WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – So many of the people appearing in the pages of Credit Union Times are known for just one thing – the role they play in the credit union industry. But what happens when they're not conducting credit union business? In our new section, Beyond the Job, Credit Union Times attempts to concisely capture an interesting aspect of the non-work side of credit union leaders. If you have something you would like included in Beyond the Job, contact the Credit Union Times reporter or editor you typically deal with or call Editor Paul Gentile at (561) 683-8515, ext. 10 or e-mail [email protected]. Please note, color photos, preferably of the person doing one of their "Beyond the Job" activities, should be submitted. * Nancy Virkler, SVP of Operations for Empire Corporate FCU has a unique way of winding down after work-she makes oriental rugs. The process she uses is called punch needle rug making. It is a time-consuming five-step process that includes: (1) punching with a special tool to create a loop; (2) cutting of each loop; (3) separation of cut loops; (4) shearing to give the rug consistent pile/depth; and, (5) binding of all edges. Virkler started making these oriental rugs about 20 years ago when she saw them at a craft show. For those thinking of taking up the craft – beware – you will need a good deal of patience being that each rug takes approximately four years to make. To date, she has completed four rugs; number five will be done soon. Her goal is to make seven – one for each of her nieces and nephews. "The thing people are most surprised about is that after spending about four years to make a rug, I place them on the floors in my house and we walk on them daily," said Virkler. "Most people tend to think I put them away or hang them on the wall, but these rugs are not only very durable, they are gorgeous on the floor.I have literally decorated an entire room around a rug." * Sierra Central Credit Union CEO John Cassidy knows basketball and thousands of people know he knows it. Cassidy hosts the Sierra Central Pro Hoops Roundtable, a half-hour television roundtable style program covering pro basketball that is aired in the Sacramento area on ESPN2 and KHSL TV-12. The CU's name and branding is evident on the broadcast and Cassidy says it has done wonders for Sierra Central CU marketing. "It has really help put the credit union on the map, and dramatically helped our branding in Northern California. We went from $200 to $400 million in three years." Cassidy has former broadcast experience. He produced a television news magazine show in Northern California, and it's even in his family with his twin brother being a TV personality in the Portland area. How'd he get into credit unions? He did work for two financials, including mega thrift Washington Mutual, for 15 years before a head hunter approached him about the credit union job. One of Cassidy's famous co-hosts is Harold Pressley, a former NBA player who suited up for the Sacramento Kings. College hoops fans just getting over March Madness may remember Pressley from his college playing days when his Villanova Wildcats stunned the Georgetown Hoyas to win the national college men's championship in 1985. But Pressley isn't just a colleague of Cassidy's on Sierra Central Pro Hoops Roundtable – he also works at the credit union as a business development specialist. The ex-player has become a vital part of Cassidy's business development team, and basketball has become a true marketing tool for the CU. * Whenever he is not working as the CEO of the $212 million UNCLE Credit Union, based in Livermore, California, Jim Ott tries to improve the communication skills and literacy of the residents of nearby Pleasanton, California, where he lives. Ott teaches English composition at the nearby Los Positos Community College in the evenings, hosts a book review and literacy program on a local public access television channel and is ending his two-year tenure as the Poet Laureate of Pleasanton, a volunteer post he helped initiate. "The idea of poet laureate is not new," he said, "but the idea of having one at the local level seemed fairly innovative and something I thought we should have." Not surprisingly, the duties of the poet laureate are to compose and read poetry at public events and occasions, as well as to commemorate and celebrate key events. In his tenure, Ott composed and read a poem for the opening of a new aquatic center in the community. His predecessor in the position had composed poetry for the opening of a new library. His favorite poet is Billy Collins, the current Poet Laureate of the United States, whose poetry is generally praised for accessibility to the average reader, a quality Ott said he strives for in his verse as well. Ott began his love affair with the English language by getting a graduate degree in English before starting a career in banking, where he worked from 1985 until becoming CEO of the 30,000 member credit union that began as the institution serving employees of the University of California's Livermore Laboratory complex. He had begun teaching English while still a banker and had continued to do so after coming on board with UNCLE.

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