ALEXANDRIA, Va.-While two new NCUA Board members were appointed at the end of January, with the Community Action Plan (CAP) issue still in play, everyone in the credit union community had a keen eye on the Democratic board appointee. A sigh of relief could be heard when newly-installed NCUA Board Member Deborah Matz gave an eloquent speech saying that CAP had been a "divisive" issue for too long and ultimately abstained from voting allowing the repeal to pass, as it would have anyway, 2-0-1. She has also said she has no plans to regulate credit unions to fulfill their mission but they do need to quantify their work for low-income members better. "I don't think we need to do anything regulatorily.I think credit unions are serving low-income members," she said. In response to recent attacks by consumer advocacy groups, mainly the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, that credit unions are not doing enough, Matz said, "Anyone, anywhere can always do more." But, that is why it is so important to quantify credit unions' good deeds. "There's a lot there," she said. At some point, she added, it is not enough to just say `that's a bad study.' Matz was familiar with the work of credit unions, having been a member of three different ones, so when she was approached by none-other-than Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) about the position at NCUA, she responded, "Yes. Definitely." Matz has known Daschle from many years of working in Washington, and her husband had worked as a legal aid on an Indian reservation in South Dakota. Her office is adorned with several pictures of her and her husband socializing with Daschle, including out hunting. "I've had a long association with him, so he knows me well," she remarked. When Daschle approached her, Matz said he wanted someone from outside the credit union community to bring a fresh perspective to the board. While Matz had not been involved with credit unions professionally in the past, she had been working in finances. She served as chair of the loan restoration task force at the Department of Agriculture where she had to resolve more than $1 billion in loan principle. She said she learned how to deal with loans and which ones to write off. "I have a healthy respect for the need to do due diligence and making loans and making sure people can pay them and how to handle it when people can't," Matz explained. Being familiar with loans, one of Matz' tasks is serving as NCUA's liaison to the Small Business Administration (SBA), which is becoming prominent as credit unions attempt to expand their role in business lending. She met with SBA Administrator Hector Barreto earlier this year, who she said seemed engaged and willing to work with credit unions, but remained non-committal about changing SBA's policy only to allow community-based credit unions to participate in SBA-backed 7(a) lending. "The ball's really in his court now," she commented on the issue. Suggestions were made between the parties to use corporate credit unions to work as a go-between to pool the loans for the agency and credit unions. Matz also recommended possibly trying some type of pilot program. Matz said small business lending is important for credit unions to become involved in to serve the areas and make the small loans, like one for a taxicab medallion, that banks typically ignore. She also pointed out that this would help credit unions to better serve their members, since the government-backed portion of loans would not count towards the credit unions' business lending cap of 12.25% of assets. Currently, 1,300 credit unions make business loans, according to Matz. Because former NCUA Chairman Norman D'Amours served a year beyond his term and former Board Member Geoff Bacino served another year as a recess appointee, Matz will technically only have four years to serve on the NCUA Board rather than a full, six-year term. Matz, however, looks on the bright side of the situation. "I really feel like it's a gift, so four years is terrific.I really like coming to work," she said. That does not mean the job is a walk in the park. Matz' days are full beyond the monthly, one-hour board meetings that the public sees. First, there are hours of preparation before the open and closed meetings, including internal briefings and meeting with the trade groups, not to mention other duties like correspondence, writing speeches (she changes speeches everywhere she goes), and meeting with NCUA officials on a regular basis from each of the agency's offices. Matz also travels extensively, meeting with credit unions and trade associations. Meeting with the credit union community is also part of what Matz enjoys about being an NCUA board member. She said she did not expect so much interaction with credit union people but she loves that. "The credit union community is full of very, very dedicated people who work very hard to serve their members," she said. [email protected]

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