Outgoing CUNA Board Chairman Maurice Smith reflects on his tenure and why credit unions are special to him Monday at CUNA GAC.

Board Chairman Smith: We were built for this work

March 11, 2019

One year ago, incoming CUNA board Chairman Maurice Smith made a confession to those in attendance at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC): he was a “credit union nerd.” And he said his family would agree at the end of his term he might be a “bigger nerd than I was before.”

Smith, the president/CEO of Local Government CU, Raleigh, N.C., said at CUNA’s Annual General Meeting Monday it was his pleasure to serve on the CUNA board, and said he will always remember how the various board members always kept the bigger picture in mind.

“Everyone always wanted what’s best for credit unions as a whole,” he said.

Smith also said his term reinforced his belief that that wherever the challenge may come from, CUNA is prepared to meet it head on.

“Most problems that show up in the credit union world, or at the boardroom table or the executive tables, don’t announce themselves and say there are going to be a regulatory problem, or a legislative problem, or a litigation problem, it just comes as a challenge to our organization,” he said. “And 360-degree advocacy encourages us to look at each challenge and think of creative ways to find solutions from the various tools that we have. The results have been astonishing.”

Smith said his goal, and hopefully the goal of everyone in attendance, is to expand the credit union method to more consumers.

“We believe in this room that the credit union cooperative model is superior. There’s no other type of financial institution that’s going to look after its members and communities and consumers like we do,” he said. “And we’ve seen time after time other financial institutions fail their communities, fail their customers with bad behavior. So it goes without saying that we believe what we doing is the noble thing.”

For his parting words, Smith reflected on what he learned about himself over the past year as chair.

“I was built for this kind of businesses, to be in a credit union, to be in a cooperative movement, to do the work that we do for our members and our communities,” he said. “And listening to the conversations I’ve had over the last year, I think you’d all agree with me that you were built for this work as well. I’m inspired by your commitment to helping people.”

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