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I feel compelled to comment on Mike Welch’s take on new WOCCU CEO Pete Crear. First, I should provide a brief summary of my own background. I am American by birth and consider myself an international citizen. I have been involved in international development since I joined the Peace Corps in 1974. Most of my professional experience has been with cooperatives (including credit unions) and I spent about 12 years as a WOCCU employee. I have also completed post-graduate work in development policy. Naturally, I also know Pete and share your sentiments regarding his dedication to the movement and very pleasant personality. However, that may be where the similarity of our opinions diverge. You mention that Arthur Arnold was a better representative because he spoke a few languages. I also speak a few languages and am conversant and comfortable in many cultures. However, I would be the first to state that these are not necessarily the key elements of what is needed in the leadership role of an international organization. When we started the U.S. Development Education program in 1982, I emphasized the fact that it is the language of credit unions which is international. In Geneva I once hired someone from eastern Europe who spoke six languages. She lasted only a year, because she didn’t “get it”. Pete does – and always has. You also note that Mr. Arnold lived in several countries prior to joining WOCCU. As I recall, none of these were WOCCU member countries and none of his professional experience was with credit unions or similar grassroots organizations. It is your stated opinion that any American (and not just Pete) would have difficulty “taking the organization to new heights on the global scene”. Americans can be – and are – “international”. Some Europeans, Asians, Africans, etc. can be – and are – parochial. It has absolutely nothing to do with where you are from. It is how you act and how well you seek to be a student of the world and apply your learning. WOCCU is not viewed as being any different from a well-intentioned non-profit working in microfinance or even a consulting firm seeking government contracts. It needs to get its compass back. Based on his 40 years of living and breathing “movement”, if Pete cannot do this I don’t know who can. His predecessor was from a cooperative bank system. Yet this system does not practice (cooperative) membership principles as credit unions do. In fact, anyone living in the Netherlands is considered a Rabobank member and, thus, there is no member share capital. I, for one, feel safer with a return to credit union basics. Pete has it in his blood and it comes naturally. He certainly will not have to check any glossaries. You do state that his appointment means that the U.S. movement should have a better appreciation for WOCCU. I agree. The fact is that CUNA has always paid the lion’s share of dues and, while no one wants to see an unbalanced governance role, the U.S. movement should receive the recognition it deserves for (a) creating the conditions for a WOCCU, and (b) being modest about its role for decades. The U.S. movement, through CUNA, should be better informed and justly proud of its long-standing catalytic international change role. I agree with you in your implication that WOCCU should be more international. This does not, however, start and end with the nationality of the CEO – WOCCU must “act” international. Pete is only the second WOCCU CEO or Managing Director who is an American. The others were: Jamaican, Canadian, and Dutch. Can we classify the global nature or level of the organization by each of these tenures? Of course we can’t. The measures of global character are many – and perhaps the subject of another missive – but these do not include the nationality of a CEO, managing Director or (in the UN case), Director General. Finally, you note that Pete will have his work cut out for him. Everyone will certainly agree. Nevertheless, before he had even officially taken on his position you made him a target. Our views evidently differ. However, it appears that we each want what is best for the international movement. If I am correct in this assumption then I would just ask that you give Pete a chance. Dean Mahon International Economic Development Consultant Washington, D.C. Editor’s note: Mr. Mahon served as director of WOCCU’s European office in Geneva, Switzerland from 1987-1994

 

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