At CUNA, Advocacy Is Still Job No. 1

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Advocacy is the No. 1 reason credit unions belong to CUNA; that isn't going to change with Bill Cheney as President and CEO.

A paragraph of the Credit Union Journal's May 10 story on Bill Cheney becoming CUNA's new CEO [CUNA Taps Cheney To Replace Mica At The Helm] suggests his selection may signal the association "is moving away from its emphasis on congressional advocacy." That assumption is unfounded; it's neither attributed nor supported by anything else in the story, and so hopefully will be quickly discounted by your readers.

But as chair of CUNA's CEO search committee, let me emphasize that anyone who sees Bill Cheney's selection as somehow lessening CUNA's focus on congressional advocacy could not be more mistaken.

The search committee and the CUNA board fully recognize that advocacy is what our members want from CUNA first and foremost. Bill's strength and talent as an advocate for credit unions over the course of his 25-year career is one of the central reasons he was selected for the CEO position.

As CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, he has been at the forefront of legislative, political and grassroots mobilization efforts on member business lending, alternative capital, regulatory reform, interchange and virtually every other issue before Congress that has been of significance to credit unions.

In all our efforts on Capitol Hill, Bill's contacts with congressional leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have been invaluable, as have his strong working relationships with such key credit union allies as Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA), Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and Brad Sherman (D-CA).

Moreover, as a former credit union CEO, Bill knows our members' business inside and out because he has been there himself. This is a tremendous asset when listening to our members and articulating their priorities and concerns to federal legislators and regulatory officials.

Dan Mica did a superb job building a credit union advocacy powerhouse and has put in place a top-flight advocacy team at CUNA. Bill's own advocacy experience as a credit union CEO and a league leader, as well as Bill's insights into credit unions, give him the tools to keep that powerhouse energized. Moving away from congressional advocacy? No way. The reality is that Bill and CUNA will pursue our federal agenda with tenacity and vigor, and without missing a beat.

Harriet May
CEO, GECU, El Paso, TX
Vice Chairman, CUNA Board of Directors

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