Five Northwest Credit Union Pros Earn Coveted ‘Development Educator’ Designation

Five credit union professionals from the Northwest have completed a week of rigorous training to earn the distinction as official Credit Union Development Educators.

The training, sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), was held April 18-25 on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, Wis.

Earning the title of Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE) are Steve Pagenstecher of Valley Credit Union, Teresa Shively of Gesa Credit Union, Sasha Kemble of Verity Credit Union, Mitzi Smith of Maps Credit Union, and Josh Bergman of Washington State Employees Credit Union.

The training stresses the cooperative role of credit unions and the importance of young professionals becoming leaders in putting the cooperative model to work in their own communities.

“Development Educator (DE) training provides critical lessons in cooperative principles and credit union philosophy while incorporating challenges credit unions face today,” said Lois Kitsch, DE facilitator and national program director for the NCUF.

The training program included critical issues, such as member business lending (MBL), mergers and small credit union-specific issues.

“I was really struck by the passion for the movement that was displayed by all of my classmates,” Shively said. “My biggest takeaway was that we need to partner more with organizations in our own communities, such as Junior Achievement and programs related to financial education.”

“We visited a number of other cooperatives and really got to see how others strive to apply the same principles for the good of their members,” Kemble said. “I visited with a taxicab company that is a cooperative with all of their members as owners. It was really inspiring.”

Participants also took part in “secret shopping,” where they observed from the customers’ perspective other financial institutions in action. One example included a visit to a payday lender, where Shively noticed large lines of people looking for short-term loans.

“Clearly there is a need there,” she said, “and we need to see how we can better serve that population.”

The title of Credit Union Development Educator has been earned by only 1,000 credit union professionals over the past 30 years. Pagenstecher summed up the experience for all.

“It was really a wake-up call to remind ourselves what credit unions were originally supposed to be and to rededicate ourselves to those principles,” Pagenstecher said. “It was like drinking the credit union Kool-Aid all over again, and I have to tell you, I left invigorated and inspired.”


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Posted in Awards.