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SAVANNAH, Ga. – On an autumn day in 1976, 27 credit union presidents met in Orlando fueled by frustration over the perception that their needs were not being met at the former Southeastern Regional Presidents Conference and the idea of a roundtable exchange served as outlet to be heard. That forum remains intact to this day for the National Association of Credit Union Chairmen (NACUC), which held its Roundtable Forum Oct. 5-7 here. More than 150 chairmen, directors and board secretaries attended as the remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy moved away from the area. The 29th annual Roundtable Forum included informal, very interactive and spirited discussions on strategic planning; community charters; fraud policies, and ethics and governance. Attendees also participated in an open topic forum where a number of timely industry issues were on the table including converting to mutual savings banks; 457(f) plans; volunteers serving on state league and national boards; and member business lending among others. Going back to its early days, the association started as a forum for addressing a multitude of products and service issues of the day, culminating with an annual roundtable gathering that promised an atmosphere where “everyone had equal say” and “egos were checked at the door.” NACUC got its start on November 13, 1976 and in February 1978, articles of incorporation were filed in Alabama establishing the group to serve credit unions with $20 million or more in assets as “regular members” and those below that threshold as “associate members.” The association was originally known as the National Association of Credit Union Presidents (NACUP) but in 1993, members voted to change to its current name. That same year, members voted to do away with the asset restriction and now credit unions from all walks of life are welcomed. NACUC has grown from 27 members in 1976 to more than nearly 200 members today. Its mission remains clear: to provide credit union chairmen with “unique” educational forums and networking opportunities designed to develop and improve their leadership skills and expertise. NACUC’s Roundtable Forum has been there from the beginning. It was previously known as the “Idea Exchange,” where members gathered once a year to problem-solve, exchange ideas and hone in on what worked and is working at their respective credit unions. According to NACUC, seven topics are selected to be discussed in a 10-person roundtable format. Each participant rotates through the seven topics, seldom sharing the same room with individuals present in previous sessions. This format was adopted by Jake Watson, a volunteer from Maxwell-Gunter FCU, who got the idea from a U.S. Air Force school. “We are a strong collective force and are better served with advice and direction from our own members rather than from the `experts’ outside the industry,” said Charles Smith, NACUC chairman and chairman of $180 million First New York Federal Credit Union. As of late, NACUC has encouraged the idea of volunteers serving on national boards. “There is a growing concern that volunteers are not proportionally represented at the national level with decision-making bodies,” Smith said. “We are partners in the movement and as such, deserve to have our collective voice heard.” Each June, members are also invited to attend a leadership development seminar to pick up tips on effective team building; financial analysis; managing conflict; motivating others, and more. NACUC publishes a CEO salary survey each year; Exchange, a quarterly newsletter; and a membership directory that also lists chairmen with special expertise in a number of areas. These individuals have agreed to be part of the NACUC’s Chairmen’s Consulting Network and encourage other NACUC members to call on them for advice, information and assistance. NACUC will meet in Hawaii next September for its 30th annual Roundtable Forum. -

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