More than six years after the so-called Renewal Project, which sought, in part, to ease control over CUNA by the state leagues, a league president is scheduled to take over as CUNA Chairman this fall.
Dick Ensweiler, president of the Texas CU League for the past eight-and-a-half years, has served on the CUNA board's executive committee and is next in line for the chairman's seat. Ensweiler said he will accept the chair, if elected.
"If I'm fortunate to be nominated and elected, I will be honored to serve," Ensweiler said last week. "I've got lots of ideas on what CUNA and credit unions can do and I love what CUNA does and what it stands for."
Ensweiler acknowledged the potential criticisms that may arise from a league president assuming the role of CUNA chair for the first time, especially after the Renewal project was supposed to loosen the grip on CUNA by the leagues. But he said he doesn't believe that the appointment of a league president to the chair will increase the influence of the leagues over the national trade group that was, after all, created by the leagues. His agenda, he insisted, will be what he and his fellow board members believe is best for credit unions, which is the function of CUNA.
Under Renewal, individual credit unions were ostensibly given greater access to the national trade association, instead of having to funnel everything through the leagues, and the group's board was trimmed from 45 members to 24, including one league president from each of six different regions.
Since Renewal the CUNA chair has been occupied by credit union CEOs, including Buck Levins of Robins (Ga.) FCU, Nancy Pierce, of Mazuma CU, Kansas City and Barry Jolette, of San Mateo CU, Redwood, Calif., the current CUNA chair.
Ensweiler, by the way, is coming off several major accomplishments in the state legislature this year and is widely regarded as operating one of the best-run leagues. The league, with the help of other credit union entities, including the Texas CU Coalition, succeeded this year in pushing through major legislation to reform the state's credit union statute, and put a credit union-backed home equity line of credit allowance to state voters.