HIGHTSTOWN, N.J.-In light of management troubles that have plagued the New Jersey Credit Union League (NJCUL) in recent years, CUNA President and CEO Dan Mica urged League members to work together and to maintain a strong front among legislators both within the state and nationally. Mica and Susan Newton, Senior Vice President for League Services at CUNA, had the opportunity to speak closely with NJCUL members on Feb. 10, 2005, at two invitation-only sessions held at the League’s headquarters. “This state is so well positioned to move into a leadership role in the CU movement,” Mica said. “You have to have faith in yourselves and make the decision to be one of the best leagues in the country.” Because of the contentious attitude created by bankers and the unprecedented number of banker attacks around the country, Mica emphasized the importance of having CU members meet with legislators and explaining the CU difference to them. “I have yet to meet a credit union CEO who can’t tell me a host of stories about what they’re doing to serve their members,” Mica joked. Mica also emphasized the importance of grassroots efforts, such as the Hike the Hill campaign and Project Zip Code-particularly in light of an announcement by Congressman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, to hold hearings about and to examine all tax-exempt organizations, including credit unions. “There is a threat, that threat is real,” Mica said, although he does not expect credit unions to be affected this year. “If our critics don’t think we’re doing what we need to do to maintain tax-exempt status, then we have to do a better job.a more public job.to educate legislators on what we’re doing.” “From a political standpoint, we’re considered one of the biggest forces to be reckoned with in Washington, [according to the Fortune magazine "Washington's Power 25" listing],” Mica added. “Our grassroots are real. .Our grassroots are from the heart, and they know that.” In discussing other Washington, D.C., news, Mica expressed his pleasure over the recent bankruptcy hearings in the Senate and the House’s introduction of the Bankruptcy Abuse Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (H.R. 685) and urged CU members to begin a letter-writing campaign in support of bankruptcy reform. “That’s good news for all of us,” he said. “We’ve brought the ball down to the one-yard line for three years in a row on this issue.” He also mentioned the “full-court press in Washington” on Social Security and how it might put pressure on the CU movement to get involved more than it normally would. “People will ask, `Are you with us or against us?’” Mica said. “If you say that CU issues don’t get into other issues, then some will say, `Well, then you’re against us.’” Mica’s comments on advocacy hit close to home for Cindy Rein-Zima, president and CEO of Hamilton Horizons FCU in Hamilton Township, N.J., who has been active in the League and the credit union movement for 20 years. “What he discussed in terms of advocacy was what we should be doing,” Rein-Zima said. “We have to figure out how we define members of modest means and how we help them.” “It validated without a shadow of a doubt why you work so hard to support your members,” NJCUL Interim President and CEO Mary Lee Kleinkauf said about Mica’s presentation. “Our pledge to you is that we are here for you.” Kleinkauf replaced former President and CEO Tom Shaughnessy, whose contract was terminated by the league in October 2004 for undisclosed reasons. [email protected]

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