Credit union staff from NC, Virginia, Tennessee and SC gathered in Winston-Salem this week for the Principles & Philosophy Conference. The conference provides credit union employees with a deep dive into the history of the credit union movement and the principles that differentiate them from banks.
Now in its fourth year, the Principles & Philosophy Conference educates staff who may not be familiar with the cooperative principles. "A new wave of talent is coming into the movement, so it is important for staff have a clear understanding of how and why cooperatives are different,” noted Jeff Hardin of the NC Credit Union League. Conference facilitator Larry Blanchard of CUNA Mutual Group summed up this thought nicely by noting, "When you don't know where you've come from, any road will get you where you're going."
Blanchard was joined by Lois Kitsch of the National Credit Union Foundation in facilitating the event 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 divided into seven groups and engaged one another in a series of discussions and assignments aimed at integrating the cooperative principles more fully into 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, Amy Gravitte (Coastal FCU) and Ashley Ruffin (Local Government 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 also shared the events and personalities that keyed the development of credit unions in NC, including the founding of the Piedmont Credit Union (Landis, NC), the first African American CU in the United States (1918).
“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.”