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ANAHEIM, Calif. – Plans for a national organization of credit union volunteers – aimed at gaining representation on policy making boards and credit union organizations and associations – are being pushed by a group of California directors who say the industry needs more participation from directors. The group believes that volunteer directors do not play a significant enough role on the policy boards that govern the credit union movement. “The main purpose is to make sure our members are being treated the way we think in the credit union movement they need to be treated,” explained David Mackowiak, a board member at Sierra Central Credit Union in Yuba City. “If you take the volunteers out of the process, you’re right back to (being) a bank.” About 40 people discussed ways to enhance the role of the volunteer during an early morning breakfast meeting before the start of the California Credit Union League annual meeting and convention held recently at the Disneyland Hotel. Mackowiak said that as credit unions have brought in professional staff, volunteers have often been left on the outside looking in. “We bring something to the table, too,” he said. “We don’t have the pure economic incentive. We have the `people helping people’ incentive.” “We represent the members directly,” added Charles Dawes, a board member at Travis Credit Union in Vacaville. “We are here because we care,” noted Robert Thomas, chairman of USA Federal Credit Union in San Diego, who served as moderator of the session. “We want to keep the movement going.” Among the ideas discussed was to establish roundtable discussions in both northern and southern California as well as a one in a central location where everyone could attend. Also under way is a Web site (www.cudirectors.org) with plans for a database to show credit union vacancies and/or elected positions, which group officials said would make it easier for directors to locate and apply for unfilled and expiring positions. They also proposed a change in bylaws of credit union associations and organizations “to ensure that directors occupy a percentage of the seats on boards, committees or other related forums representing credit union interests.” Thomas said the directors needed to become more active working with such credit union industry groups and should not adopt an adversary role. “We can’t go into a conflict mode,” he said. “We’re much better off infiltrating the groups.” Mackowiak said the new organization, Credit Union Directors of America (CUDA), evolved after the California league was slow to take any action on concerns raised by the volunteers. League President and Chief Executive Officer David L. Chatfield has since asked seven people from throughout the state to serve on an informal exploratory advisory group with an eye toward creating a network for volunteers. “We’re still in the exploring stages,” said Dianne Stewart, director of chapters and professional networks for the league. “It’s still a proposed network at this point. It’s not a given.” The league already has five networks that address various credit union issues, such as lending, business development and call centers. She said she had requests from at least two other groups asking for a network to be set up for their particular area. Stewart said the idea of a volunteer organization has been mentioned for two or three years but that she had not been approached in the past “on a formal basis” about putting together such a group. Mackowiak said his main goals were to get the Web site developed and then to “push for a national organization of volunteers run by volunteers.” The group’s handout suggested the organization could have a paid staff “to support directors who wish to become more involved in the credit union governing process.” “To increase director participation, the effort must come from directors themselves,” CUDA officials said. “Attempting to work within the present structure has resulted in less participation by directors. It is believed that only an organization managed and controlled by directors will be successful in reversing the current trend of participation in credit union associations and organizations.” According to its Web site, CUDA hopes to schedule a national conference to create an organizational structure and define its purpose. The site said CUDA will also elect its own officers and form an action plan to revitalize directors’ role in the industry. -

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