HARRISBURG, Pa. – In a vote of support for recommendations from the Pennsylvania Credit Union League to make the league more progressive and effective, the affiliated membership of PACUL and the League Board voted to accept new initiatives the League says will streamline the governance of the League and will allow it to make strategic decisions more expeditiously and be more responsive to its members' needs. According to League officials, more than 95% of the approximately 651 credit unions in the state that are members of the league-93% of the more than 700 CUs in the state are league-affiliated-who voted by mail ballot, were in favor of changing the name of the League to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. The change is effective immediately. Founded on Dec. 8, 1934 as the Pennsylvania Credit Union League, the organization has never had a name change prior to this. "It became apparent as we had more interaction with legislators and other officials on the state and federal level, that the name was antiquated," said PACUL President Jim McCormack. The League first considered making the name change two years ago. Board Chairman John Kebles said that often when League officials spoke with new state legislators for the first time or with the general media, the word "league" was frequently associated with baseball leagues. "The word `association' was a natural affiliation for us. Whenever we talk with legislators and describe ourselves, we always say we're a trade association for credit unions in Pennsylvania. So it was a natural step for us to go from calling ourselves the Pennsylvania Credit Union League to being the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association," explained Shannon Villa, vice president, communications and marketing. McCormack said PACUL is also working with on-site auditors to put the trade association and its service association -Pennsylvania Credit Union Service Corp. – under one name. The membership also voted to grant board members a two-year term – from 2003 to 2005 – starting next year. Norb Kaczmarek, CCUE, CEO, Erie School Employees FCU and chairman of the League Board Governance Task Force said this second initiative was really a housekeeping measure to allow for the implementation of a third initiative that was unanimously approved by the board in principle and which will come before the membership for a vote at the annual meeting in April 2003. That third initiative concerns recommendations made by the Governance Task Force concerning: leadership accountability; officers; board size; board term limits; executive committee; committees; bylaws; nominating process for board of directors; leadership development; and board meetings and associated decision making. Kaczmarek said the current board size of 21 directors "made it difficult to get things accomplished," even though there are fewer credit unions in the state now than there were when PACUL and its board were first organized. Then there were 28 board members and over 1,500 credit unions. In 1995 the board was downsized to 21 members as a result of another study that showed the declining number of CUs in the state. But credit unions in Pennsylvania, like all CUs, are larger now, and "large credit unions want fast action. The old structure wasn't conducive to that," said Kaczmarek. "As credit unions get larger, they also get more progressive and more impatient for change. We wanted the organization to be responsive to their needs," said McCormack. Discussions concerning changing the board governance first came up at the league's strategic planning meeting in August 2001. McCormack recalled that Kaczmarek was a "strong proponent" for making changes, so McCormack appointed him Task Force chairman. Kaczmarek subsequently appointed the remaining four members of the Task Force: Ronald Lasich, president/CEO, Visionary FCU, Bridgeville; Ed Lehman, executive VP operations and COO, Patriot FCU, Chambersburg; Margie Coan, director of business development, Philadelphia District Railway Postal Clerks FCU; and John Kebles Sr., CEO, Choice One FCU, Wilkes-Barre. Kaczmarek admitted the Task Force was a bit apprehensive going into the discussions it had with the board about the governance changes they were considering because the changes were so comprehensive and far reaching. He said the Task Force made sure board members had input during the entire process, and he asked them to keep an open mind during the process. In the end, he said the Task Force got tremendous support from the board for what it was charged with doing. Kaczmarek said the Task Force addressed every issue it wanted to and looked at all the governance-related issues. "We covered everything from A to Z, we didn't leave anything on the table," he said. "By the time the vote happened, it went relatively smoothly," Kaczmarek said. "I told the board members they should applaud themselves for having the vision to make changes when change is needed and they should feel great knowing they were part of the process," said Kaczmarek, and they did. Among the Task Force's final recommendations that were approved by the board were: *Regarding officers, there will be a Chair and Vice Chair; the board will vote for both positions every two years, and the Vice Chair will not automatically become Chair; the Past Chair will not serve as an Ex Officio member of the board; the Treasurer position on the board will be eliminated; Chair and Vice Chair assume joint lead responsibility for overseeing the finances and budget process; the Secretary position will be eliminated and any required note taking or Board administrative needs will be handled by a PACUL employees; the past Chair becomes Chair of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation whether they are a member of the Board or not. *Regarding Board size, the Board will consist of nine directors; each existing district will elect one member to serve on the PACUA Board of Directors; there will be no redistricting, but within the next two years districts will be realigned so there will be a more equal number of CUs in each; the reduced Board size is effective in 2005. *Concerning Board term limits, the Chair and Vice Chair serve one, two-year term each; Board directors can serve up to two full, four-year terms; the Task Force recommends that one-third of the Board's nine members be up for vote every year to ensure that no more than three Board members will be rotated off the Board at any one time. *the Executive Committee is eliminated, and all Board members as well as credit union representatives who are leaders from around the state as will be encouraged to participate in decision making. *All Standing Board committees, including the Audit Committee, Finance Committee, and Governmental Affairs Committee, are eliminated. Other recommended governance changes approved by the Board concerned bylaws, nominating process for board of directors, leadership development, and board meetings and associated decision making. Kebles said he's sure when the vote for the governance changes comes before the membership for a vote next year that "there will be some naysayers because that's the norm." However, he added, "when they realize that the changes will make for a more efficient team," they will approve the revisions the board has already approved. PACUL is the latest league to change its name, and Villa said she wasn't surprised that several credit union state associations that used to call themselves `leagues' have already renamed themselves. "The problems facing credit unions in Pennsylvania in talking with legislators and the general media aren't a Pennsylvania problem. I'm sure our colleagues in other states have to always explain what the word `league' means. It's an antiquated term." Kaczmarek emphasized though that, "It's up to each individual league. We looked at ourselves and asked how could we do a better job. What any other league does depends on their ability to serve their members." -

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