Cheney To Succeed Chatfield In California

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The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues named William Cheney as the trade organizations' new president and CEO, effective March 1, 2006.

The announcement follows a lengthy search to find a successor to credit union veteran David Chatfield, who announced one year in advance he would be retiring April 1, 2006. The search committee received more than 300 resumes from people seeking the high-profile job.

Cheney has served as CEO of Xerox Federal Credit Union in El Segundo, Calif., for the past eight years. He told The Credit Union Journal the news he had been named to fill the post "feels great."

"It is a great honor to be selected, and a great challenge to replace a leader like Dave Chatfield," he said.

Chatfield said he will serve as a consultant to Cheney from March 1 until his last day of work, March 31. Cheney said he looks forward to working with the members of the two leagues, the board and the staff in developing a transition plan.

"I am very fortunate in my first month I will have an opportunity to be there with Dave," said Cheney.

The biggest challenge Cheney said he will face is one Chatfield has dealt with for years-banking trade groups launching attacks against CUs.

"Attacks from bankers are intensifying on a daily basis," said Cheney. "From lawsuits to comments at Congressional hearings to them taking shots at our regulator, every time you turn around, they are attacking credit unions. We need to respond to those attacks, state our case and remind everyone why credit unions must remain united."

And despite the external challenges and the pressure of replacing a legend, Cheney added: "I can't tell you how pleased I am to have this opportunity."

Praise For Cheney

Jim McPheters, CEO of San Diego-based California Coast CU and chairman of the California CU League, said Cheney's "passion for credit unions" was one of the key elements that led to his selection.

"He has genuineness and sincerity," said McPheters. "He has a desire to do the job and do it well in the tradition Dave Chatfield has created. He was just an outstanding candidate."

Diana Dykstra, who led the Chatfield search committee in addition to her duties as CEO of San Francisco Fire CU, also praised Cheney's passion. Asked what quality or qualities distinguished Cheney from other candidates, she said: "His passion and his future vision for the credit union movement, as well as his prominence on the state, and more importantly, national arena. He has testified in hearings and knows the ins and outs of Washington, D.C."

Size Didn't Matter

Dykstra said the search committee did not look at the size of the CU candidates, nor was the search limited to candidates from California. She said it was a "plus" to have someone who knows the state and its credit unions.

"It was an 'Oh, are we lucky' thing," she said.

"I'm ecstatic," Dykstra continued. "I received an e-mail after the announcement from a Shapiro-size credit union saying it is a happy day for California and Nevada credit unions. And it is."

Chatfield has been president of the California CU League since March 1991, and added leadership of the Nevada League in 1996. In addition to Dykstra, the search committee members who worked to find his replacement were Al George, North Island Financial CU; Jon Hernandez, South Bay Health Services FCU; Barry Jolette, San Mateo CU; Frank Michael, Allied CU; Tony Mook, Cumorah CU; and Vince Rojas, Kern Schools FCU.

According to Chatfield, Cheney is "extremely capable." Chatfield complimented the boards at the California and Nevada CU Leagues, as well as the search committee, for doing "a great job, and an amazing job of keeping it quiet."

"I had some input, but not a great deal because it was the job of the committee," explained Chatfield. "At one point, I was asked my thoughts on some candidates."

Praise From Chatfield

What distinguished Cheney, Chatfield continued, was the "combination of his knowledge of the organization and the players, his experience in trade association activities-our league and nationally, his reputation, his enthusiasm, and his ability to articulate his thoughts and visions."

During the search process, credit union CEOs in California and Nevada unanimously expressed tremendous respect for Chatfield, and a desire to have a "Chatfield clone" fill his very large shoes. Reminded of this, Chatfield said Cheney "respects the quality of the league and the team we have in place. It is a fine, well-functioning organization. When Bill was announced to our all-hands meeting [Dec. 21], there were a lot of smiles. He is well-known and well-respected here."

What's next for Chatfield? He and his wife will depart for their house in Hawaii April 1 for a six-week stay. Then, the Chatfields will return to the mainland and drive their motorhome to their house in Alaska for the summer, taking time to stop along the way to see things they've never seen before.

"I am looking forward to catching my breath and having control of my own schedule," said Chatfield.

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