WOODSTOCK, Vt. – Most people would probably associate serving the underserved with the inner cities, but the issue in fact was the main topic of conversation for three days at the summer meeting of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL) that was held amidst the picturesque scenery of Vermont, July 25-27. “Everyone recognizes that historically, credit unions have been tied to serving people of modest means,” Dan Egan, chairman of AACUL told Credit Union Times. Egan is also president/CEO of the Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island Credit Union leagues. “Credit unions don’t want to let go of that.” He continued that, “While there’s a philosophical side of credit unions serving the underserved, there’s also political side now because it’s on the minds of legislators. The two sides don’t necessarily conflict. In the minds of legislators, credit unions are here to make a difference. Many of them attach it to our tax exempt status and see it as being part of the structural makeup of credit unions.” That’s why national programs like CUNA’s Project Differentiation are so important, Egan said. He conceded that completing a Project Differentiation report “takes a fair amount of work, it’s not the kind of thing a credit union can polish off in five minutes,” but he added that, “It’s key for credit unions to document what they’re doing.” NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar also addressed the issue of serving the underserved and helping CUs to reach out to serve people in need when he spoke to conferees about NCUA’s Access Across America program. The chairman also elaborated on the state of the credit union system from a regulatory perspective. Susan Newton, executive director of AACUL and senior vice president, league relations for CUNA said AACUL is in the process of having discussions with the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions on ways it could provide more assistance to the NFCDCU. Among the options the two groups are exploring are program development, leveraging the AACUL to boost the number of people attending NFCDCU conferences, and ways to add more Hispanics and other minorities to CUs’ membership ranks. Other key activities on the agenda during the three day conference included a panel discussion featuring Dave Adams, president/CEO, Michigan Credit Union League, and Kevin Chandler, president/CEO, Minnesota Credit Union Network, on the Renaissance Commission report and what states are doing to meet the report’s goals; a discussion on the effect state budget shortfalls are having on CUs; a discussion on continuing to build grassroots efforts and political effectiveness. There was also discussion on how leagues can do a better job of being advocates for credit unions. “The role of advocacy has become more complex, but there is a clear recognition that the central role of leagues is be advocates for credit unions in all forms,” said Egan. AACUL will hold its annual meeting Dec. 5-7 in Hawaii. -

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