Leagues In Western States, Pacific, Map Their Plans For Coming Year

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The credit union leagues in the western half of the United States gave remarkably similar answers when asked what they planned to do in the new year: improve political advocacy locally and nationally, and beef up education for their member CUs.

Henry Kertman, director of public relations for the California CU League, said the league's $6-million public advocacy campaign- which is being sponsored and financed in conjunction with the Nevada league-is getting the lion's share of attention, but it is not the only item on the agenda (see related story, page 3).

"The public advocacy campaign is so huge, it affects everything we are doing," he said. "But, we also will be working on regulatory and legislative advocacy, and our educational programming will continue. We will increase the number of Webinars we offer."

Kertman noted the league's annual convention will be held in October this year at Disneyland in Anaheim, and will coincide with the theme park's 50th anniversary.

Dennis Tanimoto, president of the Hawaii CU League, said it would "definitely emphasize political advocacy, both on the state and national level."

"In particular, we will be watching the tax exemption situation, bankruptcy reform and regulatory improvement," he said.

On the state level, Hawaii's legislature is trying to stem predatory lending. Tanimoto said the league will be working with others in the financial industry to craft legislation to discourage the practice.

"Besides politics, we are looking to improve our educational offerings," he continued. "Normally, we hold separate, two-day conferences for credit union staff, management and volunteers. But, because of the cost of travel, we are looking to combine the three existing conferences into one mini-annual convention. In doing so, we hope to draw better speakers and more attendees."

Pacific Northwest Leagues Active

The Credit Union Association of Oregon will be continuing its statewide public awareness campaign, according to Gene Poitras, president. The campaign, which features television and radio ads that tout the "credit union difference," launched in November.

"We want to determine the best plan for moving forward with regard to the continued consolidation of credit unions," Poitras said. "We want to plan for future credit union environments."

Pamela Leavitt, the CUAO's senior vice president of governmental affairs and public relations, said the association will work with member CUs to: "help them better understand the political process, and encourage them to get involved politically in leadership roles, such as with their chambers."

Eugene, Ore.-based Northwest Community Credit Union, the sixth-largest credit union in the state, will be reaching out to Oregon's Hispanic population.

Kent White, the CU's vice president of marketing, said it will be hiring more bilingual staff, providing more materials in Spanish, and working with local organizations such as Mercado Latino.

"We'll also be continuing our public and private partnership efforts in high schools by cultivating our recently opened student-run branches in Thurston and Willamette high schools, and looking for opportunities to open more such branches in other high schools," said White. "We also are working closely with the newly elected Oregon state representative to help foster more public/private partnerships, and help shape legislation that might aid such partnerships."

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