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Regarding the flap over directors serving on the boards of credit union trade association boards, understand that there is no sure way to be elected. Both CEOs and member-elected, unpaid volunteers have to present their credentials and campaign vigorously to become elected. Some have won and some have lost. But why are there so few member-elected, unpaid volunteers on these boards despite the fact that the role of volunteer director distinguishes credit unions from other financial institutions? There are no systemic obstacles to the volunteer in the NAFCU election procedure. Indeed, in each of the last six years, there have been two member-elected volunteers among the 12 elected directors of NAFCU. This is a much greater representation than in other national credit union associations. While there are many outstanding volunteers among credit unions, their abilities and credentials are often unknown to the electing officials of voting credit unions, or they do not wish to make the substantial time commitment these state and national positions demand. In contrast, CEOs are often better known among their peers through their many professional contacts and active role in committees, task forces and educational panel appearances. Indeed, their work requires them to be well informed on credit union legislative and regulatory issues. Therefore, it is not surprising that thinking voters would not vote for unknown candidates or those with fewer credentials than their opponents. The task is clear-volunteers must work to develop their electability. Even more important, volunteers should increase their knowledge of the current and future issues that state and national credit union organizations must address as they dialogue with their membership and develop positions and policies. There are many opportunities for volunteers to develop their electability and to learn how to campaign more effectively for a position at the state or national level. They must be willing to establish their goals, develop their credentials, commit their time, learn the election procedure, build their election base and execute a well-thought-out campaign plan. Here are a few actions I have found useful: *Assess your electability, your strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly. *Read current publications addressing credit union matters. *Attend appropriate conferences and seminars; listen and develop your knowledge base. *Volunteer to participate as a moderator, facilitator, panelist etc. *Serve on the various committees or task/project teams at the state level. *Seek election at the state level to help build your election base. *Serve effectively on various committees of the national credit union organizations. *Do active lobby work with local or national politicians. *Write or speak on credit union issues. *Consider becoming an active participant in the National Association of Credit Union Chairmen. *Seek endorsements from key credit union and political leaders. *Learn the election procedure, how to seek nomination, who gets the ballot, when to vote, who votes, etc. *Assure that your board participates in all the nominating and balloting decisions for state and national credit union organizations. Encourage the same for other credit unions. *Study successful campaign literature, methods and timing of communications. *Draft your campaign “playbook.” You are a volunteer seeking election to an important organization. Make your campaign and your credentials, qualifications, character and ethics stand out. You may not win your election (few have on their first try). However it should not be because you were not known. It is not easy to overcome the “unknown” factor but if you are a serious candidate, you can do better in the future with a well-thought-out plan. David H. Gilbert Chairman, Aberdeen Proving Ground FCU Region II Director, NAFCU Aberdeen, Md.

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