Politics Overload and Pushing Through
I think a lot of us have felt overwhelmed by the news and it never seems to get any lighter. Hearing about the search for classified documents at the President’s home, multiple votes for a house speaker and an allegation that a representative in New York stole money from a dog?! These are just a few of the headlines that keep us shaking our head.
In the brutal world of politics, it was interesting to hear that the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, was stepping down. She said that she knew what the job as prime minister takes, and that she “no longer ha[d] enough in the tank to do it justice.” A former prime minister of New Zealand said that Jacinda had faced a new level of hatred and vitriol in the world of 24/7 media cycles and social media. That can be said for so many of our politicians. Our own governor has seen her fair share of hatred.
There is no doubt that being in politics is a daunting job. Lobbying politicians, as we do in the credit union industry, can likewise be daunting. When leaders are trying to tackle a pandemic, inflation and getting elected, it can be a challenge to get our representatives to focus on credit union issues.
Despite the uphill climb we face on some of our important issues, the key is to continue to push forward. That is exactly what more than 100 of us from Michigan are doing as we travel to Washington, D.C. for the CUNA GAC next month.
The resolute focus and continued meetings bring results. Like Rep. Bill Huizenga co-sponsoring the CU Board Governance Modernization Act in Congress, making a major difference for our federally chartered credit unions. These victories may seem small, but they are a reminder that our elected officials are listening and that we need to continue having the conversations. Progress happens when you persist.
When the world of politics seems overwhelming, I am comfortable to put my head down, my lapel pin on and focus on our credit union issues. Carving out that piece of the political pie in my work life makes what’s happening outside our industry easier to process. Getting to know our new lawmakers and talking about our credit unions and their communities and members makes political engagement fun and worthwhile.
While things do not move as fast as we would like, and when challenges come our way that we oppose (Durbin 2.0), we keep on hiking and talking to make a difference. Looking forward to hiking beside you soon.
Bucket-List Trip Takeaways
As some of you may know, I spent my recent Christmas and New Year’s Eve holiday on a bucket-list trip to Egypt. My daughter, Julia, and I spent 10 nights (with another two on airplanes) in Cairo, Aswan and Luxor. I refer to the time not only as a vacation, but also an adventure.
I am a firm believer that if you are able, you should try and hit some bucket-list trips prior to retirement. I have heard from several friends that they are saving some big trips for when they have more time in retirement. I have avoided this for a couple reasons. First, most trips that rise to a bucket-list variety for me take a lot of stamina, mobility and hours, if not days, of travel time – all of which are better to accomplish when younger! Second, as we all know too well, we are not guaranteed a retirement. That is a gift that is not something we can count on.
There were several times during my recent adventure that I reflected how fortunate I was to be in Egypt. I am privileged to earn a living that gives me the opportunity to take such a trip. Also, I appreciate that not everyone has the physical ability to make this journey. As I have gotten older, I have learned to appreciate and be thankful for feeling the sun on my face in a far-off land and taking it all in, one day at a time. I know several industry colleagues that know exactly what I am talking about as I am surrounded by a lot of travel junkies in credit union land. You know who you are!
Seeing the pyramids, the tombs and temples of Egypt is hard to describe. I read in advance that some people, when seeing the pyramids for the first time, get pretty emotional. I’m guessing this is because we’ve all grown up learning about ancient Egypt and reading, even now, of the continued discoveries that occur in the region. Or perhaps it’s just the one powerful fact that they were unexplainably made yet are still standing after thousands of years!
One of the outings that had me misty-eyed was walking into King Tutankhamun’s tomb. We all learned about the 1920’s discovery of the tomb as being the only tomb discovered thus far that was untouched from robbers and looters. Walking down into the tomb and seeing the murals and body of the “boy king” was emotional for me. Climbing up into the actual Great Pyramid, which I did not even know you could do, was also a highlight.
While the adventure was filled with jam-packed days for me and Julia, where I savored the quality time with my college senior, I must also admit that I couldn’t ignore the poverty and pollution around me. The air quality in Cairo was poor and, at times, very noticeable for an American such as myself. The hundreds of stray dogs and cats we saw on the streets, as well as the underfed working horses was also hard to witness when you’re not used to it being a part of your own culture.
I learned that the lower-middle-class Egyptian earns the equivalent of $100 U.S. per month. This includes those who worked on our Nile cruise and the hotel cleaning staff that I interacted with every day of our trip. Everyday life is hard for Egyptians. While I was initially flattered when several people could not believe Julia was my daughter and that I must be much younger than my 50 years, I soon realized that 50 years looks a lot different on an American woman than an Egyptian woman.
Prior to my adventure, I reached out to George Ombado, the Executive Director of the African Confederation of Co-operative Savings & Credit Associations (ACCOSCA), to inquire about any credit unions I could visit in Cairo. He responded that they are few and far between and he did not have relationships with any for me to visit. While there, I thought about this and reflected on how much difference a credit union could make in the lives of the Egyptian people.
In the few days of reflection that I have had since returning, I appreciate even more that despite the many challenges of our country, we are truly lucky to have been born here. This appreciation probably resonates even more with immigrants that become U.S. citizens. Egyptians, even the wealthy ones, struggle to get approval to leave the country. Travel for most Egyptians is not a possibility.
In conclusion, hopefully a few lessons sink in with my experience. Take the time when you have it to check off a bucket-list adventure; don’t wait too long! If you’re looking for a destination, I strongly recommend making the journey to Egypt. Not only for the ancient sites but also meeting the friendly and welcoming Egyptian people who, when they learned we were from America, told us to send our friends. I am living up to my end of that request by sharing my thoughts and some photos with you.
Happy new year, friends. Let’s have an amazing and adventurous 2023! Cheers!
Retaining Talent: How CU Leagues Should Be Making it Easier
During my discussions with Michigan credit union leaders this year, the conversation inevitably touches on a topic that’s affecting much more than just our industry: talent retention. We talk about how leaders can or are attracting professionals who will be an asset for the organization not just now, but for years to come.
I’m not breaking any news by telling you it’s been a difficult process for many employers to restore a talented workforce following the toughest months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The expectations of employers have changed, so credit union leaders have been adapting, meeting professionals where they are in order to cultivate a work culture that creates a positive environment for members and the entire team.
While executives can and should be tailoring their operations to find this new culture, it’s up to us leagues to find ways to assist member credit unions, paving a clearer path for talent retention. At MCUL, we focus on two things that do so: public policy and our consumer awareness campaign.
In public policy circles, Michigan’s top policymakers grapple everyday with how to ensure that Michigan is a top destination for talent, and to make sure that Michiganders don’t want to (or have to) leave. While the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) generally sticks to its credit union lane on advocacy topics, the importance of issues that affect our business community and its ability to attract and retain talent is rising.
Much like our interest in issues of broadband development, access and adoption, credit union leagues need to become cheerleaders and supporters for positive and proactive policy that helps our members and the businesses within our communities thrive.
In Michigan, we are paying attention to policies that ensure local access to employee benefits, as well as any policies that make our communities more attractive. This means issues like financial literacy curriculum that better the quality of schools. It can be business growth, job growth or any number of topics that credit unions touch through their business activities and community presence that go toward improving the daily lives of Michiganders.
We are not the natural lead on many of these issues, but we remain engaged with our partners in the business advocacy community. MCUL, our member credit unions and our peers around the country need to be active in their chambers of commerce, business and community groups to make sure the credit union voice is a part of the support for, and demand for, policies that bolster our communities.
Consumer Awareness Campaign
This past August, we launched our new consumer awareness campaign, which was targeted to consumers in the range of 18-39 years of age. While the main concept was raising awareness of credit unions as a viable option for their trusted financial partner, we also decided to fold in a new wrinkle.
This year’s campaign also aims to educate younger Michigan residents about credit unions as a viable option for their career path — a place where they can become part of a larger family while building their career.
To help prospective team members get started, we created an easy-to-use job board that includes all current Michigan credit union openings and is searchable by area, organization and job level. You can find it at TryACreditUnion.com.
Of course credit union leaders are going to continue to do everything they can to attract and retain talent, but better stewardship at the league level — finding easier solutions to their problems — means they can more quickly get back to their main focus: providing for their members.
December 2022 This article was originally published on CUInsight.com.
A Holiday Message
It's hard to believe that we are soon saying farewell to another year. While we're excited about what's to come in 2023, I will raise a glass this New Year’s Eve to celebrate a good, if sometimes difficult, 2022.
While COVID was still top of mind throughout the year, and people left and right were testing positive, it was a relief to know that symptoms were most often mild and not life threatening. This allowed us to focus more on content and collaboration at our events, and we were pleased to have strong attendance and participation.
Advocacy efforts kept our team busy, especially with redistricting and the midterms. We were pleased to host our state GAC, attend the CUNA GAC and have our fall Hike the Hill in DC. Nothing is better than in-person contact with our lawmakers and regulators; your support and attendance is appreciated and necessary to our collective success.
Thank you so much for your affiliation and support this year. We continue to see record attendance on our Zoom industry calls, strong attendance at our events and positive feedback on League communication efforts. We have an amazing MCUL team that show up each day proud to work in this great industry.
When I reflect on the year, I can't help but think about the loss of our colleague and friend, Jordan Kingdon. This was no doubt the hardest time for me and the entire MCUL team. I will be thinking about his kids this Christmas as they try and celebrate their first holiday without their dad. For those of you that have lost someone special this year, I hope that you can find some peace this season. I know that this time of year can just be plain hard.
Whatever your plans are over the next few weeks, I wish you a warm and healthy celebration and some quiet moments for you to reflect on the year. Maybe a few days off to recharge and read a good book or binge-watch some TV. I recommend White Lotus as a show I could not wait to drop each Sunday night!
I will be spending the holiday traveling with my favorite travel partner – my daughter, Julia. We will be celebrating Christmas and ringing in the new year in Egypt. This year has taught me to seize the day and not wait too long to start checking off some bucket-list items. My blog will be back in January and, until then, I wish you a nice holiday season and cheers to a great year ahead!
MI vs OHIO
I think everyone in Michigan — whether a Wolverine or Spartan — was happy that the Wolverines beat Ohio State on Saturday! What a great game and a terrific season for the Wolverines at 12 wins and no losses. With a senior at U of M, and an alum, I was really happy with this victory! Go Blue!
Okay, okay … I'll tone it down for the Spartans and non-Wolverines out there The second point to this week's blog is to give a huge shoutout to Michigan and Ohio for the money raised in our Michigan League vs. Ohio League fundraising contest.
This was a several-days long campaign to outraise one another in the spirit of leagues coming together to raise funds for CULAC. CULAC is the political action committee of CUNA that promotes pro-credit union candidates around the country. Several of our pro-credit union Michigan federal delegation has received funds from CULAC.
While Michigan was successful on the field Saturday, sadly, the Ohio League outraised us by a mere $40!!! Ohio raised $5,925 for CULAC and Michigan came in at $5,885 for a total of $11,810 raised!!! Thank you to all who contributed and encouraged contributions. Congratulations to the Ohio League — at least it was not a total loss this weekend . This fundraiser will give a nice boost to CULAC and we will all benefit from the dollars raised. Thank you again to those who joined in!
Contributions to CULAC are not tax-deductible. Individuals who are associated with CUNA's state credit union leagues or with CUNA-affiliated credit unions that have signed a permission agreement with their leagues are eligible to participate in CULAC. All contributions to CULAC are strictly voluntary and will be used for political purposes. You have the right to refuse to contribute without any reprisal.
Be Recognized! Submit an MCUL & MCUF Awards Nomination
I know this is the time of year when things start to pile up — juggling family and travel during the holidays with important end-of-year business like strategic planning and wrapping up various other projects.
I totally get it … but, I also know you’re doing something else during the coming weeks: reflecting. It’s a perfect time to look back on what you did this year, what you didn’t do this year and how you can use that reflection to grow in the coming year.
I have personally seen all of you work so hard throughout this year to make this movement stronger. You’ve provided necessary services for members in need, dedicated time and services to your communities, continued to make your workplaces a better place for team members and have fought with us at the state and national level for more credit union-friendly legislation.
All of these efforts deserve recognition, which is why I’m asking you to self-nominate yourself or your credit union for a 2023 MCUL or MCUF Award. These awards are designed to reward Michigan credit unions, chapters and professionals who are improving our state through their innovation and dedication to our great state.
The nomination deadline has been extended into January.
You can find awards nominations and individual award information here.
Nominate a YP for a Full-Ride to the World Credit Union Conference!
Have you heard about this cool new opportunity? MCUL is offering a full-ride scholarship for one of our young professionals to attend the 2023 World Credit Union Conference in Vancouver, Canada, July 23-26.
I cannot think of a better way to have one of our up-and-coming credit union team members see, first-hand, the world credit union community come together. This is an amazing opportunity for a credit union CEO to lift up someone on their team by nominating them for this trip.
To apply, Michigan credit union CEOs need to simply send me an email (email@example.com) no later than Nov. 30, naming an employee from their credit union that is 40 or under and tell me a bit about why you are nominating them. Also list the employee’s name and position. From all submissions, we will randomly draw a winner and announce it in December. Only one submission per credit union, please.
Not a CEO? Make sure your CEO learns about this and nudge them with a recommendation! I am really looking forward to this event, and it will be my first time attending this conference. I am excited to see all the nominations. Please consider coming with us so we can show up strong for Michigan!
Celebrate Our Global Movement
As you all know, the third Thursday in October is designated International Credit Union (ICU) Day by the World Council of Credit Unions. While it’s my job to think about the Michigan credit union movement, I particularly appreciate ICU Day because it gives me a chance to take a step back and recognize the importance and strength of our movement across the entire globe.
ICU Day is all about raising awareness of credit unions’ core mission and cooperative structure and how that directly benefits being a member. The theme of this year is “Empower Your Financial Future with a Credit Union.”
Empowering financial futures, as well as raising credit union awareness, is something we’ve been thinking a lot about recently at the League during the conception of our latest CU Link campaign, “Credit unions. For real. For your future.” We’re looking forward to how that campaign can reach younger generations and educate them about all the good works that credit unions do on a daily basis.
We put a page together showcasing many of the good works our movement has done this year, as well as links to some promotional materials you can download for this year’s ICU Day and a webinar the World Council is holding for the global credit union movement on ICU Day.
Check those out and remember to share your celebrations on social media. I can’t wait to see them!
Hike and CU Kind
We had an awesome time with our Michigan advocates in Washington, D.C. during last month's MCUL Hike the Hill. So much took place over the course of two packed days. We met with most of our congressional delegation and talked about interchange, overdraft, the Federal Credit Union Act modernization bills, CDFI certification and more.
Nearly 50 people joined us to tell their story and advocate for their members. The group included many first-time attendees, which is always a great way to show our credit union movement in action to the newer members of the industry.
At the Credit Union House, in addition to several meetings with our delegation, we held a very special induction ceremony. Patty Campbell, President & CEO of Christian Financial Credit Union, into the Hall of Leaders for her years of advocacy and promotion of the credit union difference. Also inducted, posthumously, was our friend, Jordan Kingdon, for his commitment and fierce advocacy. It was a very special ceremony with very few dry eyes in attendance. Congratulations, again, to our friend Patty Campbell!
Next week, we continue to promote the Michigan credit union movement by showcasing all the amazing work you do in your community during CU Kind Day. More than 70 credit unions are joining us on Oct. 10 to showcase all they do to better their communities. I cannot wait to see the posts! Thanks to all the credit unions joining us. At MCUL, we have a day of giving-back planned for our team and will join you in the commitment to community.
Make it a great week!
Happy fall, y'all! What a summer! I hope you were able to get out and enjoy some sunshine this season, perhaps on one of Michigan’s great lakes. Those who attended last week’s MCUL Executive Summit were rewarded with some amazing Michigan weather up in Petosky.
In hearing the feedback from attendees at the event, far and away, the comments on our exit survey show that attendees love hearing from other credit unions. This is something that we doubled down on during the pandemic – reaching out and listening to one another. The more credit unions share with each other, the more we grow. All of you are the experts and sharing what you’re working on and how you’re meeting obstacles and challenges, whether it be hiring, rising rates and member growth, is the way we help one another.
I enjoy being the connector of people and experts, and time and time again, the experts are you. I was excited to not only see that the spirit of cooperation lives on, but also happy to hear this is what people value at our events. It happened at this year’s human resources event as well as our executive event. So please, keep attending and sharing. I know this is of help to our up-and-coming leaders, who are always looking for ideas on how to better serve their members. Hope to hear from you at an event soon!
Credit Union Labor
This blog post will come to you the day after Labor Day, the federal holiday to take a day off and celebrate American workers. I hope you enjoyed the long weekend! The holiday triggered me to remind myself of the origins of the day and reflect on our credit union teams.
Back in the late 1880s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the average American laborer worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks! Children – as young as 5 and 6, worked in mills, mines and factories across the country. The very poor and recent immigrants worked in dangerous and grueling conditions. Workers began to organize and protest such conditions leading to several marches – the most significant one being in 1882, when 10,000 workers took unpaid time to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City. That event marked the first Labor Day Parade. Ultimately, Labor Day became known as a “working man’s holiday” and in 1894, Pres. Grover Cleveland signed into law that Labor Day was a legal holiday. All this history can be found on history.com.
When I travel internationally, especially to places like Italy, I am reminded how much Americans work. Where some workers in Italy and Spain, for example, take really long lunches to relax and nap, we are often found eating at our desks. I was talking to a new, young lawyer this year and he was thrilled that all court hearings are now online and he does not have to drive to court. Don’t get me started on how much he is missing out on with digital hearings, but his comment that he can now be even more productive without the drive time had me shaking my head. I was like, “Yep, so great that you can log even more billable hours.” Sigh.
Labor also has me thinking about our teams when we are short-staffed. Our team members are hustling to make up for the fact that we are down in numbers. I just came from a hospital lab where they were clearly short staffed, and I profusely thanked the woman who was there frantically trying to make our wait time as short as possible. She seemed to appreciate the acknowledgement.
So, while I would like to say that it is unfortunate that our culture is driven to work so hard, I want to remind you all to stop and smell the roses, it seems like with the lack of support we are enduring, smelling the roses is a fantasy now. For those of you reading this that are working double-time to serve members in a place of employee scarcity – THANK YOU. You are the true heroes of the current labor movement. To all the baristas out there at my favorite Starbucks, THANK YOU for working and hanging in there despite the nasty comments and stares from annoyed customers. To the Amazon drivers delivering packages on a Sunday morning – THANK YOU! To my drive-thru teller listening to honking horns while we wait in a long line, THANK YOU for all you do to support the members. For the rest of us, instead of smelling the roses, let’s make sure we are pausing to thank our credit union labor movement and others that are hanging in there and hustling. Thank you for reading!
Our Amazing HR Teams
This month, I attended MCUL’s HR&R conference in Traverse City, which was marketed as a wonderful networking, educational and fun conference for the amazing human resources teams serving at our credit unions.
The two-day event was filled with networking, eating, drinking and kayaking. The most interesting session for me was the “Say it in Seven” session, where we asked your HR professionals to say a few words about how credit unions are tackling this new environment of hybrid work and other challenges.
There were several interesting discussions in this session, but a few stood out to me. Ellen Davis of Gerber Federal Credit Union cautioned us that we may be missing new employees that are “right under our nose.” She talked about passing out her business card when she has a great server at a restaurant. Ellen also talked about engaging FSRs and member service team members to scout new employees when they’re meeting with a member that has an impressive application or great attitude.
Silvia Dimma from MSU Federal Credit Union walked us through the change in employee expectations. She reminded us that, in the 20th century, there was a “loyalty contract” with employees where their basic needs were pay, benefits and security, and their focus was on retention. Looking to current times, she talked about the new phase we’re in with the workforce, which she dubbed the “lifestyle contract.” This contract is where employees are focused on their wellbeing – physical, mental, emotional and financial – with a need for sustainability and healthy experiences. Silva then walked us through various competency models deployed at MSUFCU that focus on continuous learning, coaching and development and a series of several micro-courses for employees to develop in their careers.
We also heard from Jennifer Tange of Allegan Credit Union. Jennifer shed light on various engagements at her credit union to retain team members and address the fact that their team has grown quickly in number. For example, Allegan formed the Good Human Committee, which meets to brainstorm ways to engage the team and talk through DEI issues. She also talked about the “Share the Love” bonus, which is when an employee leaves, and as their salary has been budgeted already, the credit union takes a portion of those dollars and gives a bonus to the people who remain. Love it!
Very inspiring efforts happening around our state to attract, retain and develop our teams!
Overdraft Task Force's Best Practice Guidance
For the past handful of months, I know issues and general uncertainty around the future of overdraft and NSF fees have become an increasing point of anxiety for our credit unions. We know this is key not only because of the value members place on overdraft protection, but also non-interest income that supports various areas of your credit unions.
As a response, MCUL put together an Overdraft Task Force, made up of nearly 20 credit union professionals and a few MCUL representatives. This group developed a two-part mission – to create and send a survey to all Michigan credit unions to gauge current overdraft and NSF practices and, in using those survey results, develop some best-practice guidance. Thanks to the credit unions that responded, we were able to see what the majority of our credit unions were doing or considering in this area.
I want to thank the wonderful group of individuals that made up the task force and thank them for their time and commitment. The task force has put together a document of Overdraft Best Practices, which can be downloaded here:
These best practices set forth guidance on how to consider ongoing and plan potential changes to your programs during this time of uncertainty.
The task force couldn’t have done this without the responses we received from our recent survey about the topic. I was happy to have a 67% response rate from credit unions. Thank you for all of your thoughtful feedback!
Please take a few moments to download and read through these best practices. On behalf of the Overdraft Task Force, I hope it helps you navigate this volatile area of your everyday operation
Say 'Hello' to Our New Careers Page
Happy mid-summer! As always, it is a great time to live in our beautiful state.
One of the top three issues we are currently hearing from our credit unions, large and small, is staffing issues – finding candidates to fill open positions. As an association, we craft what we do for our members in line with member needs. For years, our website has had a “Classifieds” page, wherein we posted available credit union jobs. It was lackluster and, really, was just a long, running list of positions. We took on the challenge to better support you in this area and I am really pleased with the result.
We rebranded the page to be “Michigan Credit Union Careers” and have made the page a lot better. Job-seekers can now search by position type, region, city – including remote – and even by credit union. Each listed job will show position details and how to apply or find more information.
Another new feature is that the information can be uploaded directly by our credit unions. You no longer have to wait for it to be posted, but can do it at your own convenience!
Our plan is to take this page public-facing. We have created a site – MyCUcareer.com – for the public to get to this page as well. This site will host not only positions but industry news as well. This page will be featured in an upcoming consumer awareness ad that will be shared on TikTok and SnapChat for people to see. We are really looking forward to making an impact and driving new people to our industry.
Check out our new page here: MyCUcareer.com.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your day!
Ode to Ryan Donovan
Like most of my peers in advocacy, I was saddened by the news that our own Ryan Donovan was leaving the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) in early September. If you do not know Ryan, he is currently the EVP and Chief Strategy Officer at CUNA.
While this blog is incorrectly titled an ode, it is not exactly a poem. It is, however, praise for my friend and colleague, Ryan. Like a lot of states, in Michigan we are seeing several of our long-time CEOs retire this year. While it's exciting to see new CEOs take over the reigns, just like I am happy for my friend Ryan to take over as the President/CEO at the Council of Federal Home Loan Banks, there is sadness there when the person you have established a relationship, and friendship, with over the years departs for another chapter.
Since I first met Ryan in 2018, he has been so patient and informative while I learned the world of federal advocacy in my role at the Michigan Credit Union League. As League President, I mostly interact with Ryan at AACUL meetings and various other events. Despite the fact he bears a striking resemblance to my ex-husband (a fact I never shared with Ryan!), it is always great to see him and listen to Ryan present. Ryan is always approachable and present in our conversations. He gets fired up and passionate when needed, and slow and deliberate when it is appropriate. There is no issue he cannot talk about, and his passion for our credit unions shines through every time we meet.
During our interactions, I have also enjoyed hearing about his Peloton obsession -- his passion for getting up early enough to beat us to the solo Peloton at a hotel and his patience in waiting for his wife to allow him to purchase one for his home. He sent me a link to find a Peloton at any hotel around the world ... Uh, thanks Ryan! I enjoy seeing Ryan's daughters on Facebook and it's clear to me that he dotes on them like any good dad should. And who knew he was also a good salsa dancer, which he demonstrated at a recent League President outing?!
Ryan, I wish you luck on your new endeavor. They are lucky to have you. I am not sure how I feel about you leading an organization with "bank" in the name, but that's okay. I know they play an important role in our system and you may hear from me down the road when I am looking to have more credit unions on the board! Thank you for your passion and commitment to our industry and I have no doubt we will meet again. Whether our encounter is me waiting for you to get off the bike at some hotel gym or seeing you at a lobby bar watching your Cardinals play, I look forward to seeing you soon.
Thank you for your service.
Proud in the Month of Pride
A lot of us have been focusing on the “I” in DEI lately. Very basic DEI training has taught us that it is not enough to just make space, but efforts must be made for people that have been traditionally left out to be included; to be part of; to be embraced and welcomed even though they have been there all along. In Michigan we have witnessed several examples of credit unions making efforts of inclusion for everyone. Inclusion, to me, means to notice and to embrace. Inclusion is the long game in DEI.
I attended my first, and I feel safe in saying not my last, Juntos Avanzamos —Together We Advance — proclamation honoring MSU Federal Credit Union this month. This designation, bestowed by our friends at inclusiv, recognized MSUFCU’s efforts to include and support the Latino community. At the ceremony in East Lansing, the efforts by MSUFCU to embrace this community, which has traditionally been underserved and left behind, was moving. What really stood out to me were the remarks from the Latino community on how important it was for them to have a place to bank that they are a “part of” instead of “left out.” The Latino community knows that at MSUFCU that they can find Spanish speaking representatives, Spanish forms and products and services with their needs in mind. The community was so moved, and emotions were so deep that some had a hard time speaking. I was honored to witness this declaration of inclusion.
Pride events happened around the state, and the world this month. Our league Facebook feed was full of our Michigan credit union team members showing their pride and allyship at events around the state. I was proud to see our community shine.
Also this month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the President of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, Juan Fernandez, for an interview on our league’s podcast. Juan talked about his state’s efforts to support a LGBTQ+ employment group – CU Shine. This group, who met for the first time in April, is made up of New Mexico credit union employees that are part of the LGBTQ+ community or are an ally. Juan detailed the first gathering and how much it meant to this group that, prior to the event, felt left behind. I wish I had been able to witness that gathering. I know I would have looked around at smiling, proud faces that felt seen and heard.
Another source of inclusion took place at our league’s annual convention in June where we held space and recognized our industry young professionals. We support two groups – FUEL and 906hYPe – both made up of young professionals from credit unions around the state. If you are a regular attendee of credit union conferences, you may have noticed that the audience is often made up of C-suite employees or board volunteers. Sometimes we carve out time and budget only for seasoned employees. But creating space and including our up-and-coming leaders has several benefits, least of which is helping educate them to advance in their careers. Including YP’s and shining light on them gives them the feeling of being seen and heard. I am proud of our industry’s commitment to the YP movement.
Finally, through a mentoring program that I have been so proud to be part of, I was asked this month to write a recommendation letter for an African American credit union professional looking to advance her career. If not for this program, we would never have met, and I would not have come to know her over the last several months. By devoting the time to take part in a program that got me out of my comfort zone and let someone else into my professional circle, I was able to write several detailed reasons why her credit union should advance her to be included in the ranks of management. I hope she gets the job. For me, it was so nice to be asked to support her and be her advocate. Together, we advance.
There are so many ways to be inclusive and so many people who have been serving our industry with open arms for years. This is one of the many reasons I am proud to be part of this credit union family. My hope is that even more people step out and make the time to embrace those in our community that have not been traditionally part of their circle or footprint. Serving the underserved isn’t easy as traditional ways do not work. However, not only is such service in our DNA, expanding your footprint and circle to let others in has so many rewards. Least of which is pride.
June 2022 - Originally published on CUInsight.com
Credit Union Family
Our Michigan credit union family was the theme of my presentation at the 2022 MCUL Annual Convention & Exposition this past week in Detroit. I talked about how much the AC&E is like a reunion with our credit union family and how we all enjoy connecting and learning together. To add to that conversation, I elaborated that my actual family is also a credit union family. I invited my parents – Dave and Julie – to attend our opening session and asked them to stand and be recognized. My dad worked in credit unions from 1970 until his retirement 15 years ago. They really enjoyed being at the convention! I then reminded the group that my brother, Chris Corkery, is the CEO of Advantage One Credit Union! So, I have quite the internal, and external, credit union family.
I had no idea during my remarks that our credit union family would be hit with tragic news shortly after our opening session when we learned we lost a valuable member of our family. Jordan Kingdon, long-time MCUL employee and friend, passed away during the event. As the news rippled through our team, there were a lot of tears and shock. We rallied together to talk about how we were going to let our broader credit union family know, but also we were very sensitive to the fact that his family needed to hear first. As many of you know, Jordan left behind two children, Jillian, who is starting her sophomore year in college this fall, and Ethan, Jordan’s teenage son. Our hearts break for Jordan’s children and his entire family.
In true credit union fashion, we started a collection for a fund for Jordan’s children that is continuing to grow thanks to your generosity. Those funds will be put into a trust for their benefit. Thank you to everyone for contributing and for those would like more information can visiti our Kingdon Memorial Fund page. As I said during my remarks on stage, when hard times happen, we come together.
Overall, the AC&E was a success. We had great speakers and, thanks for our sponsors and vendors, some fabulous parties. Seeing our credit union family come together, embrace and celebrate Jordan’s life and another year in our industry was inspiring. We know all too well that we need to live each day and be grateful for our time. I am grateful for my time with each of you and my heartfelt thanks to you all for your support, engagement and commitment to this fabulous, enduring family.
You do not need me to tell you times are tough and they have been for some time. When tragedies happen, we all feel them differently and yet also similarly. When politics gets in the way, tragedy brings anger and debate. Removing politics, the recent tragedies that result in the murder of innocent children at school or people buying groceries who are gunned down because of the color of their skin, have brought immense sadness, confusion and has us all desperately asking "why?"
People that take a tragedy and turn it into action are people that should have light shined on them. They should be talked about and lifted up. Shellee Mitchell is one of those people. As you will learn in my recent podcast recording, where I sit down with Shellee, she felt she was at a crossroad following the murder of George Floyd and in insurrection at our nation's capital. So, she took action. She turned her anger and sadness into action and created a program designed to break down systemic racial barriers and gender biases.
In our conversation, you will learn about the one-to-one woman mentoring program where Shellee facilitates a group of white credit union professional women paired with and mentored by African American women who seek to advance their careers. The discussion focuses on what it's like to be a woman in our industry and the commonality, as women, we all have with one another regardless of the color of our skin. I thank Shellee for creating this program and continuing to connect and lift up women in our industry. And when I say lift up, I mean she is lifting up both the mentor and mentee.
Our conversation does not stop there. Shellee shares her personal fears and anxiety in raising two, young, African American sons. She is a single mom and along the way, has had to teach her boys something white moms often don't have to teach their boys - how to act when you get pulled over, not to wear hoodies and other ways she had to parent differently. It is tough to hear but it is important to listen.
As our industry continues to push forward with inclusion and education in these difficult times and with challenging topics, we embrace change-makers who help us along the journey. I am so grateful to have taken part in the mentorship program created by Shellee. I am a better leader and person because of it. Shellee - thank you, my friend. And I wish you much success and peace in your journey. Please listen in on the podcast.
Taking the Podcast to the AC&E
In just three weeks, we’re taking the Coffee, Credit Unions & Conversations podcast on the road! At this year’s Annual Convention & Exposition, we will be recording mini interviews for a special podcast episode.
Who are the guests? You are!
Any AC&E attendees are welcome to come to the podcast-branded table outside the expo hall to discuss pressing credit union issues, what our movement means to you and more. No matter where you are in your credit union career journey, we want to hear what’s on your mind.
The Coffee, Credit Unions & Conversations table will be open right outside the fourth floor expo hall, Renaissance Ballroom, at the following times:
- Thurs., June 9: 1:45 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
- Fri., June 10: 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
If you plan on taking part in the mini interviews, use the following short form to let us know:
Fun Time in da’ UP!
Did you know that more than 20 credit unions in over 15 counties make up the UP Chapter of MCUL? That is a lot of territory! Every year (except during Covid), the UP Chapter puts on a party around its annual meeting. The chapter typically hosts more than 500 people over a three-day event north of Escanaba at the Island Resort & Casino. This is also a time that they host a legislative breakfast for the attendees, along with a packed agenda.
Their 2022 conference, held last week, was their 74th annual. I can only imagine what they plan for the 75th, because they know how to party! This annual event stands as one of MCUL’s best examples of credit unions working together on their common mission, helping people and their communities. The passion of the attendees at the event is palpable. The credit unions are joined by vendors and speakers to meet with and educate the crowd. The event also recognizes those that stand out in the U.P. with an award. Kim Kareckas of Peninsula Federal Credit Union was honored with the UP Chapter Person of the Year and Tracey Tippett of Tru North Federal Credit Union received the UP Chapter Distinguished Service Award. Each year, the chapter also rewards a young professional with the Pat Ruecker Memorial Scholarship to attend MCUL’s Annual Convention. Be sure to look for Emily Cassel from Soo Co-Op in Detroit this year as the 2022 scholarship recipient. Congratulations to these amazing women.
In addition to a top-notch award ceremony, the chapter hosts a CEO gathering, has their own young professional “crashers” from 906 Hype and brings in a theme for the party. This year the theme was Kentucky Derby!
Highlights for me included spending some time with MCUL Board Director Connie Toensing and Alternate Director Jim Venesky. Due to the distance, I do not often have the opportunity to see them other than on Zoom. I was also happy to thank outgoing Chapter Chair Chris Ison, CEO of Tahquamenon Area Credit Union, for his service and welcome in David Rautiola, CEO of Michigan Tech Employees Federal Credit Union, as the new chapter chair.
I was also honored to sit down with the young professional group, 906 Hype, and ask them questions, such as why they chose the credit union industry over another employer and where we need to be better as an industry. I enjoyed hearing from Valerie Miotke of Limestone Federal Credit Union, who had the courage to leave the study of medicine in pursuit of her true passion – the credit union industry. Chelsea Orr, of Soo Co-Op Credit Union, spoke with delight about her credit union’s efforts and member engagement with technology. The event was not all work though and I had a great time hitting the dance floor with Ashley Edwardsen and Abby Runkel of Peninsula Federal Credit Union! (Notice there are no photos of this!) There were definitely some great insights from this group and the future of credit unions in the UP looks bright.
It was fun to spend time with this thriving chapter and listen in on the stories of community engagement, cooperation and enrichment that is alive and well with our northern friends. Cheers to the UP Chapter of Credit Unions! Our team was happy to take part in the festivities. Already looking forward to next year’s event in da’ UP!
The Numbers Are Looking Good In Michigan!
NCUA Q4 2021 Report: Michigan Credit Union Memberships See Three-Year High in 2021
Omicron continues supply chain disruption but doesn’t slow Michigan credit union memberships, now at 5.8 million.
The fourth quarter of 2021 looked all too familiar to the previous quarter with the rise of a new COVID-19 variant, Omicron. While this new variant continued Delta’s disruption of the global supply chain, it had little effect on the growth of the national economy and credit union financial performance, which was largely mirrored in Michigan.
Memberships in Michigan rose 0.8% (3.2% annualized) in the quarter — nearly 10 times faster than U.S. population growth. The state’s membership growth in 2021 came at a three-year high of 4.2%, pushing total Michigan credit union memberships to 5.8 million.
Membership growth by region (for trailing 12 months):
- Grand Rapids: 5.3%
- Traverse City: 4.6%
- Flint: 2.4%
- Muskegon: 1.6%
- Lansing: 1.5%
- Marquette: 0.9%
Michigan credit union loan portfolios increased 10.2% over the past year. This average is well above the national rate of 7.7%.
Q4 loan growth (by type):
- Member business loans: 23.8%
- First mortgages: 13.6%
- Used auto: 11%
- Credit cards: 3.1%
- New auto: 2.7%
The end of the fourth quarter also marked approximately one year out of the COVID-19-induced lockdown. While the year saw the dangerous breakthroughs of two variants of the virus, Michigan’s credit union memberships continued to rise, and at the fastest rate we’ve seen in a few years. After nearly two years of this pandemic, it’s clear to me that the membership our state has seen is not unrelated to the virus. During times of difficulty or general uncertainty, finding a trusted financial partner is a top priority. Last year, that’s exactly what we saw consumers do in Michigan, where membership growth outpaced population growth.
CUNA’s Q4 Member Benefits Report for 2021 shows that Michigan credit unions contributed to a total of $556 million in direct financial benefits to Michigan’s 5.8 million members over the previous twelve months. This total is equal to $83 per member or $174 per household.
These figures are calculated based on average savings differences between credit union and bank pricing. They result from financial benefits, such as higher CD rates and fee-free checking, as well as lower rates and fees on products like home, car and auto loans.
Find the complete Q4 2021 NCUA Call Report Data here.
You can also find more Q4 data on Michigan credit unions’ low rates and high dividends in the CUNA Q4 Member Benefits Report.
Are You There, Crypto? It’s me, Patty
Several times, I have picked up a book, article or conducted a Google search trying to better understand the basics and general culture of cryptocurrency and blockchain. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding this universe confusing, exciting, risky and complicated all at the same time. The crypto world is yet another area that makes me feel old and behind, as do so many other technological advances. But, attending a recent conference and hearing people that are older than me talk about their digital wallet and bidding on an NFT (non-fungible token), I knew I needed to roll up my sleeves and get up to speed. Even the title of the Sunday Business section of the recent The New York Times called its section on crypto, “The Latecomer’s Guide to Crypto.” So much of the article was full of new financial vocabulary. Uh oh, it’s official; I am late.
But what is a credit union’s role in crypto? Even after getting a basic education of the who, what, and when of it all, what is the “where” for credit unions? Where does crypto live in our world?
From a credit union league perspective, our role is to provide our member credit unions education in the crypto space, as well as to remove any barriers prohibiting credit unions from safely entering this space, provided they have the desire.
We can view it almost like cannabis banking — while now legal in Michigan, it’s an area that not everyone wants to participate in but still needs serious changes in the legal and regulatory space. While cannabis has a vastly complex tracking system and sample policies, procedures and tested oversight, the same cannot be said about crypto.
A recent whitepaper published by Cornerstone Advisors, “What’s Going On In Banking 2022: Rebounding from the Revenue Recession,” tells us that 25% of credit unions plan to offer cryptocurrency investing/trading by the end of 2023, and 17% of the 300 community financial institution executives say they plan to offer custody/safekeeping of crypto by the same timeframe.
Like it or not, crypto is everywhere. You see it on Venmo, watching the Superbowl, the Academy Awards and, if you are in LA, you might have been to the Crypto.com Arena.
Whether crypto is here to stay or not, I would like to see our credit unions get to a place where they safely explore their cryptocurrency options. We’re often trying to dispel the myth that credit unions are not tech savvy; what better way to distinguish ourselves as tech players than offering crypto education by a financial advisor or surveying investment options?
Are you one of the many credit unions looking to find some non-interest income? Maybe this technology can deliver.
While you will not find me looking to buy into the Bored Ape Yacht Club (Google it) anytime soon (or ever), I am excited to continue my education and to explore options for our Michigan credit unions in blockchain. Join me.
April 2022 This article was originally published on CUInsight.com.
This April, Kids Learn about Money, Credit Unions Shine!
The Michigan Credit Union Foundation (MCUF) not only supports our Michigan community by providing community enrichment grants and financial education to credit union professionals, its overall impact shines light on all of our Michigan credit unions in programs like Smart Money MI Kids Read. This program, through public libraries around the state, supports story time initiatives during April’s Financial Literacy Month.
Over 8,000 Michigan families will receive Count on Pablo, this year’s book. MCUF’s partnership with Michigan libraries, Michigan credit unions and the Michigan Financial Wellness Network makes this possible.
Again this year, we thank a team of financial educators from Community Financial Credit Union for volunteering at the Novi Public Library to sort, pack and distribute the books to participating libraries.
This is an initiative of the Michigan Financial Wellness Network, dedicated to providing Michigan residents with non-solicitous information, education and resources, to become better stewards of their money. Partners come from all sectors, including credit unions, social service, business, government, education, not-for-profit, media and more.
Each Count on Pablo book is stamped that it is brought to the reader from Michigan credit unions. This effort, along with so many other great MCUF initiatives, is possible thanks to the generous donations to the Foundation from credit unions, chapters and business partners.
Thank you for those who donated.
CUNA GAC 2022
Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending the CUNA GAC in D.C. along with more than 100 fellow Michigan advocacy leaders. We had great weather and a wonderful experience at the convention. Our MCUL advocacy team set us up for in-person visits with our Michigan congressional delegation. While virtual visits have worked well, nothing beats meeting in person and interacting with the delegation face-to-face.
We were also happy to be joined by Andre Vygnanski, president/CEO of the Ukrainian Selfreliance Michigan Federal Credit Union. All our visits touched on the current crisis in Ukraine, and it was helpful to have Andre's perspective and input. Please check out our MCUL Facebook page for ways you can help during this terrible time in Ukraine.
Most of our hill visits took place at the Credit Union House. If you’re not aware, for 20 years, credit unions have invested in and supported a house on Capitol Hill. It’s a great testament to the strength of credit unions and our fierce support for advocacy. Be sure to check it out next time you’re in D.C. You’re welcome to take a tour! Visit the Credit Union House.
For me, the highlight of the event was walking into the opening ceremony with our MCUL Chair, Heather Luciani. This was my first GAC as your league president and carrying in the Michigan flag was thrilling. I was proud to represent our Michigan credit unions alongside Heather and celebrate all you do in our industry. If you have never gone to the GAC, please keep it in mind for next year. MCUL has scholarships available, and I believe everyone should go at least once!
As a state credit union trade association, our primary focus is to advocate on behalf of all credit unions in Michigan. We take our mission, to support and protect the cooperative credit union movement in Michigan, very seriously and advocacy runs through every division and every member of our team.
That is why, when preparing to Hike the Hill in Washington as part of the CUNA GAC, we spend a lot of time preparing and researching the most important issues affecting credit unions today and in the future. Our team burns the midnight oil scheduling visits with our congressional delegation. These visits are moving targets as schedules are constantly changing. We also, along with CUNA, develop issue briefs so our Michigan attendees are prepared to discuss what we care about as credit unions with our Michigan delegation. But it is not all work! We plan receptions and make social time to gather and network. This year, we will be toasting to a long-awaited return to the Hill since visits were canceled during the pandemic.
One thing the pandemic taught us, was the value of virtual advocacy. More credit union leaders were able to engage with our PAC Trustees, meet with our Forum reps and talk state and federal issues with our committees. Virtual visits with our delegation have also been successful. With the positive results we've seen, all these efforts will continue to, on occasion, be virtual.
But, there is nothing like going to DC to network and meet up to 5,000 credit union advocates. I am looking forward, even more so this year given our pandemic separation, to donning my PAC lapel pin and reminding lawmakers who we are, what we do, and why our cooperative spirit, and structure, must be preserved.
Thank you for all you do to support advocacy, through your fundraising, visit participation, lawmaker meetings, story sharing and hiking the hill!
I thought it was a great month – being Black History Month – to announce that MCUL is sponsoring a mentoring program to take place early Spring. This engagement will pair 10 Michigan credit union industry professionals with 10 up-and-coming African American credit union team members for six weeks of mentorship. Our mentors have been selected and are excited to begin.
I took part in this same program, which was sponsored by the Montana Credit Union League, and have been so inspired meeting with my mentee – a branch manager from Schools First Credit Union in California.
We are excited to bring this opportunity to Michigan and work with Shellee Mitchell who will manage the program. Ms. Mitchell started Sapphire Dimension, which focuses on the development of African American females’ professional, educational and economic development. Her vision is “[f]or African American females to live in economic empowerment; the financial abundance of their education and skill; with fulfillment in their personal lives and contribution to humanity.” MCUL is proud to support Ms. Mitchell’s business and bring her vision to our Michigan credit union community.
When I was asked to become a mentor to a young, African American professional, I did not really think I had that much to offer. I knew that my experience in the workforce, while similar as we are both women, was vastly different than that of an African American. I knew that my mentee would have to work even harder than I did to make it.
As part of the 1-to-1 Mentoring Program, as Shellee calls it, she provides both mentors and mentees with a copy of The Memo – What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table by Minda Harts. I found this book so enlightening and, at times, hard to read. It goes into detail on what women of color experience in the work force and what holds them back. My mentee and I read it together and it generated powerful discussions.
I encourage you to get a copy. I am not proud to say that this was my first leadership book written by an African American woman, but it will not be my last.
I hope you are finding a way to contribute this month to honor the Black history that has been overlooked and, sometimes, forgotten or ignored.
Hitting the Ground Running
We are well underway at the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) implementing our strategy for 2022. Currently, we are gearing up for the CUNA GAC. While visits with lawmakers may look a bit different with Covid restrictions, we are excited that over 100 credit union professionals are attending with us. With it being a big election year in Michigan at the state level as well as the federal districts changing, our advocacy team and PAC Trustees are very busy. We appreciate your engagement and sharing your credit union stories with our lawmakers.
During our January industry call, we spent some time discussing overdraft programs and what our Michigan credit unions are considering with their programs. Some shared that they are decreasing their fees and considering alternative income sources. We have assembled an overdraft task force to dig into issues and report to our industry on the findings. More to come in the months ahead.
This month, I had the privilege of sitting down with One Detroit Credit Union CEO, Hank Hubbard, to discuss his years with the credit union and engaging in our industry. Hank has a lot of insights to offer with his years of experience in overseeing a credit union under $100 million in assets as well as becoming one of the first CDFI credit unions in Michigan. Check out the Credit Union, Coffee and Conversation episode and enjoy.
We have all learned over the last couple of years, many of you well before then, the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Some credit unions are fortunate enough to have the means to hire employees who oversee DEI efforts as their sole role at the organization, while most do what they can to incorporate the principles of hiring and supporting a diverse team.
I recently had the pleasure of being asked to participate in a mentoring program that partners women executives with up-and-coming female minority credit union employees. The program is called “1to1Woman” and was initiated by the fabulous Shellee Mitchell of Sapphire Dimension, LLC. As part of the program, Mitchell provided mentors with a copy of the book The Memo by Minda Harts.
I am embarrassed to admit that The Memo is the first executive leadership style book that I have read from the perspective of an African American woman. I suppose if I had seen the book on the shelf that, on its cover, purports to tell women of color what they need to know to secure a seat at the table, as a white woman, I may have not picked it up. That would have been my mistake. Not only is the book helpful to women of color in developing their career, it offers a lot of insight into what their experience is like, which can, in turn, really help all of us understand hurdles or barriers that we may not have faced in our own careers.
Reading The Memo and working with my amazing “mentee,” who has likely taught me more than I have taught her, has confirmed for me that I have a lot of work to do on the inclusion part of DEI. Part of the book talks about what happens “After 6” and the social part of the workplace where people gather for cocktails and after hour events. The author recounts that countless women of color she has talked to just want to do their jobs and go home. Harts encourages women readers to put themselves out there and interact and get to know their white colleagues in a casual setting. In talking with my mentee, she confirmed also that social situations outside of the office were a challenge for her.
We know that in our industry, sans a pandemic, social time happens on a regular basis! As a former credit union vendor, I know all about the after conference social time. After reading The Memo and engaging with my mentee, I will look at these events differently going forward. Not only will I observe who is at the social events, but I will also consider who is not, and what I can do to try and encourage people of color to attend. This is a reminder to me, a reinforcement to focus on inclusion. The “I” in DEI takes more time and thoughtfulness than the other efforts. Focusing on what we can do to encourage people of color to network and engage after hours is one small part. To really get to know our teams and make sure they are all included is something we should all be striving for.
I still have so much to learn in this space. But learning is a lifelong pursuit. It is not just reading a book or putting out a statement about commitment to DEI. I do not claim in any fashion to be a leader in this space and know that I can do much more. But I can say that I am committed to not letting the topic of DEI fade into the background. I encourage you to pick up a copy of The Memo and share it with your team. I know my mentee really found a lot of value in the book as she is navigating her career in our industry as a woman of color. If you are still looking for a New Year’s resolution, maybe this article can help.
January 2022 - Originally published on CUInsight.comGo to main navigation