WASHINGTON-As CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica celebrates his five-year anniversary with CUNA July 1, he’s looking to the future. Not only is he examining CUNA’s future, but also his own, and he sees himself with CUNA for the next five years. “In my first five years at CUNA, any successes we have had are a result of the superb staff at CUNA, a supportive board, and the leagues,” Mica said. He said that the period has been “personally enjoyable” as well as “productive for the credit union movement.” “I have two theories,” he remarked. “One is I truly, truly enjoy what I’m doing, and I plan to be here. At the same time, I would like to make any changes in my life at the top of my game. I hope to be here for another five years. No CUNA CEO has made seven.but I have a very supportive board and we work very, very well together and I see us as breaking new ground and doing new things.” Facing five years, Mica said he really was not sure what direction he should go in. He came to the conclusion that he was still making a difference and that he should and wanted to stay. “I have seen an awful lot of Congressman, Senators, and association officials stay too long and I don’t want to stay too long,” Mica said. After deciding he would stay at CUNA, Mica is focused not only on his future, but the future of CUNA. “I would like to think that we’re stronger. I would like to think that we’re broader. I would like to think that we as an organization have given some depth to the strength of the credit union movement,” he said of CUNA looking ahead five-years from now. While Mica proudly states that CUNA has “grown to be a premier trade association,” the group still has many issues to work on. He commented that the trade groups needs to do a better job of educating credit union members and the general public as to what credit unions really are and the services they provide. At one time, CUNA considered telling the credit union movement what it wanted, not listening to what the credit unions are saying, Mica said. This is the exact opposite of what he wants for the lobby group. He has personally traveled to 48 of 50 state leagues, with the last two to come shortly. “As I travel the country, I found, that’s the greatest medicine for energy and vitality for the credit union movement to hear people talk about, one, the good things they like about what CUNA’s done, and, two, ideas and thoughts about where we should be going, and listen to the people,” Mica explained. The CUNA CEO added that CUNA has a new “credibility” to the work its lobbyists do on Capitol Hill, Mica remarked. More than 20,000 trade associations swarm the Hill, he said. Most of them are trying to claw their way through the key representatives’ doors. CUNA, on the other hand, is being called before legislation moves in Washington to find out credit unions’ positions on different issues. “Are we strong enough to go up there and move a major bill through Congress right now without amendments? Absolutely not,” he acknowledged. He added that CUNA still has a lot of work to do before they will have that kind of power in Congress. “I don’t think we’re ready for a major legislative battle at this time. I do think that we need to be ready and willingly to get involved in the skirmishes and take a proactive stance on specific legislation and immediate needs of credit unions,” Mica said. CUNA is constantly monitoring Congress, between bankruptcy reform, privacy and many other issues floating around the Hill. Right now, credit unions would be wise to make any legislative changes through the amendment process,” the former congressman from Florida advised. There will not be any Credit Union Membership Access Act (H.R. 1151) in the near future. Mica added that while 20 million credit union members were able to maintain their membership through the six-month battle for 1151, credit unions might not have a proper perspective of the time it takes to push legislation through Congress. The banks worked well over 20 years for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which modernized the banking industry and allowed them to branch into other services like insurance. The Renaissance Age One thing that will keep CUNA busy for quite a while is following through with the Renaissance Commission results, due out late last week. Even though the final issues to be focused on by CUNA’s lobbying and regulatory forces have not been released, according to CUNA’s chief. “It has already provided a tremendous service to the credit unions by saying to the movement and having the movement respond that we indeed are the masters of our own future.” Mica emphasized the importance of becoming proactive, instead of reactive. “What the commission has done is given the opportunity to thousands of credit union members to have input and to debate themselves about what their own future is,” he said. “There are times we’ve been able to sit back and say, `Here’s what we hope for. Here’s what we would like to see and here’s what might even fall into the category of our dreams.’ We did it in the credit union community. We weren’t racing around responding to what the banks or our opponents said we should be.” After holding three national hearings, 21 statewide hearings, 13 focus groups with 99 attendees, and dozens of witnesses testifying from all over, Mica still realizes this is just the beginning. “I emphasize the word start. We can start to layout our own agenda in a proactive manner and not respond constantly to others who say what we should be doing,” he said Once the CUNA Board decides which of the items on the credit union wish list passes the “plausible, possible, and realistic” test, “We can start to develop very focused pieces that will help us get what some of those plausible, possible, realistic proposals now and lay the groundwork for those things that we are going to have to work on one, three, five, or ten years. But we have that blueprint and it wasn’t dictated by CUNA. It wasn’t dictated by a board of directors somewhere. It has been the combined work of the entire credit union movement.” He explained that in the past, credit unions went to the Hill with only anecdotal evidence of problems, but now have they will have facts to support their anecdotal statements. When credit unions and their leagues come to the Hill, Credit Union House will be their home away from home. Due to be completed September 11 of this year, the house will serve as a “constant reminder and presence” on Capitol Hill, as well as a “war room,” Mica said. The building will be used to strategize before meeting with congressmen and for receptions to raise credit union awareness on the Hill. While CUNA will be moving its headquarters just on the other side of the Hill, Mica said that would not be an appropriate place to hold receptions and have hundreds of people wandering through while the CUNA think-tank is working on regulatory to operational issues. Another personal goal that Mica has is to unite the entire credit union movement under one trade association. He said that he has spent time meeting with the different trade associations and trying to keep the various factions from going too far astray from each other. “Anything that enhances division undermines success,” he said. [email protected]

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