Long-Time NASCUS Exec, Fortney, Tapped As CEO

Register now

As long-time NASCUS VP-Regulatory Affairs Mary Martha Fortney officially steps into the top spot, it's too early to tell if there will be any sweeping changes at the trade association for state regulators and state-chartered CUs.

But Fortney told The Credit Union Journal the credit union movement can expect to see a focus on communication and education.

Fortney, who has worked for NASCUS for 10 years and spent the last four months as acting president/CEO, was officially selected as the permanent replacement for Doug Duerr after a four-month search process.

"I just had the 'acting' taken out of my title last week, so it's too soon to say if there will be any sweeping changes or what those would be," Fortney said. "I didn't concern myself with those types of issues [while serving as acting president and CEO] because I might not have gotten the job. Six others had formal interviews, and I believe they received 44 applications, so I never assumed the job was mine. We're really excited. The staff is pleased. This is a new opportunity for NASCUS on both sides."

The new CEO said she is taking her cue from the board, which has established three primary, long-term goals: being the leading advocate for a strong and innovative state chartering system, facilitating effective partnerships between regulators and CU leaders and being seen as the primary resource for state charter knowledge.

While Fortney said it was too soon to say what sort of changes she may initiate as the new CEO, she noted that in her 10 years at NASCUS, the organization has undergone significant change.

Effort To Reach Out

"This is a much different organization from when I joined NASCUS more than 10 years ago," she observed. "There's been a concerted effort to reach out to other state groups, groups with an interest in state authority, such as those associations serving state legislators, governors, attorneys general. There's more communication with and partnership with other elements of the credit union system, a real effort to be part of the credit union community."

Indeed, Fortney noted 1998's Credit Union Membership Access Act calls for NCUA to work with state regulators any time the federal regulator is working on rules related to member business lending and prompt corrective action.

Such communication is key on every end of the system, she added. "I would like to see us increase our communications," Fortney suggested. "We have done work on the website to enhance the flow of information to our members. Part of the overall vision is also to increase the educational offerings to our state regulators. It's very important for them to be effective. We have 27 state accredited (agencies), and we want to see that number continue to grow."

Fortney's promotion to CEO marks one of the first times a woman has served in the top post for a national CU trade association, though women have long served as CEOs at state-level CU trade groups and at credit unions themselves.

"I accept the role model part of this," Fortney offered. "There will be a day when there's not much ado to be made over a woman heading up an organization. I know people will be watching me, but I think they will be waiting for me to do well, not waiting for me to stumble."

Although when boards choose to hire from within it is often considered a nod to the status quo, Fortney said not to take her appointment to mean NASCUS is content to just stay the same.

"Just because I've been here for 10 years doesn't mean there won't be big changes moving forward," she noted. "We're going to work on growing NASCUS to make sure that we are relevant and responsive to our members."

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
MORE FROM AMERICAN BANKER