CUNA Seeks Cheney Successor
A search is underway for a new president/CEO at CUNA. Bill Cheney is leaving Washington to go back to California and take the top job at the $9.8 billion SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union.
Prior to joining CUNA as its CEO in 2010, Cheney was president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues and of the former Xerox Federal Credit Union.
SchoolsFirst CEO Rudy Hanley announced his retirement from the Santa Ana-based credit union in January.
At the time, Hanley said his retirement would be effective March 31. SchoolsFirst told CU Times on March 12 that Hanley will stay on as CEO until Cheney starts in June.
“Bill has been an admired peer for many years and I’m excited to work with him in making this transition,” Hanley said.
Diana Dykstra, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, said she was surprised when she heard the news.
“He's been a great leader at CUNA who made a lot of positive change,” she told CU Times.
“SchoolsFirst is a phenomenal credit union. He's very lucky. SchoolsFirst is very lucky and we’re going to miss him,” she added.
CUNA Chairman Dennis Pierce announced a search for Cheney's replacement effective immediately.
CUNA would consider candidates from inside and outside the credit union movement, said Pierce, president/CEO of the $1.9 billion CommunityAmerica Credit Union in Kansas City, Mo.
“We will be looking for leadership that can bring to bear the talents of the exceptional team that we have on board at CUNA now, and leverage the strengths of the three-tiered system of CUNA, leagues and credit unions to achieve our goals and strengthen the movement,” Pierce said.
Pierce praised Cheney's accomplishments during his time with CUNA.
“Bill and his team this year planned and executed the most successful CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference ever, which drew more than 4,400 credit union supporters to rally and then deliver the credit union message to Capitol Hill,” Pierce said.
CUNA said Cheney will continue working as CEO until his departure.
Cheney said, “SchoolsFirst has always had an incredible reputation as an industry leader with great financial performance and an extraordinary commitment to member service. I’m looking forward to continuing that legacy and building a new era of growth and success.”
Cheney will also take on a consulting role in the search for a new president/CEO, CUNA said.
“I take on this new role at SchoolsFirst knowing that, with the backing of the CUNA board, the state leagues, and CUNA staff, we have accomplished much. However, the work will continue without interruption,” Cheney said in a statement. “Protection of our tax exemption, pursuit of regulatory relief, enhancing the charter and working toward achievement of a shared strategic vision – among other key issues – must proceed, with guidance from our board, partnership with the leagues and efforts of our talented, professional staff.”
SchoolsFirst Chairman Adam O’Connor said, “Bill Cheney is a proven leader and will be a great asset to SchoolsFirst FCU. We are confident he will elevate the credit union to new levels of growth and excellence in serving our members,” O’Connor said.
Paul Gentile worked with Cheney as CUNA's EVP of strategic communications and engagement before leaving the trade organization in late 2013. In January, Gentile started his new position as CEO of the Massachusetts Credit Union League, New Hampshire Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of Rhode Island.
“Bill's contribution to the credit union system has been tremendous and it will continue at SchoolsFirst. On behalf of the credit unions of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, I thank Bill for his advocacy efforts and helping ensure the credit union charter remains the best charter in the financial services system,” Gentile told CU Times.