WASHINGTON – As one of the newest board members of the African-American Credit Union Coalition, Bob Harvey admits he had heard about the group but wasn’t sure of its agenda. The president/CEO of Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union attended the coalition’s annual conference in Texas in 2001 and any reservations about becoming a member had dissipated. “My eyes were opened,” Harvey recalled. “As you know, conferences are a great time for executives to talk about what’s happening at their credit unions and here was an opportunity for African-American professionals to come together.” Formed in 1999, AACUC has since grown to more than 200 members and is expecting more than double that figure to attend its reception on Feb. 24 in the Hemisphere Room of the Hilton Washington Towers and Hotel and the networking meeting on Feb. 26 in the Georgetown Room during this year’s CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference. Pete Crear, CUNA’s executive vice president and COO, will be among those recognized during the networking meeting for his contributions to the movement. Since its annual conference last August in Los Angeles, the AACUC has had a busy year. Thus far, it’s highly successful internship program, which has secured paid positions for more than 50 college students at 20 credit unions since its launch, will bring in 30 interns from several colleges and universities to work this summer. Harvey said while most will work in the South and on the East Coast, next year’s interns are expected to work across the nation, specifically in states like California and Washington. In alignment with its mission of “increasing the global credit union movement’s strength by adding the focused perspective and energy of credit union volunteers and professionals of African-American descent,” AACUC will also continue its mentorship network with credit unions seeking assistance with specific management and operational issues. In addition, AACUC continues its efforts to launch a mentorship program with South Africa’s 28 credit unions. The coalition, along with the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) worked together in 2001 to secure $2 million to provide assistance to credit unions in South Africa and Mexico. A transcontinental network that will partner an American credit union official with a South African to assist with management, marketing, product development and accounting is also underway. Since 1998, WOCCU and the African Development Fund of the U.S. National Credit Union Foundation have been supporting the operations of the South African league to increase credit union membership from 3,000 to more than 8,600 members today. The coalition is also gearing up for its annual conference to take place in Detroit, Aug. 7-10 at the Marriott Renaissance Center. “Above all, this is a time to introduce the coalition to potential new members, reacquaint with existing members in an environment that creates a sense of pride,” Harvey said. -