COLUMBIA, Md. – Some affiliated members of the Maryland Credit Union League voted against the idea two years ago of having a designated Volunteer position on the League Board, but Wesley Bone has set such an excellent precedent as the first volunteer to occupy the seat that the League Board is now considering adding a second Volunteer seat. Bone, chairman of First Financial of Maryland CU in Lutherville since 1971, completed his first elected year of a three-year term in the Volunteer position on the League's Board this past June. Bone is also a member of the League's executive committee, serving as secretary of the board. The Maryland League's bylaws always allowed for anyone affiliated with the League, including volunteers, to serve on the board, but it wasn't until a bylaw change was made in June 2000 creating a Volunteer Director position that the board was assured a volunteer would be seated among its 11 members. Before then, the makeup of the board depended on who was elected, and "since credit union CEOs have more exposure and name recognition, they were the ones who were ultimately elected. Volunteers were at a disadvantage because they didn't have the exposure that CEOs have," said League President Bob Steil. "As a result, CEOs were becoming predominant on the board. We didn't want to lose the perspective of our volunteers. They are an integral part of the credit union movement and it was important that we had their perspective on the board." The original idea for the Volunteer position on the Maryland League Board was actually proposed to Jack Houseknecht, CEO, SSA Baltimore FCU and vice chair of the League Board, by John Blomquist, vice chair of Aberdeen FCU at CUNA's 2000 GAC. Houseknecht said the two of them were talking about volunteers' involvement on the board, and he mentioned that as far as he knew volunteers could run for the League Board "like anyone else." Blomquist pointed out to Houseknecht that since most volunteers had other jobs, they didn't get the same exposure as the average CEO at outside meetings, and that diminished their likelihood of being elected to the board. Houseknecht took the idea of having a Volunteer board position to the League Bylaws & Resolutions Committee where he said "it was heartily supported and pushed through by the committee members," particularly by volunteers Stan Kluckowski, with SSABFCU and Charles Brackett, from Post Office CU of Maryland. Once the bylaws committee approved the idea, it was left to the League affiliates to vote on the proposal at the League's 2000 annual meeting. Steil said some members voted against the proposal "because they couldn't understand why there had to be a designated volunteer spot on the board," but the vote carried. However, since the vote was approved after the board elections had taken place, Bone served for one year in the Volunteer seat in an appointed position. Steil said Bone was selected for the Volunteer spot on the board by then board-Chairman Lindsey Alexander because of his involvement with credit unions and "he's well respected by other volunteers." The 70-year old Bone, a former teacher with the Baltimore County school system, was first recruited into CU volunteer service by another teacher who was then serving on First Financial CU's Board. She convinced Bone to run for a board spot and he was elected in 1969. He's served on First Financial CU's Board ever since. Bone is also involved with the National Association of Credit Union Chairman (NACUC) – he was chairman for two terms from 1993-1996 – and two years ago he formed the Maryland Chairmens' Forum. The group meets four times a year. "Credit unions were started by volunteers, and you always hear how important they are to the credit union movement. But in recent years, whenever you look at the majority of credit union association boards and committees, they're made up mostly of CEOs," said Bone. "I realize that it may be the fault of some volunteers because they're not aggressive enough, but at the same time volunteers are at a disadvantage to being elected to a board or appointed to a committee because they don't have the same visibility as CEOs because of their outside responsibilities." Steil agrees that having volunteers on the league board is critical. "Having a dedicated Volunteer position on the board brings a unique understanding to how volunteers see credit union issues," he said. "CEOs often get caught up in management concerns, but volunteers tend to have a more philosophical view. A lot of times in discussions on issues, the volunteers bring a specific thought pattern to the discussion that's different from what the CEOs say." As a result of the Bone's success on the MCUL Board, several directors are now considering adding a second Volunteer position. In the same procedure as the first spot was approved, any proposal for a second position would require a bylaw change and have to be approved first by the league's Bylaw Committee. It would then be brought to the membership for a vote by ballot. Steil said this may be done in time for the annual meeting in 2003. Bone said at this point he plans to run again when his first term is over in 2004, and he encourages other volunteers to run for the Volunteer position on the League Board. "It's critical that it be filled," he said. -

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