|Blue Flame CU President/CEO Ben Hill says he has most enjoyed helping members during his 37 year credit union career. Hill is retiring from Blue Flame at the end of June.
Blue Flame Credit Union President/CEO Ben Hill's parents weren't very surprised when he decided to major in business and finance at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "I had been interested in money and finance since I was a little kid, so it only made sense that I would want to learn about that I suppose."
After graduating from UNC-CH, Hill got a job at a bank and quickly found that a second life passion was not being fulfilled. He left the bank after six months and spent the next two years repossessing cars and mobile homes, and learning that "I'm not an engineer" as he put it.
Everything started to change when Hill was able to line up his love for finance with his other passion - helping people. "I ended up getting a job at State Employees' Credit Union," Hill says.
Thirty seven years later, Hill says, "I got to do what I know and what I love. How much more blessed can you be than that?" Noting that he wants to spend more time with his wife and family, Hill has decided to retire from the $37 million Blue Flame at the end of June.
Hill has been a strong advocate for credit unions and has regularly attended events such as the CUNA GAC. He says such events energize him since he gets to meet with people who are also deeply committed to helping people. "I feel right at home at GAC," Hill says, "because it reminds you of all the good things about credit unions. Credit union people are good people - it recharges your batteries being here."
Hill's love of finance led him to pursue an MBA degree from Duke University. All the while, he has remained active and engaged in the credit union movement in a variety of roles.
Hill is a past chairman of the NCCUL Board of Directors who has been on the League board for 11 years. In addition, Hill is a past President of the NC CUES Council, and served on the NC Credit Union Commission as well. He has also been very involved with the Piedmont Chapter through the years and has served on the board for about 20 years. Hill has also served on the Governmental Affairs, Finance, Bylaws and Nominating Committees of the League board, as well as a CUPAC trustee.
As a veteran of the credit union movement, Hill sees great value in being involved politically. "It used to be that I only spent about an hour a month on regulations and compliance, but now regulations seem to be about all that I get to do. So coming here is important because we have to keep fighting for our members. We run credit unions for members, not regulators."
"When it comes to advocating for credit unions," Dan Schline notes, "Ben is always one who leads by example." Schline, the League's SVP of Association Services, has witnessed Hill's political involvement for more than 15 years. "He appreciates the importance of building relationships with lawmakers and has consistently been willing to tell the story of credit unions."
As Hill reflects on his career, he is grateful to the board at Blue Flame for their help and support through the years. "They've been great about giving me the time and resources to serve on things like the League board and come to conferences like GAC. They've been so supportive and I really appreciate that."
Hill has no firm plans other than to spend more time with his family and continue to do what he can to help people. He traveled to Mexico for a credit union immersion trip several years ago, and hints that he would like to be involved in a similar effort going forward. "Ben touched people's lives through his service at the credit union and other projects such as immersion trip in Mexico," notes NCCUL President/CEO John Radebaugh. "We wish him all the best in retirement and hope that he will stay involved with credit unions."
Hill does plan to stay connected in some way. "I'd still like to serve in some capacity. Maybe teaching at the local community college or doing something with credit unions in the future."