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African-American group asks help in history search

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SHREVEPORT, La. (8/14/08)--The African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC) is looking for historical contributions to an exhibit, “A Journey of Hope--A Destination of Dreams,” set to be unveiled Oct. 16 at the American Credit Union Museum in Manchester, N.H. The AACUC, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary, is looking for more information to add to the exhibit. “We’re asking people to put in a nutshell the pivotal things they’ve accomplished,” Helen Godfrey-Smith, AACUC archive chairman and president/CEO of Shreveport (La.) FCU, told News Now. Examples of information include: the first African American credit union employee, member, league president, manager or CEO of a credit union with more than $100 million in assets. The exhibit will provide a history of African Americans in the credit union movement through touch-screen technology. Viewers can watch eight-minute vignettes of stories about African American credit union trailblazers. The exhibit also will feature photos.
Part of the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC)’s exhibit was unveiled at a recent AACUC conference in Houston, Texas. From left are AACUC members Sheilah Montgomery, president/CEO, 1st Choice CU, Atlanta, and Helen Godfrey Smith, president/CEO, Shreveport (La.) FCU. (Photo provided by the African-American Credit Union Coalition)
“This year is the centennial of credit unions,” she said. “There are a lot of great stories. It’s so exciting to uncover tidbits of awesome work that has been done in the credit union movement to benefit African American communities.” The importance of the exhibit lies not only in its ability to show the past, but to look at the philosophies of the credit union movement that are “strong and solid today,” Godfrey-Smith said. Godfrey-Smith already has received responses and is searching for more. “Hopefully it will be an ongoing project for the next several years,” she said. “It’s really a labor of love. It’s an exciting time to uncover good tidbits about this movement I love so much.” Part of the exhibit was recently shown at an AACUC conference in Houston, Texas. Godfrey-Smith's research indicates that the first credit union, St. Mary’s Bank, opened its doors in 1908 just six months before the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formed. The NAACP adopted a strategy to charter credit unions in communities with its chapters, she said. The first African American credit union opened in Rowan County, N.C., in 1916. “From that point, the idea of community and access to [financial services] was essential for communities to develop,” Godfrey-Smith said. Godfrey-Smith, who has worked in the credit union movement since 1979, said the project is a “perfect match” for her. “I’ve been a student of history all my life,” she said.

Achtenberg honored by NYIB

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LAS VEGAS (8/14/08)--LeAnn Achtenberg, vice president of marketing for Anoka Hennepin CU, Coon Rapids, Minn., was recognized with the National Youth Involvement Board (NYIB) Advocate Award at the NYIB Annual Conference July 28-31. The new award recognizes an individual’s continued dedication to the NYIB as an advocate of the organization and as an active member of the NYIB Network. Achtenberg is the first recipient of the NYIB Advocate Award, which will be presented annually. “As the NYIB Network continues to grow, we are proud to thank and honor those individuals who have been dedicated to improving the NYIB and are committed to youth financial literacy,” said John Faries, NYIB chairman emeritus. Achtenberg has been actively involved in NYIB for more than a decade. From 1997 to 2004, she volunteered with the NYIB as regional coordinator, secretary and media manager. She also served as chair from 2002 to 2004. During that time, Achtenberg spearheaded the creation of the Googolplex@school program, a financial literacy program for middle schools. She also serves as chair of the Minnesota Family Involvement Council, a committee of the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation dedicated to enhancing the future of the credit union movement by promoting financial awareness, financial education and full-family involvement in Minnesota credit unions.

New papers address consumer-driven health care debit cards

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MADISON, Wis. (8/14/08)--Two new white papers from the CUNA Councils address consumer-driven health care and debit card programs. Consumer-Driven Health Care: Involving Employees and Members in Managing Their Own Health Care, by the CUNA Human Resources/Training Development Council, examines consumer-driven health care (CDHC), including trends and credit union case studies. The paper analyzes the health insurance industry, reasons for moving to CDHC, and available CDHC options. It then offers nationwide credit union case studies, tips to start a CDHC, and key success factors. Maximizing Debit Profitability and Usage, by the CUNA Operations, Sales, and Service (OpSS) Council, shows how credit union professionals can create a successful debit card program that deepens member relationships and generates revenue. The paper illustrates a strategic approach to actively managing a credit union debit card program that focuses on debit transactions and use. Debit rewards are used by roughly one-third of financial institutions to increase activation, usage and retention, according to the white paper. Options for designing effective debit reward programs are offered, including factors in deciding whether to reward personal identification number transactions and signature transactions. “In today’s environment, we are all looking at ways to increase revenue that does not result in a negative effect on our members,” said Carolyn Jordan, OpSS Council vice chair and senior vice president of Neighborhood CU in Dallas. “The white paper can show you how to go beyond just using the debit card as a convenient access device, and position it as a cornerstone to enhancing the profitability of your overall checking portfolio while increasing member loyalty.”

CU System briefs (08/13/2008)

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* AUGUSTA, Maine (8/14/08)--The Maine Human Rights Commission Monday ruled that a credit union discriminated against a woman when it failed to hire her for a teller's job last year. The commission, whose findings are not law but can be used in lawsuits, found in favor of Denise Cyr, who filed the claim against Rainbow FCU, Lewiston. Cyr, who uses crutches, claims the credit union asked illegal questions about her disability during a job interview. The credit union's attorneys deny the allegation. The commission voted on the case as part of its consent agenda. No oral arguments were heard (MaineToday.com Aug. 13) … * INDIANAPOLIS (8/14/08)--A former manager of Health Care Professionals FCU, Indianapolis, was sentenced Tuesday to 21 months in prison for embezzling about $400,000. The judge also ordered Jill Carey, 35, to make restitution of $394,941 to the credit union, which is based in Richmond, Ind., and undergo five years of supervised release after she leaves prison. Carey, who now lives in Florida, pleaded guilty to the embezzlement charge (Associated Press Newswires and pal-item.com Aug. 12) … * Pittsfield, Mass. (8/14/08)--Greylock FCU, which has been renewed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as a preferred lender, has passed the $100 million mark in business loans, announced the $985.5 million asset credit union. Under the Preferred Lender Program, Greylock can continue approving SBA loans with no additional reviews by government underwriters. "The SBA is crucial to continued economic development in the Berkshires," said Angelo C. Stracuzzi, Greylock's president. Last year SBA recognized Greylock as the 10th largest SBA financial lender in the state out of 119 financial institutions, the top SBA credit union lender in the state, and the 10th most active credit union in the nation for the fiscal year ending September 2007 … * PORTLAND, Ore. (8/14/08)--Point West CEO Robert Barzler has been named treasurer of the Oregon Business Leadership Network's (OBLN) board of directors. Barzler's accomplishments include serving as board member of the Oregon Credit Union Foundation and the Credit Union Financial Alliance board. The OBLN is an employer-led organization that seeks to improve employment prospects and consumer choices for people with disabilities by raising employer awareness of how business benefits in including people with disabilities in the work force. Point West, with assets of $104 million, is located in Portland … * ROCHESTER, N.Y. (8/14/08)--Family First of New York FCU CEO Christine Peters has added the responsibilities of president to her leadership role. In addition to assuming responsibility for creating a strategy for the Rochester-based credit union's growth, as president she will oversee its day-to-day operations. Peters has been CEO since 2006 and chief financial officer for eight years before that. She is also a new board member of the New York Credit Union Foundation and USNET (Universal Sharing Network) …

Iowa disaster relief donations top 460000

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DES MOINES, Iowa (8/14/08)--More than $460,000 has been raised for the Iowa Credit Union Foundation’s disaster relief grant program. Nearly 900 credit union members have received grants of $500 each to help with immediate needs, after their homes were damaged by spring floods. The foundation has received funds from 47 members of the Iowa Credit Union League. Also, 18 credit unions, credit union foundations and companies nationwide have contributed to relief efforts. Several Iowa credit unions added to their original contributions, including: Linn Area CU, Cedar Rapids ($50,000); Collins Community CU, Cedar Rapids ($58,000); Affinity CU, Des Moines ($2,000); Chemical CU, Clinton ($1,000); Premier CU, Des Moines ($3,385); and River Valley CU, Ames ($1,500). Also, University of Iowa Community CU donated $15,000 to help its members affected by flooding. Out-of-state contributions were received from Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio and Florida. “The road to recovery is going to be a lengthy process for many members, and Iowa credit unions and the foundation will continue to provide support along the way,” said Marybeth Foster, foundation executive director.

CUs on the Tube CU gears up for financial olympics

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (4/14/08)--The University of Kentucky FCU (UKFCU) has created a video, “Don’t Bank It,” with an Olympic theme to target members of Generation Y during the 2008 Olympics. The video features the 2008 Financial Olympics, with the credit unions v. banks in the “cornhole” money bag toss event. The credit union team wins, with credit union team supporters cheering in the background. “Our members, especially those in the Gen Y segment responded very positively to the first video we produced,” said David Kennedy, UKFCU president/CEO. “With this new video, we are showing a young, energetic environment in contrast to the old, inflexible bank. “We want the viewer to think about who they choose as their life-long financial partner and understand that the credit union is the better alternative,” he added. The video is posted on YouTube, Facebook, and UKFCU’s website. It received more than 600 views in the first week of posting on YouTube. UKFCU’s primary field of membership is college students, faculty and staff of the University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University and Kentucky Community and Technical College System. The Lexington, Ky.-based credit union has $244 million in assets. To see the video, use the link.

Community CU Conference around the corner

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SAN DIEGO (8/14/08)--The 2008 Community Credit Union Conference, sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), will be held Oct. 8-11 in San Diego. The conference is designed for all credit union leaders who want to move beyond the status quo. Two keynote sessions will be featured at the conference. “The Art of Leadership” will be presented by Bill Strickland, president/CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corp. He built an organization, employing and training thousands of people. His work has brought him a MacArthur Genius Grant, a Grammy award, an invitation to lecture at Harvard University, and a seat on the board of the National Endowment for the Arts. “CU 20/20: Insight Into the American Credit Union Movement” will be presented by Dennis Dollar, president of Dollar & Associates consulting firm. The former National Credit Union Administration Chairman offers his perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing America’s credit unions into the year 2020. Dollar will talk about where credit unions, particularly community credit unions, could be in the 2020 marketplace. General sessions include:
* “An Economic Outlook,” Terrin Griffiths, economist/analyst, California/Nevada Credit Union League; * “What’s in a Performance? A Comparison of Community Credit Unions to Community Banks,” Steve Williams, principal, Cornerstone Advisors; and * “Compliance Issues Impacting Community Credit Unions,” Kathy Thompson, CUNA’s senior vice president for compliance.
The conference also will feature 12 breakout sessions. For more information or to register, use the link.