More than 40 credit union staff from NC and elsewhere gathered in Winston-Salem October 23-25 for the third annual Principles & Philosophy Conference. The conference provides credit union employees a comprehensive look at the history of the credit union movement and the principles that make them different from banks.
|Pictured (from left): conference facilitators Larry Blanchard & Lois Kitsch, and conference planning committee members Amy Gravitte & Ashley Ruffin.
“Credit unions have a proud history of serving members and like all cooperatives, a unique business model that stresses people over profits,” said Ashley Ruffin of Local Government FCU, who chaired the volunteer committee of credit union staff that planned & hosted the conference. Ruffin noted that while most credit union “lifers” know and live by the cooperative principles, “there has been a huge influx of new credit union talent that can benefit by understanding how and why cooperatives are different.”
Lois Kitsch of the National Credit Union Foundation and Larry Blanchard of CUNA Mutual Group facilitated the event held at the Graylyn Conference Center. Blanchard & Kitsch presented a thorough picture of the growth and evolution of the cooperative and credit union movements, and shared the nine operating principles that underpin the cooperative business model. These nine principles are organized in three key areas – Democratic Structure, Service to Members and Social Goals – and serve to differentiate cooperatives from other business models. The nine principles include:
- Open and voluntary membership
- Democratic control
Service to Members
- Distribution to members
- Building financial stability
- Service to members
- Ongoing education
- Cooperation among cooperatives
- Social responsibility
Attendees were paired into table groups and engaged one another in a series of discussions and assignments aimed at integrating the cooperative principles more fully in their work. The participants also received tips on how they could share the cooperative principles at their credit union, and ensure that fellow staff members were aware of their value.
Prior to the cooperative principles work, Brandon McAdams and Patrick Livingston of Coastal FCU provided an in-depth look at the history of the cooperative and credit union movements in the US and world. Jeff Hardin of the NC Credit Union League shared a timeline of the development and spread of credit unions in NC, and Vicki Parker of the Support Center provided the history of the African American CU movement in NC.
“The League is committed to ensuring that the principles that make credit unions unique will continue to light the road ahead,” said NCCUL President/CEO John Radebaugh. The conference was planned and hosted by a volunteer committee of Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs). “We are deeply grateful to the CUDEs for their hard work in making this conference such a remarkable success. Each of these volunteers is a terrific reflection of the people helping people philosophy of credit unions.”
“It was by far the best conference I have attended,” said Amie Hawley of Summit CU. “The conference changed the way I look at my job and my role in not just the credit union, but the movement.”