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A new association business structure has emerged that could potentially challenge the traditional thinking about credit union system organizations. For some, our success might point out credit union needs that have gone unfulfilled by the existing structure. It seems long-time credit union luminary and Credit Union Times publisher Mike Welch’s emotional column, Aug. 8, 2001, (“Go West young man and form another group”) missed the point of the CU Association of the West. He jumped to some invalid conclusions; the resulting misstatements and assumptions ostensibly seek to divide the industry by discouraging large-scale cooperation, collaboration and progressive change from within. Rather than forsaking national system unity and cooperation, as Mr. Welch purports, the formation of CU Association of the West is the model of those very principles. Its incorporation has motivated everyone involved-management teams, boards of directors and staff-to step outside traditional boundaries so that the membership is assured the best and brightest of our collective leagues. CU Association of the West was born out of a future focused vision by three strong leagues and their respective elected leadership. The California, Oregon and Washington associations already share many elements in a common vision and commitment-that in many ways differentiates us from other trade groups. The intent of CU Association of the West is to develop new infrastructure to become more capable than we’ve ever been. And doing so means breaking down the figurative protective borders that each of our geographic state lines once provided. As trade associations, we continuously challenge our membership to change, grow, and progress. Should credit unions expect less of their leagues? Moving out of our safety zones has made us all examine our organization’s potential-and each other’s-to ensure we’ll become stronger than we have ever been. Our member credit unions already benefit from our talented association professionals working in close, trusted relationships with one another. Building an encompassing organization is an important and smart way for each league to offer its members a wider array of successful, established programs. Certainly, strength through unity can only increase the power and influence of our membership to assure a sound future for the Western State credit unions. John Annaloro President/CEO Washington Credit Union League & Affiliates Gene Poitras President & CEO Credit Union Association of Oregon David L. Chatfield President/CEO California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues

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