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MADISON, Wis. – The National Credit Union Foundation has opened the registration for 2006′s Development Education Training Program, an interactive six-day program that focuses on social responsibility, volunteerism and community development in the contemporary credit union industry. “The credit union movement is at a crossroads,” observed NCUA Board Member and Credit Union Development Educator Gigi Hyland, speaking to the CUDE alumni workshop on March 17. Hyland suggested that all credit union officials need to ask themselves, “What are our principles as financial cooperatives and how are we using our principles to serve our current members and attract new members?” Hyland also asserted that “DE is the only program out there that can connect the business case of why cooperative financial services make sense in the larger financial services marketplace.” “We’re keeping registration fees as low as possible to include folks from all types of credit unions,” notes Development Educators Training Facilitator Mike Beall, president of the Maryland/D.C. Credit Union Association and a graduate of the DE Class of 1994 along with Hyland. “The cost per person includes everything: room, board, materials, and a special experience that graduates rate among the most fulfilling educational programs they’ve ever attended.” As the DE program’s new and permanent sponsor, NCUF will soon announce plans to revitalize the program and expand its reach to even more credit union leaders. The plans will be based on insight from a “Future of DE Committee” appointed by NCUF Chairman Mary Cunningham, an independent study, and CUDE alumni at last week’s workshop. The urgency of the effort was underscored by four high-placed CUDEs in a keynote panel focused on “Revitalizing the DE Program: Now’s the Time.” The panel featured Hyland, Texas Credit Union League President/CEO Dick Ensweiler, Cunningham, and CUNA Mutual Senior VP Larry Blanchard. “As a movement, we are losing our way,” declared Blanchard, a CUDE since 1988. “Many credit union executives and volunteer leaders are not aware of the nine cooperative principles that give credit unions their competitive advantage in the market. If credit unions are driven by the bottom line rather than service to members, we are heading in a direction that we do not want to go.” “The DE Program is more relevant today than ever,” affirmed Cunningham, president of USA Federal Credit Union in San Diego and a CUDE since 1997. “We are vulnerable as a movement if executives approach credit unions with just a bottom-line orientation. The revitalization of the DE Program is almost a do-or-die deal.” “We have to mainstream the DE Program,” concluded Ensweiler, a CUDE since 1989. Currently, there are about 350 CUDEs active in the credit union movement among the 600 who earned the designation since the DE Program was launched in 1982. Of the 202 active CUDEs from individual credit unions, 101 are CEOs, vice presidents or board members. Another 102 represent state and national credit union support organizations. There are also contingents from 10 different nations: Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, Ireland, Mexico, the Philippines, Scotland, South Korea, and the West Indies. After completing DE Training, many CUDEs take on volunteer projects in the name of credit union development “Those who have graduated from DE Training are some of the credit union movement’s best and brightest around the world,” Beall related. “But this program should no longer be the credit union movement’s best-kept secret.” [email protected]

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