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CU To Hold Vigil For Missing Employee

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (05/21/13)--A vigil has been planned for Wednesday by Milwaukee, Wis.-based Educators CU for an employee who has been missing since May 9.

Jessica Benson, 22, has not been heard from since calling in sick on May 11 and hasn't been seen since May 9. Benson was an employee of the credit union for six years and was to graduate from Mount Mary College last Friday with a degree in chemistry and a certificate in peace building (WITI.com May 19).

A robbery was reported at the credit union on May 7 while Benson was working but there is no indication that the two events are related (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel May 20).  Benson is of mixed race and stands about five-foot, four inches tall with long black hair, brown eyes and usually wears glasses with black frames.

The vigil is set for 6 p.m. CT Wednesday at the credit union.

CU System Briefs (05/21/2013)

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  • WAUKEGAN, Ill. (5/21/13)--Consumers CU in Waukegan, Ill. is teaching students financial literacy by implementing a new reward programs. Its Student Choice Checking account has a $310 daily limit, mobile banking, online banking, free electronic statements and the option to open a Student Visa credit card. It is available to members, ages 13-21. Parents or legal guardians are required to be joint-owners, which will encourage them to work closely with their children, said the credit union.  Anyone opening a Student Choice Checking account before June 30 will be entered in a random drawing to win a $50 iTunes gift certificate. "Helping students understand the value of financial literacy by managing their own money and other resources is vitally important," said Sean M. Rathjen, CCU president. "Our iTunes promotion provides a way to encourage them to take an interest in securing their financial future. The program promotes sound decision making and responsible money management while encouraging the students to take charge of their lives as they budget their own finances, manage their own line of credit and learn other fundamentals that will better prepare them for the future." ...
  • WEST JORDAN, Utah (5/21/13)--The MyExpress Debit card is the newest addition to Mountain America CU's options for members to deposit and spend only what they need. The new type of debit card has the benefits of a prepaid card without paying monthly maintenance, deposit or other fees. "The MyExpress Debit card is a great low-cost way to pay children's allowance and teach them how to handle their money," said Dennis Bromley, senior vice president of member development and engagement for the West Jordan, Utah-based Mountain America. "Or members can use it as a travel card or for online purchases, minimizing risk if the card or number is lost or stolen. MyExpress was designed to be extremely versatile, giving our members another tool to help them and their families wisely and safely manage their money." MyExpress Debit has no activation, maintenance, deposit or overdraft fees and allows members to add funds at any time ...
  • CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (5/21/13)--Officers that have been elected to the Black Hawk Chapter of Credit Unions in Cedar Falls, Iowa, are: president, Helen Pearce, president/CEO of Cedar Falls (Iowa) Community CU; vice president, Nathan Tobey, business relationship officer with Veridian CU, Waterloo; treasurer, Gary Shontz, who has been Cedar Falls-based UNI CU board chairman since 1983; and secretary, Lindsey Smedley, business relationship officer with Veridian CU (Cedar Valley Business Monthly Online May 19)  ...

Unite For Good: National Media Wake Up To CUs' Positive Power

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WASHINGTON (5/21/13)--

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As credit unions Unite for Good to get the good word out about the value of credit unions, the Credit Union National Association has succeeded in nabbing credit unions their share of the spotlight among nationwide media the past few weeks.

Since April 1, more than 14 of the nation's most prominent media outlets have featured CUNA and credit unions on topics ranging from student lending, the value of the credit union alternative, member business lending, financing automobiles, CUNA's regulatory agenda and more.  That doesn't count the background provided and interviews for upcoming media stories to be released soon or articles generated locally by credit unions and leagues..

"Some believe if the story is not in their local area, it's not important. But it certainly is," said Paul Gentile, CUNA executive vice president of strategic communications and engagement.

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"Often the local media play off what they see in the national press, so we always want to be sure we shine and are portraying credit unions as the excellent consumer choice that they are," Gentile said.

In May, CUNA and aSmarterChoice.org, the website that provides consumers with information about credit unions and helps them find one to join, were included in these articles, all centering on credit union student lending and CUNA's Student Borrowing Survey:

  • The Wall Street Journal Sunday (May 19);
  • The Wall Street Journal (May 11)'s Weekend Investor section;
  • USA TODAY's Money section "Snapshot" (May 10);
  • CNBC.com (May 4); and
  • NBC Charlotte/WCNC.com (May 1).

In April, nine prominent media displayed credit unions' value, including:

  • MSNBC "Your Business" TV (April 7), in a segment with Gentile on the credit union alternative;
  • Reuters (April 12), with CUNA Deputy General Counsel Mary Dunn addressing credit loss reporting standards;
  • U.S. News & World Report (April 22), with CUNA Senior Economist Mike Schenk discussing credit union financing for auto loans;
  • The Huffington Post (April 23), featuring CUNA's Student Borrowing Survey;
  • Fox Business News Online (April 23), featuring Gentile on credit unions' member business lending;
  • Loans.org (April 23), with Schenk discussing auto loan activity;
  • The Hill (April 24) ,  in which CUNA's President/CEO Bill Cheney, Executive Vice President of Governmental Affairs John Magill and Dunn discuss too-big-to-fail banks and CUNA's regulatory agenda;
  • National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (April 24), with Gentile discussing CUNA's Student Borrowing Survey; and
  • Accounting Web (April 25), CUNA's Student Borrowing Survey.

In March, articles were also featured in CNN.com (March 18); Bloomberg BusinessWeek (March 12); Compliance Week  (March 26) Accounting Today (March 19).

The initiatives of CUNA and the state leagues on credit union issues have also been mentioned in numerous regional, state or local articles and broadcast segments and podcasts that have been generated by leagues and credit unions locally.

Creating awareness about credit unions is part of CUNA's Unite for Good campaign to rally credit unions to support the system's strategic vision in which "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.  For more information about United for Good and aSmarterChoice.org, use the links.

ACUC Speaker's Message To Be: Take Bold Action During Duress

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MADISON, Wis. (5/21/13)--Attendees of the Credit Union National Association's America's Credit Union Conference in New York City will learn the secrets of taking bold action in times of duress from Lt. Col. Robert Darling, who served in the Gulf War as a decorated U.S. Marines combat helicopter pilot and was a key adviser to the Bush administration following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Credit Union Magazine senior editor Adam Mertz interviewed Darling in advance of his opening keynote address at ACUC, June 30. ACUC will be held June 30-July 3.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Darling had a front-row seat on history, standing side-by-side with President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, then-National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, and other high-ranking government officials as they responded to the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil.

The author of "24 Hours Inside the President's Bunker" says he's "on a mission" to spread the word about the events he witnessed on Sept. 11.

In the interview Darling describes how leaders must combine decisive action with humility, allowing "people in the field" to be the difference makers.

"You're going to go to your most junior [employees] sometimes and you've got to have faith, trust and confidence in their abilities," Darling says. "You have to surrender control and follow what they're advising you to do because they know more about that potential crisis than maybe you do, and how to mitigate it or end it."

Darling will share the lessons he learned in a framework credit union leaders can apply to their operations, and underscore the importance of providing a firm financial foundation for members who are first responders and military personnel.

"In the credit union movement, we've got to give their families financial literacy," he said. "We've got to be able to offer programs where they feel they can get mortgages and buy cars and get those things they need so they can deploy away from their families and protect all of us."

PCUA Elects Board Officers, Presents Awards

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (5/21/13)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association elected its board of directors officers and presented its professional and volunteer of the year awards last week at its annual meeting.

Maria LaVelle, CEO of Westmoreland Community FCU, Greensburg, Pa., was elected board chair, succeeding Michael Kaczenski, and Louise Lingenfelser, CEO of ClearChoice FCU, Wyomissing, was elected vice chair (Life is a Highway May 20).

The board also approved two new appointees to the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation:  Amy Lichwa, CEO, Norwin Teachers FCU,  Irwin, and Jeff Albert, CEO, People First FCU, Allentown.  They replace outgoing members LaVelle and Edwin Williams, CEO, Discovery FCU,  Wyomissing, who vacated his seat to assume a position on the National Credit Union Foundation Board.

PCUA also presented lifetime achievement awards to Dave Ackerman, CEO of USX FCU, Cranberry Township, who received the 2013 William W. Pratt Professional of the Year Award, and Dr. Ross McFarland, treasurer of Tri County Area FCU, Pottstown, recipient of the 2013 Joseph A. Moore Volunteer of the Year Award.

Federation Conference Early Bird Registrations Due Today

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NEW YORK (5/21/13)--Today is the deadline for early bird hotel reservation for the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions' 2013 Annual Conference: Financial Inclusion Through Cooperative Finance.

The conference for community development credit unions (CDCUs) will be in Baltimore, Md., June 5-8 at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel. Affinity workshops and a visit to Municipal Employees CU will be on the agenda for June 5.

Baltimore Raven Offensive Tackle Michael Oher, inspiration for the Academy Award-winning movie,The Blind Side, will make a special guest appearance on June 6.

That day also will feature a breakfast open plenary on Innovations and New Directions in Financial Services and a lunch plenary on Economic Outlook: How CDCUs Can Prosper in a Rapidly Changing World, as well as morning and afternoon workshop sessions.

In addition to morning and afternoon workshops on June 7, the day will feature Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as well as the Annie Vamper "Helping Hands" Awards Luncheon honoring Harriet B. May, former president/CEO of GECU, El Paso, Texas, and former Credit Union National Association chairman.

Events on June 8 include a member business meeting and the closing plenary on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Impact on Credit Unions.

For more information, use the link.

Iowa League Launches Pledge Campaign For Member Awareness

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DES MOINES, Iowa (5/21/13)--The Iowa Credit Union League has launched the Iowa Credit Union Pledge to encourage credit union members to show their support for their credit union.

The Pledge is part of an ongoing effort to educate credit union members about the value of membership and important legislative issues affecting their financial futures, said the league.

The Pledge says:

"I pledge to take pride in the people and places that make my community special.

"I pledge to use my voice to promote organizations that are committed to the long-term success of my community.

"I pledge to shop at local businesses that know me and value me as a customer and a neighbor.

"I pledge to invest in my financial future by supporting my credit union, an organization that respects me as a person, not as a number.

"I am proud to be a credit union member."

"Iowa's credit union members take pride in the people and places that make their communities special, and their local credit unions play an important role in this," said Emily Caropreso, league director of communications and marketing.

"The Pledge is a way for Iowa's one million members to show support for the local investment their credit union makes," she added.

Raising awareness is one of three goals in the Credit Union National Association's and state leagues'  Unite For Good campaign aimed at reaching the strategic vision in which "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner." For more information on the Unite For Good campaign, use the link.

Elevations CU Attracts YouTube Hits With Random Acts Of Kindness

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BOULDER, Colo. (5/21/13)--Elevations CU has used the Random Acts of Kindness concept to generate a high volume of hits on YouTube.

While Random Acts of Kindness have gained popularity as a way to earn word-of-mouth publicity, Elevations CU collaborated with local businesses and nonprofits to create more online buzz.

Elevations recently commandeered a food truck from Comida, a mobile Mexican food business, and handed out free lunches throughout Longmont, Colo. The event helped spread goodwill among the Longmont community and raised money for the OUR Center, a local food pantry and shelter.

"All of the sudden you have several groups coming together that are very likely to [promote the event] to their constituents," said Dennis Paul, Elevations CU assistant vice president of business and community development. "You have a system where a number of folks are channeling this out."

The collaboration with local businesses and groups has engaged YouTube viewers. A YouTube video of the Comida lunch giveaway has attracted more than 13,000 views.

On Valentine's Day, the credit union bought gifts and flowers on behalf of shoppers, and later bought dinner for couples. Videos of the presentations attracted more than 39,000 and 67,000 views, respectively.

Elevations CU has similarly engaged its members on Facebook. In 2012, the credit union offered $1 donations to its foundation in exchange for Facebook 'likes." Currently, Elevations has more than 9,000 Facebook likes.

NYIB Conference Sets Agenda

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. (5/21/13)--The National Youth Involvement Board's Annual Conference will be held July 29 to Aug. 1 in San Diego, celebrating the theme, "It's Electric."

Among the keynote speakers at the conference are:

  • Tim McAlpine, president and creative director, Currency Marketing, who will discuss what young potential members really look for from their financial institution, including which products, services and technology the credit union needs to remain relevant.
  • Troy Hall, chief operations officer, South Carolina FCU, North Charleston, S.C., who will address the impacts of generational-marketing knowledge and strategies.
  • Darrin Cates, president/CEO, eVibrant, who will provide examples of online marketing strategies.
  • Ryan Zilker, B2B marketing manager, CO-OP Financial Services, who will discuss the latest mobile and virtual banking technologies that credit unions can offer their members and where those technologies intersect the wants and needs of young people.
During the conference, the NYIB also will recognize its Outstanding Voting Delegate of the Year and Outstanding Volunteer of the Year.

The NYIB offers scholarships to the conference. For information, use the link.

Texas League Wins Removal Of Tax Status Review Amendment

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FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (5/21/13)--A revised version of Texas House Bill 500 provides nearly $1 billion in tax relief for Texas businesses, but has no provisions that are harmful to credit unions after the Texas Credit Union League lobbied a Senate subcommittee to remove amendments from the bill.

HB 500 was recently amended on the House floor to require a periodic review of state tax exemptions, the Texas Credit Union League said Friday (The Advocate May 17). Under the amendment, the state franchise tax exemption would have been subject to ongoing review. After additional amendments were added to the bill, it was sent to the Senate.

As soon as that legislative action occurred, the league began lobbying members of the Senate to gain their support for removal of the provision. A Senate subcommittee removed all amendments from the bill Thursday. In its revised form, the bill now provides tax relief for Texas businesses, but protects credit unions and other entities with the exemption.

However, it's still possible for lawmakers to amend the bill on the state Senate floor and the league will remain on guard, said Jim Phelps, political and grassroots director for the league.

The Dallas Morning News Thursday reported that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told Republican House members that a special session to address redistricting could be called after the regular session ends May 28.

The Credit Union National Association and state leagues earlier this month launched a large-scale grassroots effort which seeks to mobilize America's 96 million credit union members and deliver to Congress a direct, united message: "Don't tax my credit union!" Tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET, CUNA is conducting a free webinar on the new campaign. To register for the webinar, use the link.