Furthering Your Education in the Credit Union Movement

For any professional looking to advance, one of the primary things to explore are ways to enhance your expertise and finding tools to be successful in a new position.  Fortunately, in the credit union movement and through the Mountain West Credit Union Association, there are some great opportunities to enhance your knowledge needed to develop and to build a strong network of cooperative colleagues.  Here are some incredible opportunities to consider:

Mountain West Credit Union Association’s Leadership Institute

The Credit Union Leadership Institute is a unique series of workshops designed for credit union employees who show the ability to assume greater roles and responsibilities. Through this journey you will learn the art of leadership with well-focused, guided exercises that encourage interactive participation and discussions.  This training puts good movies to great use to help participants dig into real life case studies.  Through interaction with peers, you will have the opportunity to develop deep relationships that enhance and strengthen the credit union community and igniting a passion for the credit union movement.

It is the direct application of leadership concepts that makes the Leadership Institute exceptional and creates a successful environment within the credit union.  Not only do you get the group interaction, but also a private one-on-one mentoring/coaching session, which is a key to the success of this program and in turn, also the credit union’s success.

Credit Union Development Educators (CUDE)

Beginning with credit union history and progressing to understand credit unions’ present, the DE program brings renewed relevance to the philosophy of “People Helping People.” This is truly an exceptional conference that provides critical lessons in cooperative principles, credit union philosophy, international development issues, and building leadership skills.

During the National Credit Union Foundation’s week-long DE Training, participants are involved in group exercises, field trips, and are required to complete team projects.  This process will help push you to your limits in the most amazing way.  CUDEs acquire skills in credit union outreach initiatives, problem solving, technical assistance, team building, and public presentations.  CUDEs realize that local issues are indeed global – and that credit unions grow stronger by working cooperatively.  I returned to my job with new understanding of how to promote cooperative principles and credit union values as distinct advantages in today’s competitive market.  CUDEs become passionate advocates of the credit union philosophy, which boosts employee motivation, empathy, creativity and a deeper commitment to their credit union.


Mountain West Credit Union Annual Meeting and Convention

The Annual Meeting & Convention is where the largest gathering of credit union professionals from Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming takes place each year.  At the conference you will hear from credit union experts on the financial services landscape and learn about innovative technologies and strategies for your credit union.  You will be able to identify new strategies to propel your credit union forward.  The breakout sessions on the hottest issues in the credit union movement always give you something to bring back to help your credit union grow.  This is also a fantastic opportunity to access vendor knowledge and new products.  The networking opportunities with credit union leaders in the Mountain West Region are very important to take advantage of at this conference too.  Attending this event will help you better understand the overall framework for the credit union movement and your credit union’s place in this system.

CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC)

Held in Washington D.C., this is the premier event for political impact for the credit union movement.  Five thousand plus credit union leaders attend to further their knowledge and to remind legislators why credit unions are Americans’ best financial partners.  You will get the opportunity while in Washington D.C. to have face-to-face meetings with your representatives and facilitate productive conversations about the issues that are important to credit unions.  At this conference, you will also be able to see top notch keynote presentations from America’s foremost leaders in politics, media, and business.  Credit union membership in America has reached over one hundred million members.  This is a great conference to attend because the more advocates that show up, the louder the credit union message becomes.

 Western CUNA Management School

In our changing and uncertain world, it is more evident than ever that the long-term success of our credit unions depends on the professional development of our people. Western CUNA Management School offers a curriculum to assist credit union management staff meet the challenges of the future.  In addition to receiving solid academic training and practical background, students at Western CUNA Management School establish strong professional networks throughout the credit union movement that benefit both themselves and their credit unions. A diploma from Western CUNA Management School has come to be recognized as a mark of accomplishment in the credit union movement.

Each one of these training and networking opportunities has had a tremendous impact on my leadership style and helped to provide me with the skills necessary to be recognized as a leader within my credit union.  I’ve learned when to lead and when to follow and most importantly developed a network of credit union people that have helped me along the journey.  For more information on any of these trainings and conferences or for scholarship opportunities please visit the MWCUA website, CUNA’s website, and Western CUNA Management School’s website.

About Scott Sager

Scott Sager is the Chief Operations Officer at Trona Valley Credit Union, a member of the MWYCUP committee, and an ICUDE (International DE).  He is involved in community organizations and sits on many volunteer board 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.

Making Diversity and Inclusion a Priority in Your Credit Union

Research and experience continue to make the case for improved diversity and inclusion in the workplace.  The credit union movement can benefit greatly from focusing on diversity and inclusion as they make plans for continual growth, innovation, and talent acquisition in the marketplace.  Jimese Harkley, COO of DiverCity Solutions, mentions some ways that inclusion impacts the bottom line, “Inclusion improves workplace relations among teams and builds trust within interdepartmental relations. It builds more innovative work teams, improves organizational problem-solving, and improves member service.”

Jimese Harkley,  DiverCity Solutions

Recent studies help back up these claims by showing that inclusive organizations can ultimately enjoy better financial performance.  In a 2015 report by global consulting firm McKinsey & Company titled Diversity Matters, the research found that companies that exhibit gender and ethnic diversity are, respectively, 15 percent and 35 percent more likely to financially outperform those that do not.  The study found that a diverse workplace helps to attract and retain top talent, strengthen customer orientation, increase employee satisfaction, improve decision making, and enhance the company’s image.

How are credit unions doing with diversity and inclusion?  Harkley notes, “It is evident that credit unions have gotten the message on diversity, equity, and inclusion” But continues that, “unfortunately, there are few organizations that go beyond the baseline requirements.”

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has focused more on credit union diversity recently, and in May 2015 even issued an interagency policy on standards for assessing diversity policies and practices in credit unions.  NCUA states that, “Credit unions were founded on the premise of people helping people.  It makes good business sense to have members, managers, and employees reflect the community credit unions service and for credit unions to serve diverse segments within their communities.”  NCUA also produced a voluntary diversity self-assessment questionnaire to help credit unions assess existing policies and practices, and then find opportunities for improvement.

NCUA and Harkley agree that the success of these policies and practices starts with leadership’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.  The Board of Directors and Senior Management have the responsibility to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion through their development and support of strong policies and practices.  But, Harkley also notes that young professionals can lead from any position on this matter and help encourage a dialogue to improve diversity and inclusion within the credit union.  She encourages young professionals to, “Research current policies and procedures.  If the credit union has no policies, or if the policies are inconsistent with credit union values, start by asking questions.  Use this inquisitiveness to promote positive change and encourage leadership to be more vocal about their intentions to be inclusive.”

Credit unions can do more to lead the way by adopting and encouraging these practices that promote growth, innovation, and talent acquisition.  For more ideas on how to start or continue this dialogue, the Mountain West Young Credit Union Professionals will present a free webinar titled The Inclusion Effect: The Benefits of a Fair and Equitable Workplace, featuring Jimese Harkley from DiverCity Solutions.

Join us on January 25, 2018 at 11:00 AM Mountain Time by registering at following link: The Inclusion Effect: The Benefits of a Fair and Equitable Workplace

About Brian Lee

Brian Lee is the Chief Financial Officer at Landings Credit Union in Tempe, AZ. He is a member of the MWCUA and CUNA Young Professional Committees. Brian is also a Credit Union Development Educator and is passionate about the credit union movement.






Mountain West Young Professionals Make Their Mark on the Annual Convention

The sun ascended over the desert as 20 energetic young professionals (YP’s) descended upon the 2017 MWCUA Annual Meeting and Convention in Scottsdale.  These YP’s joined nearly 300 credit union professionals and volunteers from Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming for three days of impactful discussion, training, and networking.

The YP’s kicked off the conference off with an early morning on the TPC Scottsdale golf course volunteering in support of the Foundation’s golf tournament.  You may have seen them inviting you to smack a marshmallow, play blackjack, or even cheering you on as you teed off on the infamous 16th hole.

After taking care of their sunburns (especially our friends from CO and WY), the YP’s cleaned up nicely to attend the Mountain West Annual Business Meeting.  There, they were introduced to the friendly banter between MWCUA Board Chairman John Uchida and Association President Scott Earl.  The YP’s were even introduced to the conference attendees with a special “shout out” from the Chairman.

Keynote speaker Colonel Jill Morgenthaler told the crowd of her journey and the challenges she faced as a woman of many firsts in the military, and we all learned the proper use of “Hooah!”.  After being motivated by the Colonel, the YP’s got out their business cards and cruised the trade show floor to network, learn about some amazing vendors, and collect swag.  The YP’s then moved on to a private reception hosted by the good people at CUNA Mutual.  They had the opportunity to network with each other as well as with CUNA Mutual’s Gerry Singleton, Dr. Dan Santangelo, Brandi Stankovic, Austin DeBey, and Chris Kemm.

The next morning brought another gorgeous Arizona sunrise and a morning meeting presented by the Arizona Youth Involvement Network (AYIN).  AYIN committee members presented the cooperative principles to the group and asked the YP’s to come up with those principles that were most important to them.  They then joined the rest of the attendees for a presentation on innovation by John Best.  He taught that “Innovation is culture + passion and is fueled by discipline”.

Gerry Singleton then encouraged the YP’s in their morning session to be a courageous leader in a cooperative world.  The YP’s were given a taste of the Credit Union Development Educator program as they had to determine the mission of the credit union movement and the role they play in it.  He presented the thought from Ralph Waldo Emerson that “Doing well is the result of doing good” and that the movement is much bigger than an individual credit union.

The YP’s joined the rest of the conference for some enlightening afternoon sessions, and then put on their fancy clothes for an evening full of delicious food, awards, more friendly banter, fire dancers, and even a hot air balloon ride.

After getting to bed early, the YP’s awoke and were treated to a lively discussion on leadership with Brandi Stankovic.  Brandi challenged the YP’s to determine how they will make a difference for their members.  After teaching that intentions do not equal impact, the YP’s put pen to paper and wrote down what they would start doing today to “get over it and get after it”.

The conference ended with some inspiration courtesy of Alex Sheen, founder of Because I Said I Would.  His story of how he turned tragedy into a movement motivated everyone to determine how they could make promises, and keep them, to make this world just a little better.

These 20 YP’s were given an incredible opportunity to take part in a well-planned conference full of takeaways, inspiration, and impressions.  They all made commitments to go back to their credit unions and do their part to become leaders in this movement.

The MWCUA Young Professional Committee would like to thank the Association and Foundation for their support to help attract, engage, and retain young professionals in the credit union movement.  Special thanks to all those involved in making this event possible including, but not limited to: Nicole Brusewitz, Gerry Singleton, Brandi Stankovic, AYIN, Dr. Dan Santagelo, Chris Kemm, Austin DeBey, and the credit union CEO’s that encouraged and allowed their YP’s to attend.