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BALTIMORE – There are folks who have worked in credit unions their entire professional life, but Mike Beall can boast credit unions were a part of his life even when he was a kid. In fact, it would be accurate to say that credit unions are in the genes of the new president/CEO of the Maryland Credit Union League. Beall started in his new position with the Maryland League Feb. 11. He succeeded former president/CEO Robert Steil whose contract was not renewed by the MCUL Board in April 2003. The oldest of two sons, Beall, a native of White Plains, Md. in the southern part of the state, was raised in a credit union family. His parents Donald and Barbara met when they worked at Agriculture FCU in Washington, D.C. as a collections officer and teller, respectively. They both went on to work at NASA FCU which the father became president/CEO of. He passed away in 1991 and his mother has since retired from the credit union. But the 37-year old Beall insists he “wasn’t forced to work in credit unions, I was just around them so much it was a natural fit for me.” He laughingly recalls that, “All our vacations involved a credit union conference. I’ve been to the (CUNA) GAC around 25 times, and I’m not that old.” Beall didn’t wait until he graduated from the University of Richmond with a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree to work in the credit union industry. While in school, he interned in CUNA’s regulatory affairs department with Kathleen Thompson, svp/associate general counsel, federal compliance and legislative analysis. When he graduated in 1991, he worked for Commonwealth One FCU as legal counsel. In 1996, he left to work at the North Carolina Credit Union League with then-president/CEO Larry Johnson as vice president of government affairs. “My first day on the job was the day the injunction blocking federal credit unions from taking in new groups went in to effect. Talk about a welcome,” says Beall. Four years later, he went to work for the World Council of Credit Unions as manager of government affairs and partnerships, and was responsible for representing WOCCU before Congress on legislative issues, and helping to secure a continued funding mechanism for micro enterprise development for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Beall also worked on developing partnerships between U.S. credit union leagues and overseas projects. There are currently 15 of those projects that are active now. “Before I started working at World Council, I had done volunteer work for them in Suriname, so I had a sense of what the organization was about,” said Beall. “I hope during my time there I reached out to U.S. credit unions and was able to help them better understand what the World Council is all about.” Beall’s father was also part of the first technical team WOCCU sent to Poland. His family also hosted WOCCU folks at their home, “so that was an interesting bug I caught early on about credit unions,” he said. Beall’s four years at WOCCU not only gave him international credit union experience and the opportunity to travel worldwide – he represented WOCCU on every continent and visited Australia, Belize, Bulgaria, Grance, Kenya, Korea, Macedonia, the Philippines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uzbekistan, and Zambia on behalf of WOCCU – it also let him gain a perspective of the U.S. through the eyes of the people he met and talked with overseas. “America is a very strange place to people abroad,” said Beall. “People often ask me what is the most unique place I’ve ever been, and I tell them it’s the United States because in many ways we’re not like the rest of the world. “People overseas look at us and try to figure out why we do what we do. Americans don’t travel around enough, they’re very isolated. The only news we get from stations like CNN about what’s happening abroad is how it impacts us. That ends up giving us the impression that unless Americans are affected, then it’s not news. Americans don’t understand the arrogance that’s attributed to us because we don’t view ourselves that way. Most Americans have traveled no farther than to Canada or the Caribbean and that’s mostly to resorts for vacations. Americans are the type of pop in-pop out type of travelers. But the real news in countries happens outside the resorts.” Beall said he was never nervous traveling overseas on behalf of WOCCU. “There are always risks when you travel overseas, but we did a good job of calculating those risks and preparing for them,” he explained. But of course simply not traveling outside the U.S. is no sure protection from possible terrorist attacks. By example, Beall returned to his WOCCU office in Washington, D.C. just two days before 9-11 when one of the United Airlines planes slammed in to the Pentagon Building. Ironically, Beall had just returned from a trip to Kenya which itself had been the site of a terrorist bombing in 1998 of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi. Beall learned a lot about the international credit union system from his work at WOCCU. Most countries, he said, don’t have well-developed credit union laws or regulations or a lot of oversight of credit union operations. This is one area WOCCU has focused on, he said. “In the U.S., credit unions sometimes complain they’re over regulated, but World Council sees situations overseas everyday where credit unions aren’t regulated at all,” said Beall. He also learned something about himself – “I developed a love for shopping,” he said. Among some of his “many souvenirs” from his WOCCU travels is a rug from Uzbekistan and two huge terra cotta pots from the Philippines. Beall said being a league CEO isn’t something he aspired to even though “my path has been predictable for me.” Instead, he explained, “It was an opportunity to be part of the advocacy effort for Maryland credit unions and to make the League a center spot for that.” Beall himself is a member of three credit unions – Commonwealth One FCU, NASA FCU, and Navy FCU (his grandfather was career Navy.) Beall eventually plans to give up his Washington, D.C. digs and move back to Maryland – “My mother will be much happier that I’ll be closer rather than somewhere halfway around the world,” he quipped. For now, he’s focused on his immediate priorities for the Maryland Credit Union League. Number one on his list is making sure the League is visibly representing credit unions in Maryland. The League needs to be strong in representing credit unions at the federal, state, and regulatory levels, he said. Only around 8% of all the Maryland CUs are state-chartered. He’s also looking forward to working with Maryland Credit Union League’s Mike Marschall, director of legislative, regulatory & government affairs who himself had been a contender for the president’s spot. Beall said the two of them have combined their efforts before – Marschall has met with Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), the ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. Beall has conferred with the senator since he’s also on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “We’re a great team together. That’s a great resource for Maryland’s credit unions,” said Beall. [email protected]

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