EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Xerox FCU has turned to one of theindustry's most respected marketing minds to lead it into thefuture.

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The $785 million CU has named Teresa Freeborn, currently seniorvice president, marketing and communications at the $3 billionKinecta FCU based in Manhattan Beach, Calif., as its new CEO.Freeborn is also president of Kinecta's largest CUSO, KinectaFinancial & Insurance Services.

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“I am excited about the new job. I have waited a long time forthis opportunity,” said Freeborn. She replaces Bill Cheney who leftXerox to lead the California Credit Union League.

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Freeborn's appointment is somewhat rare in that she has spentmuch of her career on the marketing and communications side. “Ithink this is going to be really good news for my fellow marketersout there. If you look at what credit unions need today, it's allabout growth and expansion and who better than a marketer to seewhere those opportunities might lie and to put together the plansthat will actually make it all happen.”

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While Freeborn, 50, believes marketing is a special skill thatCUs should consider when hiring new CEOs, you have to bring more tothe table. “It's not just about having marketing skills, you haveto have a well-rounded skill set. I was president of KinectaFinancial for the last year and one of the things I see is hugepotential for other sources of revenue for credit unions. ROA isbig today. Margins are shrinking and we have to constantly look forother sources of revenue,” said Freeborn.

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Freeborn said people might also overlook the core roots behindgood marketing–solid research. “What people from the outside see isthat glossy brochure. That's great, but marketing is far reachingthroughout the credit union and it's also based on research. Thatis how you make your decisions, finding out what is driving memberbehavior.”

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Freeborn's involvement with U.S. credit unions can be tracedback to Tom Graham, the former CEO of Kinecta FCU and now CEO ofSunCorp Corporate Credit Union. Freeborn was working at the CreditUnion Central of British Columbia (sort of a mixture of a corporateCU and a CU league) when she met Graham.

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Graham remembers the story well. “I was at a World Councilmeeting in Australia and saw her presentation on branding and afterthe presentation I went up to her to give her a pin that are alwaystraded at those world meetings. I stuck one of those in my businesscard and said 'if you decide to look for a job in the U.S., I havethe perfect one for you,' and I complimented her presentation,”said Graham.

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The next morning the two had a chance early morning meeting.Graham was getting an early start and was the sole attendeegrabbing a cup of coffee in the conference facility. Freeborn wasup for an early morning jog. The two met in the main lobby andGraham reiterated his job offer, letting her know it was a seriousoffer, and the rest is history.

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“This is where I cut my teeth on the U.S. credit union system. Icame down here on a work visa and haven't looked back,” saidFreeborn. She has also since become a U.S. citizen.

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Freeborn took the lead in what was a very sensitive initiativeat Hughes–changing the name. The CU had deep aerospace roots andthe name change wasn't exactly met with enthusiasm initially fromsome of the CU's leaders.

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“I would say one of the best compliments I could pay Teresa wasthat she did an outstanding job in helping the Hughes AircraftEmployees FCU transition to Kinecta. She really managed that brandand image process with our board, which was very complicated,” saidGraham.

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Freeborn may find herself in another name change situation atXerox, a CU that has grown beyond the core Xerox company. “We haveto decide if we want to make a change. That's up for the managementteam and the board. They've certainly led me to believe it issomething they will be looking at,” said Freeborn.

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Freeborn's excitement for the new position was palpable. Shesaid she's excited to lead a credit union, but first plans ontaking some time off. “I am going to take some time to getre-energized. When I came to the U.S. six years ago, I leftVancouver on a Friday and started working on a Monday. I reallyhaven't sat back since.”

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Fortunately, said Freeborn, she will only have to drive aboutthree miles further down the highway to get to her new office. “Forsomeone who came down here who didn't know what a Manhattan Beachwas, when I arrived and saw the location I was blown away. I am oneof the very few Los Angelinos that has a 12-minute commute,” shesaid.

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