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Conference teaches CU philosophy principles
RALEIGH, N.C. (11/6/12)--More than 40 credit union employees gathered in Winston-Salem, N.C., Oct. 23-25 for the third annual Principles & Philosophy Conference, hosted by the National Credit Union Foundation and the North Carolina Credit Union League.

More than 40 credit union employees gathered in Winston-Salem, N.C. Oct. 23-25 for the third annual Principles & Philosophy Conference. From left, conference facilitators Larry Blanchard, CUNA Mutual Group; and  Lois Kitsch, National Credit Union Foundation; and conference planning committee members Amy Gravitte, Coastal FCU, Raleigh, N.C., and Ashley Ruffin, Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C.  (Photo provided by North Carolina Credit Union League)
The conference provides credit union employees a comprehensive look at the history of the credit union movement and the principles that make them different from banks.

"Credit unions have a proud history of serving members and , like all cooperatives, a unique business model that stresses people over profits," said Ashley Ruffin of Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C., who chaired the volunteer committee of credit union staff that planned and hosted the conference.

While most credit union "lifers" know and live by the cooperative principles, "there has been a huge influx of new credit union talent that can benefit by understanding how and why cooperatives are different," Ruffin said.

Lois Kitsch of the National Credit Union Foundation and Larry Blanchard of CUNA Mutual Group facilitated the event. Blanchard and Kitsch described the growth and evolution of the cooperative and credit union movements, and shared the nine operating principles that underpin the cooperative business model.

The nine principles are organized in three key areas--democratic structure, service to members and social goals--and serve to differentiate cooperatives from other business models. The nine principles fall into three categories. They include:

Democratic Structure:

  • Open and voluntary membership;
  • Democratic control; and
  • Non-discrimination.
Service to Members:

  • Distribution to members;
  • Building financial stability; and
  • Service to members.
Social Goals:

  • Ongoing education;
  • Cooperation among cooperatives; and
  • Social responsibility.
Attendees were organized into groups and through a series of discussions and assignments were asked to integrate the cooperative principles more fully in their work. Participants also received tips on how they could share the cooperative principles at their credit union, and ensure that fellow staff members were aware of their value.

Prior to the cooperative principles session, Brandon McAdams and Patrick Livingston of Coastal FCU, Raleigh, N.C., provided an in-depth look at the history of the cooperative and credit union movements in the U.S. and world. Jeff Hardin of the North Carolina Credit Union League (NCCUL) shared a timeline of the development and spread of credit unions in North Carolina, and Vicki Parker of the Support Center provided the history of the African American credit union movement in the state.

"The league is committed to ensuring that the principles that make credit unions unique will continue to light the road ahead," said NCCUL President/CEO John Radebaugh. The conference was planned and hosted by a volunteer committee of Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs). "We are deeply grateful to the CUDEs for their hard work in making this conference such a remarkable success. Each of these volunteers is a terrific reflection of the people helping people philosophy of credit unions," Radebaugh said.
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