ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Renowned among credit unions for his efforts to fight predatory lending, Martin Eakes, CEO of Self Help CU in Durham, N.C., delivered his message to NASCUS conferees on the importance of the role of what he calls “servant leadership.” Eakes prefers that term to the more commonly used “service driven,” which is the usual credit union description of dedication being “member-driven.” “Servant leadership brings you to the edge of humility,” Eakes told the audience attending his session on “How the CU System Can Fight Predatory Lending.” “And humility is not thinking less of yourself, but rather thinking of yourself less, ” he said. Being here now is the important message for credit unions in servant leadership, and he said of all financial institutions, it was credit unions that have the power and the will to act on that responsibility. “ It’s not that bank executives are evil, it’s just that they have a responsibility to their shareholders that trumps their inclination to do the right thing.” Eakes said predatory lending could be virtually eliminated if credit unions put up a united front nationally, just as they did in North Carolina. “Credit unions are a secret weapon against financial inequity. As not-for-profits, we can take controversial positions because we can withstand the political pressure. We should speak the truth about payday lending – which is different from check cashing services – because each transaction is tied to the next one in a never-ending spiral of growing debt. It’ a corrupt business model.” -