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<p>CHICAGO – The Illinois Credit Union League opens its 72nd annual convention April 18 making a special effort to serve the needs of smaller credit unions. The three-day convention has the theme “A New Time. A New Opportunity,” and offers more than 25 seminars targeting marketing, human resources, lending and director issues. Vickie Ponzo, the ICUL’s senior vice president for member services estimated that 1,200 credit union executives from 475 affiliated credit unions are expected to converge on the Hilton Chicago & Towers in the city’s South Loop neighborhood. More than 80 vendors are expected to crowd the exhibit hall with their wares. “We’re really trying to focus on our small credit unions throughout the year, to save them and prevent mergers,” Ponzo said. “We’re putting a lot of staff resources and foundation money into programs to help those credit unions survive.” Among the speakers expected to address the conference are cookie magnate Wally “Famous” Amos who will deliver the April 19-keynote speech on life’s lessons, titled “The Cookie Never Crumbles” and David Grace of the World Council of Credit Unions who will lead a session on serving immigrant populations. Amos will also speak at the CUES luncheon where the winners of awards for executive, financial professional, lending professional and marketing professional will be announced. A pre-convention session titled, “A Quick Ph.D. in Credit Union Economics,” and presented by Hal Fried of the Filene Research Institute, will kick off the educational side of the weekend Thursday afternoon. Attendees will also have the opportunity to attend sessions on topics such as director responsibilities and Internet marketing.</p>

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