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Wis. N.C. CUs host Dominican Fellows through WOCCU program
International Credit Union Leadership Program participant Gervis Portes Nina met with U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-4) of South Carolina during his internship with SC Telco FCU in Greeneville S.C.

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WASHINGTON (11/13/12)--Credit unions in Wisconsin and North Carolina have hosted Dominican Republic fellows through a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) International Credit Union Leadership Program (ICULP) during the past few weeks.

After four weeks away from their homes and families, Gervis Portes Nina, regional business manager for Coopcentral in Las Matas de Farfán, Dominican Republic, and Gelson Rodriguez, loan officer for Cooperativa Maimon in Maimon, Dominican Republic, completed the final week of their U.S. credit union internships last week at the Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, D.C.

Nina and Rodriguez are part of a group of more than 200 professional fellows from 51 countries are meeting at the event to discuss topics such as entrepreneurship, women's empowerment and worldwide legislative issues. The Professional Fellows Congress is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of Citizen Exchanges, and includes participants from WOCCU and the 16 other Professional Fellows Program grantees.

Nina spent the past month with SC Telco CU in Greeneville, S.C., where he studied the credit union's policies, procedures and best practices. Each of the credit union's departments shared with Nina their challenges and keys to success. Nina also visited a Spanish class at Landrum High School in Landrum, S.C., where he discussed life and culture in the Dominican Republic. Later in the month, Nina met with U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-4).

Click to view larger image Gelson Rodriguez, loan officer for Cooperativa Maimon in Maimon, Dominican Republic, focused on lending products and procedures at Dane County CU in Madison, Wis. Pictured, from  left are: Carla Wolf, human resources manager; Katie Kruger, branch manager; Crystal Brandt, member service representative; Rodriguez; Bridget Brei, underwriter; and Marshall Arehart, lending manager.
"These exchanges build bridges of understanding and friendship throughout the worldwide credit union movement," said John Radebaugh, North Carolina Credit Union League president/CEO. "They also show staff at North Carolina credit unions that they are part of something larger. It was a pleasure to see our credit unions embrace this program and provide a transformational learning experience to their Dominican guests and the staff members who worked alongside them."

While Nina interned in South Carolina, Rodriguez was working at Dane County CU in Madison, Wis. Rodriguez focused primarily on loan processes and procedures and the way in which Dane County CU serves its members with credit builder loans and one-on-one credit report reviews. Like Nina, Rodriguez had the opportunity to participate in other activities such as a Wisconsin Credit Union League event and a visit to WOCCU headquarters in Madison.

"We appreciated the opportunity to visit once again with our international colleagues and discuss credit union awareness, advocacy and other important issues," said Brett Thompson, president/CEO of the Wisconsin Credit Union League, which has had an official partnership with the Dominican Republic's credit union association, AIRAC, though WOCCUs International Partnerships Program since 2007.

"The knowledge and perspective we gain through this partnership is invaluable, and we'll look forward to continuing to foster our relationship with credit unions in the Dominican Republic," Thompson added.

Rodriguez and Nina are among the nine fellows that traveled to the U.S. through WOCCU's International Credit Union Leadership Program (ICULP), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of Citizen Exchanges. In coordination with the Wisconsin Credit Union League and North Carolina Credit Union League, WOCCU paired each participant with a U.S. credit union for the duration of the internship. Participants will return home with new ideas and strategies to improve their credit unions and promote growth in the Dominican credit union system.

International Credit Union Leadership Program participants,  from left: Claudio Wolters, Coopmedica manager; Naty Lamourthe, Coopmedica training manager; and Gelson Rodriguez met with World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) President/CEO Brian Branch at WOCCU headquarters in Madison, Wis. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions) 

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"This program directly aligns with World Council's vision to build a global community," said Brian Branch, WOCCU president/CEO. "It provides an opportunity to directly connect our member associations, AIRAC in the Dominican Republic and Credit Union National Association in the U.S., to exchange ideas, experiences and best practices in an effort to positively influence credit unions in both countries."

Wisconsin credit unions participating in the program were Summit CU, Madison, Wis.; Taylor CU, Medford, Wis.; Glacier Hills CU, West Bend, Wis.; and Dane County CU, Madison, Wis. Participating North Carolina credit unions were Latino Community CU, Durham, N.C.; State Employees CU, Raleigh, N.C.; Coastal FCU, Raleigh, N.C.; and United Services CU, Asheville, N.C. SC Telco CU, Greeneville, S.C., also participated in the program.

Dominican fellows also met with National Credit Union Administration representatives to hear a regulatory perspective of the U.S. credit union system.

WOCCU is accepting applications through Nov. 16, from U.S. credit union employees interested in participating in the next ICULP opportunity in the Dominican Republic. WOCCU will select 11 U.S. participants to travel to the Dominican Republic for a two-week internship with one of 15 WOCCU-affiliated credit unions, Jan. 13–16, 2013.

For more information on ICULP and an application, use the link.
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