Back to Our Cooperative Roots
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!
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