Archive for category History & Philosophy

United Nations’ International Year of Cooperatives: Why Embrace this Opportunity? Part 2

Posted by on Tuesday, 8 February, 2011

In this, the second part of a two-part series, Sarah Arthurs’ outlines her ideas for how the credit unions and cooperatives can make the most of the United Nations’ declaration of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. Please read the first post describing her thoughts on the opportunity presented in 2012.

To support this process I would like to offer some ideas for the consideration of the cooperative and credit union community.

Under 40 Friendly

Whatever we do, we need to make it under-forty friendly (at least! Probably under-twenty would be better!)  Our initiatives need to be in the social currency of the next generation.

  • We need to use social media such as FacebookTwitter and other digital media I don’t even know about because I am over 40.
  • We need to use the reality show model (e.g., Dragon’s Den) to engage new members, to encourage new cooperative ventures and tell our story. Of course this would need to be done with a cooperative twist where everyone is treated with respect and all participants get value from their participation.
  • Our initiatives need to be inclusive and participatory… perhaps with voting opportunities for the public.
  • We need celebrity participation.  We live in a culture where celebrities often lend credibility to and fuel social change initiatives. For Canadians how about Rick Mercer as a spokesman for our year? He did a great job with the One Ton Challenge.
  • It needs to be fun.  This is often accomplished by linking social change initiatives with sports, music or the arts.  We could have a bike tour across the U.S. or Canada with participation by co-op and credit union members.  We could have “Coopapaloooza’s” – music festivals with a message.

Legacy projects

As we think about “legacy projects” let’s broaden our thinking beyond books and investment funds . . . of course intellectual and financial capital of all kinds is important.  Equally important and a strength of the cooperative movement is our ability to create and leverage social capital—the relationships between people and the connections across organizations.

A bias toward mutually-supportive interactions is built into the structure of our organizations with the democratic model of member-owned credit unions, worker-owned cooperatives and social co-ops.  The events and initiatives of the International Year of Cooperatives need to create opportunities for the further development of social capital.

The legacy of 2012 can be new collaborative relationships between organizations fueled by trust, similar values, shared accomplishments and mutual appreciation.  In other words let’s do innovative projects with new partners so part of the legacy of 2012 is increased social capital within the cooperative community.

Local Autonomy

One of the guiding principles of the cooperative movement is local autonomy.  Our uniqueness is rooted to some degree in a structure which has tried to keep decision-making power and responsibility within its geographic location and as close to its member-owners as possible.

Co-ops and credit unions have often grown out of a group of neighbors who recognize a common challenge or opportunity.  These neighbors gather and generate a synergistic response using the cooperative structures.  The cooperative structure lends itself to bottom-up rather than top-down leadership.

The co-op movement is filled with engaged participants including directors, member-owners, CEOs and employees with a sense of ownership for their organization and the capacity to be leaders.  This leadership capacity has often been developed through their training and experience in the cooperative world.

In taking advantage of the United Nations 2012 International Year of Cooperatives it would be a huge loss not to use processes which give lots of freedom, permission, and support and indeed are dependant on as much local grassroots involvement as possible.

What if each city or rural area had a steering group of representatives from local co-ops, credit unions or utility coops  brainstorming how they can use this opportunity?

In Canada there could also be a steering committee with representation from provincial organizations.  In Alberta this could include Alberta Central and SACHA, among others.  And at the national level, The Canadian Cooperative Association has a committee with representatives from Cooperative organizations like The Cooperators and Mountain Equipment Co-op.

If credit unions and cooperatives are in a passive mode waiting for others to act, their leadership will not be awake to considering the opportunities afforded by the International Year of Cooperatives.

Those organizations and leaders will be given the space to own this opportunity creatively, releasing the energy and possibility inherent in the International Year of Cooperatives if they are challenged with questions such as:

  • How can the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives help your organization meet its strategic goals?
  • How would you like to take advantage of this opportunity?
  • Who would you like to work with?
  • What are your first steps?

It is time to change our BKS rating! We have a story to share. The story of a model which is democratic, local and sustainable . . . a story which the world needs to hear now!

Sarah Arthurs M.Ed., C.Psych. is Director, First Calgary Savings; Director, Credit Union Central of Alberta; and a member of the Prairie Sky Co-housing Co-op.  Send Sarah an e-mail at sarah.arthurs[at]prairiesky.ab.ca


When Was the First Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC)?

Posted by on Thursday, 27 January, 2011

Every year, as the time for the GAC approaches, the Archives is asked this question.  The simple answer is 1976.  But, with all history there is more to the story.  As far back as the founding of the CUNA (1934), a quarterly Executive Committee meeting occurred in February.  Typical of these meetings, the location rotated around the United States including cities, such as, Chicago, New Orleans, Louisville, and Madison.  By 1973, quarterly meetings of the Executive Committee were being held on a seemingly permanent basis in Washington, DC at the Washington Hilton Hotel.  Included in these meetings were special meetings designed to help with legislative understanding, and were known as the “National Legislative Forum” (1974) and the “Legislative and Political Action Forum” (1975).  

GAC Leadership Panel, 1976. (L-R) George LaChappelle, R.C. Morgan, Gary B. Wolter, Mandeville Hellie, and J. Alvin George. ID: 871294.

In order to create a more coherent legislative strategy, CUNA decided to combine (1) a Governmental Affairs Conference, (2) a meeting of the National Legislative Forum, and (3) the quarterly meetings of CUNA’s Executive Committee.  The goal of this “precedent-setting series of meetings” was to pull nationally known speakers, politicians, government officials, and credit union leaders together under one roof to discuss the most critical credit union issues of the day.  Accordingly, this meeting introduced credit union leaders to the Washington political process, while introducing political leaders to the grassroots movement of credit unions. 

This first meeting held February 23-26, 1976, bore the tongue-twisting title, “A Changing Financial Marketplace in the Post-Bicentennial Decade” and was held at the Marriott Twin Bridges Hotel in Washington, DC.  The meeting was attended by over 700 credit union professionals and volunteers and required the use of three different hotels. 

Among the topics discussed were the “technological future” of electronic fund transfers (EFT), its machinery, legislation, challenges, and benefits.  Almarin Phillips, member National Commission on EFT, noted that the EFT system “changes the ball game” for credit unions.  He predicted that automated tellers would become “as common as the Coke machine” and furthermore, that “a mini-computer will cost you less than a secretary.”  While United States Representative Henry Reuss (D-WI) lamented that “the public is sick of the big banks calling the shots.  You don’t have the campaign contributions the bankers have, but you have a right to compete.  I believe that small is beautiful.  I think this country needs more smaller centers of power.” And, CUNA President Mandeville Hellie noted that with all of the strengths of credit unions, “there isn’t a single thing we can’t do.” 

It is clear that 1976 established the GAC as it is known today.  The February quarterly meeting of the Executive Committee blossomed into one of the most important and influential must attend meetings of the Credit Union National Association. 

First GAC Program

GAC Program, 1976. ID: 875488.


United Nations’ International Year of Cooperatives: Why embrace this opportunity? Part 1

Posted by on Tuesday, 11 January, 2011

The United Nations has declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives

The United Nations has declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives

This is the first in a two-part series from Sarah Arthurs, Canadian credit union and cooperative professional. Look for her second post in the coming days which outlines Sarah’s ideas on how the credit union and cooperative community can make the most of the International Year of Cooperatives.

Over the past two years I have had the huge privilege of attending a number of credit union and cooperative conferences where we received the wisdom of world renowned leaders from outside of the cooperative world.  The recurring themes from these leaders were:

Where have you been all my life? Why haven’t I heard of you before?

As part of their preparation to address the Canadian Cooperative Congress or the World Credit Union Conference they had researched co-ops and credit unions and were blown away by the history, integrity and capacity of the cooperative model.  They say:

This is good news! Why is it not out there?

Well, as a psychologist, I have indulged myself in the consideration of this question.  I have frequently posed it to my credit union colleagues in formal and informal groups. Why aren’t we more out there?  Some suggested explanations include:

  • We are ambivalent about our cooperative identity.  We are afraid it might make us look “Mickey Mouse”, not in the same league as other financial institutions. We are concerned that folk will be turned off by non-mainstream elements.
  • We don’t have the shareholder imperative to maximize the bottom line through rigorously promoting our brand or products.
  • By virtue of the nature of cooperative ventures, we attract people who are team players and not self-promoters, so we are less likely to blow our own horn.
  • Our energy is going into doing the work, not talking about it; so we continue to operate under the radar.

Whatever the cause we continue with our BKS rating—Best Kept Secret!

But now, with the United Nations declaring 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives, we have been given permission—indeed we are encouraged—to blow our horn and tell our story.  We are challenged to share the scope and potential of the cooperative model with our neighbors, colleagues as well as with other businesses and institutions.

This is a unique and time-limited opportunity which would assist cooperatives of all kinds in Canada, the United States and throughout the world to advance their cause.  It would allow us:

  • to reach out to a younger demographic;
  • to create legacy projects of all kinds;
  • to raise our profile locally, nationally and internationally;
  • to empower local partnerships and inspire new collaborations.

More to come in Sarah’s next post, including several ideas for how the cooperative and credit union community can share their story with the world.

Sarah Arthurs M.Ed., C.Psych. is Director, First Calgary Savings; Director, Credit Union Central of Alberta; and a member of the Prairie Sky Co-housing Co-op.  Send Sarah an e-mail at sarah.arthurs[at]prairiesky.ab.ca


People Helping (the Youngest) People

Posted by on Wednesday, 8 December, 2010

Felicity Guerin

From Felicity Guerin:

I’m quite sure I have no way of capturing the medal ceremony at the Children’s Miracle Network annual “Celebration” in words.   

The day is full of contradictions:  amazing miracles and tragic deaths; stories of life and of loss; newfound hope and continued frustration.  Maybe the most staggering contradiction of all is the people. Frail, disabled, ill children full of vitality, excitement and pride, stand next to the healthy, successful, accomplished businessmen, visibly shaken by the realness of personal vulnerability, a lack of control and the fragility of life.   

The medal ceremony recognizes each of the 167 “Champions” from each of the Canadian provinces and each of the United States individually.   In theory, the presenters read each child’s name aloud, and the Champion walks on stage to the applause of over 1,000 spectators, shakes hands with the presenters, receives their medal and smiles brightly for the cameras.   This happens about half of the time.  Some of the Champion children are so excited, they miss the presenters altogether and literally run to be adorned with their medal.  Some turn cartwheels; some have crutches; some have wheelchairs.  All are beaming.

Some of the children, like the young lady from Hawaii, follow the process exactly as instructed. My memory of Arrianna is of a graceful, excited and happy young lady, smiling brightly for the camera…even though she relapsed a few short weeks earlier, and her brain cancer is back.  MacKenzie  wasn’t there.  The little girl who was Maryland’s Champion passed away a month before the event.  Her mother received the medal in her daughter’s stead – to a standing ovation. I will venture to guess there was not a dry eye in the audience.  But the most challenging medal winner for me to watch was the Champion from Kansas, a dear little girl named America.  I have never seen a child be so happy and try so hard to smile – but be too weak and exhausted to do so.   

 Another poignant contradiction was the heartbroken families who are full of gratitude.  “We’re the luckiest family here,” Those are the words of Sam, the Champion Child from Texas.   “They tell us that everyone thinks they’re the luckiest…but we actually are.”   What an amazing outlook.   He does not  complain about being dragged around to doctor after doctor while they were trying to diagnose him after waking up one day and not being able to feel his leg.  He doesn’t whine about the pain he still feels or the treatments he’s had to ensure.  There is no self-pity, impatience, jealousy or anger present in Sam’s stories about the time he spent at the Children’s Hospital.  This boy is simply thankful for every way the nurses and doctors help him.  I was moved. 

I am moved. 

The medal ceremony may be the most emotional event I have ever – or will ever – experience.   It was certainly not the saddest, nor was it the happiest; it was definitely the most confusing.  There were times I wasn’t sure if I was crying tears of joy or tears of sadness.  But I was crying.  And so was every other adult in the room.

In fact, I am still full of mixed emotions from the trip, but I choose to focus on the positive ones.  I’m proud to be part of an industry which embraces the people helping people philosophy by wholeheartedly supporting these children.   I am thankful I get to spend my days helping the credit union movement become even more involved in this wonderful cause.   I am excited to help us invite our members to join us in Credit Unions for Kids endeavors.  I am eager to share my experience with fellow credit union believers. 

Felicity Guerin is the Credit Unions for Kids Liaison for the American Association of Credit Union Leagues.  For  more information about Credit Unions for Kids, Children’s Miracle Network and how you can get involved, please feel free to contact Felicity at 202.508.8758.


Credit Unions: Born in a Log Cabin

Posted by on Wednesday, 17 November, 2010

From left to right, Edward A. Filene, Roy F. Bergengren, and Claude R. Orchard

“In a log cabin in the Rocky Mountains, the Credit Union National Association was formulated in 1934.  High up on a mountain somewhere within the park…a tablet [will be] attached to the face of a rock, not too high for easy reading by the curious tourist, which will record this important historic event.” — Roy Bergengren, Crusade, 1952

Roy’s prediction was right.  In fact, on August 10, 1954, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Estes Park Conference, a plaque was mounted on the wooden building named ‘Texas Cabin’ that birthed the Credit Union National Association.  But, a plaque is a mere reminder of the history that occurred.

When credit union leaders began discussing the formation of a national organization, there were no funds for a large gathering.  Many of the conference attendees used vacation time to attend.  August, being a prime vacation period, seemed an ideal time for attendees to “synchronize” their meeting.

Since a number of meetings had already occurred in the East, Bergengren and Orchard wanted to find a central locale for the event. A number of meetings had occurred in the East and the pair hoped to offer Western attendees a break from long continental travel with respect to the travel of Eastern attendees.

They used a ruler and map to find a suitable location not too far from either coastline. Claude Orchard suggested Estes Park because he had vacationed there and found it to be a fine location. The ruler found Estes Park to be three-and-a-half inches from the Pacific Coast while only six inches from the Atlantic Coast–an excellent compromise.

While the geographic location and time of the meeting proved critical, the unique geology of the camp provided the perfect backdrop.  Roy recounted, “it seemed to me that the mountains had a powerful restraining influence on our deliberations.  We literally lifted up our eyes unto the mountains.  I felt many times that the proximity of the eternal hills helped us materially to keep our balance and complete our mission” (Crusade, p. 239).  Then when the deliberations became too much, attendees had the chance to hike, play ball or go for a horseback ride.

When reflecting upon Estes Park, Roy Bergengren found symmerty in the birth of Credit Union National Association, America’s pioneering spirit, and U.S. presidents.  ”Once upon a time a candidate for the Presidency of the United States was seriously handicapped  if he had not been “born in a log cabin…It was althogether fitting and keeping with tradition that the Credit Union National Association should also come into being “in a log cabin” (Crusade, p. 238).

With all that is happening in the world these days, and the hectic lives we lead, we should all remember that one of the greatest accomplishments of the credit union movement was to write its founding document in a log cabin.

Texas Cabin, Estes Park YMCA Camp, 1934

Source: Bergengren, Roy F.  1952.  Crusade: The Fight for Economic Democracy.


October is American Archives Month

Posted by on Thursday, 28 October, 2010

Walter Polner using the card catalog

This month has flown by, and I find myself behind on my professional duties to “create public awareness and promote” a greater understanding of who archivists are and what they do.  But, since it is still October, I’m technically keeping up my professional obligation through this post.

Archivists are people!  Sure, we can be surly, brief, and verge on the edge of being anti-social, but it’s only because we’re not used to actually interacting with real people.  Most of our conversations occur with history or historical figures.  In my case, I ”speak” with Edward A. Filene and Roy F. Bergengren more than I do with my co-workers.  I know more about them and their history than I do my own family and friends.   It is only through the grace of facebook that I have any real contact with the outside world.

So, outside of being rather socially inept, ”What does an archivist do?”  Archivists collect, preserve, organize, describe, and make available records of enduring historical value.  Doesn’t that sound like a canned answer?  More to the point, an archivist controls history.  (Don’t tell anyone I said that, I might be controversial.) But, when you pass my office you’ll see a mess of boxes, scattered papers, stacks of photographs, and random objects.  If you ask about what I’m doing, I’ll show you an Excel file with 20 spreadsheets representing over 2,700 c.f. of records, 1,000 books, 12,000 photographs, 514 films, 148 audio recordings, and 340 artifacts.  I can walk you through my job and duties, but you’re likely to glaze over fairly quickly.  My job isn’t very difficult, but it does require a special knack for organization, even though it might not look like it.

What my job really entails is providing you with historical information.  I get you that special photograph, that one speech, that information on the origins of share drafts, that film, that slide, that…needful thing.  I’m Col. Nathan R. Jessep from the movie, A Few Good Men.  “You want the truth?  You can’t handle the truth! ” You want me on that line, you need me on that line…the line between the present and the past.  I slog through the dust, I wade through the endless boxes, files, and papers, I suffer paper cuts, and pull rusty staples.  I get you what you need when you need it. 

But, unlike Col. Jessep, I thank you for using my services.  I want to help you!  I have an unrelenting desire to find the information you need.  In most cases, I give you more than you thought you needed, but be sure I have more.  If I can’t help you with something specific I’ll find something that should be an adequate replacement.  I anticipate your needs by collecting ”new” material.  I protect those old brittle documents, so we can have them for the future.  I do my best, to make you look your best with that presentation, display, marketing piece, book, article, web page, and brochure.

I am an archivist…and I’m here to help you!

Shawn San Roman, CA (that’s Certified Archivist)


Credit Union Day, 1948

Posted by on Thursday, 21 October, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010 is the latest celebration of International Credit Union Day. But how did such a day get started in the first place and how did it evolve?

As credit unions around the world celebrate we thought it would be nice to share some original documents which help explain the history behind International Credit Union Day.

The image below is the Proclamation issued by Gurden P. Farr, President of the Credit Union National Association. This document set-up the tradition of the third Thursday in October being a celebration of credit unions.

Initially, this special day was called “Credit Union Day” and was a celebration of American and Canadian credit unions, but very quickly the celebration spead and grew. Today, CUNA and the credit union movement celebrate all that credit unions have to offer to people.

Credit Union Day Proclamation issued by Gruden P. Farr, President of the Credit Union National Association, 1948.

This second image is of a letter sent by President Harry S. Truman to the Credit Union National Association. In this letter, President Truman celebrates the achievements of credit unions and further recognizes credit unions for strengthing democracy.

In the fifth paragraph, Truman states, “Political democracy is an empty phrase unless we maintain economic democracy. Credit Unions and their democratically controlled businesses are bulwarks of economic democracy.” This statement is as true in 1948 as it is today.

Letter sent by President Harry S. Truman to the Credit Union National Association in honor of the establishment of Credit Union Day, October 9, 1948.

This International Credit Union Day remember as President Truman said, “Great as your achievements have been, however, I challenge you to consider them as only a beginning.” For more information about International Credit Union Day, please follow the links below.

International Credit Union Day
CUNA News Now
International Credit Union Day Webcast


Happy International Credit Union Day & a message from CUNA Pres/CEO Bill Cheney

Posted by on Thursday, 21 October, 2010

Credit unions in Peru reach out to rural areas to provide financial services to unserved residents. Thanks to http://makingadifference.posterous.com/ for the image.

Happy International Credit Union Day everyone!

It’s a day to celebrate our accomplishments and help raise awareness about how credit unions impact the lives of 186 million people in 97 countries.  Check out my post here on why it’s important we recognize International Credit Union Day each and every year. And don’t forget to check out ICU Day and CUNAverse on Facebook!

For this year’s celebration CUNA President and CEO Bill Cheney has issued this  special greeting for the entire movement:

MESSAGE FROM CUNA PRESIDENT AND CEO BILL CHENEY CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL CREDIT UNION DAY, TODAY, OCT. 21

Best wishes to everyone nationwide celebrating today, International Credit Union Day!

This year’s theme of “Local, trusted, serving you” perfectly captures what makes credit unions so appealing to consumers across the nation and around the globe. Here in the U.S., the 90-million-plus Americans who are credit union members have an advantage over all other consumers in our nation: They experience, first-hand, the benefits of receiving financial services from member-owned, cooperative financial institutions – which practice a philosophy of putting people before profits.

In fact, in doing so, members and their families realize substantial, direct financial benefits: More than $7.5 billion this year alone from favorable rates and lower fees as a result of using credit unions rather than other financial institutions.

That breaks down to an average of $84 for each credit union member or $159 for each member household. Because credit unions are member-owned, this savings stays right in local communities. It is no wonder, then, that survey after survey shows consumers trust credit unions to look out for their best interests more than any other type of financial institution.

Our goal, as committed credit union supporters, should be to ensure that ALL Americans have the opportunity to realize these benefits through a simple, effective path to membership.

Best regards to you and your colleagues on this International Credit Union Day.

Share this today with your credit union members, fellow credit union colleagues, and your friends as we celebrate International Credit Union Day and raise awareness about the impact of credit unions across the globe!

We want to hear from you! How are you celebrating International Credit Union Day? Post a comment with your stories and pics.


RUAGG? Txt in the ’40s, and “For bologna see your butcher”

Posted by on Thursday, 30 September, 2010

Learning how credit unions marketed themselves and sought new members are benefits to working with archival material at CUNA.  Once in a while, I come across a campaign that serves as a reminder that  abbreviations and pithy slogans have been around for a long time.

RUAGG?  Was used in a membership drive by the Line Materials Company Credit Union of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1945 [Bridge, September 1945, p. 196-199].   I’m sure most of us can recognize the R-U as a texting abbreviation for ”are you.”  That leaves us with the need to decifier ”AGG?” For the Line Materials Credit Union, “AGG?” stood for “A Go-Getter?”

Placed together we have the question, “Are You A Go-Getter?”  While this question was asked in 1945, we can still ask it today.  In 1945, twelve questions were asked to determine if you qualified as a “Go-Getter.”  Today, we offer six questions based on those issued in 1945.

ARE YOU…talking to your co-workers about joining the credit union?

ARE YOU…promoting the services of credit unions?

ARE YOU…becoming educated in credit union activities?

ARE YOU…acquainted with the business affairs of your credit union?

ARE YOU…giving thought to ideas which will help your credit union grow and give better service?

ARE YOU…reading Credit Union Magazine?

IF YOU are doing all of the above you are on the road to being “A Go-Getter”; and a “GO-GETTER” can do more good for the credit union than anything else.

Now that we’ve determined that you are a “Go-Getter” we can discuss some other recommendations and slogans placed in newsletters and newspapers during the Line Materials Credit Union membership drive.

1.  Do you need a loan for income or property tax?  Secure it from your credit union.

2.  For bologna see your butcher; for facts on loans see your credit union.

3.  Our government requests us to ‘fill our coal bins early.’  If you need a loan consult your credit union first.  Save your war bonds.

4.  For a lawsuit see your lawyer; for an easter suit see your credit union.

5. Clean up! Paint up! Repair! If you are in need of a loan consult your credit union first.

6. Don’t cash in your war bonds if you need cash; consult your credit union first.

The Line Materials Credit Union also used letters, film strip  presentations and a 10,000 sticker campaign.  Today we understand a sticker campaigns as part of guerrilla marketing.  In 1945 it was suggested that members “use these stickers promiscuously and conspicuously,” by always carrying some and place them on menus, on soap, canned goods, packaged goods, periodicals, cigarettes, candy bars, and personal correspondence.  The message was the same then as it is now, “show your brand.”  Make your brand stand-out and be seen where possible.

The campaign was a success as 86 new members were added during the drive.  This increase was the highest in Wisconsin for 1945.

The photograph below shows Directors meeting to discuss the membership drive.  Shown are L-R: Walter Akre, Vice President; Donald Harling, Treasurer; Lawrence Giese, President; Harold Schroeder, Secretary; Ed Loewe; Herbert Bell; and Edith Worm.

These credit unionists were true “Go-Getters!”  They succeed in creating a successful membership campaign.  More importantly, they provided direction that we can still use today and provided even better lines for the next time you need a pithy saying with a credit union slant.

Lawrence Giese outlining preliminary membership drive plans for consideration of directors, around table (left to right): Walter Akre, vice president; Donald Harling, treasurer; Lawrence Giese; Harold Schroeder, secretary; Ed Loewe; Herbert Bell; and Edith Worm.


Goodbye Councils & Hello Foundation!

Posted by on Wednesday, 15 September, 2010

Pondering the future & reflecting on all the good times.

One door closes, another opens…

In May of 2007, I left the National Credit Union Foundation (the national charitable arm of the credit union system) to become the Web Manager at the CUNA Councils. A couple years and a title change later, I’m now leaving the Councils to go back to the Foundation! I’ll be sad to leave my CUNA friends and colleagues, but will only be one floor away on campus here in Madison.

It does mean however, that I’ll be stepping down from the CUNAverse team. The blog has only been part of the credit union blogosphere for four months and I know that with this great group of enthusiastic and talented colleagues, it will be vibrant for years to come. And I won’t be too far away, so I might post as a guest blogger from time to time …

But back to the Councils, I have a deep appreciation for them in many ways and I’ve learned a lot. Too much for one single post, but here are some highlights:

Credit union people actually do cooperate. Obviously I knew that was true before, but information sharing and networking is the basis of the Councils. Even to this day, it’s mind blowing to me to see someone on one of the list serves go “Hey, I’m working on my marketing plan for next year, can someone send me or upload theirs?” Then a dozen members respond happily sharing their files. I have an email I kept from a former banker that joined the council who said it best – “What is impressive and inspirational is the unselfish demonstration of genuine desire to extend assistance to one another.” Indeed. People helping people on another level.

HR people can make list serve topics like dress code and tattoos in the workplace really, really interesting. To wear or to not wear Capri pants, that is the question.

Some people will try and tell you white papers are dead – far from it. The Councils continue to publish them – about 25 a year, with around 250 total papers in circulation – members love them (they are a free member benefit). Sometimes you have to ignore the pundits and continue to listen to your members.

I learned a lot about online community management, but you know that already.

And finally, credit union people continue to be some of the nicest, passionate, inspiring and amazing people I’ve ever met. Whether it be at Council conferences, credit union events, online, in emails, on Twitter, or even around the hallways at CUNA, you all make everyday a little bit better and I’m lucky to know you. Thanks for all you do and thanks for always making me feel like a part of something wonderful.