The Board Member-Is-Governor State

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The newly elected governor-elect of Louisiana is saying she intends to keep her seat on a local credit union board even after taking office.

Kathleen Babineaux-Blanco (D), 60, is not just the first woman to be elected governor of Louisiana, she is also a board member for La Capitol Federal Credit Union, a $250-million financial institution that serves mostly public employees throughout the state.

"We are really excited just knowing that somebody who supports and understands credit unions is governor of our state," said Susan Parry Leake, president/CEO at a La Cap.

Leake noted that the race was close, 52% to 48%, and undecided until all the votes were counted. "We had two very good, strong candidates," she said. "And they were not hugely different on the issues."

Leake said Blanco, who kept a very busy schedule as Lt. Governor, told her she planned on keeping her board position with the credit union. She has already served five years. "The last time I spoke to her was before the election; she said she would like to remain on the board."

If that changes, Leake said, the credit union still benefits from having their governor know what credit unions are and what they do.

During a board meeting several days after the election, board members discussed Blanco's new status and how it might impact their non-profit operation. Leake said none of the board members were able to raise any potential conflicts-of-interest for Blanco as a credit union board member, and agreed that rules already in place permitting a board member to participate in meetings via telephones would continue.

"(Blanco) is currently lieutenant governor and has had an incredible schedule," Leake said. "She has managed to make a vast majority of the meetings, some in person and some telephonically."

Besides, Leake said, others on the board also hold high-level government positions that keep them on their toes.

"We have always had high-level employees serve with us," she said, adding the strong nominating committee is to be credited for that.

She said the 11-member board includes a group of members who are politically diverse and come from various government agencies.

"Yet, when they walk into our board room, all that is someplace else," she said. "They are here to determine how we can best serve our members."

Leake said while her board has no term limits, there is an unwritten charge by the nominating committee to mix the older and more experienced members with new volunteers to keep ideas fresh.

Blanco, a mother of six children and grandmother of five, is a former school teacher from Lafayette. She served as state representative, member of the Public Service Commission and two terms as lieutenant governor. During her eight years in the latter position, the travel industry has grown to $9 billion from $6.5 billion and created 21,000 jobs.

Before the election, Blanco told reporters she would expand kindergarten, increase teacher pay and phase out certain business taxes to attract business to the state.

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