MADISON, Wis. (6/4/09)--The Filene Research Institute Sunday celebrated its 20th anniversary as an outlet for academic and forward-looking research focused on the needs of credit unions. Filene was launched May 31, 1989 with support from the Credit Union National Association, CUNA Mutual Group and state credit union leagues. David Chatfield, a former National Credit Union Administration board member, was Filene’s first executive director. Since then, Filene has published roughly 250 monographs, white papers, innovation briefs and policy documents from researchers at Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, Oxford in England and other universities. Some works include the “Taxation of Credit Unions” and “Field of Membership: An Evolving Concept,” which Filene said helped lay the groundwork for the Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998. In 2000, Filene added credit union innovation to its portfolio. It piloted REAL Solutions, which helps credit union serve the low-wealth. In 2004, Filene launched the i3 group, which stands for Ideas, Innovation and Implementation. It also has driven CU Tomorrow--a nationwide effort to make credit unions more relevant to the next generation--since 2007. “The board wanted Filene to be a place where credit unions could test new and even far-out ideas without fear of failure,” said Mark Meyer, Filene executive director. “Twenty years ago, the institute’s founders could not have foreseen the world [that] credit unions would be facing,” Meyer said. “But that’s precisely the reason for an organization like Filene: to think and to prepare credit unions for futures we can’t yet see.” “Today’s leaders are so busy running our credit unions that it’s hard to be as forward thinking as we should be,” added Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, chairman of the Filene Research Institute and CEO of Travis CU, Vacaville, Calif. “Filene research forces us to look ahead.” For a full timeline of Filene’s history, use the link.