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From the October-01, 2008 issue of Credit Union Times Magazine • Subscribe!
Gentile Provides Calm, Revival After Corner-Office Tempest at NJCUL
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- The New Jersey Credit Union League had a reputation for changing CEOs as often as some change the oil in their vehicles.<p>Paul Gentile, who has headed up the league for just the last 10 months, is looking to change all that. "We've added a number of credit unions," he commented during an interview at the NJCUL annual meeting last week, his first as CEO. "People say, 'How'd you get those credit unions back.'"</p><p>Prior to Gentile, the league was without a permanent CEO for about six months after the firing of Bob Walls, formerly the CEO of the Delaware Credit Union League. Tom Shaughnessy before that was fired, convicted of embezzling approximately $300,000. The league chose not to renew the contract of Russell Clark, who held the top spot before that for six years.</p><p>"New Jersey had one of the lowest affiliation rates in the country, and I really don't know why," Gentile continued. He noted that it's a strong credit union state with solid chapter events, but he acknowledged that the CEO position has been like a revolving door.</p><p>"Now I think people are getting excited. I think we'll have one of the best affiliation rates in two years," he predicted. Gentile is wearing out the shoe leather to accomplish this feat, traveling credit union to credit union function and back again. Since he took the reins, NJCUL has gained seven new members; net figures were not available at press time.</p><p>Gentile said one of the most crucial things the league has done is create an office in Trenton, the state's capital. He explained that the federal credit unions in the state, which account for nearly all credit unions in New Jersey didn't understand why lobbying in Trenton was important to them. However, Gentile highlighted the ability to take municipal deposits, as banks are already permitted to do, as one example of why credit unions need to be there.</p><p>Additionally, he said he is interested in enhancing the New Jersey state charter and stressed how important the dual chartering system is. "The division of banking is open to working with us," Gentile said. He added that some federal charters are considering converting to a state charter, based on the league's proposed changes. Currently, only 17 of New Jersey's 220 credit unions are state chartered.</p><p>New Jersey is also populated by a number of smaller credit unions, averaging about $42 million in assets statewide. Thus, the league has created a new small credit union initiative. He emphasized that this is not just a committee or task force, but the league is spending two years with 12 credit unions on strategic planning, working with larger credit union mentors, and repeatedly surveying the membership. The league is assisting with the strategic planning and board training. When asked if the smaller credit unions were concerned about receiving assistance from larger credit unions, Gentile acknowledged that that type of sentiment exists but added that "this isn't to merge them out of existence."</p><p>Along those same lines, the NJCUL Board also approved a restructuring, cutting its 15-member board down to nine, with three representatives from credit unions under $25 million in assets, three above $25 million and three at-large.</p><p>The NJCUL has also invested in East Coast Business Lenders, a member business lending CUSO, since Gentile's tenure in acknowledgement of the 40% increase in business lending at New Jersey credit unions.</p><p>Gentile concluded that "it feels good to get into the movement" after years of writing about it. Before joining the NJCUL, Gentile had served in a variety of positions of growing responsibility at Credit Union Times, ending his tenure as publisher-editor.</p><p>--email@example.com</p>
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