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SUITLAND, Md. – About half-a-year into her retirement from public service, former NCUA Board Member Debbie Matz is beginning her second career as a high-ranking executive at a large Maryland credit union with its roots in reaching out to the underserved. Matz began April 17 as the new executive vice president and chief operating officer of $746 million Andrews Federal Credit Union in Suitland, Md., fulfilling her wish to remain in the credit union community. The credit union has been a few years without a COO, which CEO Michael Hale admitted has been difficult for him personally, but it was intentional. “I wanted to spend time with my senior staff one-on-one.It’s important to understand the capacity of your team,” he said. But now Hale is ready to hand off part of the responsibility to someone he feels meshes with the philosophy of AFCU. Matz’ key area of focus will be membership growth, raising member satisfaction, and increasing loan growth. Hale said from his experience working with her when she served at NCUA he believes she genuinely feels the need to reach out to the underserved. “I’m very excited about it. I was happy to be able to stay within the credit union movement,” she said. Matz emphasized, “They reach out to people who don’t have a relationship with traditional financial institutions.That’s what this credit union is all about.” She added that she used Hale as a resource for some of the issues covered under her Partnering and Leadership Successes initiative while at NCUA. Matz touted Hale as very levelheaded yet innovative. Hale referred to his work under the PALS initiative as part of every credit union’s “obligation to the credit union movement at large.PALS made a lot of sense.” While not necessarily “sharing your secret recipe,” cooperation is what the credit union community is all about, he said. Matz’ management experience includes eight years as U.S. Department of Agriculture deputy assistant secretary for administration, overseeing the administrative arm of the 100,000-employee agency. Immediately prior to her service at NCUA, Matz held the post of executive officer at the North American office of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. She also has extensive experience serving on Capitol Hill and previously served as a community development representative for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. While on the NCUA Board, Matz also served as vice chair of the Board of NeighborWorks America, an agency created by Congress to bolster affordable housing efforts. Though she has not helped run a credit union before, Matz said, “Even though I know the policy and I know the regulations, I really need to understand credit unions and their staff.but I’m up to the challenge.” AFCU has recently expanded its field of membership into Washington, D.C. and “started in the most challenging area,” Hale explained. The effort has taken off well despite the hurdles of the infrastructure in the Southeast quadrant of D.C. The credit union’s method is to ensure its moves are philosophically sound and its business practices are sound; now it is trying to reduce the cycle time between identifying a problem and working to solve it, which is where Matz fits in. Hale said AFCU has the goal of “getting there faster, better, and smarter than anyone else.” “Over the years, I’ve observed she has been consistently ethical, passionate and professional with anything she sets out to do.” he also stated. “We look forward to adding her fresh perspective to our already strong team of key players as we work together to improve processes here at AFCU and provide innovative solutions to meet the needs of our credit union members.” Hale is setting up AFCU to deal with a variety of angles of service to the underserved, including Voluntary Income Tax Assistance sites and Individual Development Accounts. The credit union already offers second chance loans, secured credit cards, and financial counseling among other services. He pointed out that he has recently brought on someone in the marketing department from the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. “In the first place, we’re looking for the right talent. Uniqueness is just icing on the cake,” Hale said, pointing out that the combination of an African-American male CEO and Caucasian female COO better positions the institution to be able to talk to all people at all levels across all issues. Additionally, he said, the credit union has a high net worth, 15.28% according to NCUA data, which allows the credit union “to do what we need to do.” Hale explained that AFCU tries to stay within a certain net worth range to be able to continue expanding into underserved areas. He added that AFCU focuses on “the long-term, best interest of the institution and the members.” AFCU also has a return on average assets of 1.08%. -

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