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In 1844, a small group of weavers from Rochdale, England created the blueprint for how their newly-formed cooperative would operate and serve the local community. These values, known as the Seven Cooperative Principles, serve as the operating guidebook for credit unions and cooperatives throughout the world. This blog was created to honor that legacy and to showcase the everyday efforts of credit unions in the Carolinas that embody the cooperative mission and purpose.

 

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GAC Crasher Paul McManus recaps trip to DC

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, March 13, 2017
Updated: Monday, March 13, 2017
2017 GAC Crashers

Little did I know what was in store for me when I joined the credit union movement almost two years ago. Coming from a large regional bank; to say I went through a paradigm shift would be a massive understatement.

With the support from my President/CEO, Judy Tharp, I was able from the very start to immerse myself in what it means to be part of this movement, to really put members first, and to live each and every one of the cooperative principles that guide what we do day in and day out. I was fortunate enough to attend the Principles and Philosophy Conference, (a must for all new credit union employees), and then came Crash the GAC.

To give some background, the Crash program aims to develop young credit union professionals by providing opportunities not normally available in typical office and conference settings. "Crashers" attend the standard conference events – keynotes, breakouts, etc. – in addition to a separate schedule that involves tailored sessions, workshops, and networking events.

Through this approach, the Crash group is able to broaden their knowledge of the credit union industry; while simultaneously deeply engaging that young talent to ensure the future of credit unions. This past December, I was selected to represent the state of North Carolina for Crash the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) 2017, however, this was not my first Crash experience.

My first Crash experience was for the America’s Credit Union Conference in Seattle, WA in June of 2016. This experience deepened my understanding of the credit union difference and served as a valuable launching board for the objectives of Crash the GAC 2017.

Before I get into some of the highlights, I would be remiss not to mention the support of the Carolinas Credit Union League with their generous scholarship as well as all the organizations that made Crash the GAC possible – CUNA, CUNA Mutual Group, SavvyMoney, and Larky.  

As you may know, the GAC is the largest credit union advocacy event of the year with a duration of five days. This year, the focus was common sense regulation. In reality, I could write a ten page paper on the topic alone, but, I will spare you that thesis.

What all surrounded this central theme was inspiring keynotes from Derreck Kayongo, Kat Cole, Bob Schieffer and Colin Powell; galvanizing breakout sessions from Jim Nussle and Rep. Eric Swalwell; and a deeper knowledge of all that is being done at the Filene Research Institute and the National Credit Union Foundation.

Additionally, we were fortunate enough to attend the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards. This event, otherwise known as “the Oscars of the credit union world,” provided deeper inspiration from award winners Maria j. Martinez and Stan Hollen, and instilled pride as the Cooperative Trust was also honored as the Exceptional Program for their Crash program.

If that wasn’t enough to get any attendee excited, we also had the surreal experience of “Hiking the Hill” in order to lobby our lawmakers that our member base of over 100 million matters and needs our legislators’ support on multiple fronts.

"The Crash experience deepens the belief that what we do is a noble excursion." -- Paul McManus

The Crash group, representing all 50 states, became more than a group of young professionals merely selected for a unique conference experience. That is because the Crash experience is one that tested us in in a variety of ways. We were tested physically, with the 7:00 AM start times, and the all too often 2:00 AM end times. We were tested mentally, in that our thoughts mattered, but more importantly, were expected – often. We were also tested emotionally, as deep bonds were formed over the shared experience, the laughs and the comradery, but also the writhes and real world issues facing us both personally and professionally. This is a group that will maintain this special connection for years to come, and I can safely say, we are all better for it.  

I highly recommend applying for a Crash event, (there are several throughout the year), to all our young professionals in the Carolinas. I would also recommend the support of this program from all our senior leaders.

The Crash experience deepens the belief that what we do is a noble excursion. It allows young professionals to establish relationships that are much more than professional acquaintances. It empowers Crashers to bring back all they’ve learned and to share it with credit union movement colleagues, members, and our communities.

I am proud to have been a Crasher, ecstatic to share all that I have learned, and willingly available as a resource for any and all that are interested in this incredibly special program and experience.

Paul McManus is the HR & Learning Manager for Piedmont Advantage Credit Union. A native of Yonkers, NY, he holds a BA in Management and International Business from Loyola College in Maryland. Paul has over 10 years’ experience in the financial services industry. After working with a large regional bank and gaining financial retail, HR, and leadership experience, Paul saw the light and shifted his paradigm by joining the credit union movement and Piedmont Advantage in 2015. You can reach Paul at pmcmanus@pacu.com

Tags:  Crash the GAC  Piedmont Advantage CU 

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Registration opens for the 2017 Principles & Philosophy Conference

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Registration is now open for the 2017 Principles and Philosophy Conference. The annual conference is a "deep dive” into the Seven Cooperative Principles, as well as the social purpose of co-ops and credit unions. Participants leave with a greater understanding of just how special credit unions are, and how the Seven Cooperative Principles are at heart good business practices. 

This year, the event takes place October 24-26 at the White Oak Conference Center near Winnsboro, SC. Tuition is $650 all-inclusive (lodging, conference materials plus all meals and snacks).

Please contact Jeff Hardin (919-457-9063) with any questions. Please click here to access the registration page. 

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Guest post: Genice DeCorte on the value of mentors

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, March 8, 2017

(Editor's note: The CUaware Protégé Mentor program connects credit union professionals age 35 and under with a mentor for a period of one year. Genice DeCorte currently mentors Taylor West of Members Credit Union. DeCorte shares some of the key mentors in her 31-year career in this guest post. You can learn more about the CUaware Protégé Mentor program by clicking here.)   

 

I have had many mentors in my 31-year career, but the three most influential mentors have been and continue to be Ed Baranowski, Bill Vogeney and my father, Duane DeCorte. I began my career in lending at Fairwinds Credit Union and it was Bill Vogeney who took the time to teach me the knowledge in lending that he possessed. A small circle of people still refer to him as the King of Loans.

To this day, I believe I have never and will never meet another person as knowledgeable about lending as Bill. It wasn’t the fact that he taught me skills to become a great lender, he spent hours, days, weeks and years providing me with data, information and knowledge that helped me throughout my credit union career. In all sincerity, without his coaching and mentoring, I would not be who I am today. He gave me the tools to improve my lending and management skills.

I remember a few months after I became the CEO of a small credit union my former CEO, Ed Baranowski, called me to see how I was doing in my new role and if I needed anything. I talked about how the office aesthetics were a bit lacking (that was a huge understatement) and I needed to come up with a budget and strategic plan for the credit union. He mailed me copies of the strategic plan and budget for his credit union in the hopes it would help me assemble mine.

About a month later, he called me and asked if I could use some chairs, credit card terminals and a copier. I said yes emphatically and within a week I had a truck load of items delivered to the credit union. Ed Baranowski was a great leader and humanitarian. I learned a great deal about how to manage people from him. When you worked under him, you knew he cared about you and the member-owners.

My father always supported my role in becoming a CEO of a credit union. He and I would spend hours talking about the credit union movement and he would give me information that helped me with my career. When I first became a CEO, he came down to my credit union and helped me with delinquent loans and getting the books in order. He spent days coming into work with me and doing whatever needed to be done to help get the credit union back on track.

I have many other stories where amazing people came into my life and took time from their busy lives to help me. Time is a valuable and limited resource to all of us. It is precious. So, when someone takes time from their life to help me, I appreciate it immensely and it makes me want to do the same for others.

That is why I believe the CUAware Protégé Mentor program has such value. I would have loved a program such as this when I was a younger credit union employee. My mentee, Taylor West, was able to come to our credit union and attend one of our board meetings and speak to our auditors during her first visit.

We were able to spend time together one-on-one and learn from each other’s experiences. It allows for people who are in the credit union movement awhile to spend time with others to coach, mentor and share their knowledge and experience. But, it is a full circle. Because, as much as the mentee learns from the mentor, the mentor, in turn, learns from the mentee. People helping people both internally and externally is what sets the credit union movement apart from other financial institutions.

Bill, Ed, my father and many others had no idea when they took time from their lives to teach, guide and mentor me that I would one day be running a credit union of my own…all of that knowledge has shaped me into the person I am today and for that I am truly grateful!

In that same spirit it is an honor to mentor Taylor this year, and to watch her credit union career continue to take flight.

(Genice DeCorte is the President/CEO of HealthShare FCU in Greensboro. HealthShare was chartered in 1955 and today serves members of the medical community in Guilford County.)

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Coastal CU's Creighton Blackwell honored for philanthropy work

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, February 27, 2017
Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017

Principle Seven: Concern for community. Credit unions work for the sustainable development of communities through policies developed and accepted by the members. Credit unions seek to achieve a greater good through responsible corporate citizenship.

 

Coastal Credit Union’s VP of Corporate Affairs, Creighton Blackwell, has been honored by the Triangle Business Journal in their inaugural Corporate Philanthropy Awards.

The publication selected winners from a pool of nominees, and winners include individuals, nonprofits and corporations. Blackwell was recognized for his individual contributions to the community, many of which stem from his role with the credit union. Blackwell’s responsibilities include management of Coastal’s community engagement department, and he is directly involved in spearheading Coastal’s support of local nonprofits. Among his recent notable accomplishments is the mortgage lending partnership between Coastal and Habitat for Humanity of Wake County, in which the credit union pledged $3 million in low rate loans for Habitat homeowners.

Additionally, Blackwell is a member of the Coastal Federal Credit Union Foundation board of directors, and was instrumental in creating the Power of Sharing Gala, an event designed to showcase various local nonprofits’ impact in the community and bring together Coastal’s business partners for an evening of awarding sizeable grants. The 2016 event helped Coastal earn a Dora Maxwell Award for Social Responsibility from the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation.

Blackwell is also heavily involved in community efforts outside of Coastal, including board roles with the North Carolina Council for Economic Education, Morrisville Innovation Foundation, Habitat for Humanity of Wake County, the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, the Triangle Martin Luther King Jr Committee and the Regional Transit Alliance Development Committee.

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Greensboro Municipal CU highlighted for partnership with local food co-op

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Principle Six: Cooperation among cooperatives. Credit unions serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative principles by working with other cooperatives through local, state, regional, national, and international structures.

Principle Seven: Concern for community. Credit unions work for the sustainable development of communities through policies developed and accepted by the members. Credit unions seek to achieve a greater good through responsible corporate citizenship.

Reporter Robert McGarvey spotlighted an emerging partnership between Greensboro Municipal Credit Union and the Renaissance Community Co-op as an example of Winning by cooperating. The story appeared in CUInsight February 17, with GMCU's partnership with RCC offered as an example of how local cooperatives can work together for mutual benefit. 

The RCC is a community-owned retail grocery cooperative that opened in Greensboro last fall. The food cooperative ended a 19-year food desert problem in Northeast Greensboro. The credit union plans to locate a branch in the same shopping area as the RCC in a few months. The retail branch will be the first step for the credit union in an effort to provide ethical, affordable financial services to the area, as well as financial education programs that will benefit the neighborhood.

"After personally seeing the overall lack of access to financial services in the community, coupled with hearing about day-to-day issues faced by residents, like the lack of transportation, it made sense to site a branch in the community,” GMCU CEO Jerry Wise said in the story. Wise sees an opportunity for their partnership to benefit the community, the RCC as well as the credit union.

To read the story, which spotlights other initiatives and perspectives across the country, please click here

 

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