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WASHINGTON – There is a changing of the guard at the CUNA Council Forum. During the 2004 Council Forum meeting here Patelco Credit Union SVP/CFO Scott Waite and BECU VP of Lending/Chief Lending Officer Joe Brancucci were elected forum chair and vice-chair respectively. Rivermark Community Credit Union VP of Financial Service Gayle Rust Gustafson, who was the first candidate elected to the Forum Chair position in 2001, recently completed her term. “It is great to be recognized by peers,” said Waite. “Our organization is rapidly approaching 3,000 members so part of our focus in Washington was to really make sure that we have everyone on same page and to ensure the Forum works to collectively add value to all councils.” As the governing body of all six CUNA Councils- Marketing/Business Development; Human Resources/Training Development; Lending; Technology; CFO; and Operations, Sales and Service-the Forum is charged with reviewing the cross council needs at the macro level. Waite says while it would be a fantastic experience to host at least one meeting with every council member the logistics of such an endeavor would be difficult to pull off. For now the current system of the Forum – which also consists of the chair and vice chair of each CUNA Council – holding one physical meeting a year, meeting via quarterly conference calls and communicating constantly by emails works well. The Forum also participates with CUNA staff on monthly calls for NCUA and legislative updates. “The focus of having our annual meeting here the last two years has been to increase our visibility and build relationships with folks in DC while being involved with regulatory and legislative advocacy,” said Waite. “I think what’s important as a message for credit union CEOs is that with a number of existing CEOs and executives retiring in the near future, the councils’ members represent the next line of credit union leadership. As an organization we really help our members grow professionally and no other organization can stake a claim to that in terms of size and reputation.” Waite adds that council leadership positions are completely voluntary. The councils are self-sustained. In addition to annual dues, conferences and sales of research and educational materials help each council generate the revenue it needs to sustain its activities and contribute to its administrative expenses. With the combined council membership already at 2,956, Waite says given the Forum’s infrastructure to accommodate growth he’s not concerned the group will ever get too big provided it focuses on the following four goals: * To continue to position council members as recognized experts in respective disciplines to extend into the legislative and regulatory involvement. * To promote increased visibility for councils via brand awareness and media outlets. * Increase cross-council participation. Waite says each of the six councils has particular uniqueness and sharing the knowledge and expertise will lead to the betterment of all councils. * Competitive intelligence. “We took the opportunity to go into this with a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity and Threats) analysis and identified each of those quadrants. There are lots of associations in the country and we’re cognizant of that so we have to continue building on our strengths which include great educational opportunities, conferences, networking and research,” said Waite. “One of our biggest competitive strengths is the communication on the councils’ listserv where members share a variety of ideas,” said Waite. “It is something that is well appreciated and valued. So my job is to not only continue adding that value but to keep us marching toward those goals.” [email protected]

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