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COLUMBIA, Md. – After seven years of operating as an independent league with its own board but always leaving the door open to exploring all the options it determined were in the best interests of its members, the District of Columbia Credit Union League has decided not to go it alone any longer. It has found a merger partner with the Maryland Credit Union League. The partnership is the result of several months of discussion between the two leagues which included DCCUL chairman Theresa Mann, president/CEO, FDIC FCU inviting the Maryland League as well as the Virginia Credit Union League to submit merger proposals. The D.C. League has had a management agreement with the VCUL since 1998 which included the D.C. League paying the Virginia League a monthly management fee and the VCUL making available to all D.C. credit unions the same services available to Virginia CUs. Mann received proposals from both leagues, but said one of the deciding factors in the Maryland League’s favor was “the regional focus of the new association provides the opportunity for our credit unions to work more closely over a boundary that our members regularly commute, live, work, worship and go to school across. The new association mirrors life in our region.” As for the D.C. League’s management agreement with the Virginia League Mann said, “We’ve been very pleased with our management agreement with the Virginia Credit Union League and the many positive things that have come out of that relationships. But to ensure that our members receive the best services, we’ve periodically reviewed that agreement over the years. After a lot of due diligence and analysis, we chose to partner with the Maryland League.” Commenting on the D.C. League’s decision to go with the Maryland League, Virginia Credit Union League President/CEO Rick Pillow said, “While we are very proud of our work for D.C. credit unions, we also respect their right to choose what they believe will be the best situation for their long-term success.” Mike Beall, president/CEO, Maryland Credit Union League explained that, “if you look at the region the south end includes the District of Columbia and on the north end there’s Baltimore, and there are about 160 credit unions falling in a 100 mile space that I refer to as `the oval.’ For most associations, that’s a great grouping. The Baltimore/Washington, D.C. region has grown so fast. We’ve always had a large government base in the region, but now there are also a lot of technology companies coming in.” The new association will be called the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association. It will be based in Columbia with an office in the District of Columbia – the D.C. League will move from its current office in Alexandria, Va. Beall will serve as the CEO of the new association. “Credit unions in Maryland and the District of Columbia will benefit from having a financially strong association providing top notch legislative and regulatory advocacy and compliance services, superb education opportunities in the region, enhanced business service offerings, and innovative cooperative activities,” he said. There are 120 CUs in Maryland and 76 in D.C., of which 81 are affiliated with the Maryland League and 62 with the D.C. League, respectively. There are more than 2.5 million CU members living in the Maryland and District of Columbia region. All of D.C.’s credit unions are federal charters, and the D.C. League has been working with the City Council for awhile for passage of a credit union act that would allow for state-chartered CUs. The initiative hasn’t seen action in awhile, but Mann said “it could be reproposed at any time.” MCUA Chairman Rick Stoll, president/CEO, Anne Arundel Employees FCU said the Maryland League is very excited to be working with the D.C. League’s Board and affiliated credit unions. We’re confident the merger of the two organizations will make both Maryland and D.C. credit unions better, he said. Over the next six weeks, three joint committees focused on financial, legal, and services will meet to develop a strategic plan and proposal to put before the respective League affiliates at their annual meetings in June. Mail ballots will be sent out to affiliated credit unions in July, and Beall said the leagues are working with their legal counsel to set up the vote including studying the laws of Maryland and the District of Columbia concerning the required vote for approval. Beall estimates it’s a two-thirds yea vote for passage of the merger proposal. If the merger is approved, the new association would officially be formed Jan. 1, 2006. At press time, members of both boards were personally contacting their affiliated credit unions to announce the merger intentions, and Beall said during the process the memberships will be kept apprised of developments. While both Leagues still have to work through several issues including determining how the new association’s chairman will be chosen, they do know what the new board will look like – the Maryland League and D.C. League boards each has 10 members. The new association board would include all the Maryland League Board members plus three more from the D.C. League who would serve for three years. At that time, the 13-member board would include one director each from the D.C., Baltimore, Western Maryland and suburban Maryland, plus nine at-large members Reflecting on other potential credit union league mergers that fell apart because of credit unions’ concerns about maintaining their identity in their state legislatures, Beall said, “It’s very important for the credit unions to maintain their identity, and we all know we’ll have to go out and talk with credit unions and convince them to trust that both boards understand their concerns. “We can’t predict the future, but we’re all very confident our memberships will support the move. The boards intend to work hard to make sure the membership understands the details, but so far everything we’ve heard is very positive,” he said. -

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