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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – Saying that it had accomplished what it set out to do, a consortium of four credit union leagues known as CU Association of the West has quietly disbanded. The association, an umbrella group composed of the California, Nevada, Washington and Oregon credit union leagues, was formed about four years ago to bring together the best practices of the four groups for their member credit unions. The organization represented approximately 960 credit unions with some $100 billion in assets. “We’ve officially disbanded the corporation but that doesn’t mean the leagues will stop working together in any way, shape or form,” insisted John Annaloro, president of the association and president and chief executive officer of the Washington Credit Union League. The California/Nevada Credit Union League said that the association had “completed its original objective of opening the availability of the products and services of the four state leagues to member credit unions in all four states. “Credit unions are now taking advantage of the services offered by the various leagues without the need for a formal association,” it said in a prepared statement. Annaloro echoed that message, saying that the leagues were now accomplishing much of the same goals “without the overhead” of the umbrella organization. While Annaloro said he was pleased with the success of the association and vowed that cooperation among the leagues would continue, he suggested that the association also created some problems among the members. “There were complexities from the association that got in the way of collaboration,” he said. Those complexities, he said, included having strong leaders at the helm of active and successful leagues – Annaloro in Washington, David L. Chatfield, president and CEO of the California and Nevada leagues, and Gene Poitras, president of the Credit Union Association of Oregon. All three were on the board of the association. Other issues that the association wrestled, he indicated, included budget authority, workforce supervision and the “prioritization of joint activities which sometimes ran counter to the prioritization of our collective boards, although the goals were the same.” Despite those complexities, Annaloro said the association achieved much during its short lifespan. “What it did was open the door to a collaboration to a degree much greater than we have ever had,” he said. “At all levels of our three trade associations, there is greater cross-participation than at any time in history. And we’ve proven the concept that by working together we can give the members of one league the total services of all the leagues.” Probably nowhere was the impact of the collaboration felt more strongly than in the area of educational programs, officials said. Member credit unions were able to take advantage of programs in the four states. “Participation and networking opportunities have been exponentially increased,” Annaloro said. “We opened up the borders,” added Matt Davidson, executive vice president of the California league and association treasurer. “It was very successful in getting the leagues to cooperate,” Davidson said. “It was very successful in getting some newer services to our member credit unions.” When the CU Association of the West was first formed, there was some speculation about whether its role as an umbrella group might be expanded to other state leagues. “I’m not sure that the credit union leadership community is ready to subordinate their traditionally statewide prioritization, planning, control,” Annaloro said. He added that officials recognized the need for some programs, such as governmental affairs, to remain under local control. “Beyond that, there are certain efficiencies that can come by not duplicating administrative functions . . . and we all wish to eliminate those costs which aren’t necessary in order to put more money into programming, more money into programs for small credit unions, for community credit unions, for governmental affairs, for advocacy, for helping the public better understand the role of credit unions and that expands membership,” Annaloro said. Officials said they expected cooperation among the leagues to continue without the need for the umbrella organization. “The California and Nevada credit union leagues value the exchange of information and ideas that resulted, and look forward to collaborating with our fellow western leagues and credit unions on other projects in the future,” said the statement from the California/Nevada league. “The objectives and the goals and the benefits have not been abandoned,” Annaloro added. “We’re just finding a way to do it without the overhead of having another limited liability corporation or association. As long as the benefits continue, we are succeeding.” -

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