Idaho Regulator Mary Hughes Honored by NASCUS with the 2019 Pierre Jay Award

As she prepares to receive her national honor, Hughes reflects on three decades of service to the financial services industry.

8/13/2019Quote Box for Mary Hughes

Mary Hughes shares a common trait with many effective leaders: humility.  

“I lucked into this career,” said Hughes, the Acting Director of the Idaho Department of Finance and the recipient of the prestigious 2019 Pierre Jay Award from the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS). “I wanted to work for the Attorney General’s Office to gain experience and the position that was open was with the Department of Finance.” 

The more likely truth may be that the agency lucked into landing Hughes. Her resume for service to financial institutions spans nearly 30 years. She joined the department in 1990 as a Deputy Attorney General, and since then has served as the department’s top legal counsel, Consumer Finance Bureau Chief, Financial Institutions Bureau Chief, Deputy Director, and Acting Director. The Department of Finance licenses and regulates 15 industries, including credit unions and banks, which protect $12.5 billion in assets, and the securities and non-depositories industries. 

Hughes’ leadership at Finance and her collaboration within NASCUS have defined her career protecting consumers’ financial assets, while working to protect the state charter system. 

“Working with NASCUS has been a highlight of my career,” Hughes said. “No matter what committee or task force I’ve been on, I’ve always gotten more than I’ve given. It’s been invaluable to work with colleagues from other states on select issues, benefit from their insights, and bring a broader point of view to Idaho.” 

Consumers, Hughes believes, benefit from competition.  

“Idaho consumers have seen more choice in products, at better pricing, because of competition, and some of that is due to the state charter options for credit unions.” 

Hughes’ fierce advocacy for the state charter system is why she won the Pierre Jay Award this year, which recognizes individuals “whose contributions have benefited the state credit union system in a signification way,” according to NASCUS. She will receive the honor at the NASCUS State Summit in San Francisco Aug. 13-16. 

“Mary is highly regarded in the financial services sector, nationwide, for good reason,” said Ryan Fitzgerald, the Northwest Credit Union Association’s Vice President, Legislative Affairs for Idaho. “In order to keep the state charter system modern and relevant, Mary has negotiated with the National Credit Union Administration as well as with state and federal legislators to bring some of the federal charter attributes to our state-chartered credit unions, while also preventing federal rulemaking from interfering with states’ authorities.” 

That might be the hardest part of the job, but it doesn’t faze Hughes. 

“While a member of the NASCUS Board, I met with NCUA Board Members to discuss concerns about encroachment on state authority,” Hughes noted. We have voiced our opinions on other matters when we thought it necessary to protect state credit unions, for example, we submitted two comment letters on the methodology and application of the Overhead Transfer Rate to state-chartered credit unions. We have met with members of Idaho’s Congressional delegation to promote issues to benefit the state credit union system, for example, a requirement that one member of the NCUA Board have state supervisory experience 

While regulators from the 45 state governmental agencies engaged with NASCUS are united in their conviction that a choice of charters is important, they occasionally differ on some priorities.  

“But,” Hughes said, “through the debates, often the best results emerge.” 

Editor’s note: Next week, Anthem will feature a Q & A with Hughes in which she discussed credit unions’ greatest advancements, and what the ideal credit union of the future may look like.