Big news – we are turning ninety this year! The Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) has been serving Michigan credit unions for nine decades. We are so proud to have been launched in 1934. As most of you reading this blog know, our Credit Union National Association was organized in Estes Park, Colorado in August of 1934. In order to approve the constitution and bylaws of the new national association, Michigan credit unions had to organize a League. According to The History of the Michigan Credit Union League, on October 4, 1934, with seventeen credit unions participating with 34 delegates and some alternates, the League was officially formed.
My hat is off to the founder and first president of the MCUL, Sam Smith! Mr. Smith was the president of Detroit Federal Employees Credit Union (now People Driven). In 1934, there were 66 credit unions in Michigan and, as we know, the numbers continued to grow. Just twenty years later, in 1954, there were 782 credit unions in Michigan. Wow! The MCUL was incredibly busy during that time and thereafter!
Looking at our history is really fascinating, and I could spend several blogs highlighting information in the 872 page MCUL history book (by the way, there is also a Volume II!), but needless to say, we have been around for ninety years and we are still going strong.
Does this history lesson inspire you to want to come celebrate with us? If you're reading this, registration to our Annual Convention & Exposition is open. Don’t believe me? Click here to see for yourself: Register for the AC&E
Please be sure to register for the conference to get a confirmation number for your hotel booking (guidance from our amazing education team).
We are heading out to Traverse City for the AC+E and would love to have you join us. You are going to experience all that you are accustomed to along with some incredible new content and top-notch education. And of course, there will be parties! We hope you join us for Dave Adams’ Victory Lap as we celebrate Dave’s last annual convention as a member of our team while he gears up for retirement. There will be amazing prizes to bid on at our Children’s Miracle Network auction as well as wine and craft beer at our foundation fundraiser. I am also very excited to celebrate the people and credit unions who are receiving awards at our MCUL Awards Gala! Winners will be announced soon!
Did I mention there will be golf and a fun run as well? We will also be highlighting some of our amazing credit union partners that serve as sponsors and supporters of the event in our expo room. So much to do. But, as we all agree, the best part of this event is connecting with your credit union friends and meeting new ones. The networking and connecting is what makes this the best credit union event of the year. I will be there; will you join me?
[Facts about MCUL and our credit unions stated in this blog were found in The History of the Michigan Credit Union League; Crews, Cecil R., Detroit, MI 1971.]
Earlier this week, we sent a letter asking Michigan credit union leaders to be Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Champions in 2024. I want to take a moment to say a little bit more about this opportunity.
I know February just began, but here at MCUL, we’re already thinking about the 2024 Annual Convention & Expo (AC&E). We want to make this year’s event, which marks MCUL’s 90th anniversary, a great success.
If you’ve attended previous AC&E events, you know that we focus the week’s fundraising efforts on Credit Unions for Kids, a collective nonprofit that benefits CMN Hospitals. This year’s AC&E, in Traverse City from June 5-7, we are calling on you to be a part of the action! MCUL has formed a new “CMN and Other Charitable Activities Committee” to engage our credit union community in organizing these events and making an even stronger impact.
The following are the 2024 events: the CMN Golf Outing on June 5; CMN Live Auction on June 6; and CMN Fun Run on June 7. The Silent Auction will also begin a week before AC&E and will run until the conclusion of the Live Auction event.
Last year, the Michigan credit union movement came together through these events to raise $102,176 for CMN! All these efforts go to support the wonderful work of our Michigan-based CMN Hospitals – Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Beaumont Children’s in Southfield, Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint and Helen Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.
So, how can you become a CMN Champion? It’s simple. We need credit unions and chapters to be CMN Champions and help us sponsor these events.
Right now, we need contributions for the CMN Silent and Live Auctions. Donations help us purchase fun items and packages for the event that enable us to leverage these donations even further, and we need to get started!
We’re hoping, for 2024, we can go above and beyond what we’ve done in the past. We see what a difference our efforts make for CMN Hospitals and their patients, and we want to make this year’s auction event another resounding success!
I want to encourage you to consider giving at a $5,000 (Large Asset/Chapter), $2,500 (Medium Asset/Chapter) or $1,000 (Small Asset) level – BUT, any amount is deeply appreciated!
Checks can be sent to our MCUL Lansing Office at:
Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates
ATTN: CMN Auctions Contribution
110 W. Michigan Ave, Suite 100
Lansing, MI 48933
If you have any questions or wish to send your donation via ACH, contact Kieran Marion. We will be sending more information in the coming weeks about opportunities to support the Golf Outing and Fun Run.
In mid-January, I had the fun experience of moving my only child to Chicago to start her professional career in business consulting. As a recent college grad (Go Blue!), this is her first permanent, regular paycheck gig. Not only that, but it is also her first time living on her own, on her own dime (hallelujah), and setting up an actual home.
Having a front row seat to her first few days in Chicago, after driving the U-Haul to the big city and assembling a lot of furniture, I couldn’t help but get caught up in her excitement and reflect on my own early beginnings to a career.
I have a few solid memories on becoming a lawyer that stand out. First, learning that I passed the bar was a biggie. Getting sworn in was another. I also vividly remember the first time I put my appearance on the record in court as a litigator. It was in Pontiac district court and my client was a credit union. Flash forward to my MCUL career, I specifically remember picking up the phone in my law office when caller-ID showed that Dave Adams was calling. He was calling about an opportunity at the Michigan league and that call changed the trajectory of my career. (Thanks, Dave).
Remember your beginnings and the excitement and nerves that came along with it?! What memories stand out? So many “ifs” and uncertainties, right? For some of us, it’s imposter syndrome; the feeling that we are not qualified or capable. So many questions and not always answers to those questions.
For CEOs, walking into your office for the first time with an empty desk and blank walls. The feeling of excitement and pressure swirling in the air. There is really nothing quite like your first board meeting with all eyes on you!
There is a lot of focus on being present in today and not spending too much time looking back, but there is a lot of benefit to looking back at the road you traveled. That doesn’t have to wait for your retirement; you can take a pause and do it now! For some, it has been a long road; for others, the journey is just beginning. And we know that the road is not always straight. There are detours, dead-ends and plenty of ups and downs in the career journey.
I guess my point in all this reflection is to encourage you to bring some of the excitement you had at the beginning into to your current role and current time. Something nudged you or appealed to you along the way to get you where you are. What was it? I know with so many in our industry it was the desire to make a difference in people’s lives. What a great mission. We are so fortunate to work in an industry with such passion and purpose. While sometimes it may be hard to find one, let alone both, we proceed forward and rely on our credit union family.
I hope you know that you have people rooting for you and a great community of people who have been there! Trust that you are where you’re supposed to be and find joy in helping those who are just getting started -- whether that person is your kid or a new employee. Sharing that journey with them is so rewarding.
Welcome to 2024! I hope everyone is refreshed from the holiday season and ready to hit the ground running. To usher in this new year, the Michigan Credit Union League is unveiling a fresh face for our website, MCUL.org!
This has been a long time coming, and we’re very excited to debut a website that not only has an up-to-date look, but also a new layout that will make it easier for members to find what they’re looking for.
A big part of the redesign process was trying to understand how members use the page most so that we could tailor this new look appropriately. We believe the updated navigation will make your MCUL.org experience a more efficient one, going forward.
But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find all the same resources and updates that you previously could on MCUL.org — now, it will just be more straightforward.
As our site is new, we welcome feedback on your experience. Let us know how you like it or if you have suggestions for improvements. Thanks to our amazing IT team - led by Timmy Bohlman - and our communications team led by Rick Weaver, for this big undertaking!
For any feedback, as well as questions or concerns you may have about the new website, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This time of year, not only are we getting together with family and friends to celebrate the holidays, but we're also connecting with team members for end-of-year gatherings and boards for the final meetings of the year and direct reports for reviews! There is a lot of conversation and planning happening, that is for sure. I think most of us would agree that this is an exciting time as Jan. 1 feels like a clean slate — a new beginning, both personally and professionally.
I had a week of connection this past week with leagues from around the country at the winter meeting for the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL). We met with many of our industry partners, including CUNA (soon to be America’s Credit Unions), TruStage, NASCUS, the African American Credit Union Coalition, Filene and others. Being on the board and participating with AACUL is a great reminder to me of how our credit union system is composed of many moving parts all coming together with the mission to support credit unions and credit union members. It is a vast network of hard-working professionals that inspire me every day.
I am so proud of the hard work and endless commitment of our credit union team members and volunteers this year. Especially here at home, where I witness your efforts on a daily basis. I am proud to serve as the leader of your association, and look forward to walking arm-and-arm with you in 2024 as we navigate continued regulatory pressures, the complex political climate, financial stress on your members and an election year, together. Because, as we all know, together, we are stronger.
Thank you for the time you spend to read this publication and the support you give MCUL and our team throughout the year. From our entire team at MCUL, and me personally, have a wonderful holiday, and a happy and healthy new year!
During last week’s Thanksgiving, I had a chance to spend some time with family and friends. As can naturally happen during end-of-year traditions like this, you end up thinking about how the year has gone — taking stock of favorite moments, what I achieved, what I want to achieve next year, etc. It always centers me, allows me to appreciate my hard work while also thinking about where I want to focus my attention in the coming year.
In an operational sense, I know credit unions are doing the same thing during this Thanksgiving-to-Christmas stretch — assessing what’s working, discussing what areas need more attention and targeting new goals for the future.
Trust me, I know it’s a lot more difficult than I made it sound … but I do want to challenge credit union leaders to really focus, in the midst of all this strategic planning, on your successes in 2023.
Whether it was an innovative lending program, a financial education initiative, community-based grants or any number of other ways that I personally witnessed Michigan credit unions finding ways to serve our state, you deserve to be recognized.
The 2024 MCUL & MCUF Awards nominations are open right now, and it’s a great time to put those reflections into words so we can recognize you and your credit union at next year’s award ceremony. For those of you who have attended the ceremony in the past — or if you have been a recipient of an award — you know how special the event is and the feeling of appreciation for being recognized. Why not share the event and nominate someone with the chance to give them time on the stage and be recognized for their efforts?
And while these awards are designed to reward Michigan credit unions, chapters and professionals who are improving our state through innovation and dedication, your projects also inspire other credit union leaders to reach new heights.
The nominations are open through Jan. 8. You can find awards nominations and individual award information here.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner — a time when families come together and pause from the routine of worklife for a few days in order to celebrate each other’s company and appreciate the life around them. In other words, it’s a way to not take what we have for granted.
One thing that I never take for granted is that working in the credit union movement means much of my worklife is already organized around giving. Sometimes, that means hiking to DC to advocate for legislation that makes it easier for credit unions to serve members. Other times, it simply means seeing, on a daily basis, how much credit unions give back to your communities for the simple fact that you care.
Later this month, I have the honor of taking part in this first-hand as we give a check to the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals for our 2023 donation totals. This year, through MCUL’s silent and live auctions, fun run, golf outing and matching donations, we raised a total of $102,176 for CMN!
While MCUL is giving out the check, we know this is a testament to how well Michigan credit unions understand the importance of these funds, which are going toward medical equipment and care that will make life easier for CMN patients.
In addition to working with our credit unions, I recently had the honor of being named to the Lighthouse of Michigan Board of Directors. The mission of Lighthouse is to build equitable communities that alleviate poverty. This past weekend, myself and the other members, assembled Thanksgiving food boxes for families that may not otherwise have a Thanksgiving dinner. While joining another board gave me pause simply due to my other time commitments, I am so glad that I said yes. I needed to round out my board work to include this kind of work. The kind of work that while you are doing it, you are reminded how fortunate you are. As we know, especially in these times, sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal is an absolute privilege that far too many people will not have this year.
It’s humbling to see how organizations across the state, including our movement, have made giving a part of the everyday mission. For credit unions, giving isn’t a reaction, it’s an inherent part of what we do. And I’m thankful that I get to be a part of it.
You may have seen on social media that I was privileged to attend the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF)’s Credit Union Development Education course in Madison last week. I am officially a DE!
About a year ago, I had no idea what a “DE” was. I would see “CUDE” by some credit union people’s names in a signature block or on LinkedIn but I just wrote it off as a certification of sorts. Then, last year, I was listening to NCUF’s Gigi Hyland present, and she asked how many “DE”s were in the room. A smattering of people around the room proudly stood, claiming to have been in “the best class ever!” Some were new faces but a lot of them I have long admired for all their years in this awesome industry. I was intrigued. Not wanting to be left out of this prestigious group, after hearing Gigi explain the program, I told her that I was all in.
At first, I thought that spending time with the credit union cooperative principles was something just for new people to our industry. I quickly learned that this was not the case. Longtime credit union folks attend this week-long “course” alongside newbies to either learn for the first time or get re-inspired with our cooperative roots and all the current development issues that remain and need our desperate attention – development issues like hunger, savings, health, housing, diversity and equity, just to name a few.
So last week, I rolled up my sleeves along with over 50 others from around the country to talk about “the onion” and where leagues and credit unions fit in to the system along with our cooperative principles: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation among cooperatives; concern for community and, in the U.S. we have added: diversity, equity and inclusion.
On day one of training, we were placed into a team of nine and worked the entire week with this new “family” of credit union people. Good people. Fun people. Smart people who were new or old in our industry and all wanted the same thing out of the week as me – to learn, open my mind and learn how I can make an impact. Mission accomplished!
We laughed, a lot. We visited a food pantry outside of Madison and felt, a lot. We worked on a project with our hypothetical credit union on how to tackle some of our country’s biggest development problems, like hunger and education. We then present our solution to the entire conference. We had late nights and early mornings. Did I mention we had fun?! We did.
What I really loved about the week was that you leave your titles at the door. No one knows what your job is and it’s a level playing field for everyone. It’s not until the afternoon of the final day – at graduation – where you share your title. It was fun to leave my CEO title off to the side and listen and learn from my group, our presenters and amazing mentors.
We ended the week with a challenge: to take back to your credit union or league what you learn and work on a project. My first step is to shine light on this program and encourage you all to consider going or sending someone from your team if you haven’t already. Meanwhile, if you are a Michigan DE, send me a note and let’s connect our DE possie! Check out: https://www.ncuf.coop/development-education/program/ for some more information. I am also happy to meet up and talk more.
In closing, you will see CUDE by my title now and I am thrilled to tell you that the October 2023 class was the best class ever. Become a DE and this will make sense!