(March 27, 2009 – New York, NY) The Federation is pleased to announce the confirmed keynote presenters for its upcoming 35th Annual Conference on Serving the Underserved, which will be held June 11-13, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.
To date, confirmed keynote speakers include Donna Gambrell, Director of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund; Errol T. Louis, columnist for the New York Daily News, television commentator, and former CDCU organizer; and Ellen Seidman, Senior Policy Advisor at ShoreBank, one of the nation’s leading community development banks.
In addition to the educational content, the Federation’s 3-day conference boasts plenty of breakout sessions, networking opportunities, and even a site visit to a local CDCU, the $61 million-in-assets, First American CU in Casa Grande, AZ.
The New CDFI Fund
With as much as $400 million available over the next 18 months, the CDFI Fund is poised for the greatest expansion in its history, and CDFI Fund Director Donna J. Gambrell has played the leading role in the Fund’s high profile within the Obama Administration. Having previously served as Deputy Director of Consumer Protection and Community Affairs in the Division of Supervision and Consumer Protection at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Gambrell has led various initiatives related to reaching underserved populations; providing guidance to consumers on issues such as subprime and predatory lending; and increasing the public’s understanding of and confidence in the financial system.
With her vast experience working on financial issues as well as in community development, Gambrell is uniquely qualified to lead the Treasury Department’s community development efforts. Coupled with record-high appropriations on the horizon, the CDFI Fund will be a major engine for economic recovery. Gambrell’s presentation will provide an outline of what the new CDFI Fund will look like.
In addition to Gambrell’s presentation, conference attendees can look forward to a hands-on breakout session on CDFI Fund certification and application, presented by CDFI Fund and Federation staff.
From CDCUs to CNN
As a regular guest on Lou Dobbs and other CNN programs, national television audiences heard Errol Louis’ political analysis throughout the recent presidential campaign. Mr. Louis is a twice-weekly columnist for the nation’s largest circulation newspaper, the New York Daily News, and hosts the Morning Show on radio station AM 1600 WWRL, one of New York City’s liveliest weekday political talk shows.
A former CDCU organizer and Federation Program Officer, Mr. Louis, is highly knowledgeable about issues affecting low-income people and communities. Coupled with his insight into the political process, Louis’ presentation promises to provide credit unions with vast insight into the political process, and recommendations on how to best position themselves as champions of the “little guy.”
When “Bank” is Not a Four-letter Word
Ellen Seidman is arguably one of the most thoughtful and provocative speakers on the financial system. She currently serves as Senior Policy Advisor for ShoreBank, the nation’s leading community development bank, and is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Center for Financial Services Innovation, which helps financial services providers serve underbanked consumers. Seidman’s government experience is equally impressive, having served as the former Director of the Office of Thrift Supervision; Senior Counsel to the Democratic staff of the House Financial Services Committee; Director of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; and Special Assistant on Economic Policy to President Clinton.
Speaking from her unique perspective, with extensive experience in community development and government, Seidman’s remarks will highlight why serving people of modest means is not only a profitable endeavor, but a best practice for all financial institutions.
Underserved Conference has Something for Everybody
Another session of particular interest is a special breakout with Guy Messick, a pioneer in the development of credit union service organizations (CUSOs), collaborative credit union endeavors that help participating institutions offer a greater range of services, while mitigating costs and expenses typically associated with those products. CUSOs are based in the cooperative principles and have become important vehicles for credit unions to offer expanded services at reasonable rates. With credit unions across the board under fiscal constraints, CUSOs are an industry-wide best practice.
According to Federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal, “the Federation’s annual conferences are the single largest gathering of credit unions specializing in service low- and moderate-income communities, with audiences surpassing 400 registrants. The majority of our attendees are board members and managers from CDCUs and other low-income designated credit unions; government officials and regulators; and representatives from the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.”
Part of what makes the Federation’s conferences stand out, is not just the community development focus of the content, but also the diversity of attendees. The number of minority credit union professionals represented at Federation conferences is unique in the entire credit union system, and something the Federation is especially proud about.
However, Rosenthal also noted how conference participation has grown and changed.
“In recent years, we have seen increased participation from our Community Development Partners, typically larger credit unions that may not serve a predominantly low-income membership, but have shown a true commitment to serving low-income communities within their fields of membership,” Rosenthal said. “We’ve also seen growing participation from organizing groups looking to open their own CDCUs to better serve their communities.”
With a primary mission of empowering low- and moderate-income communities through credit unions, the Federation has worked diligently to build bridges within the cooperative movement in an attempt to bring the scale and capacity of larger credit unions, with the community development know-how of its member CDCUs.
Echoing President Obama’s electoral message, the conference theme this year is “Yes We Must!,” and conference organizers hope this will serve as a call-to-arms for credit unions.
“Our movement is at an important crossroads,” Rosenthal continued. “The current foreclosure crisis and the massive downturn in the financial markets represent an important opportunity for credit unions to distinguish themselves from other financial institutions, and the Federation and our member-CDCUs are here to help the movement to do just that.”
Noting that credit unions across the country are working with reduced budgets, Rosenthal emphasized that the conference will provide practical benefits to credit unions and their members. These include links to increased financial and technical support.
“This is a time of extreme stress throughout the country and within our movement,” Rosenthal said, “but it is also a time of historic opportunity for credit unions to grow and shape the future of financial services in America.”
For more information about the 35th Annual Conference on Serving the Underserved, and to take advantage of “Early-Bird” registration discounts, please click here.
Early-Bird discounts are only available through April 3, 2009, so interested participants are urged to register today!
© 2009 National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.