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WASHINGTON – Though always open to change, the current system of electing outside directors to CUNA leadership jobs seems to be operating fairly well “under a democratic process” that gives willing and committed volunteers an avenue to succeed, according to CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica. “Anyone can run for CUNA director but they have to remember that it is a rather long term commitment and they have to build a political consistency to win,” observed Mica. The CUNA head was commenting on a brewing controversy, started last month at the NAFCU annual conference in Las Vegas, over the role volunteers can or should be playing in helping manage policymaking in both state and national trade groups. Though there have been a handful in the recent past and there are prominent volunteers on some state League boards, CUNA presently has no volunteers on its 24-member 2005 board. The last volunteer to serve was Darrell O. Pierce of Collins Community CU in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 2003. “Moving into the national spotlight,” takes years of involvement and exposure, said Mica stressing that in his nine years on the job he is amazed at the active participation and contributions made by outside directors in all aspects of CUNA committees, conferences and operations. “Volunteers are the lifeblood of this movement,” declared Mica citing as evidence their support and vigorous participation in the annual Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington. “That event this year drew 4,500-our largest ever-and it is one heavily geared to volunteers who showed simply superb involvement,” said Mica. They took part in all of the lobbying and political action activities “doing a great job,” he told Credit Union Times. Moreover, a CUNA spokesman noted that both the GAC and next month’s Future Forum in San Francisco are designed with a heavy programming track aimed at volunteer directors. Overall, 60% of attendees at GAC and Future Forum are volunteers, said the spokesman. These conferences as well as other CUNA volunteer forums including the CUNA Roundtable for Credit Union Chairmen “are great networking opportunities” and provide educational background, said the spokesman. However, proponents of more representation maintain they are repeatedly asked to support Capitol Hill lobbying but have little voice in how decisions are made at the top. In acknowledging media coverage over NAFCU’s volunteer flap in which a group of Washington, D.C. area delegates complained about “proportional” representation in NAFCU, CUNA and CUES, Mica said his national trade group might once again look at possibly organizing a formal Volunteer Leadership Network or Council. Such an idea-patterned after existing and permanent discipline Councils in CUNA- was floated in 1997 but later faded as the industry focused attention on the H.R. 1151 battle. “We gave it a shot but there simply weren’t enough people at the time” to make a go of the network, he said, and so the idea was dropped, recalled Mica. But if there is new interest in a Council, the CUNA Board could decide to look at it, he said. During the NAFCU meeting in Las Vegas, one delegate, Marlene Schwartz, chairman of State Department FCU, Alexandria, Va., and who criticized NAFCU and CUNA for an “inclusive environment” led by CEOs, said she had already “gone round several times” with Mica on the issue and planned further discussions. Since NAFCU, Mica said he has spoken to Schwartz on her concerns discussing election procedures. Also speaking out on representation has been David H. Gilbert of Maryland the lone volunteer on the NAFCU Board, who like Mica maintains directors have to do their homework and “establish credentials” to get elected. Gilbert who has been on the NAFCU Board seven years is chairman of Aberdeen Proving Ground FCU. Charles Smith, chairman of the National Association of Credit Union Chairs and of First New York FCU in Schenectady, has said the representation cause is an issue shared by many in that organization “with one half beating the drums” and another passively interested. Schwartz and others in the D.C. group have vowed to have a full airing of the topic at the chairmen group’s annual meeting Oct. 5-8 in Savannah, Ga. [email protected]

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