FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – The ongoing national debate about volunteers gaining wider authority to guide trade group policy appeared to be winding up the year with a Washington State focus. That's because even though the issue of volunteers seeking more leadership clout in national and state trade groups was first raised – albeit unexpectedly – at NAFCU's annual meeting in July, real airing of the matter has been brought to the fore by both individual CU directors and managers of the Washington Credit Union League. "We call it a renaissance in volunteerism," explained John Annaloro, president/CEO of the Washington CU League in suggesting the renewed interest by volunteers in trade group governance should be welcomed and appreciated. Indeed, the leagues has already taken several steps to accommodate volunteer activism including formation of a new Volunteer Networking Council to hold twice-a-year meetings in 2006 plus a total revamp of e-mail communications with directors. The league announced this month the dates for the 2006 Networking Council dinner meetings on April 13 and Nov. 2 at league offices in Federal Way. The agenda will include speakers on general business, academic and economic topics dedicated to volunteer interests and education. In addition, a large part of the program will be devoted to "a self driven dialogue – topics suggested by volunteers and put on the agenda prior to the meetings," said Annaloro. Apart from the Council, the League is already reorganizing newsletter mailings on e-mail so a larger percentage of volunteers across the state are familiar with legislative and industry developments and can take a more expansive role in league direction. "Our subscription lists are being quadrupled so we reach volunteers all across the state," said Annaloro noting also that those who attend league volunteer meetings can receive home addresses and direct e-mail to communicate more easily among one another. Since last February, directors of one suburban Olympia CU, O Bee CU of Tumwater, have been most vocal in faulting the league leadership for failing to provide "equal treatment" for elected volunteers. In addition, O Bee directors in a "white paper" petition charged the league with doing little in outreach and communication with directors, steps the League now say are being remedied. At the national level, the dialogue over volunteer representation has for months filled the Letters to the Editor section of Credit Union Times ever since a contingent of NAFCU delegates surprised the leadership of that trade group during its annual Las Vegas conference with complaints about volunteers facing stacked elections from CEOs dominating management at CUNA, NAFCU and CUES. CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica and others denied volunteers were being sidelined insisting outside directors were winning elected jobs in state leagues. Mica also maintained that volunteers needed to work through the traditional democratic process to win elected jobs in CUNA. As for NAFCU, its leadership has been in close touch with the contingent making the Las Vegas pitch. That group included chairmen and directors from Washington, D.C. area CUs. "This is an issue that will not go away but is one in which we intend to keep out front," said one D.C. director asking for anonymity. The group purposefully laid low when national attention was on Katrina "but we intend to parcel this out in the future as we go along." -


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