Terry Tremelling

Advocacy: ‘It’s our duty’

Terry Tremelling shares insights into his board service and the importance of advocacy.

June 7, 2021

Two top priorities for board members are ensuring the safety and soundness of the credit union and advocacy. Over the past year, Terrance “Terry” Tremelling has found himself focusing strongly on those responsibilities.

Tremelling received the 2020 J. Alvin George Outstanding Volunteer Award from the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.

He has served on the board of $3.8 billion asset SAFE Credit Union in Folsom, Calif., since 2006 and has been board chair since 2017.

Credit Union Directors Newsletter: What does receiving the J. Alvin George Outstanding Volunteer Award mean to you?

Tremelling: It’s incredible, but it’s a team award. It takes the entire board as well as our executive staff and employees at SAFE to make it work. This is something where my fellow board members really helped me in the process of serving our members as well as I can. I’m pleased to be another SAFE volunteer recognized by both our state and national associations.

Q: What’s one thing you’re most proud of from being involved with at SAFE?

A: How we responded to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is certainly at the top of the list. As directors, our primary goal is ensuring we have a safe and sound credit union. I remember sitting down with CEO Dave Roughton a year ago and he outlined how we’d meet the demands of the pandemic.

We went remote with 90% of our corporate office and call center staff. We provided a stipend to member-facing employees in the branches to encourage them to take care of our members and themselves. 

We put in the social distancing and the mask requirements. We also waived fees, deferred payments and offered zero interest loans, skip-a-pays, and Paycheck Protection Program loans. We realized we weren’t going to make the income we thought, and we'll probably see our capital ratio drop. 

It created a little anxiety, but those were the right things to do. I had the support of the board, and we certainly gave the wherewithal to Dave to move with his initiatives. It proved to be an outstanding year for us under the circumstances. 


Q: Why is it important for board members to be involved in advocacy?

A: Our top four priorities are ensuring the safety and soundness of the credit union, managing the CEO, hiring the right CEO, and being an advocate for the industry. Those are requirements when you join the board. We have a tremendous opportunity to provide input and prove that our message is heard. 

Q: What would you tell board members who aren't involved in advocacy?

A: It's our duty. Anytime we get that call to action, we need to reach out and deliver our message. Through CUNA and the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues we have a simple, effective way to communicate with our representatives, whether it’s a local, state, or national issue, through Connect for the Cause

CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference and the State Government Relations Rally make it easy for us to get involved. It should be all hands on deck with this process.

Q: What advocacy efforts have you been involved in that have made a difference?

A: Recently in Sacramento a piece of legislation was proposed to create a California bank for the underserved. We already have the resources. Credit unions already offer opportunities and we have a great argument to say a state bank is not needed. While the battle goes on, representatives are taking a more critical look at the proposed legislation.

We’ve also had a strong effort for protecting our members' financial security. While credit unions are held to the highest standards, retailers and other industries are not. The result has been several security breaches over the years. 


Q: What advice do you have for new board members?

A: Don’t take your responsibility lightly, be prepared to voice your opinions, be a team player, and keep in mind that commitment to the members is essential. They’re the sole reason we exist.

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