The makeup of next year's CUNA board was taking shape Tuesday with one contingent of contenders already elected but at least three director seats remained in doubt amidst contested elections. In one race for a seat representing the smallest CUs, there were four candidates.
The rivals in the unusual four-way race for the District 4 Class A seat were Patricia A. Wesenberg, Marshfield, Wis.; Brian Smith-Vandergriff, Kansas City, Mo.; Pat Drennen, Comanche, Iowa and Dennis Fisher, Lincolnwood, Ill.
They all represent CUs under 21,000 members.
Wesenberg is being sponsored by the $49 million Marshfield Medical Center CU in Wisconsin where she is governmental affairs liaison. She also is president/CEO of a competitor CU in Marshfield, the $166 million Central City.
Representing Missouri is Smith-Vandergriff, a 29-year-old volunteer and CUSO executive who advocates greater diversity on the CUNA board.
"As a third generation member of the credit union movement, I have sought this position to provide service and guidance to the industry during these unprecedented times," explained Smith-Vandergriff, who cited his financial and tech background and said he offers a generational perspective.
From Iowa is Drennen, the outgoing chairman of the Iowa Credit Union League and president/CEO of 1st Gateway CU and the fourth, from Illinois, is Fisher, president/CEO of First Security CU.
Drennen, a longtime director of the Iowa League, said he committed to running because "this is such a pivotal time in our industry and I do feel a sense of dedication and urgency to contribute what I can to the CUNA leadership."
Wesenberg stressed her own veteran experience on the board, having served six years and been elected secretary earlier this year. She maintained that a quirk in eligibility rules involving Central City's membership count triggered her decision to seek another term.
Under CUNA rules, the Class A seat must be for CUs with membership under 21,000 "but our numbers jumped above 21,000--to 21,385--just after we did a data processing conversion in May," Wesenberg said, emphasizing her desire to be open and transparent in her candidacy. Fisher of Illinois said he seeks to build greater cooperation among small CUs to improve their economic well-being and gain support from stronger CUs in the system.
Meanwhile, CUNA said six CU leaders have already won their CUNA seats by acclamation.
They are Ed Williams, president/CEO of Discovery FCU, Wyomissing, Pa.; Wendell Lyons, president/CEO of the Kentucky Credit Union League; Maurice Smith, CEO of Local Government FCU, Raleigh, N.C.; Jeff York, president/CEO of Coasthills FCU, Lompoc, Calif.; Harriet May, the current CUNA Chairman and president/CEO of GECU, El Paso,Texas and Paul Gentile, president/CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League and former editor-in-chief of Credit Union Times. Voting in the contested races will continue through Dec. 17.