LEAD Summit Draws Attendees from Across the Region

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.

Advocates for the Future

Young Professionals from Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming woke to a muggy and cloudy day in our nation’s capital. It had been 17 years since the attacks of 9/11. The city seemed eerily quiet with a heavy police presence as our Young People got started in the inaugural Mountain West Young Credit Union Professionals (MWCUP) Advocacy Training.

The day started with breakfast at the iconic Dubliner where we were joined by John Magill, the Mountain West Credit Union Association’s national lobbyist. Mr. Magill updated the YP’s on current legislation, the tone of Washington in these hyper-political times and provided pointers on how to talk to elected officials.

The group then traveled to the new headquarters of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). We were welcomed into their new open-concept designed offices where CUNA’s staff stressed the importance of telling your credit union and members stories when advocating on behalf of the movement. The group was encouraged to share the impact their credit union has on its members and community. It’s common that we focus on compliance or operations but it is the member stories and overall impact credit unions have in their communities that can move legislators toward action. We were told never to leave an elected official without asking them for their support of an issue or the movement in general.

The next meeting took place at the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA) headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. The group cleared security and was escorted to a meeting with Tim Segerson – Deputy Director, Office of Examination and Insurance and Owen Cole – Associate Director, Office of Examination and Insurance and President, Central Liquidity Facility. The gentlemen from NCUA were gracious with their time spending two full hours discussing a wide range of issues.

They gave a quick overview of NCUA and how the agency interacts with credit unions, then jumped into describing the examination modernization initiative currently underway at the agency. Discussion moved on to issues around cybersecurity and how the agency will train examiners to understand and evaluate a credit union’s cybersecurity policies and practices during the exam process. It was clear that the agency is training its examiners heavily in this area. A participant asked when further guidance for CECL compliance would be issued to credit unions. NCUA will be giving examiners and credit unions additional information for compliance to CECL standards in the next 12-18 months. The meeting concluded with a discussion around the agency’s 2018 Supervisory Priorities. They are Cybersecurity Assessment, Bank Secrecy Act Compliance, Internal Controls and Fraud Prevention, Interest Rate and Liquidity Risk, Higher Risk Auto Lending, Commercial Lending and Consumer Compliance. It was great to have two leaders from NCUA give so much of their time and engage in such an open and productive discussion with the young professionals!

That afternoon the group toured the Library of Congress, walked through the city, spent time getting to know each other and learned more about the history of Washington D.C.

The group was also treated to a tour of the U.S. Capitol by a staff member from Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney’s office. It was great to hear the history of such an iconic building and gave us all pause to walk through the site of so many moments in our nation’s history.

The two following days consisted of meeting with the offices of Arizona Congresswoman Debbie Lesko and Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet and Congressman Mike Coffman and Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney. The participants from each state relayed information about the work of credit unions in their communities and how our tax exempt status helps further that work. We shared how data breaches at merchants and others impacts our ability to serve our membership to the best of our ability. We shared how when a breach occurs, staff in the credit union are reassigned to help re-issue cards, review transactions in the case any fraud was committed and speak with members to help them understand the process. We are also shared the impacts to the member from changing their card numbers on reoccurring payments to the time they don’t have cards. We also discussed how overall deregulation will aid in spurring economic growth and providing greater access to American citizens.

MWYCUP is committed to Advocacy Training as a Pillar of Development for our young leaders. It is important to develop relationships with elected officials at all levels of government and learn the skills to be effective advocates on behalf of the credit union movement now and in the furture.


Young Professionals Attend the 2018 MWCUA Annual Meeting and Convention

As the snow concluded its fall in Colorado Springs, Colorado over 20 Young Professionals (YPs) traveled to the beautiful Broadmoor Resort to participate in the 2018 Annual Meeting and Convention.  These YPs joined credit union leaders to learn more about the financial services landscape and innovative strategies for their credit union.

This year, the convention began with a full day of education dedicated to YPs.  The group was assigned to get familiar with four different mock credit unions, including a large credit union, a medium sized credit union, a small credit union, and a small troubled credit union.  All teams worked with Dr. Brandi Stankovic as she facilitated a strategic planning session.  The groups went through different exercises including the completion of an empathy map.  The empathy map helped the teams better identify and relate to the members they were set to serve.  All teams completed the session with strong strategic plans and presented these plans to the group.  The YPs that attended the session came away with a better understanding of what their credit union leaders do in a planning session and were excited to get back in the office to become more familiar with what their role is in achieving the strategic initiatives.

The group then started on a service project making No Sew Blankets for the Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals.  The group jumped right in to working together to do something good for a great cause.  After making blankets, the YPs made their way upstairs to the Penthouse Suite to meet the Chairman of the MWCUA Board of Directors John Uchida, other Board Members, MWCUA staff, and CEOs from the Mountain West region.  This was a terrific experience where the group networked with some of the most important players that are leading the Association today.  The YPs were very thankful for the invitation and the warm welcome to the conference.

Thursday morning began with a session where the YPs were invited to join the Global Women’s Leadership Network for a presentation by Deborah Scanlon.  Deborah gave a wonderful presentation around removing fear and being willing to take chances to advance in your career.  She provided a great balance of story telling with data to empower the room to overcome unconscious bias in the work place.

After Deborah’s presentation, the room picked up where the YPs left off on Wednesday evening and completed all the blankets needed for the Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals.  The YPs then signed up for more volunteer opportunities during the day to make center pieces for the Saturday festivities and at the golf course to help with the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation’s annual fundraising tournament.  The YPs wanted to thank the Foundation for its support of Young Professionals throughout the Mountain West Region.

Later in the evening, everyone attending the conference made their way to the Vendor Hall for some appetizers, more networking, and a chance to converse with and get some nice swag from the vendors.  Once the Vendor Hall closed the group was ready to rest to prepare for the Annual Meeting and breakout sessions on Friday.

Friday started with the Business meeting, where YPs gained exposure to the leadership of Scott Earl and John Uchida as they tried their best to stay on script.  Following the meeting there were two great breakout sessions on Breaking the Digital Gridlock and Unbanking in America.  After lunch, Tyler Valentine lead a panel including Eric Renaud, CEO of Pima Federal Credit Union, Scott Sager, COO of Trona Valley Credit Union, and Dean Miles, Founder and President of Bridgepoint Coaching & Strategy Group.  This group candidly discussed recruiting and retaining Young Professionals and provided diverse perspectives into what the credit union movement should be considering for the future.  Credit unions have been exploring the best way to recruit young members, and this session showed that young credit union leaders can be the key to achieving this strategic goal.

Friday concluded with the Awards dinner, where YPs helped recognize outstanding leaders in the movement today.  Scott Earl and John Uchida had their last chance for some friendly banter on stage as next year the Chairman position will be in the hands of the Credit Union Professional of the Year winner Jim Yates.  After dinner the group made their way to The Bar for a final networking opportunity with other conference attendees.  Yes, the name of the fine establishment is called “The Bar.”

Saturday commenced with Innovation Sessions.  Following the sessions, keynote speaker Matthew “Griff” Griffin inspired us all to persevere to overcome challenges to continue to make a difference for our members.  Griff, co-founder of Combat Flip Flops, served in the 75th Ranger Regiment with three tours to Afghanistan and one to Iraq.  Griff realized the best way to stop the war is to educate women and improve the economy in the area.  His work in selling combat flip flops has now put over 500 girls through school.  Following Griff’s speech, we celebrated CU4Kids Award winners and heard from a family that was fortunate enough to have Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals available to them.  It was rewarding to see how the time and money our credit unions donate has such a wonderful impact on the families that use the hospital.

The YPs in attendance were able to take home some very useful knowledge and inspiration from the conference that will help drive them to accomplish important things for their organizations.

The MWCUA Young Professionals 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, Brandi Stankovic, Dr. Dan Santagelo, Scott Earl, John Uchida, Tyler Valentine, and the credit union CEO’s that encouraged and allowed their YP’s to attend.

 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.


Recruiting and Retaining Young Talent

Why Millennials Must Be One of the Credit Union Industry’s Top Priorities

Get a room full of Credit Union professionals together and ask them to hypothesize about future trends and what the Industry needs to do to be prepared and you’re guaranteed a lively discussion. Some things are easy to see coming. Other changes will, inevitably, take us by surprise. But, the one thing we know for certain: The future of the Credit Union Movement belongs to our young people.

Knowing this fact, attracting new graduates and young talent should be a top priority. Working to hire employees under the age of 30, can help Credit Unions acquire new skillsets, keep expenses in check, and keep abreast of new technologies. And yet, many Credit Unions struggle with attracting and retaining young professionals because it requires a different approach to recruiting.

To recruit young professionals, it helps to know who they are, what they want, and why they’re good for Credit Unions.

While there is much variation in the talents, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses of young professionals, there are certain consistencies that are useful to understand – especially the ways in which they improve our industry.

  • Millennials give Credit Unions a creative advantage. Young professionals bring a “beginner’s mind” to processes, strategies, challenges and cultural elements that can help everyone see solutions and new ways of doing things. Because they haven’t yet learned how things are done, they are more open to innovative ways of doing things.
  • Millennials have a firm grasp on technology. Younger professionals have grown up with technology that still seems a bit foreign to older generations. They aren’t afraid to test and learn new technologies and are significantly more likely to be early adapters than those older than them.
  • Millennials are team players. Integration and collaboration has been built into everything young people do. Today’s young professionals are not only willing and able to work together in groups – they expect to, and understand how to do it well.
  • Hiring millennials will save your Credit Union money. In many cases, Credit Unions can hire two entry level professionals for the same amount as one senior level professional. While this is certainly not always the best strategy, there are plenty of times when twice the output for the same salary is the wise choice.
  • Managing millennials is not as scary as many make it out to be. Today’s young professionals aren’t any different from the rest of us in that they want to do meaningful work for an organization they are proud to be a part of. They value security, a reasonable work/ life balance, and want to be challenged. Give them a chance at achieving these things and they’ll work just as hard for you as anyone else.
  • Money is important to millennials, but not all important. Just like everyone else, salary is important to millennials. It’s just not the most important More important to most of them are working with good people in a healthy, supportive culture, the amount of career potential available to them, and work/ life balance.

Today’s Young Professionals Want to Make an Impact

Millennials give social causes and meaningful work a very high priority. They want to make a difference and won’t stay in a position that feels meaningless to them, regardless of the monetary compensation. This is GREAT news for Credit Unions. Unlike many industries, Credit Unions are service organizations dedicated to helping and supporting the people in our communities and in making our world a better place. When working to recruit young talent, emphasizing the core purpose and values of the Credit Union movement is critical. They are considerably more likely to get excited about going to work for an organization with a higher purpose than about many other aspects of the job.

On the job, it’s important to understand that young professionals find purpose in working with others and in connecting with their coworkers. They are natural networkers and open to learning from smart successful people. Credit Union executives can leverage this characteristic by assigning them to work with coworkers on projects for which they can both learn and contribute.

Don’t believe the rumors.

 Millennials are often accused of not being hard workers, but this isn’t true. Today’s young professionals do want their work to have immediate impact. But, they’re not necessarily expecting to be placed on a fast track for career advancement. They want interesting, meaningful work and respond well to environments that offer them a lot of variety. Moving up the ladder isn’t necessary for them to feel like their career is moving forward; feeling that they are growing and making a meaningful contribution is.

Millennials also want flexibility and a healthy work/ life balance. This doesn’t mean they won’t work hard at work. It just means that they take their life outside of work as importantly as their work. For Credit Unions to respond to this demand, we must be willing to look at new ideas when it comes to scheduling and how we can utilize technology to create workplaces with greater flexibility. Young professionals are willing to put in the hours (some research suggests they are putting in more time than generations before them. They just want the flexibility to manage their personal and professional life more effectively.

Millennials will run away from micromanagement, but welcome feedback.

One hesitancy of hiring young professionals is the concern that they’ll need more training and oversight than more experienced workers. To a certain extent, this will always be true. But, millennials don’t need, or want, to be micromanaged.

What attracts, and keeps, young professionals is the opportunity for mentoring. They welcome consistent informal feedback that goes above and beyond the traditional annual review. When executives make a point to engage young staff members with constructive feedback during weekly one-on-one meetings, they’ll likely be rewarded with extremely high levels of engagement. It’s important for millennials to have regular opportunities to voice concerns and share ideas, but they are also hoping for mentors who will help them assess personal goals and contributions.

How to recruit competent young professionals.

Now that we understand more about what millennials want from Credit Unions, here are some ideas for recruiting them…

  • Referrals from other millennials. Perhaps the best way to recruit competent young professionals is to ask the young professionals already working for you.
  • Social media and mobile ads. Young job hunters are on social media, so it makes sense to recruit them there. Technology gives us the targeted ability to use mobile ads to reach them directly. In addition, more and more young people are using LinkedIn and About.me profiles in lieu of sending out traditional resumes, making it easier for Credit Unions to scout out prospective employees online.
  • Millennials crave creative work. In interviews, give them the opportunity to show off their creative thinking. Ask them to walk you through past projects or show off recent work. You’ll get to know them and their abilities better through real life examples than you will through traditional interview questions.
  • Offer benefits that appeal to younger generations. Just like everyone else, millennials are interested in healthcare and 401(k) plans. But, they are also interested in flexible schedules, sabbatical and professional growth opportunities, and student loan assistance. Take a cue from emerging tech companies that offer paid time for project work outside their job description and opportunities to collaborate with senior level professionals.

Take the first steps

  • Analyze your culture. Are you appealing to young talent? If not, take small strategic steps to a more inclusive and open culture.
  • Ask your employees. Talk with your existing young staff and hear their feedback.
  • Where possible, build flexibility into work schedules.

Join us

Plan to attend our breakout session at the Mountain West Credit Union Association’s Annual Meeting and Convention on April 27, 2018 to hear from industry insiders and experts on how we can ensure our movement will thrive well into the future!

Young Credit Union Professionals Crash the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference

Every year, the Association sends a handful of “Crashers” to the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington DC.

Crash events are non-stop, jam-packed Credit Union events for young professionals. They are designed to help each crasher gain valuable knowledge, insights, and connections that will help them develop as a future leaders of the movement.

We sat down with three of the crashers from our Association to ask them about their experience at the Governmental Affairs Conference. Here is what they had to say.


Ben Metzger, Staff Attorney for Public Service Credit Union 

Q: Why did you decide to apply to be a Crasher this year?

A: My manager, the General Counsel for Public Service Credit Union, was a crasher in 2016. He had told me really good things about the program that piqued my interest. Part of my job to follow regulations and new developments in the law, I felt that the Conference would be a great opportunity to see how that process works, and get involved in the legislative process for the benefit of Credit Union members.

Q: Did the conference meet your expectations?

A: It exceeded my expectations. The experience was overwhelming, in a good way. The whole thing was non-stop. We’d start the day around 7am and would be on the go until 10 or 11pm. Each day was completely packed with unique information and opportunities. It was great to get to hike the hill with other Credit Union leaders, talk to senators and congressmen about issues facing Credit Unions today, and advocate on our members’ behalf.  For example, I got to speak directly with Mike Coffman, one of Colorado’s representative.

Everything about it, from the crazy schedule to the requirement that all Crashers share a room with a fellow Crasher, is a truly disruptive “crash” experience. They structure it so that in most circumstances, we stand out. For example, on Tuesday, we all wore t-shirts identifying us as “crashers”, and we certainly stood out from everyone else in their business attire.

Q: Is there anything you took back from the conference that you can directly apply to your work as a Staff Attorney for Public Service Credit Union?

A: One of the things that kept coming up in conversations with legislators is that they wanted to hear stories about our Credit Union members. They felt that stories really stuck with them and would drive some of their decision making. This perspective, of telling stories about how Credit Unions are helping their members as a method for advocacy, wasn’t something that I’d considered. But, it’s a strategy I plan to incorporate into my work because I can see how effective it is. It’s easy, in my line of work, to get bogged down in the technical details. But at the end of the day, people remember stories, and stories influence how people think.

Also, one of the most impactful things was interacting with so many other Credit Union leaders and to realize that ultimately, we are all working towards the same goals. It’s incredibly encouraging and inspiring.

Q: Would you encourage other young Credit Union Professionals to apply to be a crasher?

A: Yes! But, only if they can muster up a lot of energy for it. It’s important to be prepared for the fact that it’s a very social week, which can be exhausting for introverted people like me. But, that’s also one of its greatest benefits. I got so much out of all the networking I got to do with other young professionals in the Credit Union movement. So, if you can find the energy to go non-stop for 4 or 5 days, it is totally worth it.

Cooper Scott, Accounting Associate, Arizona Federal Credit Union

Q: Why did you decide to apply to be a Crasher?

A: When I was first introduced to the program, I immediately saw the benefit of getting to attend one of the largest Credit Union conferences in the country and networking with executives, board members and leaders that I aspire to be like in the future. I also hoped to get an inside scoop on some of the biggest issues affecting Credit Unions today.

Q: Did the conference meet your expectations?

A: Absolutely. And then some! The experience is crazy fun and jam packed. We had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people. One thing that I really enjoyed was that we got to interact with a lot of the keynote speakers before they went on stage and ask them questions on a much smaller scale. One that really stands out in my mind was George W. Bush. We also got to interact with the CEO of CUNA, who offered insight on several things including a bill that we were all advocating for that was about to be brought to the President.

It’s a unique opportunity to get to advocate for the Credit Union movement on such a large scale – to talk with the people making the laws that affect our day-to-day decisions.

Q: Was there anything from the conference that you’ve been able to take back and apply to the work you do at Arizona Federal?

 A: The conference totally fired me up. I have so much more energy and excitement for the movement. I also learned more than I ever could have imagined. I learned more in those few short days about the Credit Union industry than in my entire career so far.

Another thing that was valuable about the conference was all the new professional relationships I built. I’m in touch with several people I met at the conference on a regular basis. We ask each other for feedback and opinions about all sorts of things. I have access to new ideas and perspectives that I wouldn’t have access to otherwise.


Jesse Jacobs, AVP of Lending/HR Director, Campco Federal Credit Union

Q: Why did you decide to apply to be a Crasher?

 A: In Western CUNA management school, I came face to face with the issue of advocacy and the realization that I wasn’t as involved in helping to further the movement as I wanted to be. I asked one of my instructors for suggestions about how I could get more involved, and they suggested that I start with the Crasher program. When I presented the idea to my CEO, he thought it would be a great opportunity to meet new people, see what the political arena is like, and understand more about the legislative side of it.

Also, Campco had never sent anyone to the conference before, so it was also a good opportunity to be represented there.

Q: What was your experience at the Conference like?

A: You don’t sleep very much! It’s a super intense experience. One of the rules I have for myself when I go to a conference is to never say no to the opportunities that present themselves. If I have to stay up late networking, I’ll do it. I took full advantage of those opportunities at this conference and got to meet with an amazingly diverse array of people.

The whole experience opened my eyes to the fact that there are so many people involved in supporting the Credit Union movement and moving it forward – not just those of us who’ve chosen a career in the industry. I made important connections with professionals from across the country that are a resource to my work at Campco and deepening my involvement in the entire movement.

Q: Was there a particular session that had a big impact on you?

A: Seeing George W. Bush was amazing. His main point was about how to be a leader in high-stress, chaotic, difficult situations. He talked about how important it is to remain calm and clear headed even in the most difficult of circumstances. I know his words will stay with me during those inevitable times when I’m faced with leading others through a challenging situation.

Q: How did your experience affect the work you’re doing now?

A: Being around so many people who are passionate about Credit Unions is contagious. I feel incredibly inspired and excited about the movement and about my work. It’s impossible not to!

I’m also working on creating an advocacy session with some of the young professionals at Campco so that I can pass on some of what I learned, and have suggested that we work hard to send someone else as a Crasher next year. We’re in a somewhat isolated rural area, and I just feel that the more we can do to provide our staff members with the opportunity to see how other Credit Unions function, the better we’ll be.

One of the insights I gained from interacting with people at all different levels of experience, is that I need to pay more attention to how approachable I am as a leader. When someone brings me an idea, it’s important that I consider how I might respond in a way that keeps them engaged and interested in further developing and implementing their idea.

If you’re interested in future Crash opportunities, please visit The Cooperative Trust website.

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.

Wyoming’s Lawmakers Need Your Voice and Your Leadership

An Invitation to Attend the Wyoming Legislative Learning and Reception

For many young adults, just the word “politician” leaves a bad taste in their mouth. Corrupt campaign finance systems, broken promises, election seasons that drag on for years, constant mudslinging, negative ads… It’s not that our generation is uninterested in the structure and systems that shape our lives. It’s not, of course, that we don’t care about our communities. It’s just that so much of what we see and hear about government and politics leaves us considerably more frustrated than motivated to get involved.

So, we look for other ways to make a positive impact on our communities. For many of us, this is what attracted us to the Credit Union movement in the first place. We saw it as an opportunity to be a part of something meaningful – to spend our working hours doing something that matters. But here’s the thing about that…

Our ability to create the kind of change necessary to create growth within the Credit Union movement is largely dependent on legislative issues.

Our industry – perhaps now, more than ever – needs advocates that have the ear of our lawmakers. As the future of our movement, I believe it’s particularly important that many of those advocates are young adults.

To that end, if you’re a Young Credit Union Professional in Wyoming, I’d like to invite you to a unique opportunity to learn about the legislative process and how you can advocate for the success of our movement.

The Wyoming Legislative Learning and Reception is a chance for you to make a positive impact in the success of the Credit Union movement right now.

If you’re willing to take on a greater advocacy role on behalf of our Movement, this is your chance to directly appeal to Wyoming legislators on some of the biggest issues affecting us today and shaping our future.

The Mountain West Credit Union Association will lead a training session on ways to better communicate with your elected officials. Along with other young Credit Union professionals, you’ll be able to discuss ideas, challenges, and best practices for how to interact with legislators so you can maximize your voice and your message. Then, you’ll have a chance to put all that to use at MWCUA’s 2018 Legislative Reception that evening.

Our generation is on the cusp of true societal leadership. We are quickly becoming agents of change, and rising into leadership positions in every sector of our nation. Now, more than ever, our lawmakers need to hear from us. We need to establish our voice in politics and public service today, because today is when decisions are being made that will impact us tomorrow.

The Wyoming Legislative Learning and Reception

Where:          Meridian Trust Federal Credit Union

4349 E. Lincolnway

Cheyenne, WY 82001

When:            February 13, 2017 – 1:30-4:30 p.m.

RSVP:        Dan Diorio (ddiorio@mwcua.com) or

Tyler Valentine (tyler@lpcfcu.com)

Funds are available for Young Professionals’ lodging costs through the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation. 

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.






This Year’s World Conference May Be Over, But Its Impact Lives On

For the past few years, the Gary Plank Scholarship has allowed the Foundation to send four professionals to the World Credit Union Conference. Amongst other factors, the recipients were selected based on a demonstrated commitment to the credit union cooperative model and to further development within the international credit union system.

This year’s conference was held in Vienna, Austria, bringing together thousands of credit union leaders from countries around the world. I sat down with three of this year’s Gary Plank Scholarship recipients to ask them about their experience at the Conference. All three expressed a deep enthusiasm for the Conference and feel it’s made a tremendously positive impact on their lives.

Tyler Valentine, CEO of Laramie Plains Credit Union and Treasurer of the Foundation Board.

As the CEO of Laramie Plains Federal Credit Union, one of the things that impacted Tyler the most at this year’s World Conference were the many opportunities to interact with diverse groups of leaders from all over the world.

“When you bring professionals with that much diversity into one space within the context of networking and really talking with each other, there’s just no way everyone’s not going to grow from that. The thing that impacted me the most in those situations, was how evident it was that everyone was united behind the same driving passion for what Credit Unions are about and the impact they make in people’s lives. Regardless of where the Conference attendees were from and what title they held, they were there because they believed in the Credit Union philosophy of people helping people and they wanted to learn how to do that even better.”

One of the more practical ideas that Tyler brought back to Laramie Plains came from one of the WYCUP speakers. The speaker talked about how difficult it is to accomplish meaningful work amid the multitude of distractions we all face every day. She suggested regularly scheduled “Get stuff done” days, in which phones are shut off, email is left unchecked, and distractions are held at bay so that concentrated time can be spent working on high value activities.

Tyler was also impacted by the assertion of keynote speaker Simon Mainwaring, Founder & CEO of We First, that the nature of Credit Unions is completely in line with who Millennials are and what they want. However, Credit Unions aren’t communicating with them well enough to get that message across. “One of the messages that would appeal to younger generations is the fact that Credit Unions are the original crowd sourced institutions. The power is in our people, not the wealth of our stockholders.”

In Simon’s address, he advocated a national effort, where Credit Unions from across the country come together to create attention grabbing campaigns that clearly and succinctly communicate the core of what Credit Unions are all about. Tyler agrees that when it comes to the daunting task of creating and communicating a message that creates real interest and engagement with the Credit Union movement, working together on a national level could have a much larger impact.

Tyler strongly encourages anyone considering attending next year’s conference to make the decision to go. He feels there is tremendous value in getting outside your own corner of the world and exposing yourself to the bigger picture. He feels that the conference does an amazing job of challenging world views and allowing attendees to see things in a different way, generating new ideas and solutions that would otherwise be out of reach.

Karen Nadal, Branch Manager, Pyramid Federal Credit Union

The first thing Karen said when we sat down to talk about her experience at this year’s World Conference Meeting was that there were so many great speakers and experiences that she could talk about it all day.

“This conference is such an amazing, energizing experience. It’s life changing, really. I would encourage anyone even thinking about going to next year’s Conference to get there any way that you can. It will completely renew your passion for what Credit Unions are about and what we can accomplish through a movement that truly is world-wide.”

Karen spoke about how impactful it was during the opening ceremonies, to see how many countries were represented at the Conference. With every national flag, she was reminded that it represented an area of the world with a Credit Union. “It was tremendously inspiring to realize that I am not only a part of a national movement. I am a part of a movement that’s having an impact on a global scale.”

One of Karen’s favorite breakout sessions was led by Kaitlin Cleary of Team 624 Communications. Kaitlin discussed how important it is for the Credit Union movement to focus on building trust with younger generations by using members of their own generation to create engagement. She suggested creating both youth and employee advocacy boards with the express purpose of communicating real experiences as real people over social media. She pointed out that members trust people more than organizations and that our members trust our employees as people more than the institution itself. So, it makes sense to engage our people in the task of communicating the tremendous advantages that Credit Unions hold. This approach is especially effective with the Millennial generation who relies heavily on social proof when making decisions about where to invest their time and money.

Like Tyler, Karen was especially impacted by the Simon Mainwaring’s keynote address. “Simon brought up so many great points, but I particularly loved that he said we must be ‘a mission with a company, not a company with a mission.’”

Ever since hearing Simon speak, Karen has been thinking about how Pyramid can tell more stories that the community will connect with. She’s realized that they need to tell stories about the problems in their community and what Pyramid is doing to address those problems in a positive way. By focusing on topics that are impacting the people in her community in a real way, Karen is hoping to demonstrate the people helping people philosophy in a more tangible way, creating deeper interest and engagement.

“We must tell our communities what we stand for before we tell them what we do. If they can understand the WHY behind our work, they will connect with us in a way that can really make a difference. We are here to help our community and it’s our job to make that known.”

Tara Roether, Graphic Designer and Digital Marketer, Landings Credit Union

Talking with Tara about her experience at this year’s World Conference, one can’t help but feel inspired. Her enthusiasm for the experience is absolutely contagious.

Tara especially loved the WYCUP experience at the Conference. “I was sitting there with people from all over the world, and I thought, ‘This is so incredible!’ Everyone there was passionate about the Credit Union movement and driven to make an impact. It was eye opening and amazing. The first day they got us all together and we had sessions about how to brand yourself and how to give a pitch that advances your goals. That was great for me. I learned so much about what it takes to develop myself and go after what I want.”

One of Tara’s favorite things about the Conference was talking with other Credit Union professionals from all over the world, and hearing about their challenges and the things they were doing to address them. For example, she learned that the Credit Unions in Australia are now called Mutual Banks, a recent change intended to better communicate what they are about. Tara feels that access to this type of information and insight is one of the many things that makes the Conference so invaluable.

Tara’s favorite breakout session was led by Mark Meyer, CEO of Filene Research Institute. Mark asked the question, “What sound does a tree make and would anyone notice if it was gone?” His point was that if an organization wants to be noticed, it must cause enough disruption to warrant that notice. He asserted the truth that Credit Unions are by nature disrupters. After all, our central purpose is to serve the underserved! If we are to communicate that truth, we must become digital disrupters as well. It’s how we, as a movement, will not only remain relevant, but it’s how we will make a difference. “My favorite comment from Mark’s session is when he said, ‘There has never been a better time to be a Credit Union because, now more than ever, people need you.’”

Like Karen, Tara also gained a lot of great insight from the breakout sessions led by Kaitlin Cleary, and the keynote address from Simon Mainwaring. “Both of their messages fit together so well. If we are to grow, we must focus on creating brand advocates, not just members. And, the way to do that is focus on being a purpose with a Credit Union, not a Credit Union with a purpose, as Simon so eloquently pointed out. People want to do business with people, not businesses. No one wants to be sold or convinced. They want relationships.”

Tara can’t say enough about her experience at the World Conference and encourages anyone considering applying for the Gary Plank Scholarship to go for it. “Even if you don’t think that you’re qualified – apply. You never know unless you put yourself out there. Be courageous and it will happen for you.”


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.