(August 18, 2006 - Madison, WI) “I can’t give you any higher accolade than to say I’m really proud of you,” remarked NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson as she addressed the sixth graduating class of the Federation’s Community Development Credit Union InstituteTM in Madison, WI on August 18.
Johnson singled out the Institute’s classes on succession planning – “I’ve been hammering on this” – and ethics as topics “near and dear” to her, along with financial education. She drew appreciative laughter from the audience in describing the very different financial-management styles of her two adult children, “raised by the same mother in the same way.” Her announcement of NCUA’s changed philosophy about return on assets (ROA) met with vigorous applause from the participants, who represented credit unions ranging from less than $1 million to several hundred million dollars in assets: striving for a 1% ROA just to get a CAMEL “1” is “not acceptable,” she declared.
Joy Cousminer, Bethex FCU (left), and JoAnn Johnson, NCUA Chairman, discuss regulatory issues affecting CDCUs after a class at the CDCU InstituteTM.
The CDCU InstituteTM is the signature professional development program of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. The Federation created the Institute in 1999 to address the pressing need for intensive training for the staff and board members of small and mid-sized credit unions that specialize in serving low-income and other underserved populations. In its eight years, the Institute has educated more than 157 representatives of established and emerging credit unions; and 74 have completed the full three-year program, which brings credit union practitioners together for an intensive week of training each year.
The CDCU InstituteTM offers more than 30 courses over its three-year cycle. The Institute’s twenty-person faculty is drawn from a broad range of academic, private-sector, and credit union organizations, as well as the Federation itself. The typical credit union staff member may take as many as ten classes each year, ranging from financial management and internal controls to ethics and volunteer management; board members take a more abbreviated course load.
New offerings this year included a stand-alone, full-day session on succession planning and a seminar on mortgage lending by Terri Fowlkes, Director of the CDCU Mortgage CenterTM and manager of the Federation’s new secondary market for nonconforming affordable-mortgage loans. Starting in December, the Federation will bring an expanded, two-day seminar on mortgage lending to locations around the country.
“We see the difference when people come back from the CDCU InstituteTM,” said Meagan van Harte, Director of Development Services for PCEI, the nonprofit affiliate of the Lower East Side Peoples FCU (New York, NY), which has sent a number of staff and board members to the Institute over the past 9 years. “They come back with a deeper understanding of credit union regulations and its philosophy. It has really helped our board and staff see better why we do the things we do.”
A strong delegation from an emerging CDCU in Battle Creek, MI, which expects to submit its charter application in September, also found great benefit from the Institute. Learning side by side with established credit unions enabled them “to pick their brains extensively,” said Eric Tobin, the CEO-designate of the new institution. He cited the Bank Secrecy Act, disaster recovery, youth program, and lending innovation workshops as especially helpful.
Since 2005, the CDCU InstituteTM has been held in Madison at the CUNA campus. Previously, it was held in Manchester, NH, at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), which houses the foremost school of community economic development in the country. Despite the relocation, SNHU remains a close collaborator of the Federation, along with CUNA’s Center for Professional Development.
(Left to Right) Jill Tomlinson, CUNA; Cliff Rosenthal, the Federation; JoAnn Johnson, NCUA; Sarah Lightner, First Legacy FCU, Christina Clamp, Southern New Hampshire University School of Community Economic Develoment; and Helen Smith, Shreveport FCU.
“The move to Madison has helped us access a wealth of credit union resources,” said the Federation’s Director of Education and Development, Pamela Owens. “In addition to CUNA, CUNA Mutual, and the Filene Research Institute, we’ve been able to call on a number of local credit unions to bring a practical perspective to our instruction. For many of our students, the opportunity to visit the heartland of the credit union movement also adds a lot to their experience at the Institute.”
The CDCU InstituteTM has won growing support from within the credit union movement. In addition to a major grant from the National Credit Union Foundation and scholarships from NCUA, Suncoast Schools FCU and Northwest FCU have funded scholarships. This year, Faith Community United CU (Cleveland, OH) and Northeast Community FCU (San Francisco) created scholarships to honor departing Federation Chairman Rita L. Haynes and Treasurer Michael Chan, respectively.
Helen Godfrey Smith, CEO of the $70-million Shreveport FCU (Shreveport, LA) and a member of the Federation’s Executive Committee, congratulated the graduates for three years of hard work. “Success is a choice,” she told the group. “You have joined the ranks of movers and shakers in the credit union movement.”