WASHINGTON-The unofficial term limit for a CUNA CEO has been seven years in the last two instances. As CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica rounds the corner on his sixth year, he says he is not going anywhere. Mica explained that his contract does not have a technical expiration date. “If the board feels it would rather change leadership they can make that change,” he said. “And I can make that change too.” Thus far the board has indicated to Mica that they want him to stay, which works out well for him. “I’ve indicated to Barry Jolette that I’m happy with the situation here and I do plan to stay,” Mica reported. But, as the CEO faces his 59th birthday this February, he is approaching that point in his life where he may consider moving on. However, decisions will not likely be made until he is between 62 and 65 years old, he said. If the board were ever to choose to dismiss Mica, severance pay is part of the package, but if the former congressman goes on his own free will, there is none. Given Mica’s strong track record with CUNA, his dismissal would be highly unlikely. Coming on board in July 1996, he first shook things up by moving much of the operation to Washington, D.C. for a greater presence inside the beltway. With little time to breath, he was thrown into the H.R. 1151 battle along with the credit union movement. He proved crucial to getting CUNA and the leagues’ grassroots efforts in full swing for the fight, and coming out as key players in the crushing credit union victory over the bankers. Since that time, Mica feels that CUNA has developed into a “world class” trade association, stronger than any other credit union group and most other financial services trade organizations as well. As far as his philosophy that the credit union community’s lobbying efforts need to be a mile wide and a mile deep, he commented, “We are certainly on the road to that but we’re not as deep as we need to be.” Mica pointed to CUNA’s political action committee, the Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC), as evidence. CULAC smashed its own record fundraising from last year by raising more than $2.5 million this election cycle (2001-2002) as of July. During the 1999-2000 cycle, a presidential election year, which tends to open up people’s check books, CULAC raised $1.8 million. CULAC has been ranked fifth among all trade association PACs and 25th in overall PACs, he noted (See related story page 20). With only $124,000 in donations coming from contributions of $200 or more, the numbers seem to indicate that more people are getting involved, CUNA Vice President of Communications and Media Outreach Pat Keefe explained. “It’s in all our best interests to get involved,” Mica said. One way CUNA has better managed to get the word out to the credit union community is through better communications like its daily e-newsletter News Now and monthly Credit Union Magazine, as well as a host of staff and volunteers picking up the drumbeat on the speaking circuit. The addition of Credit Union House, which boasts a view of the Capitol, in the last year has been an excellent venue for Hike the Hills, fundraisers, and receptions, Mica said. The idea for Credit Union House was born from a `Florida House’ from when Mica was a Democratic representative from the state. This attitude and communication is reaching the halls of Congress also. “More and more on the Hill, members of Congress, in floor speeches and around town, are mentioning credit unions,” Mica observed. The payoff has been that sometimes CUNA does not have to push and shove its way to the ears of lawmakers to weigh in on an issue, but is sometimes contacted by members of Congress and their staff to discover credit unions’ views on a subject. CUNA is also kept better in the loop, Mica emphasized. For example, a congressman recently called CUNA to tell the group about the signers of a letter from representatives to the leadership in Congress, urging passage of the bankruptcy bill. Additionally, credit unions are now invited to testify before Congress, Treasury, and other regulatory agencies, whereas it used to be that only the bankers’ concerns were aired. Mica referred to CUNA’s accomplishments as the “fruit of the labor of the three-tiered system.” He emphasized that key agency staffers often call him personally regarding credit union issues and CUNA is called to meetings with high level regulatory and administration staffers. As someone familiar in the ways of politics, Mica comfortably said, “CUNA and the leagues have a force that you almost don’t see anywhere else in Washington.” He acknowledged that many groups have state and national levels, but they are not coordinated to work so well together. All the attention credit unions have drawn to themselves through CUNA’s powerful lobby is sifting out into the general public as well. Mica and other senior CUNA staffers, like Chief Economist Bill Hampel, have made appearances on CNN and CNBC and credit unions have been featured in publications such as Money Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Time. Since H.R. 1151, where credit unions’ grassroots got watered, the movement has experienced “extraordinary growth,” Mica pointed out. In 1997, there were 70 million credit union members in the U.S., but now, he emphasized, 82 million Americans belong to credit unions. [email protected]

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