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CUNA Lending Council announces news Exec. Comm. members

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MADISON, Wis. (11/7/12)--The coming year's executive committee and officers for the CUNA Lending Council were announced during the Council's 18th annual conference, Nov. 4-7 in Miami. This is a result of the most recent annual election by the council membership in the months preceding the conference.

Bill Vogeney, senior vice president /chief lending officer, Ent FCU, Colorado Springs, Colo., will become the council chair. Jason Osterhage, senior vice president /chief lending officer, Delta Employees CU, Atlanta, Ga. was named the council vice chair.

Three new members elected to the executive committee are:

  • Keith Troup, vice president-lending/chief lending officer, Washington State ECU, Olympia, Wash.;
  • Wendy Rohrer, vice president-consumer lending, Summit CU, Madison, Wis.; and
  • Bob Stowell, senior vice president/chief operating officer, US FCU, Burnsville, Minn.
The new members replace outgoing executive committee members who have served their terms: Aaron Bresko, senior vice president/chief lending officer, GTE Financial, Tampa, Fla.; Bonnie Doolin, senior vice president, business development, Massachusetts Credit Union League, Inc., Marlborough, Mass.; Michael Long, executive vice president/chief credit officer, UW CU, Madison, Wis.; and Keith Reynolds, vice president, lending/business services, Citizens Equity First CU, San Jose, Ca.

The CUNA Lending Council executive committee also currently includes:

  • Jennifer Cowles, vice president, real estate lending, American Eagle CU, East Hartford, Conn.;
  • Stacy Fifield, vice president, consumer lending, operations support, Travis CU, Vacaville, Calif.;
  • Dale Frankhouse, director of business services and mortgage lending, Sun FCU, Maumee, Ohio;
  • Gayle Rust Gustafson, vice president, finance services, Rivermark Community CU, Beaverton, Ore.; and
  • Chris Oldag, chief lending officer/vice president, Pacific Service CU, Concord, Calif.

CUNA Mutual honors 6 CUs for lending excellence

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MIAMI (11/7/12)--Six credit unions were recognized for their exemplary lending Monday by receiving CUNA Mutual Group's Excellence in Lending Awards at the CUNA Lending Council's 18th annual conference in Miami.

Click to view larger image Winners of the 2012 Excellence in Lending Awards were announced by CUNA Mutual Group at CUNA's Lending Council Annual Conference in Miami on Monday, and were, front, from left: Kathy Campbell, president/CEO, Northeast Community CU, Mortgage, less than $250 million in assets; Marsha Majors, executive vice president, U.S. New Mexico FCU, Low to Modest Means; Shyaam Shabaka, board vice chair, Cooperative Center FCU, Consumer, less than $250 million in assets; Benjamin Rutledge, vice president-commercial services, Gesa CU, Business; Alissa Sykes, mortgage manager, Sunmark FCU, Mortgage, more than $250 million in assets; and Sarah Klinger, associate  vice president-lending, United Nations FCU, Consumer, more than $250 million in assets. Back row, from left: Dan Murray, CUNA Mutual Group, vice president; and Bill Vogeney, CUNA Lending Council chair, senior vice president, Ent FCU. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
Dan Murray, vice president, lending, CUNA Mutual Group, presented the 13th annual awards to:

  • United Nations FCU, Long Island City, N.Y.: Consumer Lending, Assets More Than $250 million;
  • Cooperative Center FCU, Berkeley, Calif.: Consumer Lending, Assets Less Than $250 million;
  • Sunmark FCU, Albany, N.Y.: Mortgage Lending, Assets More Than $250 million;
  • Northeast Community CU, Elizabethton, Tenn., Mortgage Lending, Assets Less than $250 million;
  • Gesa CU, Richland, Wash.: Business Lending; and
  • U.S. New Mexico FCU, Albuquerque, N.M.: Low-to-Modest Means.
"We had a record number of applications this year," said Murray. "But it wasn't just quantity, there were many quality, deserving applicants. In a challenging economy, it speaks to the resolve and creativity of our nominees."

Eighty-four credit unions were considered for this year's Excellence in Lending Awards, the most in the award program's 13-year history.

The  reasons for  the six credit unions being honored for their efforts in the specific lending areas mentioned is detailed below. They include:

CONSUMER--Assets More than $250 Million:

United Nations FCU--($3.7 billion assets; 97,000 members)-- A 2003 Excellence in Lending winner in the Mortgage category, United Nations FCU (UNFCU) is no stranger to providing a suite of financial products and services. The Long Island City, N.Y., credit union offers a line of products and services to satisfy the diverse needs of its members, who are located in more than 200 territories and countries around the world. UNFCU mitigates loan risk through its Country Scoring process, a sophisticated risk monitoring system, that takes in to account loan-to-share, gross domestic product growth and currency. The credit union also has an array of savings, loan, investment and insurance products that address the special needs of its widely dispersed membership. In short, UNFCU lives and breathes its mission of "Serving People who Serve the World."

CONSUMER--Assets Less Than $250 Million:

Cooperative Center FCU (CCFCU)--($102 million in assets; 13,000 members)--The Berkeley, Calif., credit union built its lending program from the ground up by establishing relationships with vehicle dealers through an indirect program. Among some ending initiatives was its "Stimulus Bailout," an unsecured debt consolidation loan to help members shed their high interest credit card or payday loans. Given its membership base is largely UC-Berkeley staff and students, private student loans became a component of CCFCU's lending portfolio. Further diversifying its lending portfolio is the small business program, which is Small Business Administration certified and tied to a state program that guarantees up to 80% of the loan amount.

MORTGAGE--Assets More Than $250 Million:

Sunmark FCU ($364 million in assets; 46,000+ members)--Sunmark FCU of Latham, N.Y., took a holistic approach to mortgage lending through strategic hires, department restructuring, offering competitive rates and by expanding its products. The credit union exhibited flexibility when it shifted from a refinance focus in 2009 and 2010 to purchase volume in 2011 and 2012. A decision to develop strong realtor relationships helped Sunmark grow its purchase business from 10% of its portfolio to 30% today. The credit union also has a diverse marketing strategy, including direct mail. Product offerings have also increased, including no closing costs and no-PMI mortgage options being introduced in August 2011. One campaign this year brought in 78 mortgage loans totaling $13.8 million.

MORTGAGE--Assets Less Than $250 Million:

Northeast Community CU  ($80 million in assets; 9,000+ members)--Northeast Community CU (NECCU) of Elizabethton, Tenn., may not be big, but it thinks big. They developed a mortgage strategy and executed on it by offering residential real estate loans with greatly reduced closing costs, then blanketed their area with news of it. NECCU established a $500 flat-fee closing cost on first mortgages and made it workable by negotiated lower costs with local appraisers and an attorney. The net result was a mortgage product that included closing costs other local lenders couldn't come close to matching, CUNA Mutual said.  Staff then rolled up their sleeves and began identifying members who had recently obtained a loan elsewhere and encouraged them to refinance.

BUSINESS--Gesa CU ($1.2 billion in assets; 109,000 members)--Gesa CU (GCU) has set its sights on becoming southeastern Washington's business lender of choice and is on its way to achieving that goal, CUNA Mutual said.  In a short period of time, GCU has developed a sound, profitable and sustainable member business lending portfolio. The program has exhibited loan growth, interest and fee income generation, examinations and audits of their portfolio. Gesa hired experienced business lenders to provide underwriting and portfolio management. Then, it formed a business loan committee to ensure sound decision-making on loans and collection efforts. Despite a struggling economy, GCU has put up impressive loan growth numbers ranging between $35 million and $47 million from 2009 to 2011, CUNA Mutual said..

LOW-TO-MODEST MEANS--U.S. New Mexico FCU ($725 million+ in assets; 67,000+ members) --This Albuquerque, N.M., credit union couldn't be more proud or much better at serving MOMMs--Members of Modest Means. Throughout its 77-year history, U.S. New Mexico has prided itself on being responsive to serving this membership with products and services aimed at helping MOMMs attain financial security. The credit union keeps its finger on the pulse of their membership through a 30-employee volunteer committee that identifies MOMMs' social and financial needs. The credit union responds with delivering a product suite designed to address the needs of that demographic, including programs such as Balance Financial Fitness, Eagle Advance, Credit Builder Credit Card, and CourtesyPay. U.S. New Mexico FCU is financially stable and its delinquency and charge-offs tell a very positive story, CUNA Mutual said.

Indiana Cooperative Development Center announces awards

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INDIANAPOLIS (11/7/12)--The Indiana Cooperative Development Center will honor annual award winners at its Co-op Summit on Friday.

Bruce Ingraham, who recently retired as president of Beacon CU, Wabash, Ind.,  has been selected as Indiana's Cooperative Hero of the Year. He will be inducted into the group's Cooperative Hall of Fame.

The Cooperative Hall of Fame recognizes cooperators who have made an impact through their leadership or in their community service.

Ingraham worked for the credit union since 1980, when it was called Wabash County Farm Bureau CU, and had $38 million in assets. Today, Beacon CU's assets total $961 million and it serves more than 46,000 members.

Indiana's rural electric cooperatives' international project - Hoosiers Power the World – has been selected as the recipient of the 2012 Cooperator Community Service Award.

Hoosiers Power the World is an initiative supported by Indiana's rural electric cooperatives, in partnership with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association International Foundation, to bring power to remote areas of Guatemala.

In August and September, 32 volunteers traveled to the northeastern area of the country bordering Mexico to bring electricity to three isolated villages for the very first time. The projects benefitted nearly 1,000 men, women and children who had never had access to electricity, even though they could see the lights in neighboring villages.

2012 was designated by the United Nations as International Year of the Cooperative, with the theme "Cooperatives build a better world."

CU System Brief (11/06/2012)

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DOWNEY, Calif. (11/7/12)--Financial Partner CU Vice President of Marketing Anne Legg was asked to share her MBA thesis, "Creating a New Credit Union Sustainability Business Model," to the 2012 International Cooperative Summit held in Quebec, Canada Oct. 8-11. Legg's thesis was selected from over a hundred entries globally, and she was the only credit union professional selected.  The thesis identifies credit unions as a viable financial services alternative for consumers, and in it Legg seeks a solution for credit union sustainability by examining international credit union systems in addition to the cooperative grocery and farming industries. Legg's recommendations for achieving sustainability within the credit union movement include developing a shared-value business model, micro lending, and re-positioning strategies-- as well as incorporating programs founded on the cooperative principles. More than 2,800 participants from at least 91 countries attended the four-day international summit where speakers included  former Secretary of State Madeline Albright …

CUs continue to recover from Sandy

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WASHINGTON (11/7/12)--As of early afternoon Tuesday, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) listed 44 credit unions, most of them in New Jersey, as closed or not operational as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

NCUA initially listed 118 credit unions closed or in pending status as a result of Sandy, according to a list posted by agency's website.

Other credit unions within Sandy's path are operating partially with branch closures, in temporary facilities, or with only ATM services, NCUA said.

"Our examiners along the East Coast are checking with their credit unions to provide support and assistance; our consumer experts are answering the many financial questions that members may have; and we're expediting consideration of credit union emergency grant applications. NCUA will continue to do what's needed to help," said NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz in a release.

New Jersey had by far the most credit unions closed, with about 90 credit unions closed, not operating or status pending on Friday, according to NCUA. About 90% of the state's 202 credit unions were operational as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Paul Gentile, president of the New Jersey Credit Union League.

"It's a matter of to what degree they are operating," Gentile said. Some may not have telecom, some may not have ATMs. Many still face challenges. This has been a great lesson in the cooperative power of credit unions and shared branching."

Residents of New Jersey still face gas shortages and power outages in many parts of the state, Gentile said.

"Things are not back to normal," Gentile said, "But we are definitely making progress."

New Jersey also has 66 shared branching outlets. As of Tuesday afternoon, 59 were operational, according to the league.

Several credit unions are offering extra office space for other credit unions:

  • Aspire FCU, Clark, N.J.;
  • Credit Union of New Jersey, Ewing, N.J.;
  • West Orange (N.J.) Municipal FCU; and
  • Visions FCU, Endwell, N.Y.
Residents and business owners in eight New Jersey counties that were severely affected by Superstorm Sandy can start applying for federal assistance on Thursday. The money was made available as part of a disaster declaration signed Tuesday by President Barack Obama.

The Credit Union Association of New York also reported that the majority of credit unions on Long Island, in the metropolitan New York area and Westchester/Rockland are now operational to a point where members can access much-needed funds. Many of those credit unions are still facing a number of issues including unopened and/or not fully operational branches, many of which are functioning with reduced staff. In addition to persistent power outages in some areas, technology issues, such as no telephone, Internet or mobile services continue to impact operations at numerous credit unions. Other credit unions have been able to be open for their members thanks to generator power, the league said.

To review the list, use the link.

Tennessee names chief lobbyist Robinson as new CEO

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (11/7/12)--The Tennessee Credit Union League has named its chief lobbyist, Fred Robinson, to succeed Tom Gaines as president/CEO.

Robinson has been with the Tennessee league for 29 years. For the past six years, as vice president of governmental affairs, Robinson has overseen the state's political arena for the league and conducted strategic planning.  He has coordinated grassroots activities with credit union members, and led the league's Tennessee Political Action Committee.

Robinson is an advisory committee member for U.S. Congressman Stephen Fincher, a committee member of Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, a member of the Tennessee Lobbyist Association, a member of the Tennessee State Political Action Committee and a member of the Tennessee department of Financial Institution's Credit Union Task Force.

Gaines, who has been with the league for 24 years, will remain on staff through the end of the year.

2013 CUNA Mortgage Lending School dates announced

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MADISON, Wis. (11/7/12)--Registration is now open for CUNA Consumer & Residential Mortgage Lending School, April 8-11 in San Diego, the Credit Union National Association announced. 

CUNA Consumer & Residential Mortgage Lending School provides credit union lending professionals with the resources they need to become well-rounded lending experts. The school's focuses are to strengthen core lending skills, answer attendees' questions and to offer opportunities to develop proficiency in lending fields outside one's expertise. The school also features insights and practices from credit unions that have successfully increased their loan originations.

Keynote speakers, Mark Arnold, president of On The Mark Strategies, and Lee Silber, best-selling author and award-winning speaker, will discuss the importance of member retention, tactics for increasing member loyalty, and overall business success. Also, breakout speakers will cover a range of applicable lending topics, including:

  • Avoiding common mistakes in consumer compliance;
  • Incorporating generational lending at credit unions;
  • Risk rating loan portfolios; and
  • Preparing for a regulatory review.
For those lenders who have attended in the past, the school offers opportunities to share ideas and best practices, focuses on increasing your loan volume while exploring innovations in lending. You'll leave prepared to handle a wider range of today's lending demands.

CUAid More than 100K raised as CUs help with Sandy relief

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MADISON, Wis. (11/7/12)--State credit union leagues, individual credit unions and the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) have raised more than $100,000 to provide relief for credit unions and their members since activating the online disaster relief system,, after Hurricane Sandy swept along parts of the East Coast causing devastating damages.

Also, the New Jersey and New York credit union leagues have made information available for their member credit unions to obtain relief grants, Christopher Morris, NCUF director of communications, told News Now.

"The devastation in New Jersey has impacted millions of people's lives. We continue to deal with a gasoline shortage, lack of basic necessities for those who have lost their homes and many are still without power. With the temperature dropping and a Northeaster approaching later this week, we need resources to ensure basic needs are met for those most impacted," said Paul Gentile, president/CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League. "I have been touched by the outreach we have received from credit unions and credit union system organizations throughout the country. It is so valuable to have a fund like CU Aid available to concentrate fundraising efforts."

"The damage from Hurricane Sandy continues to impact many New York credit unions, their employees and members. Countless remain without power, heat and other basic necessities, while some have completely lost their homes," said William J. Mellin, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of New York. "The need for financial assistance is great, which is why I am asking everyone to open your hearts and give whatever you can. To those that have already donated to help our credit union family, thank you!" 

"In just seven days, we've raised over $100,000 with donations ranging from $10 to $10,000," said Morris. "It's inspiring to see so many credit unions stepping up yet again to help those in need."

Credit union supporters in every state can now make donations at

As donations are posted through, NCUF is coordinating with the New Jersey Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of New York to distribute money efficiently to affected credit union employees and members. One-hundred percent  of the donations through CUAid goes to credit union disaster relief. In the event that all donations are not used for Hurricane Sandy relief, NCUF will transfer any and all unused funds to its "General Disaster Relief fund" for future disaster relief efforts.

Mellin sent out a video message asking for the New York credit union community to provide financial support to New York's 150-plus credit unions and two million credit union members impacted by Sandy. To view the video, click on the embedded link.

Among the contributors, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), Pacul Services Inc., and the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation made a combined $6,000 donation to CUAid (Life is a Highway Nov. 6). "Our hearts go out to the people and credit unions that were impacted by this historic storm," said Jim McCormack, PCUA president/CEO. "It is in the spirit of cooperation and people helping people that we send these donations to help the victims recovering from this latest disaster."

Other than massive power outages, Pennsylvania was spared major damage, PCUA said.

The Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) Board of Trustees has approved a grant of $5,000 for hurricane relief efforts (Professional Service Close-up Nov. 6).

"When Hurricanes Ike and Rita struck southeast Texas, the credit union movement came to our aid," said TCUF Executive Director Courtney Moran. "The support we received from credit unions across the country allowed us to respond to the immediate needs of credit union employees affected by the devastating hurricanes. That is one of the many wonderful things about the credit union movement, we are a family that helps and supports one another in good times and in bad."

Individual credit unions nationwide are helping out as well.

For instance, Peninsula Community FCU, with $134 million in assets and based in Shelton, Wash., has chosen to donate to CUAid because it realizes credit unions and their members have all been stricken by the loss and ongoing struggle of the victims of Hurricane Sandy on the east coast, the credit union said in a release Monday. As people work together to dig out from the devastation, it is imperative that they are able to access financial services, Peninsula Community said.

"Credit Unions support their communities and, when devastation hits, reach out to those communities too," said Jim Morrell, Peninsula Community president/CEO. "One of our staff saw this opportunity to donate through CUAid as one way we could live out the 'people-helping-people' philosophy that we are all about."

And from as far away as California, to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which affected states from Florida to New England, Los Angeles FCU (LAFCU) donated $1,000 to CUAid. LAFCU is collecting Hurricane Sandy donations from members and employees in their branches during November.

LAFCU's donation is given on behalf of the Los Angeles Charitable Association, Inc. (LACA), the credit union's nonprofit that financially supports the philanthropic activities of charitable organizations in the Greater Los Angeles area.