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CU System briefs (06/02/2014)

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  • WASHINGTON (6/2/14)-- Shelton Roulhac, manager of state legislative information and research at the Credit Union National Association, is one of 12 scholars selected for the Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP) from the American Society of Association Executives . "CUNA is happy to support Shelton's application and delighted that he has been selected from a wide array of applicants," said Pat Sowick, CUNA senior vice president of league relations. DELP is a two-year leadership program that provides education, mentoring, career guidance, networking and volunteer service opportunities in the association community. Sowick added, "This is an honor for both Shelton and CUNA, as it will broaden our connections in the association community and provide new sources of ideas and development" ...
  • PHILADELPHIA (6/2/14)-- American Heritage FCU showed off souped-up cars and cool tunes to raise more than $10,000 for the music therapy program at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia . The $1.3 billion-asset credit union teamed up with WOGL-FM for its member appreciation day that included a car show with nearly 300 vehicles. The Kids-N-Hope Foundation is the charitable arm of the Philadelphia-based credit union ...
  • Click to view larger image (Georgia Credit Union Affiliates photo)
    SAVANNAH, Ga.(6/2/14)-- Attendees at the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates' (GCUA) annual convention in Savannah, Ga., raised more than $1,300 for the local Children's Miracle Network Hospital at Memorial University Medical Center . Participants could purchase "Casual for Kids" T-shirts to wear on the last day of the four-day meeting. Last year Georgia credit unions donated more than $400,000, with the funds staying in the communities where they were raised. "There are so many wonderful stories of how these hospitals have impacted families and communities," said Kristi Arrington, GCUA vice president of information development. "The Georgia credit union community is happy to support their efforts in whatever way we can"  ...
  • PEORIA, Ill. (6/2/14)-- At CEFCU's recent annual meeting, the $4.9 billion-asset credit union announced it would distribute a reward bonus dividend of $12 million to its members . CEFCU saw its assets increase 2.5% to 2013 from 2012, and membership was boosted by more than 5,500 members. "Over the past 14 years, CEFCU has returned $75 million in extraordinary dividends to member/owners," said Thea Robinson, board chair of the Peoria, Ill., credit union ...
  • CLEVELAND (6/2/14)-- The former assistant manager/treasurer of G.I.C. FCU, Euclid, Ohio, was sentenced to more than seven years in prison and ordered to pay $7 million in restitution . William J. Memmer, 63, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of embezzlement and one count of making false entries in credit union records and reports. According to a statement released by the Northern District of Ohio U.S. Attorney's Office, Memmer allegedly used credit union funds to pay off more than a dozen personal credit card accounts, causing a loss to the credit union of at least $1.8 million. Also, the statement alleges that Memmer falsified quarterly financial reports to hide operating losses to the tune of $5.7 million. The credit union was liquidated by the National Credit Union Administration in December 2012, at which time it had $15.5 million in assets and 3,476 members ...

GPO FCU embraces immigrant community

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NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (6/2/14)--Utica, N.Y., is a hotbed for immigration. Refugees represent about 12% of the city's population, according to the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees. GPO FCU, New Hartford, N.Y., with $202 million in assets, has embraced that diversity to reflect its commitment to the community it serves.
"It's a melting pot here, and we recognize that," said Jodi Blydenburgh, GPO FCU vice president of administration. "We have a branch that's located right smack in the middle of all this immigration activity, and we want to have an everyday presence that's beneficial to the entire community."
Utica's most recent wave of immigrants, arriving within the last decade, hail primarily from Bosnia and Myanmar.
"They fit very well with our community," Blydenburgh told News Now . "They've made a home in our neighborhoods, and the community has embraced them, but at times, as you would expect, there can be gaps in communication."
As with virtually any new group of residents, Utica's immigrant population was in need of financial services. "Initially, we reached out to the refugee center," Blydenburgh said. "We were getting a lot of traffic, and we weren't sure the level of financial services they required. When they had a new group come through, they would take field trips to our branch. At some point we realized we needed to stand alone."
The most direct way to bridge the communication gap--and gain trust from the community--was to hire member service representatives who spoke the same language as the new residents. The credit union initially hired three or four tellers who spoke Bosnian.
More recently, GPO FCU has made a more substantial commitment to integrate the branch. Branch manager Ibrahim Kajtezovic is Bosnian, and he brings more than management skills and financial acumen to his job.  "It seems like he knows everyone who is Bosnian in Utica," Blydenburgh said. "He is a great point of contact for us. He's been a tremendous asset."
The credit union also employs two additional employees who speak Bosnian, another who is fluent in Burmese, Karen and Hindi and one who speaks Spanish.

Serving the immigrant community has been beneficial for the credit union and the community, Blydenburgh told News Now .
"They've been very thoughtful about where they're going financially," she said. "We are more than happy to extend credit to this segment of our community. They're looking for home ownership opportunities and they're cleaning up neighborhoods. They are very committed."

'Take charge' of training at Experience Learning Live!

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MADISON, Wis. (6/2/14)--San Antonio is the place to be in October for credit union training staff who want "take charge" at CUNA Experience Learning Live!
The Oct. 26-29 conference offers insight into training trends, employee best practices and service cultures.
"Last year's take-charge program really struck a chord with attendees," said Marlo Foltz, vice president of blended learning at Credit Union National Association. "So we're building on the idea this year, with the timely updates and action-driving resources to ensure that professional development programs movement-wide are being led by talented, take-charge trainers."
Also, CUNA is now accepting entries for this year's Experience Learning Live! (ELLy) training awards that recognize the innovative and unique initiatives of take-charge trainers across the nation. Winners will each receive one complimentary registration to this year's conference and national recognition in industry training and credit union publications.
For more information or to submit an entry for a CUNA ELLy Award, use the resource link.

NCUF adds 3 to board in special election

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MADISON, Wis. (6/2/14)--After expanding its membership by four spots to 17, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) named three new credit union leaders to its board of directors.

The NCUF board amended its bylaws and expanded potential membership to "enhance (its) fundraising capabilities and further the foundation's impact."

Elected May 13 during a special meeting, the new members include:
  • Teresa Halleck, president/CEO, San Diego County CU, with $6.4 billion in assets;
  • David Mooney, president/CEO, Alliant CU, Chicago, with $8.2 billion in assets; and
  • Howard Spencer, chairman of both the Michigan Credit Union League and Northland Area FCU, Oscoda, Mich., with $273 million in assets.
"I'm looking forward to working with Teresa, David and Howard," said Laida Garcia, NCUF chair and president/CEO of Floridacentral CU in Tampa, Fla., with $387 million in assets. "These three individuals bring a wealth of experience to the NCUF board, which will go a long way to help NCUF improve more people's financial lives through credit unions."

Three generations serve Del. CUs for 45 years

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NEW CASTLE, Del. (6/2/14)--For one Delaware family, credit union service is a three-generation tradition.

Click to view larger image From left, Evelyn Kyritsis, Sara Bartley and Susan Kyritsis Winward represent three generations of on family's credit union service in Delaware. (Photo provided by Delaware Credit Union League)
The tradition began in 1970 when Evelyn Kyritsis became manager at Delaware Central FCU, according to the Delaware Credit Union League ( Together June 1). Evelyn went on to work as manager of  City of Newark FCU, where she remained until 1992. Evelyn told the Delaware league she enjoyed working at credit unions "because it felt like family" and the work performed was benefiting financial standing of members.
Her daughter, Susan Kyritsis Winward, got her first credit union experience when she helped Evelyn prepare the monthly member statements for mailing. When an opportunity to work as a loan officer Capitol Trail Auto Workers FCU was presented to Susan in 1977, she followed in her mother's footsteps. Capitol Trail Auto Workers FCU is now known as Delaware First FCU, Wilmington, with $26 million in assets.
In 1994, Susan returned to her credit union roots, following a stint with the U.S. Postal Service. She combined the two career paths, becoming an assistant manager at Wilmington (Del.) Postal FCU. In 2000, the board of directors at Wilmington Postal FCU rewarded Susan's dedication naming her CEO, a position she still holds with the $16 million-asset credit union.
The family tradition continued when Susan told her niece, Sara Bartley, the daughter of her sister, Marilynn Kyritsis Bartley , about a job opportunity at Delaware First FCU. Although Sara had never planned to work at a credit union, she accepted a teller position at Delaware First FCU--the same credit union where Susan Winward started her career.
Sara has set her sights set on advancing in the credit union system, with hopes of following in the footsteps of her grandmother and aunt to eventually become  a credit union CEO herself. She takes advantage of training opportunities whenever possible and joined the Delaware Credit Union League's Young Professionals Network. Sara finds the group's energy invigorating and likes being able to "share ideas with other young credit union employees."

CU awards 15 Fla. students with 4-year scholarships

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MIAMI (6/2/14)--Fifteen students from South Florida will have their college educations paid for in full, thanks to South Florida Educational FCU, which awarded a total of $197,000 to the winners of its college scholarship program this year.

Click to view larger image (South Florida Educational FCU photo)
The winners of the 19th annual Hubert O. Sibley scholarship award were named in May.  

"We take pride in helping these students fulfill their educational goals," said Michael DiBenedetto, president/CEO of the Miami-based $843 million-asset credit union. "It's a great feeling to be able to help fund their college efforts."

All 15 students receive a full-ride to any of Florida's 11 state universities through the Florida Prepaid University Plan. The scholarships cover tuition and fees for 120 undergraduate credit hours, or about four full school years.

Scholarships through this program, founded in 1995, have been extended to 278 students, totaling about $3 million.

CU-supported lien-holder legislation successful in Okla.

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OKLAHOMA CITY (6/2/14)--When Oklahoma legislators adjourned May 23, among the credit union-supported initiatives lawmakers had approved was legislation designed to address the questionable business practices among the state's tow truck operators.
The passage of SB 0582 was supported by the Oklahoma Credit Union Association--a subsidiary of the Cornerstone Credit Union League ( Leaguer May 30). The bill was approved overwhelmingly in both chambers, and addresses long-standing problems in Oklahoma's Title 42 possessory lien process.
The bill would change a state law to require towing companies to notify lien holders when a vehicle is towed. Oklahoma credit unions have reported a growing number of instances in which operators will tow a vehicle and store it without timely notification to the lien holder.
"For years, loopholes in current law have been exploited to the detriment of credit unions, banks and financial institutions," Nate Webb, president of the Oklahoma Credit Union Association. "In cases where notification was not sent in a timely manner, storage fees accrued, and in many of these instances, the cost of retrieving the car ended up being more than the collateral was worth. Other cases resulted in costly litigation."
The legislation resulted from two years of contentious negotiation with the Oklahoma Wreckers Association. Although association representatives were at the negotiating table throughout the process, its membership opposes final passage.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has yet to sign the bill. However, Webb said it looks promising that she will.
This is the first legislative session in which Oklahoma's advocacy team enjoyed additional resources available through the three-state consolidation of the Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas leagues, creating the Cornerstone Credit Union League.
"The synergy and expertise now available were a major component of this year's success at the Oklahoma State Capitol," Webb said.

Study: Minorities value place, people, price for their PFIs

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WASHINGTON (6/2/14)--Minorities in low- to middle-income communities appreciate, and are more likely to use, financial institutions that are located in their communities or near their workplaces, according to a recent study by the Alliance for Stabilizing Our Communities.
Add in superior service and low fees--credit unions' historical strengths--and you have the optimum combination for what these demographic groups want for financial services.
The report, "Banking in Color," was produced by the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, the National Urban League and the National Council of La Raza. It surveyed more than 5,000 individuals in Chicago, Houston and south Florida in the beginning of 2013.
Taking into account the top three most-desired elements, banks held the lead at 76% for those who have checking or savings vehicles, while credit unions came in at 17%. African-American and Hispanic respondents were more likely than Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) respondents to use credit unions at 24%, 19% and 7%, respectively.
Given that nearly 70% use cash to conduct daily transactions and 45% use it for paying bills, "it is clearly important for individuals to access their funds with convenience," the report noted. Security concerns about electronic banking also tilt the scales toward the personal touch that comes with superior member service.
Also identified as "very important" when selecting a financial institution were account balance minimums, direct deposit for paychecks, ATM withdrawals for no or little cost, and cashing checks quickly and with reasonable fees.
The study recommended that in order to expand financial capability for the underserved, financial institutions should leverage community- and faith-based institutions that are trusted by their members.
Another finding was physical branches with bilingual staff "have an opportunity to be a trusted and reliable source of information for many immigrant communities." (See related story: GPO FCU embraces immigrant community.)
Although the amount may be small--few said they were prepared for a financial emergency--45% are committed to saving monthly, likely with in-person deposits into a savings account. Despite the challenges of employment rates and income levels, only 8% reported they did not save at all.

GE branch closing marks end of SEG era

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (6/2/14)--An 86-year-old credit union that once served thousands of General Electric (GE) employees in Fort Wayne, Ind., will close the doors to its original branch next month.

As GE has slowly uprooted its operations from Fort Wayne, management of Midwest America CU, formerly the General Electric Employees FCU, says operating the branch is no longer feasible.

"These last three years, GE has pretty much eliminated all of their employees there," Mike Woehnker, vice president of marketing and corporate communications of the $482 million-asset credit union, told The News-Sentinel (May 30) . "You've got virtually none of the employees that were originally there to serve; they no longer work in that area."

The credit union was originally established by 12 GE employees, who ran the institution out of a supply closet.

In 1969, the organization opened its first branch right across the street from GE's Fort Wayne campus. By the 1970s, the credit union was serving more than 10,000 employees from GE.

Once GE began paring down personnel at the plant, the credit union counterbalanced the losses in membership by rebranding itself as Midwest America CU and expanding its field of membership beyond the GE select employee group.  

"We saw the writing on the wall," Woehnker told The News-Sentinel. "When GE kept cutting back and cutting back, we had to look at gaining other business partners."

Midwest took in employees from several local hospitals and then moved on to other large employers, which allowed it to spread out from Allen County.

But in the end, with the shuttering of the GE plant across from the member-owned institution's original location, the credit union's first branch could not be saved.

Midwest will sell the building--which like the GE plant, likely will sit abandoned--but will continue to operate a 24-hour ATM in the parking lot, perhaps as a beacon of hope that the area will someday be reinvigorated.

"We've kept thinking, 'maybe something will change,'" Woenker said. "We've held out as long as we could. But there's just no one there."