African-American CUs See Progress In CUs As Careers

Register now

Members of the African-American Credit Union Coalition met in Detroit last week to outline ways to increase exposure and gain more support of its goals within the CU industry.

About 150 people from across the country participated in the four-day conference at the Renaissance Marriott Center here.

"I think it was a very exciting conference, the best one yet,'' said AACUC President Herbert Hoosman Jr. "It looks like we've started getting people from non-African-American backgrounds to join us.''

The organization was formed five years ago to increase awareness of credit unions as a viable career opportunity for young African-Americans and gain support from within the industry to help achieve its goals.

"We are not a trade association and we don't want to be a trade association," Hoosman said. "And we don't want you to have the idea that we are a stand-alone organization.''

With the support of credit union leaders, leagues and trade associations, he said, the AACUC expects to carry out its mission.

Hoosman said he was particularly pleased with the new faces-many of them non African-American-who attended the four-day meeting and conference.

Michigan Credit Union League President David Adams was among them.

"I can assure you the Michigan Credit Union League supports your mission wholeheartedly,'' he said. "Future successes of the industry will depend on how well we remain true to our diversity.My pledge is to help you fulfill your important mission.''

AACUC Chairman Emeritus Michael Hale called the organization a "friend of all races'' with its focus on "increasing the global credit union movement's strength by adding the focused perspective and energy of credit union volunteers and professionals of African-American and African descent.''

In addition to its successes with its internship and mentoring programs, he said, the organization has done initial research in South Africa to determine the viability of mentoring there.

Among the plans laid out during break out sessions were how to go about raising funds to support efforts that include providing internship opportunities to college students and mentoring credit unions within and outside the United States. Among the plans are to gain more exposure through trade publication advertising and encourage current members to recruit people of all races who support the mission of the AACUC, Hoosman said.

Along with several educational sessions, a regulatory legislative update and a motivational lecture from 100 Black Men's Leonard Knight, the AACUC honored Pete Crear, whose long credit union career included 20 years with the Michigan Credit Union League, where he started as a management trainee and rose to senior vice president.

Students See CUs As Career

Hoosman told the crowd that it was Crear who helped officially organize the AACUC, whose initial members had been meeting unofficially for several years at government affairs meetings.

Crear was also at the helm of organizing several credit unions and served as president of both the Connecticut Credit Union League and the Indiana Credit Union League.

"He is an intelligent, courageous individual who has made a difference on behalf of CU's in Michigan, across our nation and ultimately the globe,'' said Michael Hale, AACUC Chairman Emeritus and CEO at Andrews FCU in Maryland. "He has been effective, honest and true to the credit union philosophy that all of us hold so dear."

Hale said his credit union career started as a summer job. "I took a $2,000 pay cut to take the job,'' he recalled. "My wife suggested I take it and work through the summer until I could get a real job in the fall.''

Among the other highlights of the conference, Hoosman said, was when a group of college interns gave a Powerpoint presentation that illustrated their experiences, particularly how it has opened their eyes to a viable career.

"When you see that, you can't help but feel good about what you are doing,'' Hoosman said.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.