. The pace up here is breakneck – even more so than normal.

The credit union groups shared their perspectives on issues such as the mortgage cramdown bill, interchange fee income, member business lending and changing the amount of time to restore the Share Insurance Fund. The tone of the meetings overall was positive, and there is a sense that credit unions are the “shining stars” right now as one credit union person put it. 

In the above video, credit union people who made those visits share the issues of importance to their credit unions and speak to the mood in Washington these days.

As part of these interviews, I had the great privilege of chatting with Greensboro Health Care Credit Union manager Genice DeCorte. DeCorte is a passionate advocate for the credit union movement, and cares deeply about people. This truth shines through in the below video, which shares how DeCorte and the credit union are helping people in the current economy.

As we head back to NC there’s a great sense that credit unions, despite all that has happened in the last several weeks, are doing great things in the eyes of our elected leaders.

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GAC Coverage: Stabilization Plan, Financial Crisis Take Center Stage in DC

The CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference is underway in Washington, DC! Nearly 80 people from NC have made the trek to participate in CUNA’s flagship political event.

The big topic of discussion is of course the NCUA Corporate Stabilization Plan. CUNA held a special session early this morning to update the attendees about the plan and the work that CUNA’s special committee has been doing to help soften the economic blow for credit unions.

The plan has of course generated a lot of concern and questions among credit unions. But it’s clear that NC folks are resolved to work together toward a solution, and committed to solving the problem using credit union system resources.

The stabilization plan and the ongoing financial crisis will likely be key topics of discussion on Wednesday, as the folks who have come here from NC will converge on the Capitol to meet with their elected leaders. Gregory Jenkins, a volunteer with Greensboro Municipal Credit Union, is one of the people who will head to the Hill to speak with his elected leaders.

This is Gregory’s first GAC – and he’s only been on the GMCU board for two years now. But it’s clear in speaking with him that he has a passion for serving the members of the credit union – especially now that the economy is in recession and so many are struggling. 

Gregory came to the GAC with fellow board member Matt Holmen to learn more about the stabilization plan. Like many here, he isn’t happy at the income hit the credit union will take. But like many others in attendance, he is committed to looking within the system for the solution to the problem. 

Gregory spent a few minutes with me on camera discussing how the credit union is helping members deal with the recession, his thoughts about the stabilization plan, and the message he will take to members of Congress on Wednesday.

Community Involvement As Brand Building: A Conversation with SECU’s Jim Blaine

One of the things that has always impressed me about State Employees’ Credit Union is that from the standpoint of member service and culture, the credit union acts like a tiny shop. As most people know, SECU is instead one of the largest credit unions in the world, holding more than $15 billion in assets.

This culture of service and absolute dedication to the cooperative philosophy shines through in the credit union, from the membership at the grassroots all the way up the chain through its board and senior management.

Many of the ideas and much of the credit union passion that you might hear from the CEO of a small shop shine through in the few moments I got to spend with SECU CEO Jim Blaine. Jim graciously spent some time with me to reflect on the Herb Wegner Award the SECU Foundation received as the outstanding credit union organization.  

The SECU Foundation has only been around a few short years, but it has already left a tremendous footprint across all 100 counties in NC. The video interview focuses on the Foundation’s scholarship program, which has awarded scholarships to one student in every NC public high school for the past three years or so.

The Foundation has also embarked on some other outstanding projects that are making an impact in NC. Some of these projects are summarized in the video presentation below that we got to see at the Herb Wegner Awards in Washington, DC last week.

The leadership of the credit union views these activities as its advertising campaign. From my vantage point, I’d have to say that it’s clearly working. Every week when the newspaper clippings arrive in the mail, the activities of the credit union and its foundation get consistent mention in papers of all sizes.

The scholarship winners, which are generally pictured with a local SECU representative, get mentioned the most in papers across the State. At the same time, and I don’t have hard stats to back this up — I’d say clearly the newspapers and other media outlets have become much more likely to pick up press releases that come from the credit union over the past couple of years.  

As the notion of a national branding campaign continues to get kicked around, the SECU Foundation has put together an impressive narrative that suggests that collective philanthropy and community building will get the credit union movement a lot more mileage than a national advertising campaign.

What do you think?

Members Credit Union Honors Its Rock on the Front Lines

As Denise Wymore blogged early this week, a true brand builder has made like Elvis and left the building. Members Credit Union’s building, that is. Jeanine Miller, who anchored the front lines of the credit union for 44 years, retired on Tuesday.

Members threw an all-out bash to honor the soft-spoken Jeanine, and nearly a hundred folks stopped in to say goodbye. While Jeanine’s legacy was largely wrapped up in the members she loved serving so much, there’s another piece to this story that I discovered while at the ceremony. Jeanine has been a touch-point for many leaders within the NC credit union industry. At one time or another, she has worked alongside or trained people such as Team & Wheel FCU President/CEO Juanita Brewer, and Ft. Bragg FCU CEO David Elliott. Jeanine was one of the first people leaders like Dave and Juanita encountered as they started their own careers in the credit union movement.

Of course, her influence extended inside the building as well. She was a rock for management through good times and bad. When Members’ primary sponsor group, the McLean Trucking Company, went belly-up in 1986, it was Jeanine who comforted and informed jittery members who mistakenly thought the credit union might fold right along with the trucking company.

Thanks to her leadership, her skill and her love for the credit union, Members survived that scare. She leaves the credit union 44 years after she started with the institution thriving – based on assets, Members is more than 100 times larger today than when Jeanine first reported to work there in 1963.

But her imprint on the lives of people she has touched throughout the years is her real legacy.

We’re starting a new segment here at the League, called Our Voices. In short, it’s a spotlight on the people who make NC credit unions great. To kick it off, here are a few words and pictures from the people who knew her best at Members.

Godspeed, Jeanine – and thank you for your 44 years of service on the Movement’s front lines.