Advocacy and increasing members’ access to credit union services—supported by collaboration and innovation—are top priorities among new league presidents.
“Whether it's directly through advocacy, or through collaboration and partnerships, our role is to advocate for our members,” says Mara Humphrey, president/CEO at the Minnesota Credit Union Network. Humphrey, who replaced the retired Mark Cummins, previously served as the league’s chief advocacy and engagement officer.
“It all begins and ends with advocacy,” agrees Gerry Singleton, president/CEO at the Montana Credit Union League. “Collaboration in that area is especially key. It will shape the future of our movement.”
Singleton replaced Tracy Kenyon, who retired in May. He previously served as vice president of credit union system relations at TruStage.
Another key role for leagues is “connecting the dots” among credit unions within the states they serve, he adds. For Singleton, that means serving 47 credit unions in an area of more than 145,500 square miles.
“All of those credit unions are making a difference in the lives of their members,” Singleton says. “We want them to feel engaged.”
Tim Sullivan, president at the Alaska Credit Union League, agrees that engaging with member credit unions is critical for new league leaders.
“One of the phrases I like is that well begun is half done,” he says. “It’s about being proactive and reaching out, not just to the people you want to collaborate with but those you’ll have discussions with later on. We need to make sure people understand the issues and why we do what we do. Getting involved early makes it a lot easier on the back end.”
Sullivan replaces Dan McCue, who retired earlier this year as league president.
Humphrey says diversity is more critical than ever today.
“My biggest challenge and opportunity is looking at how we evolve Minnesota Credit Union Network as a trade association,” she says. “We must continue to not only be relevant, but also help our members thrive through a diverse and growing population, and a diverse and growing membership of credit unions.
“We have to continually find ways to be faster, stronger, and more nimble,” she continues. “We must be bold on advocacy to ensure we’re meeting our credit union members’ needs, and that we’re their best partner in terms of their success.”
Credit Union Association of New Mexico President/CEO Melia Heimbuck takes over a system in which nearly 50% of the state’s residents are credit union members. That presents both opportunities and challenges for credit unions and the league in a state where roughly 20% of residents live below the poverty line.
Heimbuck replaced Juan Fernandez Ceballos, who joined the Louisiana Credit Union League as president/CEO.
“Providing access to the great products and services our credit unions offer is one of our greatest challenges,” she says.
The importance of that challenge isn’t lost on her member credit unions, Heimbuck adds.
“We have a phenomenal board,” she says. “They’re representative of our entire state. That’s where the opportunity lies because everyone’s at the table. That’s where our strength is.”