DENVER - It's been 28 years since Carroll D. Beach took over as president of the Colorado Credit Union League, and today his friends, associates and scores of CU executives across the nation call him the most powerful "missionary for credit unions" anywhere. And on Capitol Hill and in the...
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DENVER – It’s been 28 years since Carroll D. Beach took over as president of the Colorado Credit Union League, and today his friends, associates and scores of CU executives across the nation call him the most powerful “missionary for credit unions” anywhere. And on Capitol Hill and in the corridors of CUNA, the 62-year-old Beach has an envied reputation as the man who has made politics and government involvement “the highest priority” for credit unions. He’s even been described as a CU “icon.” “Carroll through his actions has always made it clear to us that politics is not an occasional thing or a spectator sport,” declared John McKechnie, senior vice president of government affairs at CUNA in Washington. But next June 1 the affable and energetic Beach is calling it quits – planning to “sit back and reflect,” work on his golf game (“I’m a lousy putter”), spend time with his four grandchildren and perhaps do some CU consulting and volunteer church work. “It’s true that I like this job very much, so that’s why I’m leaving because I think it’s time for me to try something new,” laughs Beach arguing fresh talent and new ideas need to percolate League work. Beach had a major hand in picking his successor, James D. Holt, a former Wichita, Kan. lawyer and lobbyist for the Kansas Credit Union Assn., who joined the Colorado League last May as executive vice president. In truth, another Colorado League executive, former EVP Duane Bruno, had been in line to take Beach’s job, but he unexpectedly bowed out for personal reasons to take a CU business development job more to his liking. There have been no ill feelings concerning the management shift, with Beach assuring his successor “he should never consider himself second choice.” For Beach, the list of honors and tributes he has received over the years is a long one. Only last February the National Credit Union Foundation gave him its highest honor, the Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement, named after a late CUNA CEO. The honor recognized “innovative creative, risk taking” leadership. In fact, Beach, a former junior high school teacher made his first mark as a risk taker in the mid-60′s by turning around a tiny, near-bankrupt Emporia, Kan. CU which he managed for five years. Joined by his wife, Ruth, the couple first ran the CU out of their home. Beach got picked to rescue the struggling institution by a fellow teacher who named him to the CU board. Beach later received NCUA backing to expand the CU’s field of membership and reduce a horrific delinquency ratio. “I guess it was my work there that first got the attention of the Kansas League,” remembered Beach who was hired in 1966 to serve as a membership rep. He later became coordinator of research and governmental affairs. It was also there that Beach became acquainted with Holt, who had been working as a teller at a Topeka CU near the state capitol building. Beach, tutored by James Jukes, the former Kansas League president and now retired president of CUNA’s credit card CSG unit, says he always enjoyed working with Topeka lawmakers and learned his craft as a lobbyist spreading the CU message. . But it was his innovative, “risk taking” approach to the Kansas job that has long marked his career. As one of his first achievements, he helped the League purchase the State Bank of Lancaster, used as a vehicle to allow access to transaction services for CU members, a forerunner for share draft accounts. He also got bills passed in the Kansas Legislature to set up the first independent supervisory agency for CUs, which later became a model for other states and for the formation of NCUA as a separate federal agency. He also initiated the formation of a program with Visa to allow small CUs across the country to offer credit cards through usage of a special services credit union shared by several CUs. He is also credited with setting up routing and transit numbers for CUs. In 1973 Beach was hired by the Colorado League as its president and there the innovations-some worldwide and far reaching- have ranged from helping CUNA form U.S. Central and the corporate CU network to sending staff to Poland and Ecuador to set up CU systems in those countries. Since 1987 share draft processing in the League’s service corporation subsidiary, Colleague Services Corp., has grown to 9 million items a month. Beach in 1978 was also instrumental in the formation and served as president of the League’s corporate CU, now called SunCorp Corporate Credit Union. “Carroll’s contributions and accomplishments within our credit union movement are simply immense,” said outgoing CUNA Chairman David Maus, also of Denver, who has worked closely with Carroll over the years on numerous projects. Indeed, Beach considers bringing Maus-as well as two other Coloradoans-into the CUNA chairs three of his crowning achievements. “I feel fortunate that we’ve been able to develop good leadership to have this state well represented at the top of CUNA leadership,” said Beach. Maus, who also is president of Public Service Employees Credit Union, joins Mandy Hellie, of Boulder, and the late Janet Miller of Colorado Springs, in serving as CUNA Chairman. How has Beach managed to attract-and retain-leadership talent for CUNA? “I don’t ever let them get bored,” he jokes noting he keeps feeding innovative ideas and making them “pay attention to things that are on the horizon.” Indeed, some of those innovative ideas in Colorado have ranged from creation of a CU owned ATM network, a loan participation program, coop teller training and financial planning as well as a service corporation for shared branching. On the political front, Beach helped set up the Credit Union Legislative Action Council and CUNA National Member Surveys and has served in numerous capacities on top CUNA committees. Beach has been chairman of U.S. Central Credit Union, Chairman of the Assn. Of Credit Union League Executives (now AACUL) and was chairman for four years of Credit Union Corp. Most recently he has been chairman of Credit Union House, the CUNA group charged with managing the construction and operation of the Washington, D.C. facility that was to have a groundbreaking ceremony on Sept. 11 Within CUNA, Beach has been a member of the Legislative and Political Action Forum, the Government Affairs Committee and chairman of the Deposit Fund Task Force. He served on the CUNA Board of Directors from 1992 to 1997 and for two years on CUNA/CSG Executive Committee as the League President Representative. He serves on CUNA’s Mutual Insurance Group Advisory Committee. Among other contributions closer to home, Beach arranged a contractual relationship with the struggling Wyoming Credit Union League in 1997 to set up a management services linkup. The Colorado League now services 174 CUs and 1.3 million members in the two states. “I think something that is attributable to Carroll’s leadership is the fact that of thte potential credit union members in our state, he has 99 -100% of them signed up and no other state has that ratio and that is incredible,” declared Alan Peppers, president of Denver Public Schools Credit Union and a director of the Colorado League. -
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