John Herrera, the man nominated by President Barack Obama to fill a vacancy on the board of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), was widely praised by credit union executives and professionals in the wake of the announcement.

In general, credit union officials cited Herrera's extensive background in the movement as well as his involvement with low-income and underbanked communities.
A New Perspective
"The Michigan Credit Union League is pleased to see Mr. Herrera nominated for the vacant NCUA board seat, given his credit union experience," MCUL president and CEO Dave Adams told Credit Union Journal. "We're also hopeful that Mr. Herrera, if confirmed, will bring a perspective to the board that reduces unnecessary regulatory burden, helps modernize the Federal Credit Union Act and limits the NCUA's mission to that of a safety and soundness regulator."
Safeguarding the Regulatory Environment
Jeff Olson, president and CEO of the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD), told Credit Union Journal that while he does not know Herrera personally, "having a full board that can continue safeguarding the credit union regulatory environment is certainly a positive."

Olson of CUAD also applauded the President for making the nomination. "I believe Mr. Herrera's work in a credit union-friendly state and, specifically, his experience on the North Carolina Credit Union Commission will mean credit unions will get a solid leader who will be fair and open to reasonable regulatory oversight."

Olson added that CUAD is currently reaching out to Senators in North and South Dakota for feedback on the confirmation.
Long List of Accomplishments
Herrera, who serves as the senior vice president for Latino/Hispanic affairs at Durham, N.C.-based Self-Help, a statewide Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI); is also a co-founder and board chairman of the $217 million-Latino Community Credit Union (LCCU), which is also based in Durham.

He also served on North Carolina's Credit Union Commission from 2003 to 2010.

Born in Costa Rica, Herrera is also the founder of El Pueblo Inc., a statewide Latino policy organization and a founding board member of El Centro Latino, a community-based organization. He is also a former alderman for the town of Carrboro, N.C., reportedly the first Hispanic immigrant elected to a North Carolina municipal office (in 2001).

Herrera is also no stranger to Obama, having been recognized by the White House 2013 as an "Immigrant Innovator Champion of Change." Herrera received a bachelor's degree from the University of Delaware and a graduate degree from North Carolina State University.
Making a Real Difference
Marc Schaefer, president and CEO of Truliant Federal Credit Union, a $2-billion institution based in Winston-Salem, N.C., told Credit Union Journal that he knows and has worked with the nominee.

Herrera's involvement in establishing and building the Latino Community Credit Union in concert with the credit union movement in North Carolina, Schaefer said, and his work at Self Help "will enhance the NCUA's ability to understand the challenges in providing affordable financial services to all consumers in our diverse communities across the U.S."

Schaefer also said he has respected and admired Herrera's "ability to work with others to make a real difference in our communities and in the lives of credit union members."
Strong Experience
Patrick Conway, president & CEO of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), also supported the nomination of Herrera. "On behalf of Pennsylvania's credit unions, I would like to congratulate Mr. Herrera on his nomination," Conway said in a statement. "It's encouraging to see the level of credit union experience and perspective that he will bring to the board upon his confirmation."
Incredible Opportunity
Miriam De Dios, CEO of Coopera, a Des Moines, Iowa-based firm that consults credit unions on reaching out to the burgeoning Hispanic population, told Credit Union Journal that anytime the leadership of an organization can evolve to better reflect the changing U.S. consumer landscape and become more multicultural, it's a positive. "Those of us working to enhance the Hispanic consumer experience inside the credit union movement have been encouraged to see some of the recent Hispanic consumer strategies the NCUA has executed," De Dios said. "Herrera's nomination is an incredible opportunity for the board to take its commitment to diversity and inclusion to even greater levels. As more credit unions look to enter or expand their footprints in the fast-growing and influential Hispanic marketplace, NCUA appreciation of this particular segment can only help."
Championing the Underserved
Cathie Mahon, the CEO of National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation), said Herrera's background in working with the underbanked and unbanked is of crucial importance. She characterized Herrera's nomination as a "tremendous step forward in the recognition of the role that credit unions are playing in bringing safe, affordable and responsible credit union products to diverse communities across the U.S."

Mahon told Credit Union Journal that Herrera's experience at the Self-Help and Latino Community credit unions will "raise the profile of credit unions serving low-income consumers and communities."

Mahon also noted that there are now an estimated 90 million unbanked and underbanked Americans. "Community development credit unions (CDCUs) and CDFI-certified credit unions serve these primarily low-income consumers with inclusive loans, savings and capability-building services, like financial counseling, with performance comparable to their mainstream peers," she added. "The Federation and our member CDCUs look forward to working with [Herrera] in keeping our system relevant and productive for all Americans."
A Passion to Serve
Brett Martinez, president & CEO of Redwood Credit Union, a $3-billion institution based in Santa Rosa, Calif., said it's great to have a credit union leader nominated to the NCUA board, especially someone who has been active and passionate about serving the underserved. "Because credit unions have a unique model and philosophy in the financial services landscape, having a board member with extensive credit union leadership experience and understanding will benefit credit unions," Martinez told Credit Union Journal.
A Deeper Look
Richard L. Ensweiler, president and CEO of Cornerstone Credit Union League (CCUL), said he has known Herrera for many years.

"He was not only a co-founder of the Latino Community Credit Union, he is also active nationally encouraging others to serve Latino communities across our country," Ensweiler told Credit Union Journal. "His talks on why and how to serve Latinos challenged many of us to take a deeper look and understand the opportunity that existed throughout the United States."

Ensweiler believes that given Herrera's "passion" for credit unions and how they can help people, especially those of modest means, he will be an "excellent addition" to the NCUA board "as he brings direct experience in community outreach and the development of special programs designed to help all types of members in his role at Self-Help Credit Union for the last 17 years."
Extensive CU Background
Jim Phelps, SVP-Advocacy at Cornerstone, described Herrera as a "welcome addition" to the NCUA board. "His extensive credit union background and passion for serving the underserved can benefit the entire credit union system," Phelps said.
Valuable Insight
Lucy Ito, president and CEO of National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS), also praised the nomination. "[Herrera] has [a] long and distinguished service [in] the credit union community, and has worked closely with local regulators in his role as a member of the North Carolina Credit Union Commission for seven years, getting a first-hand look at the impact of state regulation," Ito said in a statement. "As one who has organized a state-chartered credit union, he has inside knowledge of the challenges facing new credit unions — but also an appreciation for the opportunities that a state charter can present to a growing institution." Ito noted that NASCUS looks "forward to working with him."

In addition, Ito stated that regulators in North Carolina informed NASCUS that Herrera's seven years of service on the North Carolina Credit Union Commission provided him with state regulatory perspective that can "serve as a healthy reality check" as the NCUA board considers the potential impact of rule-making on credit union operations.

"We also understand that, given his leadership roles at both Self-Help Credit Union and Latino Community Credit Union, he understands state credit union system issues, but [also] has an understanding of the challenges faced by both state and federal charters," Ito stated. "That insight can be most valuable [to] the agency and its leadership, and credit unions generally."
A Keen Focus
Diana Dykstra, president and CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues (CCUL), told Credit Union Journal that her organization is "pleased" by Herrera's nomination, noting that Self Help CDFI is "keenly focused on serving a low- to moderate-income population, and it does this exceptionally well."

Dykstra emphasized that Herrera's background makes him an "excellent choice" for the NCUA board. "If he is confirmed, we would look forward to working with him as well as the entire board," she concluded.