Help Wanted: A politically connected individual familiar with the workings of the credit union movement. He or she must have the inspirational ability of Ronald Reagan, the charm of Bill Clinton and the ethics of Billy Graham.While that advertisement probably won’t appear on, those are the types of traits that people familiar with CUNA say the search committee should look for when recruiting a successor to Dan Mica. Mica announced last week that he will leave his post as president/CEO at the end of next year. He has held the position since 1996.“I’d like to find Dan Mica’s clone. Someone who has all the skills he had and his strong personal ethics,” said CUNA Board Member Sandy Lingerfelt, president/CEO of Clinchfield Federal Credit Union in Erwin, Tenn.Though current federal law forbids human cloning, several other people interviewed said the next CUNA leader should have Mica’s political acumen as well as his strong interpersonal and media skills.“Dan has proven the viability of having someone who understands the political structure. Government can be our greatest friend or biggest obstacle, and CUNA needs a leader who can navigate those areas. I doubt the board will stray from that tradition,” said John Dill, president/CEO of the Credit Union Associations of Colorado and Wyoming. “It’s easier to hire a leader with certain skills and specific expertise in a trade association and teach them about credit unions than the other way around. One of the beauties of our movement is that we are easy to love.”When asked if he was interested in the position, Dill, a former congressional and gubernatorial staff member, said, “I spent quite a bit of my career in Washington, and I am happy in Colorado.”The person CUNA’s board selects will take over a trade association that is in the thick of many of key legislative and regulatory issues and is also serving a movement that is undergoing changes because of the recession and the changing nature of the financial services industry.The association has a $56 million annual budget and 216 full-time-equivalent employees. It has had its share of financial troubles, and last year restricted net assets declined $7.9 million. It had $2.6 million in unrestricted assets at the end of 2008, compared with $10.6 million at the end of 2007. Its pretax income last year was $887,173, compared with $3.2 million in 2007. CUNA has had to lay off 26 employees this year and instituted mandatory five-day furloughs.But the reward for dealing with these challenges could be substantial. While the board hasn’t decided what the salary range will be, Mica’s total compensation package for last year was $1.8 million.Former NCUA Board Member Jeff Bacino said that despite the fact that the next leader of CUNA “will have their hands full in terms of the financials and will have to be charismatic and dynamic,” there will be no shortage of qualified candidates. Bacino, who declined to say if he would be interested, said, “They may have an embarrassment of riches.”Other possible candidates could include: former NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar; several current and former members of Congress such as Reps. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) and Ed Royce (R-Calif.) who are key backers of credit union measures; and former House Financial Services Committee Chairman Michael Oxley (R-Ohio). Former members of Congress can’t lobby on Capitol Hill for a year after leaving office but can provide strategic advice and suggest who others should approach.The new CEO of CUNA might also be presiding over an even larger organization. Some industry watchers say that Mica’s departure might provide an opportunity to revisit the possibility of combining CUNA and NAFCU.“Strategically, the movement might benefit from speaking with one voice, but there are difficulties, which can be overcome,” Dill said. “Because of our triangle system-CUNA, the leagues and individual credit unions-we can move policy from top to bottom and NAFCU doesn’t have that connectivity, but they have other strengths.”CUNA’s board has expressed its willingness to meet with NAFCU’s board, but NAFCU’s board has in the past expressed a desire to remain separate.NAFCU Chairman Brad Beal said his association still supports remaining separate.“Our mission hasn’t changed since we were started in 1967, to have a separate association that focuses on federal credit union issues and offers direct membership. Our membership continues to support that mission very strongly, and we’ll continue to follow their direction,” he said in an interview.CUNA’s board plans to discuss the recruitment process and set up a search committee when it meets later this month. After it establishes its criteria, it plans to begin interviewing executive search firmsThough Mica has given the board 16 months to find a successor, the search process could take between four and nine months, according to Washington, DC-based executive search consultant Leonard Pfeiffer, who was involved the recruitment process that matched Mica with CUNA.He said there would probably be about 100 applicants, and the search firm would typically review those and pare the list down to about 25 people and have intense conversations with those individuals. From that list, it would likely present 10 profiles to the search committee and that panel would choose six candidates to interview.After the interviews-which typically last about one hour and 15 minutes-the committee would make its top three selections for final interviews.Pfeiffer said the market for trade association CEOs is “competitive and confusing,” and the tight economy and job market may make some candidates reluctant to switch jobs.“Some of the most qualified candidates may be unlikely to leave secure positions. They don’t want to risk being nudged out for political reasons and left high and dry in a delicate marketplace,” he said.–[email protected]

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