NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- After a year and a half of a sometimes "frustrating" search, on Feb. 23, Tom Davis accepted the position as the new president/CEO of the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations.
Davis, who had been serving as NACUSO's chairman of the board, will take the helm April 1. He succeeds Vic Pantea, who was serving as interim CEO. Pantea will continue his responsibilities on the NACUSO board of directors, where he has served since 2003. A new chairman has not yet been selected, but Davis said he will maintain a spot on the board.
Davis has been a member of the board for 20 years, starting in that role two years after NACUSO was founded in 1985. He spent seven years as a credit union and CUSO executive working with Bellco Credit Union. Over the last 18 years, he devoted his career to the industry as a management consultant and CEO of Davis & Company.
"I am honored by the board's selection and their confidence in me to lead NACUSO into the future, and to help the industry at a time when it is at a mature phase in its life cycle and facing significant challenges," Davis said. "NACUSO's role in helping the credit union industry to transform itself is to focus not only on innovation, but to incorporate the unique qualities and advantages of collaboration and the cooperative business model."
With a full plate as the head of his consulting company and actively working with the CUSO Development Company, Davis said he's convinced that it was "the certain alignment of stars that made this come together."
"We have two adopted girls from China, my work keeps me on a plane all the time," Davis explained on weighing the decision to head the association. "A huge driver of my decision is I do have a passion for leading NACUSO and the new [National Center for Collaboration and Innovation]. I am looking forward to helping the credit union industry during its matured phase and the significant challenges but significant opportunities that come with those challenges."
So that he doesn't spread himself too thin, Davis said he will scale back "significantly" from his consulting company. Remaining "active" with the CUSO Development Company, he emphasized that he will be "forthcoming and clear" on who he is representing so that there are no conflicts of interest.
NACUSO's search committee, of which Davis was a member, interviewed a number of potential candidates over a year and a half period and at one point, some final choices were nailed down but never materialized, Davis said. Part of the reason for the drawn-out search had to do with the compensation package NACUSO put together, Davis acknowledged.
"We as a NACUSO board felt frustrated," Davis recalled. "Vic had been doing a good job but out of fairness, we needed to let him get back to his role [as president/COO of] at Member Gateways, LLC," a strategic alliance among 24 credit unions, their CUSOs and Callahan & Associates, Inc.
Indeed, Davis said Pantea deserves praise for putting together NACUSO's Platinum Partner program, which has raised funds for the association, as well as conferences.
"I don't think we could give Vic enough credit for stepping in as interim CEO. He has been very valuable," Davis said.
NACUSO board members Dave Serlo, president of PSCU Financial Services, and Dennis Pierce, president/CEO of $1.4 billion CommunityAmerica Credit Union, talked to Davis about the possibility of heading the organization. Davis wanted to ensure that he could still "maintain a small piece of my company" and remain active in other interests. Serlo and Pierce were accommodating as were the rest of the association's board. Davis submitted his vision document for NACUSO's direction and the rest is history.
"The industry needs trade organizations committed to solving its major problems, and that requires industry expertise and commitment from the leadership," Pierce said. "Tom has an in-depth understanding of NACUSO's role in helping credit unions survive and succeed."
As the primary architect of the National Center for Collaboration and Innovation, which recently received $50,000 in seed capital from PSCU Financial Services, Davis is set to move the new venture forward. The center will support several projects this year including regional meetings focusing on key industry issues, the development of the NACUSO Match Web site as a clearinghouse for information and knowledge about all CUSOs and as a resource to CUs and CUSOs searching for the right partner, products and services. The center will make its debut at NACUSO's annual conference April 30-May 3 at the Wynn Las Vegas.
Davis is also in the process of putting together a comprehensive business plan that will take place over the next 12 months. One component will be surveying NACUSO's Platinum Partners to get their views on developing stronger value proposition. He also wants to establish a "continuous feedback loop" with the association's membership.
Serlo certainly feels Davis is the right man for the job. "He has a special knowledge and ability to look outside our industry for new ideas, and superimpose them onto industry issues and challenges," Serlo said. "Tom is simply an exemplary, innovative leader and advocate for the industry." --firstname.lastname@example.org