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DALLAS-NAFCU Vice Chair Diane Furnas said that she is always excited to attend NAFCU’s Annual Conference because there are so many colleagues in attendance. Of course, this year should be especially memorable because the close of the 36th Annual Conference will mark the beginning of the Southwest Airlines Federal Credit Union CEO’s term as chair of the organization. Outgoing Chairman Jim Mills, CEO of Three Rivers Federal Credit Union, announced in February that he would retire from the board after serving six years on the board and three years as chairman. Furnas was selected during NAFCU’s June 12 board meeting. Furnas said she feels well prepared for the new position, noting that Mills was willing to share some duties with her during his tenure. Her 35 years in credit unions will also be a great asset to her. Furnas’ first experience with credit unions occurred not long after she got out of school. In the 60s, she was searching the want ads and was hired as an assistant manager to start up KRO-DAL Federal Credit Union. She spent seven years there, but took a few years off following the birth of her first child. But, it was too late. Furnas was already hooked on credit unions, and in 1975, she helped found Southwest Airlines Federal Credit Union as its manager. “It was a challenge, I’ll tell you. Southwest was in the midst of the court cases back then,” she explained. At the time, the airline was fighting off being forced to fly out of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, because it still wanted to offer its flights out of a smaller, local airport. This led to a turbulent start for the fledgling credit union, which ended its first year with just $50,000 in assets. However, after Southwest Airlines won its case, the credit union took off with some help. “Southwest Corporate has been a great partner all these years,” Furnas commented. Now, 28 years later, Southwest Airlines Federal Credit Union is nearly $130 million in assets strong. Even following the tragedy of September 11, and the subsequent hard times for the travel industry, Southwest Airlines has not laid off any employees or made any pay cuts, Furnas said. The chair-elect has seen a lot of changes over her time in credit unions and many more recently to enhance the federal charter. After having served five years on the NAFCU Board, as chair, Furnas wants to maintain the “path we’re already taking, especially the role of sustaining and growing the federal charter.” She added that NAFCU has already done a great job working toward this end and also credits NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar with the strengthening of the federal credit union system. Furnas also would like to help credit unions weather the current sour economy and bolster members’ confidence. While Southwest Airlines Federal Credit Union is currently about 90% loaned out, that statistic is low for them. According to Furnas, the credit union has reached as high as 110%. Southwest has been making a lot of mortgage loans, she said, and selling the majority of them off to Fannie Mae. She added that her credit union is also “inching into business lending” with the help of a third-party vendor. Bankruptcies at the credit union at one time reached about 60% of chargeoffs, but are now down between 52% and 53%. Furnas said they did have to tighten their lending policies for a time-bankruptcies were a large factor in that decision-but have since opened them back up. “I support some kind of reform on this. Bankruptcy has too many loopholes,” she said. Furnas also serves as chair of NAFCU Services Corporation. Other NAFCU Board table officers elected for the 2003-04 year include: * Michael Vadala, president of The Summit Federal Credit Union in Rochester, N.Y., as vice chair. Vadala currently serves as NAFCU’s secretary and chairs its Legislative Committee. * As secretary, Xerox Federal Credit Union President and CEO Bill Cheney, who chairs both the Membership and Corporate Credit Union Committees. * John Milazzo, Jr., president of Campus Federal Credit Union in Baton Rouge, La. won his second term as treasurer. Each position is for a one-year term limited only by the three, three-year term limit on board members. [email protected]

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