Upcoming Leveraging the Credit Union Difference Workshop Aims to Inspire CU Professionals


Participants discuss credit union philosophy and history in small groups at last year’s retreat.

Complete with s’mores and deer sightings, the upcoming Leveraging the Credit Union Difference Workshop is far from your typical professional development workshop. During the immersive workshop, credit union professionals gain a better understanding of how, as not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions are uniquely poised to make impacts on the communities they serve.

Set in the remote IslandWood retreat center on Bainbridge Island, Wash., from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, the hands-on training is designed to help credit union professionals unplug from the daily grind and connect with the credit union difference.

For Heidi Wesley-Cleveland, Chief Marketing Officer at Verity Credit Union, attending last year’s workshop was more than informative – it was truly a lightbulb moment.

“Even after years in the credit union and banking industry, the workshop opened my eyes to so many issues that our members face every day. It was by far the most inspiring workshop I have attended in my career and gave me a clear direction. It was amazing,” she said.

For years, this workshop has been a dream for Debbie Wege, Cooperative Community Advocate at BECU and a passionate Development Educator (DE). Wege became a certified Credit Union Development Educator through the National Credit Union Foundation in 1993 and has earned her Caribbean CUDE and International CUDE designations.

“It has been so rewarding to have had such a great response to this workshop, which we finally brought to the Northwest last year,” said Wege. “It’s a truly impactful program that takes a deep dive into our framework as credit unions and helps us see ourselves as change agents.”

Facilitators Lois Kitsch and Debbie Wege lead a group discussion about credit union pioneers.

At last year’s workshop, facilitators Lois Kitsch and Debbie Wege led the group in a discussion of credit union pioneers.

The workshop will give attendees a taste of the full Development Educator experience and introduce them to a strong network of credit union professionals they can contact for ideas and advice.

“This workshop is a chance to to focus on what we can do to make credit unions stronger through our competitive advantage. It gives credit union professionals the opportunity to reignite — or ignite for the first time — a real passion for what they’re part of. It gets people excited; gets them feeling a stronger connection to the Credit Union Movement.”

The workshop is open to anyone, regardless of their level of experience in the industry, who wants to renew their focus on what it means to be part of the credit union community.

Scott Butterfield, credit union consultant, Strategic Link partner, and Credit Union Development Educator, echoed the value of learning more about the purpose behind credit unions.

“I believe there has never been a better time for credit unions to refocus and double down on our philosophy of social justice,” he said. “I’m continually inspired by those credit union leaders among us that so fully encompass where our movement started, working together to find ways to reach and help advance the overlooked and underserved among us.”

Those who will find the workshop especially beneficial include professionals who are just entering the industry from the for-profit sector to young professionals in the process of building careers in the world of cooperative banking. Seasoned credit union professionals will also find value in taking dedicated time away from the office to better understand the important role of credit unions in our members’ lives.

“Along with Lois Kitsch and Mark Lynch from CUDifference and local DEs, we have a passion for tapping into what solutions are possible given the challenges credit unions face today,” said Wege. “And we are thrilled that 100 percent of those who attended last year said they would recommend this to others!  We look forward to working with those who attend this year, and once again provide a space for credit union people to gain a real sense of what their members need and work together to maximize the potential for credit unions to create real change in the world.”

Space for the Leveraging the Credit Union Difference workshop is limited, so sign up early. Click here to register and learn more. Questions? Contact Carmen Vigil, NWCUA Director of Cooperative Momentum, at cvigil@nwcua.org or 206.340.4817.

Posted in Article Post.