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LAS VEGAS – The long-simmering debate about giving volunteer directors a wider role in policy and decision-making in major credit union trade organizations got a vocal – and surprise – airing during NAFCU’s annual conference here. The complaints about a lack of “proportional” representation on the boards of NAFCU and CUNA-and to a lesser degree CUES-surfaced during the closing minutes of NAFCU’s annual business meeting July 15 from a group of Washington, D.C. delegates warning that a “dialogue” needed to begin on what they said was a restrictive “inclusive environment” geared to CEOs. “The NAFCU board has both the opportunity and responsibility to address this concern before it becomes a problem,” cautioned Marlene E. Schwartz, chairman of State Department FCU, Alexandria, Va. who spoke just as the meeting was about to adjourn. Later during an impromptu meeting with reporters, delegate Robert D. Scott, vice chairman of Pentagon FCU, said there are many directors including those that belong to the Credit Union Directors Association who share his views about increasing the “percentage” of volunteer reps at senior level association positions. “I realize that all volunteers do not necessarily have the desire or the time to serve outside their own credit union, but believe me there are more than enough who are willing to serve in those capacities,” commented Scott, who has long been active in member/employee financial education and is chairman of the Pentagon FCU Foundation. Both Schwartz and Scott ran for two open seats on the 2005-2006 NAFCU Board in January and lost with notices of their defeat received in May. A third Washington delegate voicing support for representation at the NAFCU meeting was Philip E. Corolan, chairman of Treasury Department FCU. In speaking with reporters, both Scott and Schwartz singled out NAFCU as having what they said was a more forward looking policy on representation since that group currently has an elected volunteer board member, David Gilbert, chairman of Aberdeen Proving FCU in Aberdeen, Md. who has served seven years. Also on the NAFCU Board is Brian L. McDonnell, who retired in December as CEO of Navy FCU, and is now listed as a director-at-large. For their part, officials of NAFCU and CUNA said they have strived for years to promote an active volunteer corps in policymaking and leadership roles. CUES said it has used focus groups, advisory committees and surveys to help make “our policy making body, the CUES Board of Directors, aware of director needs.” A spokesman for CUNA said volunteers have served on its board in the past and are always welcome to run but sometimes they choose not to because they lack the required time and commitment needed due to existing volunteer chores. Currently running for a CUNA District l, Class B seat is Joseph Poerio, a director of Suffolk FCU in Medford, N.Y. filling a vacancy left by John Prumo, CEO of G.P.O FCU in New Hartford, N.Y. Barb Kachelski, senior vice president of membership and chief information officer at CUES, said its bylaws stipulate that only voting members can serve on its board and must be CEOs, “their vice presidents” or “senior management employees” working at CUs or at wholly-owned subsidiaries. In vying for a NAFCU director’s seat – and having to send out 800 e-mails to potential voters – Scott of Pentagon FCU said he was realistic about his chances of winning an uphill battle considering CEOs “get the recognition” and are bound to gather more votes. “Just look at Credit Union Times and you constantly see the names of CEOs spread all over, but you don’t read a lot of stuff about volunteers,” said Scott. Scott, a director of the Credit Union Directors Association, said that group-with a membership of 50 – was started with the goal of improving the volunteer presence at the state and national level of trade groups and shares ideas through monthly teleconference sessions. CUDA also has a Web site, www.cudaonline.org. Both Scott and Schwartz stressed their respect for both NAFCU and CUNA as highly effective trade organizations with Schwartz maintaining, “I believe we need to work within these well-established structures to expand volunteer representation.” “With the number of credit unions shrinking, there are fewer of us to support these organizations so our support is more critical,” she said. At the same time, Schwartz said she has requested the topic of volunteer representation at the national level “be put on the agenda” at the National Association of Credit Union Chairmen meeting in Savannah, Ga. in October. In support of CUDA, Scott added, “while I understand that Marlene does not agree that a new organization is needed, we are not all Chairs and therefore granted access to forums such as is provided by NACUC.” On a more immediate note, the representation issue could conceivably come up at the National Directors Convention Aug. 2-5 also in Las Vegas. Both Scott and Schwartz said that because of schedule conflicts, they would be unable to attend that event. As for CUNA, Schwartz of State Department said she has worked for years with staffers to provide better networking opportunities for volunteers and described for reporters heated discussions with CUNA CEO Dan Mica about the issue. Still, Schwartz said she is “a strong supporter of the roundtable for board leaders. It is a great start but it is just a start.” The State Department FCU chairman also stressed that volunteer representation is hardly a new area of concern since she has been lobbying for it for many years. While some might tie her advocacy “to the recent election” at NAFCU, “those who know me know this is not the case.” While NAFCU officials appeared taken off guard at the business meeting, Fred Becker, president and CEO, pointed out to reporters the various programs NAFCU has geared to supporting volunteer views including sessions at the Las Vegas conference. On July 13 were the concurrent Chairs Caucus and the Management Forum. Both Scott and Schwartz said their respective CEOs have been supportive of their NAFCU roles. In a statement, Frank R. Pollack, Pentagon president, said “we see no reason that members of our Board should not be active in our trade groups and Director Scott has indicated a desire to do so,” continued Pollack. “While this may not be feasible for all credit unions, we are fortunate that we do have a director with the time and ability to serve.” Jan Roche, president and CEO of State Department, said simply “I completely echo Frank’s views.” [email protected]

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