NEW CASTLE, De. – If things go as planned, the Delaware Credit Union League will have a new president/CEO to kick off 2006. At press time, the League’s board-appointed search committee of four directors was going through the first batch of responses it received to the `Help Wanted’ ad it ran in local and trade newspapers. Interim President Jane Bailey, who has been wearing two hats since she was picked by the League’s board to handle those responsibilities as well as her others as executive vice president since former League President Bob Walls left at the end of July to head up the New Jersey Credit Union League, said the search committee decided against using a professional credit union recruitment firm to find Walls’ successor “because they wanted to try it on their own first.” Bailey said the search committee had received a good response to its ad and planned to continue running it for the “next month or two,” adding that “the search committee wants to make sure they get the right person for the position even if it means it takes a little longer than planned to finding them.” In looking for their “perfect” candidate, she explained that the search committee was emphasizing finding someone with experience running a trade association over credit union experience. “They were very specific in how they worded the ad that we were looking for someone to be president of a credit union trade association, not a credit union. A lot of people responded to the ad thinking we’re hiring for a credit union,” said Bailey. The 20-year veteran of the Delaware League – Walls was the sixth League CEO she worked with – said she had not thrown her name into the hat of contenders for the permanent president’s spot and didn’t plan to. “I really enjoy the services side of the League more than dealing with CEO issues,” she candidly admitted. The Delaware League might not be the largest of the state leagues – it has 100% affiliation among its 35 CUs – but the changing landscape of the credit union industry as a whole is reflected in Delaware’s CUs despite their relatively small number, especially where it concerns the growing number of CUs with community charters. “Until a few years ago, Dupont Chemical Company used to be the number one employer in Delaware, and about 10 or 11 CUs were Dupont-affiliated. With the company downsizing, these credit unions had to chose between merging or converting to community charters. Seven of our credit unions, 20%, have community charters which is a large number when you realize we only have 35 credit unions in Delaware,” said Bailey. The evolving credit union landscape in Delaware has presented the League with several challenges on the products and services side. To Walls’ credit, Bailey said “Bob had vision and was always coming up with new services for us to offer credit unions.” The League is in the process of working with an outside firm that is conducting focus groups around the state with credit unions to ascertain the direction they want the League to go. Bailey stressed that no League personnel attend any of the focus groups because “we want the credit unions to be candid about their feelings and ideas.” When the focus groups are completed this year, the facilitator will present a report to the League board, and from there they will decide on the League’s focus and strategy. “Hopefully we’ll have a new president on board by then,” said Bailey. Until then, the Delaware League has several items on its plate keeping it busy, particularly in the area of state governmental affairs. In what Alice Smith, director of communications/public relations and governmental affairs for the League describes as “our first foray on the state level” – all of Delaware-based credit unions have federal charters – the League is working closely with state Sens. Robert Venables (D-21) and David Sokola (D-8) who sponsored and co-sponsored, respectively, the Consumer Credit and Identity Theft Protection Act. Based on the Model Clean Credit and Identity Theft Protection Act published by the State Public Interest Research Groups and Consumers Union (PIRG), S-109 creates a series of consumer protections among which are giving consumers the right to have a “security freeze” put in place with each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Under the terms of the Act, if a person wanted to receive credit rating information about a consumer that has been frozen at the consumer’s request, the agency could only release the information after it receives written authorization or a personal PIN number from the consumer. S-109 was introduced in May and was sent to the Senate Small Business Committee. Smith said the League is working hard to push the bill out of committee. She added that while some 10 states already have a similar identity theft protection process in place, the credit bureaus are not supportive of the initiative because, she offered, of the costs involved with setting up flags for accounts of consumers who request the security freeze. S-109, however, would allow the credit reporting agencies to charge up to $2.00 per request for the first 12 requests in a calendar year and up to $8 for each subsequent request during a calendar year. The charges could only be levied where the federal law doesn’t prohibit them. As for Hike the Hills, Smith said the Delaware League doesn’t participate in those in Washington, D.C. “because our three members of Congress (one in the House and two Senators) commute back and forth by train. So there’s no real need for us to travel to D.C. because we can see them locally,” except in February during CUNA’s annual Governmental Affairs Conference. So far, Delaware’s one member in the House of Representatives – Rep. Michael Castle (R-At Large) – hasn’t signed on to CURIA, and Smith admits it will be a hard effort to convince him to because of the strong banking interests in the state. However, she added, that Castle is planning to propose identity theft legislation “which has same goal as our state bill. We’re supportive of any bill that protects consumers from identity theft, and that may give us an opportunity to open a dialogue with him about his measure and CURIA.” -

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