Credit union educators in North Carolina were searching for a special way to dramatically stress to industry newcomers and those unfamiliar with CU history the importance of the industry's mission.
They decided the setting and the agenda were of key importance "to show exactly where we've come from, what needs to be done and what tools to use to spread the message," explained Amy Gravitte, vice president-training and leadership development for the $2 billion Coastal FCU.
The setting for last month's annual Credit Union Educators Development Conference was the historic landmark home of the R.J. Reynolds family of cigarette fame located near Winston-Salem.
The intense, two-day conference held at the Graylyn Center and coordinated by the North Carolina Credit Union League and under auspices of the National Credit Union Foundation featured distribution of special kits and guides to help educators in condensing and delivering a strong CU message.
"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that a group of CUDEs in a state has formally organized to present educational events for credit union staff and volunteers," said the league in describing the "Principles and Philosophy Conference," as it was dubbed.
The league said the program "is based on volunteer efforts of people from a variety of credit unions and backgrounds and can be a model for educating folks about credit union history and philosophy," said the league.
One part of the program, said Gravitte, was to provide techniques that volunteers and others can use to spread the CU message quickly and concisely in an elevator speech. In other words, what would and could a speaker say to a stranger about the industry during a ride in an elevator.
Gravitte stressed that the elevator speech needed to be compelling and easy to understand. During table discussions, attendees drafted their elevator speeches and shared them to get feedback.
Serving as moderators during the conference were Lois Kitsch, NCUF's national program director, and Larry Blanchard, public affairs consultant of CUNA Mutual Group.
"The volunteer efforts of the development educators have been simply amazing," said NCCUL President/CEO John Radebaugh. "As credit unions try to navigate the future, it's vitally important for us to understand our history and fit in the business world."