Q&A: Jim Morrell
Peninsula Community Federal Credit Union President/CEO remains a 'fierce credit union advocate.'
Jim Morrell’s passion for advocacy will keep him busy throughout his service as a CUNA Board member as he seeks to build relationships with lawmakers, advance credit unions, and foster financial well-being for all.
The president/CEO at $282 million asset Peninsula Community Federal Credit Union in Shelton, Wash., discusses his board service and what drives him to be a “fierce credit union advocate.”
Credit Union Magazine: What led you to join the CUNA Board?
Jim Morrell: Board members play an important role in guiding CUNA’s advocacy for the best possible regulatory environment and in connecting us with innovative products and services. I wanted to go all in with this responsibility.
For 30 years, I’ve been a fierce credit union advocate, fostering important relationships with elected officials. I’ve worked with Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., to make prize-linked savings possible at the federal level. I’ve also helped elected officials understand the importance of affordable housing and educated them about the impact fraud has on consumers and financial cooperatives.
Every day, I’m reminded that when times are tough, credit unions are with their members every step of the way. As a Credit Union Development Educator in the U.S. and Africa, my eyes and ears have seen the heart we have as credit unions to make a difference in people’s lives.
The adverse impacts of medical debt have inspired my husband and I to raise money for Credit Unions for Kids.
Q: Where does your passion for advocacy come from?
A: My grandfather was a community banker. He thought if he understood what someone’s world was like, he could serve them well. He said, “I couldn’t make loans to apple orchard farmers in Eastern Washington unless I visited them.”
During my senior year, Pacific Lutheran University was celebrating its centennial anniversary with the theme, “educating for service.” This has become my personal theme, as all I do educates me to better serve others.
That means taking extra time to practice empathy. We have to educate our elected officials and regulators, and explain the impact not only of what we do but the ramifications of the decisions they make. We’re collectively not as big as the biggest banks, so we have to tell our story.
Q: What national advocacy issues are you focused on?
A: Threats to noninterest income, including interchange and fee income.
Also, economic development, specifically advocating for an increase in housing and for the Rebuilding Economies and Creating Opportunities for More People to Excel Act.
The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund has long been an important tool in supporting community financial institutions. We need to think about our approach to regulatory and legislative advocacy to ensure credit unions aren’t adversely impacted by proposed changes to the CDFI certification application.
Q: What’s your goal when you attend the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference?
A: To have a physical and collective presence on Capitol Hill. What I feel is important is secondary to the priorities that CUNA and our regional associations identify as the main topics for us to send a collective, unified message. That makes for a more powerful voice and impact.
Q: What advice would you offer young credit union professionals and advocates?
A: Engage, be proactive, ask questions, and seek mentors.
Q: What do you like to do outside of work?
A: I love “go see do” travel by land or cruise ship. The last big international trip my husband and I took was to Prague, Budapest, and Hungary. The next big one will be in January 2024 on a cruise from Santiago, Chile, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. We also enjoy “relax and do nothing” trips when we head to Hawaii or Mexico.
I also enjoy wine, I’m a corporate golfer, and I like being on the Salish Sea waters of Puget Sound.