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PURCHASE, N.Y. – A week prior to her Dec. 10 resignation at Kraft Foods Federal Credit Union, former president/CEO Holly Herman participated in a spirited Webinar discussion on clearly defining the roles of directors and CEOs through the policy governance model. “We had a lot of leaders and no clear roles defined,” Herman said in a write-up of the Dec. 3 Webinar by Callahan & Associates, Inc. “Each month, management either gave too little or too much information to the board.” Generally speaking, the policy governance model is meant to define what tasks are delegated among credit union managers and accountability is constantly monitored and reported back to the board of directors. She told Webinar attendees about Kraft Foods FCU’s adoption of policy governance, touting its effective “proper delegation of responsibility and authority” as being critical to the success of the credit union. So, it came as a surprise to the credit union community that one of its movers and shakers would suddenly resign her post and subsequently have to give up her CUNA District 1, Class B board seat, a post she was elected to in 2000. In a brief statement on the matter, credit union officials said “Holly informed the Board of Directors that she wished to pursue other interests,” and Bruno Sementilli, Kraft Foods FCU’s former senior vice president and a 20-year credit union employee, will assume the president/CEO role. “An abrupt change can sometimes be a challenge, however, Sementilli’s long history with the credit union has made the transition in leadership seamless,” the statement reads. “He has been accepted warmly and approvingly by staff and by members.” Kevin Holly, chairman of Kraft Foods FCU said Sementilli’s “well-seasoned and diverse background, combined with a proven dedication to our long-standing values, makes him an exceptional successor.” Sementilli said he “looks forward to continuing the credit union tradition of outstanding member service and “the credit union is regularly changing in preparation for the future, and as always, its health and financial stability remain strong.” No further details were offered on Herman’s decision to resign but the statement did point out that during her “nearly 10-year tenure, as president and CEO, the credit union’s assets grew from $200 million to $500 million.” The credit union serves more than 40,000 members. Herman did not return Credit Union Times’ phone calls. CUNA directors were caught off guard by Herman’s departure. “I was surprised,” said Dick Ensweiler CUNA Chairman and President/CEO of the Texas Credit Union League. “She was a good board member. She did a nice job, she spoke her mind. We’re going to miss her.” Some CUNA directors admit they aren’t privy to the circumstances surrounding Herman’s resignation but nonetheless, her absence will be felt. “She’s a very intelligent and talented lady,” said Donald Larsen, CUNA Board Secretary and president/CEO of Community Credit Union in Tacoma, Wash. “I was quite shocked and surprised (to hear the news). I don’t know the details of what happened but I’m sure she’ll do well in her endeavors. I wish her well.” CUNA has called a special election for the board seat previously held by Herman. District 1 encompasses Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Credit unions from those states can nominate a candidate to run for the vacant seat on or before Jan. 16. To make a nomination, those credit unions must have at least 16,000 but not more than 58,999 natural person members, based on one vote per affiliated credit union in District 1, according to CUNA. The special election will be held by written ballot from Jan. 19 to Feb. 13. The seat’s term runs through the adjournment of CUNA’s 2005 Annual General Meeting. Herman’s visibility and impact has been felt on several fronts in the movement. In July 2003, she was one of a handful of CEOs that met with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge to reiterate the agency’s mission of not policing but helping financial institutions comply with “sometimes burdensome regulations,” she said in a CUNA newsletter. In August 2002, she facilitated an exchange through the World Council of Credit Unions and Kraft Mutual Kasa (credit union) in Bulgaria, sharing marketing ideas and strategies to promote savings. The kasa serves nearly 500 members of a Kraft-owned factory here. Herman also ran for a seat on the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York Board of Directors in 2002. She is a former president/CEO of University & State Employees Credit Union in San Diego and has worked with several corporate credit unions including U.S Central Credit Union’s research and development committee. As recent as Dec. 6, 2003 – four days before her resignation – she participated in an NCUA-sponsored workshop on successful operational strategies for small credit unions. Herman’s hour-long session focused on marketing and member surveys. Her affinity for helping smaller credit unions runs strong. She has served on the advisory committee for Bethex Federal Credit Union, a community development concern serving moderate and low-income residents living in the Bronx. [email protected]

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