Bent on nurturing greater member involvement in its growth, Unitus Community Credit Union in Oregon confirmed Friday it has reached a new threshold in developing term limits for directors.
Under the new schedule, Unitus directors are limited to four, three-year terms—or 12 years on the board.
The $836 million Portland CU said the new procedure drafted “in a methodical and deliberate process well received by the members of the board” took formal effect last month at the CU’s annual meeting, at which two incumbents agreed to retire.
“Following discussion we’ve had with our directors, led by our CEO, Pat Smith, starting back at least four years ago, we realized that given the new regulatory scrutiny, we needed to make sure we had a pipeline to the membership to bring on new ideas,” said Laurie Kresl, vice president of planning/business development.
For many CUs, it was explained, existing board members tend to stay on for successive terms but at Unitus following long-running communications the two veteran directors, Barbara Leonard and Vernon Reinecker, each completing three-year terms, agreed to leave.
Kresl acknowledged the sensitivity of term limits, noting many volunteers “are very passionate and committed to their credit union and want to serve.”
In an online article published this week by the Northwest Credit Union Association, CEO Smith said term limits remain “one of the most difficult topics for a credit union board and management.”
She said, “At the very least, having the conversation is an important place to figure what is best for each individual credit union.”
Smith emphasized that having an “engaged membership is one of the major benefits of term limits” and helps spur recruitment of new volunteers.
Such a policy enables the membership to become more active in governance “as there is a finite service time for existing board members,” she wrote.
A press release last month noted that the first meeting of the new board after the rule change “included the welcoming of two new volunteers – Jim Lewis and Scott Thompson.” Lewis is a former PBS executive involved with nonprofits and Thompson is a Portland home builder.