Moving to sharpen its council and chapter structure and generate more grassroots input, the Kansas Credit Union Association this week detailed plans for perhaps two more specialized professional councils in 2012.
That would come on top of three newly formed ones – Lending, Marketing and CUnext Young Professionals – starting work this year to promote more online networking and education among CU executives.
At the same time in a regional expansion of the concept, the Nebraska Credit Union League said it expects to partner with the Kansas league by the end of the first quarter to allow its members to join the Kansas units.
Gina Evans, assistant vice president of education and training and the KCUA staffer overseeing the councils, said the entities were formally organized this month “to promote synergy among all Kansas credit unions as the local, primary source for uniting and energizing individuals and sharing best practices, education and resources.”
The two new councils being considered for later in 2012 – and which Nebraska CU executives might eventually join – are tech and HR/operations, Evans said.
The three existing councils already have some 60 participants who convene online or in person to discuss the latest trends impacting each discipline.
“All of the councils feature a listserv and fileshare, both accessed through a members-only section of the KCUA website,” the league said. The trade group has already conducted several council-specific events including a council kick-off late last year. More council seminars are planned April 19-21 during the annual convention of KCUA at the Wichita Hyatt.
Credit unions under $7 million will not have to pay dues to belong to a council while other CUs in the two states would have to pay nominal, per-person fees to participate based on asset size. Each of the councils will be governed by three directors.
In launching the councils, Evans said the KCUA management has also revamped the chapter network allowing each of the eight existing chapters to operate without strict bylaws or rules on membership, officer elections or meeting times.
“They have become affiliated organizations and are free to set their own rules or change their names,” Evans said, noting at least one chapter has dropped the “chapter” name. The South Central chapter covering Wichita is now the “CUBE Network” and the Wy/Jo Chapter covering Wyandotte and Johnson counties in eastern Kansas has been renamed the “Sunflower Chapter.”
Like leagues elsewhere, officials of the Kansas and Nebraska leagues said they have witnessed a decline in attendance and participation at chapter events over the years as credit unions continue to cut costs. At least one Kansas chapter in the northwest part of the state with sparse population and few CUs disbanded in 2011.
“Some credit unions just send one representative to a chapter meeting when they formerly might have sent 10,” said Amy Shaw, director of initiatives for the Nebraska League who has been coordinating with Kansas on joining the council arrangement.
Shaw said the Nebraska league for years has grappled with chapter shrinkage “and we’ve explored several ideas” but a firm package has not come forth. But certainly, she said, the council concept stressing work disciplines is a means to spark new participation in idea sharing.
Josh Allison, relationship development manager at Horizon Credit Union from Spokane Valley, Wash., addresses credit union marketers during the KCUA Marketing and Lending councils kickoff event.