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Man involved in murder at CU given life sentence

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (11/20/09)--A man convicted of being an accomplice in the murder of a U.S. Navy officer outside a Virginia credit union, was sentenced to three life terms in prison. Michael A. Draven, 29, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Virginia, after being found guilty July 17 of conspiracy to commit murder for hire, carjacking resulting in death, and murder with a firearm in relation to a crime of violence (States New Service Nov. 17). Draven was convicted for his role in the April 2007 shooting death of Navy Communications Officer Cory Allen Voss, 30, which took place outside a Langley FCU ATM in Newport News,Va. The murder was designed to look like a random robbery that went awry, authorities said (News Now July 24). Last year, Voss’ wife, Catherine Ann Voss, pleaded guilty to masterminding the plot so she could be with Draven--her boyfriend--and collect roughly $500,000 in Voss’ death benefits. In November, she was sentenced to four life terms. Catherine Voss and Draven met while Voss’ husband, Cory Allen Voss, was on a six-month deployment for the U.S. Navy in 2006, according to court records and evidence introduced at trial. The affair continued after his return, in which Catherine Voss and Draven discussed marriage and referred to each other as husband and wife. In early 2007, Catherine Voss and Draven began to contemplate murdering Cory Voss, who had a $400,000 life insurance policy and a $100,000 death gratuity through the military. Draven met David A. Runyon, 37, while at a medical research study in Baltimore, Md., and they discussed hiring Runyon, a former member of the U.S. Army and former police officer, to kill Cory Voss. The discussions continued and developed into a plan to pay Runyon $20,000 to murder Cory Voss at the Oyster Point Branch of Langley FCU. Sometime after 11:00 p.m. on April 29, 2007, Runyon--toting a firearm purchased earlier that day--entered Cory Voss’ truck and shot the sailor five times, killing him. Runyon was convicted of the murder of Voss in July and is eligible for the death penalty, a federal jury decided July 22.

Consultant CUs kept lending when banks pulled back

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LAS VEGAS (11/20/09)--U.S. credit unions continued to lend money when the country’s financial industry collapsed late last year, even when commercial banks reduced loans, a credit union consultant told a Las Vegas credit union conference Tuesday. “We didn't wait for the government, and we didn't wait for government programs," Charles ‘Chip’ Filson told members of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues at the conference (The Las Vegas Review-Journal Nov. 18). Filson is president of Callahan & Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm for credit unions and former supervisor of the Illinois Credit Union Division, the Journal said. “Credit unions are filling a void left by the market-based institutions,” Filson told the Journal. Banks have reined in lending despite getting money from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, he added. “At this very same time, credit union loan originations are at an all-time high,” Filson added. “Your institutions have continued to lend. Sometimes, the market doesn’t always produce the right or best solution.” Last year, after securitized loans from the for-profit financial sector vanished, credit unions made $2 billion in student loans, Filson told the Journal. Credit unions have experienced rapid growth in deposits and members, he added. “Members are coming home to credit unions,” Filson said. Credit union membership increased 11% in the third quarter, Filson told the Journal. “We have the strongest capital levels of all financial institutions,” he added.

More CU members plan to pay for holiday gifts with cash

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ATLANTA (11/20/09)--More credit union members plan to pay for their holiday gifts this year with cash instead of credit, a Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) holiday spending poll indicates. GCUA polled 1,000 credit union members statewide. About 76% said they plan to pay for all or most of their holiday purchases with cash, and 12% said they will use a credit card (PR Newswire Nov. 17). Roughly 52% of members said they also plan to spend less on holiday gifts than they did last year, while 45% said they will spend the same as last year. Only 3% said they will spend more, GCUA said. Of those polled, 59% will spend less than $500 on gifts, 31% plan to spend between $500 and $1,000, and 10% plan to spend more than $1,000. The results of GCUA’s poll match findings from another recent poll that indicated 46% of Georgians are spending less compared with one year ago. Forty-one percent said they are spending the same, and 13% said they are spending more. “Clearly, Georgians are concerned about their financial well-being, so they are looking to spend money more vigilantly than in previous years,” said Mike Mercer, GCUA president/CEO. “It’s one thing to spend money, but it’s another to spend money wisely. While Georgians spend money to enjoy the holiday season, they’re not going to take on more debt to do it. Instead, they are looking at their finances with an eye toward the future.”

Filene report Focus on finances for college grads

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MADISON, Wis. (11/20/09)--Conducting quick, low-cost financial education seminars to graduating college students could be a potent tool for credit unions to engage with young adults at a pivotal time in their financial lives, according to the Filene Research Institute. Filene recently released a paper, “Delivering Financial Education to Graduating College Students,” about a financial education program, Financial Independence Seminar, developed by Filene researchers Bob Hoel and Ron Smith, which was held in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, its alumni association and business school faculty. The program was promoted to students nearing graduation. The content was delivered by a credible, unbiased host, and the general seminar and breakout sessions were followed by one-on-one coaching from experienced professionals to provide more information. Participants also were provided with complementary links to financial information sources, Filene said. Hoel and Smith analyzed the seminars, offered in 2007, 2008 and 2009, and reported the following results:
* The vast majority of attendees--79%--at the 2009 seminar took at least one specific action three months after the seminar, for example, establishing a budget or opening an Individual Retirement Account; * Between 95-100% of attendees at the 2007 and 2008 seminars took at least one specific action one to two years after the seminar; and * Feedback from attendees and sponsors indicated the value derived from the seminar was extremely high and they would likely promote the seminar to friends and colleagues.
According to the paper, credit unions should develop programs that are delivered to segmented audiences receptive to the customized information and ready to act on the suggestions; developed and presented by uninterested third parties (no credit union staff); structured as voluntary programs; and measured for effectiveness and changes in participants’ behaviors. The paper also noted students’ top 10 financial topics, as indicated during the seminar:
* Choosing investment options; * Managing income and expenses every month; * Understanding employee benefits; * Saving for retirement; * Paying off student loans; * Selecting savings options; * Buying a home; * Learning how to become wealthy; * Buying a car; and * Managing credit card or other debt.

Russell Reynolds Assoc. to conduct search for new CUNA CEO

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WASHINGTON (11/20/09)--The national firm of Russell Reynolds Associates has been selected to conduct the search for a successor to Credit Union National Association (CUNA) CEO Dan Mica, who has announced plans to step down in January 2011. The CUNA search committee selected Russell Reynolds at a meeting earlier this month. The committee chose the company after evaluating proposals from four national executive search firms that were finalists in the running for the task. “Our committee felt Russell Reynolds has the depth of experience and breadth of contacts to find the candidates with the qualities and leadership ability that we need for this position,” said Committee Chairman Harriet May, who is CEO of GECU in El Paso and vice chairman of the CUNA board. “The firm will be looking both within and outside the credit union movement to ensure we find the best person for the job.” Russell Reynolds Associates has a worldwide network of 39 offices and more than 275 executive search professionals. The firm is known for its deep knowledge of major industries and commitment to client service. The firm will begin by preparing a position description. Once the description is finalized, Russell Reynolds will begin its search process. May noted that all candidate resumes will be channeled through Russell Reynolds rather than the CUNA search committee. After conducting its search process, Russell Reynolds will present a final list of candidates to the search committee for its evaluation.

CUNA announces 2009 ELLy awards

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MADISON, Wis. (11/20/09)--Exceptional credit union trainers and training programs were honored during an awards presentation at the 2009 Experience Learning Live! (ELL) conference Oct. 25-28 in Nashville.
Click to view larger image Tara Whitmire (left) and Ashley White, ELGA CU, Burton, Mich., received first place honors for the Training Professional of the Year Award and the WOW! Award at the 2009 Experience Learning Live! Conference in Nashville.
Click to view larger image GESA CU received first place honors in the WOW! Award, which recognizes credit unions with the best overall training curriculum or event. (Photos provided by CUNA)
The ELLy awards, sponsored by the Credit Union National Association, recognize outstanding efforts in the area of professional staff development. ELGA CU, Burton, Mich., received first place for the Training Professional of the Year Award. The award was presented to Tara Whitmire and Ashley White. The award recognizes achievements of a visionary credit union training professional or department for exceptional contributions to the learning and performance of credit union staff. Whitemire and White also were presented with first place in the WOW! Award, which recognizes credit unions with the best overall training curriculum or event. Angie Henderson and Teresa Shively, GESA CU, Richland, Wash., also received first place for the award. The Training Champion Award was given to Christina Brown, president/CEO of GESA CU, Richland, Wash. The award applauds the vision, involvement and leadership of senior management for their support and development of the credit union’s training initiatives. Kitsap CU, Bremerton, Wash., received first place for the Chi Phi Delta Award, which is presented for the best development of a credit union university and its effect on staff learning and performance, using the CUNA Center for Professional Development’s (CPD) products. Eastman CU, Kingsport, Tenn., received first place for the eLearning Award for its Eastman CU Learning Resource Center. The award focuses on demonstrating how technology has changed the culture of credit unions and enhanced training. Three CPD Energizer Awards, which recognize credit unions with innovative training programs that support CUNA CPD Training, were given to:
* SPC Cooperative CU, Hartsville, S.C., small market; * BELCO Community CU, Harrisburg, Pa., medium market; and * Metro CU, Chelsea, Mass., major market.
Next year’s conference will be Oct. 21-23 in San Diego.

Rosenthal named to Social Investment Forum board

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WASHINGTON (11/20/09)--The Social Investment Forum (SIF), the national nonprofit membership association for the socially responsible investment (SRI) industry, has announced that Clifford N. Rosenthal, president/CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, has been elected to serve on its board of directors, along with two other new members. SIF also re-elected two existing members to continue to serve on its board of directors. The four other SIF board members are: Jan Bryan, an investment adviser with the First Affirmative Financial Network; Leslie Lowe, director of the Energy & Environment Program at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility; Ingrid Dyott, managing director of Neuberger Berman’s SRI team; and Paul Hilton, director of Advanced Equities Research at Calvert. Lowe and Dyott are the two returning members of the SIF board. “The five recently elected SIF board members--including Cliff Rosenthal--represent a remarkably wide range of sectors and professional expertise which will be well utilized in their work to advance the field of socially responsible and sustainable investing,” said SIF Board Chair Cheryl Smith. After 10 years working in food co-op development and anti-hunger advocacy for Native American, migrant farmworker, and urban minority organizations, Rosenthal joined the federation in 1980, becoming its executive director in 1983. In 1982, Rosenthal created the Capitalization Program for CDCUs, making the federation one of the first community development financial institutions in the U.S. Through that program, the federation raises capital from socially responsible investors and government sources to reinvest as deposits or loans in CDCUs nationally. “The Social Investment Forum is very fortunate to have three new and two returning board members to work with us in expanding the numbers of individual professionals and institutions engaged in SRI,” said SIF CEO Lisa Woll. “Interest in socially responsible investing continues to grow, especially since the global financial crisis has brought many core SRI issues--like transparency and good governance--to the forefront of the policy debate, and our board’s combined expertise will help us remain at the vanguard of the SRI industry.”