In the first of its kind Mountain West Credit Union Association Event, credit union professionals came together for an intense two-days that brought strategies and connections to help them LEAD their organizations in today’s competitive financial services industry.
Hosted by the Wyoming Young Credit Union Professionals (WYOYCUP), Credit Unions came from all three states of the Mountain West Credit Union Association and set foot in Cheyenne Wyoming on September 25, 2018. Mark Lynch and Lois Kitsch facilitated the conference focusing on Leadership, Engagement, Advocacy, and Development at the LEAD Summit.
To start, 43 individuals were able to get to know their colleagues across the room. After introductions, everyone circled around the room to answer 20 questions to begin thinking about Credit Unions and their members. Each person stepped into the middle of the circle if the statement applied to them. Questions included; did you grow up in poverty and didn’t even know it? Have you ever lived pay check to pay check? And do you feel discriminated at work? It was a great opportunity to realize that people in the room have or still are facing some of the challenges that are facing our members.
After getting a feel for some of the big issues, discussion ensued around the history of Credit Unions. All were able to deliberate about why Credit Unions were formed and determine if the circumstances still exist today. This conversation had the group identifying the key differences between a Credit Union and a Bank and reviewing the pioneers of the movement and their attributes. Great conversation around the founders of the Credit Union Movement like Schulze-Delitzsch, Desjardins, Filene, Herring, led us to cover some of today’s still living pioneers and the contributions they are having on today’s movement.
The next topic stayed with the fundamentals and reviewed the International Credit Union Operating Principles:
Cooperative Structure − Member Owned − Member Controlled − Democratic Control
Service to Members − Financial Inclusion − Financial Sustainability − Maximizing Member Economic Benefit
Social Responsibility − Financial Literacy − Network Cooperation − Community Responsibility
In understanding these principles, we can all work together to achieve great things for our organization and for the credit union movement.
After a nice lunch, the group moved into shattering perceptions. Discussing issues like income and wealth inequality, cost of living, burden of medical debt, and average credit scores. After reviewing some staggering statistics, the group was able to take the knowledge from the day and put our purpose into action at the COMEA Homeless Shelter.
At the Homeless Shelter all participants were able to tour the building and learn about the purpose and functionality of the facilities operations. The organization feeds about 100 people a day on a budget of $500 per week. The shelter has very tight budget constraints to make amazing things happen all year. Participants learned about the programs that they have in place to help homeless families achieve residency of their own. Two things the shelter needed the most was volunteers and money. Some organizations do drives to help, but these drives don’t necessarily always fulfill the needs of the organization, it was discovered the best path to helping non-profits is by asking what is needed by the organization before action.
After the COMEA Homeless Shelter, all Credit Union people went to dinner with the 11 CEOs that were also in Cheyenne for the CEO Roundtable. This networking opportunity gave young professionals a chance to get to know their leadership better as well as gain perspective from the Mountain West Credit Union Association staff and CEOs around the State of Wyoming.
Waking up on Wednesday morning, both attendees of the LEAD Summit and the CEO Roundtable gathered for the first ever Global Women’s Network Wyoming Breakfast. Led by Jesse Jacobs and Deli Bennett, we learned about the purpose of the Global Women’s Leadership Network from Dr. Brandi Luv Stankovic and worked to answer questions about issues facing women in our world and some that are specific to Wyoming. These issues are the groundwork that will be used to build a chapter for the State of Wyoming.
After breakfast the CEOs left for their conference room, and the LEAD Summit started exploring solutions to the issues uncovered of the previous day’s work. In evaluating a case study to better understand what our members are going through on a day to day basis, we focused on empathy to determine what problems are being faced. The group worked together to explore what needs exist for the members, what solutions are available through the Credit Union and what opportunity exist for the organization by providing the right solutions.
The session concluded by focusing on what we can bring back to our organizations and communities. Starting this exercise with an elevator speech where we can put away the perception that we are “just an MSR” but instead focus on all the great things that make us successful in our jobs and the contributions we make to our Credit Union’s. The participants created action steps that we are going to take back, someone else in the room has the commitment in hand to follow up and hold the others in the room accountable for following through.
This group was highly engaged for the two-day conference. The energy at the LEAD Summit was encouraging for the future of the Credit Union Movement in our region. We are thankful for the support of local CEOs, the Mountain West Credit Union Association, and for Mark and Lois for coming to Wyoming to motivate our leaders.
A special thank you goes out to the WYOYCUP Committee, which in addition to myself, includes Tyler Valentine, Jesse Jacobs, Trevor Rutar, and Matt Ballou.
About Scott Sager
Scott Sager is the Chief Operations Officer at Trona Valley Credit Union, a member of the WYOYCUP and MWYCUP committees, and an ICUDE (International DE). He is involved in community organizations and sits on many volunteer boards of directors. Scott has 6 years of experience in credit unions. Scott has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Wyoming and is a CPA. He believes that credit unions exist to provide financial opportunities for everyone and to help enhance the quality of life in our communities.