Author Archive

Professional Development Beyond the Walls

Posted by on Wednesday, 4 August, 2010

Working in the archives can sometimes be overwhelming.  I’m sure working anywhere can be overwhelming.  So, we all have outside interests to keep us going.  When I was in grad school, our professors would often stress how participating in professional organizations can keep one intellectually interested in their profession.  Moreover, professional associations help to increase and maintain one’s social network.  I’ve stayed active in professional associations in an attempt to grow professionally.  I’m a member of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA).  These organizations offer archivists the chance to exchange ideas, learn new techniques, and socialize with each other.

As a member of the SAA, I’ve been fortunate enough to present a paper, present several posters, chair a session at the annual meeting, be the editor for the Business Archives Section, and participate on both the Committee on Ethics and Professional Conduct and the Task Force to Develop a Values Statement.  I’ve been very fortunate to have these opportunities, but they didn’t come without effort, and a little luck.

My job makes me a member of the credit union movement, but my profession has little to do with credit unions.  As a result, when I look for growth opportunities, I’m often looking outside of my organization and the credit union movement.  Credit unions, leagues, and CUNA all offer great professional development opportunities.  Heck, CUNA even has the Center for Professional Development!  Whether you’re looking in your credit union, the league, CUNA or outside the credit union movement, there are some basic things to consider as you seek professional development.  Below are my 6 tips for professional development:

1.  Don’t be afraid to look outside your organization. 

Our organizations can limit professional growth for numerous reasons, and none of which may be intentional.  But, that doesn’t mean your organization doesn’t want you to learn and grow, and couldn’t benefit from your development.  In my case, looking to my profession offers many more chances for professional growth.  It might be the same for you.  Accountants, marketers, graphic designers, etc., all have professional organizations they can join.  Or, there are organizations which can use those skills to enhance their organization.  The point is these other organizations can help you improve your techniques, learn new practices, and meet others doing work similar to you.

2.  Volunteer and answer calls for participants.

When an organization asks for volunteers, they mean it.  This is your opportunity to get in the door.  And, we all know getting in the door is half the battle.  Sometimes we get intimated by other members’ credentials or experience.  We can feel like we don’t have the necessary experience to participate.  I’m telling you to place those fears into Al Gore’s lock-box!  Rather take up Rosie the Riveter’s motto, ‘cause, “Yes You Can!”  Take that chance and respond.  The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t get selected…this time.

3.  Be persistent and don’t take rejection personally.

If you don’t get selected for an opportunity, don’t take the rejection personally.  Most opportunities have limited openings.  You might not have been selected this time, but next time you might be needed.  In fact, the more chances you take the more often you are to be rejected.  Remember that a numbers game is always being played.  Keep on working to develop your skill with the existing opportunities.  Eventually, you’ll find you have a skill that is critically needed, and/or you’ve meet someone that can “put in a good word for you.”

4.  Look for social networks. 

Develop and maintain professional and personal relationships with different people.  One never knows when a person in your social network will help you out.  In my case, I was recommended for the SAA Values Task Force because of my youth and inexperience in the profession by a professor I had during library school.  Without this connection, my name likely wouldn’t have come up.  We all know the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  Sometimes this is the case, so try to know as many people as possible.

5.  Participate with pride, conviction, and honesty.

When it comes down to what you know, doing things with pride, conviction, and honesty will help out.  While my name was in the mix for the SAA Values Task Force based on who I knew, it was the “what I knew” that really got me into the group.  I had taken a course on archival ethics with the professor that offered my name.  He knew that I have the ability to critically examine important ethical value positions without being overly impressed by convention or other people’s convictions.  I can argue with the best, but try not to belittle or demean any other position.  I simply go on the facts as presented.  But, you must do your homework and be ready to offer your honest critiques.  Do this, and respect will follow.  Then people will come to you because they can trust you to be a positive member and to do good work. 

6.  Know your limits; or know when to say “no.” 

Once you get your foot in the door, it will quickly become apparent that more help is always needed.  In professional associations, there is often a snowball effect.  This happens in organizations too.  One committee leads to two committees – leads to a task force – leads to a presentation – leads to a paper – leads to another committee.  I’m sure you’ve seen this before.  Knowing how and when to say, “no” can be a very critical step in our development.  And, knowing when to step away can help too.  The point here is to say “no” before you start something that feels “off” or you feel yourself being too drained.  In my opinion, it is better to say “no” beforehand then it is to quit in the middle because you “burned out.”  Once you gain a good reputation, people will understand if you can’t help them every now and again.  They know when you are ready or interested they’ll be able to count on you.

I’m sure you have some other points which are helpful as well.


An Annual Meeting by Any Other Name

Posted by on Wednesday, 9 June, 2010

With the 1 Credit Union Conference right around the corner, we take some time to examine the history of CUNA’s annual credit union meeting, a meeting that goes by many different names.

From 1934 to 1984 the annual meeting was simply the annual meeting.  Granted, all had catchy themes and slogans, many of which are keystone quotations in the credit union movement.  The meeting was a business affair for a select few of credit unionists.  While the meeting grew and changed to meet modern expectations; including an expanded attendee base, educational sessions, keynote speakers, and tours, the meeting was fairly basic.

Attendees of the 5th Annual Meeting, Hotel New Yorker, May 11-13, 1939.

In 1985, the annual meeting became the CUNA National Convention & Exposition in order to highlight the growth of the meeting and add a “convention” component complete with vendors.  By now, the conference was a large and raucous affair complete with entertainment, tours, a spouse program, and social event held in of some of the best cities in America.  Additionally, the conference moved from the spring to the fall.  The highlight of the first convention was a $1 million kick-off campaign for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty.

The CUNA National Credit Union Symposium & Annual General Meeting or simply Symposium held sway from 1995 until 2002.  The change reflected a philosophical shift toward focusing on education and increasing the educational value of the event (Credit Union Magazine, August 1995, p. 26).

In 2003 the Future Forum was introduced as the credit union movement as “an energizing experience,” with attendees encouraged to think beyond the present and look toward the future.  Once again, the conference was re-tooled to provide attendees with as Dan Mica noted, “the innovative programming, idea sharing, and expertise credit unions tell us they want and need” (Credit Union Magazine, May 2003, p. 66).  It was more than just a conference it was a venue for discussion and a platform for exploring new directions.

Since 2007, the annual meeting has gone by America’s Credit Union Conference & Expo (ACUCE, now ACUC).  While the educational, idea sharing, and program features were retained, the ACUC seeks to highlight the “social responsibility” of credit unions.  Specifically, as Dan Mica notes, “how credit unions can operate in ways that are responsible to members and staff, respectful of the environment, and supportive of the community” (Credit Union Magazine, June 2007, p. 20).

This year the combination of the CUNA Annual Meeting with the annual meeting of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) will make this event one of the biggest in years.  Credit unionist from around the globe will meet together and share the global vision of credit unions.  The 1 Credit Union Conference will be held July 11-14, 2010 at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada. Hope to see you there!


CUNA CEOs: 1935-2010

Posted by on Tuesday, 25 May, 2010

Presidents/CEOs

CUNA Presidents/CEOs from 1934 to 2010. Images follow listing from upper left around to center.

With William “Bill” Cheney being named as the new President/CEO of CUNA, I thought the archives would open up the vault to trace the past leaders and provide some interesting statistics. 

First, CUNA leaders have gone by three different titles: Managing Director, 1935-1971; President, 1971-1996; and President/CEO, 1996-current.  There have been nine CEOs and three “acting” CEOs.  If you count only the nine permanent CEOs, the average years of service is 7.7 years.  Dan Mica, at 14 years is the longest serving CEO.  Herbert B. Yates, at just over 1 year, served the shortest time (although he really serves as an “acting” CEO, but is ultimately giving the official title).  Roy F. Bergengren was the first CEO, serving from 1935-1945.  Pete Crear was the first African-American to serve as “acting” CEO in 1996.  No women have yet been CEO.  Bill Cheney will be the 13th person to hold down the leadership position at CUNA, granted only the 10th person to hold the official title of President.  May his time be productive and beneficial for the credit union movement.  

Service Dates Years Last Name First Name Title
1935-1945 10 Bergengren Roy F. Managing Director
1945-1955 10 Doig Thomas W. Managing Director
1956-1957 1 Yates Herbert B. Managing Director
1957-1962 5 Austin H. Vance Managing Director
1963-1970 7 Shipe J. Orrin Managing Director
1971 1 Thomas Evert S. Acting Managing Director
1971-1978 7 Wegner Herb President
1978-1979 1 Notar Russell C. Acting President
1979-1987 8 Williams Jim R. President
1987-1995 8 Swoboda Ralph S. President
1996 1 Crear Pete Acting President
1996-2010 14 Mica Daniel A. President/CEO
2010-   Cheney William “Bill” President/CEO

Source: Johnson, Euguen H.  2004.  “Meet the CUNA Presidents,” Credit Union Magazine online edition, March 22, 2007.


Credit Unions and Presidents: Hoover Delivers

Posted by on Thursday, 22 April, 2010

The image of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Federal Credit Union Act is an iconic part of the credit union movement.  But, you probably don’t realize that Roosevelt wasn’t the first US President to sign credit union legislation.  In 1932 President Herbert Hoover became the first US President to sign credit union legislation.  Over the objection of bankers, Hoover signed a District of Columbia bill allowing for the operation of credit unions within the District of Columbia.  Representative William Connery, Jr. stated of the bill, “The passage of this bill is a body blow to the loan sharks of the District.” 

CUNA Archives. Ring, Jim. Hoover Delivers, 1932. ID: 876880

Unfortunately, there is no known photograph of Hoover signing this important piece of credit union legislation.  Luckily, Jim Ring, cartoonist and Assistant Clerk of the District of Columbia Committee of the Senate, sent the very expressive image shown above to Roy Bergengren.  The image depicts the credit union bill delivering a stiff jab to the head of “The Opposition,” which in this case are DC bankers.  A small tag trailing from the bill lets everyone know that Hoover gave his “OK” to the credit union movement, an “OK” that just happened to be a presidential first.