Maintaining he is leaving the industry in solid hands but "with a hole in my heart," the outgoing chairman of CUNA, Kris Mecham of Utah, said Wednesday he departs next month for Mongolia with knowledge that CUs seem well prepared to handle various legislative crises whether it be the corporate bailout, member business lending, secondary capital or interchange.
The CUNA head and retiring president/CEO of the $454 million Deseret First FCU of Salt Lake City said also that while the industry needs to speak with one voice too much talk and energy is being devoted to the discussion of potential CUNA/NAFCU consolidation.
"We're spending too much time dealing with that issue when the fact is we are represented well in Washington," said Mecham maintaining he and others in CUNA "have worked together well" with NAFCU leaders in recent months, becoming effective in such areas as secondary capital, and corporate stabilization.
In the meantime, the Utah CEO and his wife, Stephanie, as active members of the Mormon Church, now prepare to take on a personal journey of faith leaving June 28 for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to serve as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-Day Saints. Mecham will be president of the mission and Stephanie will assist in full-time work for a two year stint.
"We never applied for this honor and it was a huge surprise when the church asked us last November if we would be willing to serve," said Mecham adding he is also confident his own CU, which has weathered financial struggles with below-par capital of 5.5% as a sand state victim, will emerge in improved shape later this year.
"That's one of the big frustrations I've had to endure," confided Meacham alluding to similar financial problems hitting CUs in Utah and neighboring Nevada. Mecham's last day as CUNA Chairman is June 1 and he will be succeeded by Harriet May, president/CEO, of GECU of El Paso, Texas.