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YUBA CITY, Calif. – Where have all the credit union volunteers gone? That’s the question a California volunteer group is asking in terms of volunteer representation on national and state credit union association governing bodies. “Basically there’s a concern among a lot of board members and volunteers. When you look at the California League and CUNA there are no volunteers on the governing bodies. Just like the U.S. Constitution has a set of checks and balances for the government, we need to have that in the credit union industry,” said Dave Mackowiak, a board member at Sierra Central CU who is playing a key role in this new volunteer initiative tentatively known as Volunteer Advocates. The group wants to explore the lack of representation on CU state and national association boards and committees and find a solution to increasing volunteer representation. Without a volunteer presence in this area, these governing bodies are not getting a full picture of the industry, said Mackowiak. “You talk to some of the volunteers and they are right on the cutting edge of what the industry is doing. They’re very attune to what’s going on nationally, like the Renaissance Commission. If we have all this talent out there why isn’t it being used.” Mackowiak thinks the volunteer presence has “atrophied” in this respect over the years as credit unions started to be operated by professional staffs, rather than volunteers. “You have intelligent professionals and CEOs in the policy areas of the state and national organizations. We’ve put ourselves in a position of having no real role in the process of these groups,” said Mackowiak. Volunteer Advocates has invited CU volunteers and others to attend its volunteer roundtable on Oct. 15 during the California CU League’s Annual Conference being held in Anaheim. It’s here where the group is looking for input as to why volunteers are not represented. “Maybe in this busy world volunteers just don’t have time, or maybe they’re not trying to make time. Either way we need to change that,” said Mackowiak. He said volunteers spend more time traveling to various conferences than working on state and national CU issues. Still, he defends volunteers being able to travel throughout the country because of networking opportunities and it gives volunteers a feel for what the industry is talking about. One possible solution the group is proposing is a national Internet-based communication system that CU volunteers can scan for any vacancies on state and national association governing bodies. Right now this group is made up of California CUs, and Mackowiak has no plans of branching out, but hopes other volunteers across the country will adopt the concept. “Volunteers need to network. They need to be plugged into the credit union system, more so than just what’s happening at their own credit unions,” said Mackowiak. [email protected]

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