WASHINGTON (7/6/10)--William “Bill” Cheney, who officially
became president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) over the long holiday weekend--on July 5--says his first priority upon taking the helm at CUNA is to assure a smooth transition of power during this volatile time for credit unions. “We can’t miss a beat, either in Washington or Madison (Wis.), as we represent and serve credit unions,” he said, referring to the CUNA operations based in each of those cities. “Credit unions are facing serious legislative, regulatory and financial challenges. So, now more than ever, credit unions need a strong, responsive national trade association--and they have one in CUNA.” Cheney comes aboard CUNA at a time when hot-button issues abound. CUNA and credit unions have fought a tough battle against government controls on interchange fees, and now work for further improvements in the pending legislation. If enacted, CUNA stands ready to work for credit union interests as the Federal Reserve implements the controls. Also on the front burner is the long-term credit union goal to increase the statutory cap on member business lending (MBL). Last week, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) offered an amendment to include legislative language in a small business-stimulus bill that would increase the MBL cap to 27.5% of a credit union’s total assets. The Senate is expected to take up that bill this summer. And on the daily operational side, Cheney notes, credit unions--like almost all businesses--are working to deal with tough economic conditions caused by the meltdown in the housing and mortgage markets. Under his leadership, Cheney says, advocacy will remain CUNA’s top priority. “That doesn’t mean it’s our only priority, but it’s our first priority.” The new CUNA chief is confident that his deep background in the credit union movement gives him the skills for a successful tenure at CUNA. Cheney has more than 20 years experience working in credit unions—nine of which were spent as CEO. He has also spent the last four years heading the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. “CUNA has successfully been representing credit unions for 75 years. That will continue, and my experience brings a slightly different perspective to the table,” he said. Cheney congratulates his predecessor--exiting CEO Dan Mica--on a great leadership during his 14 years at the CUNA reins. Mica announced his intended departure last August and has helped guide CUNA through the search process for a strong successor. When announcing his plan to move on, Mica noted his personal philosophy that “change is a good thing” and should occur in one’s life every 10 years or so. He said it was his love of the credit union movement that drew him to stay as CUNA president/CEO for 14 years. Reflecting Mica’s positive attitude regarding change, Cheney says, “Anytime there’s change, especially when you’ve had such a great leader as Dan Mica…for 14 years, it's an opportunity to step back and look at what we’re doing as an organization and see how we want to improve for the benefit of credit unions going forward.” For more on Cheney, the July issue of CUNA’s Credit Union Magazine
features an in-depth Q-and-A with the new CUNA president/CEO.