Director Spotlight: Frank Chinn Brings the Boardroom’s Perspective to Advocacy

Unitus Community Credit Union’s Board Chair shares three helpful hints for meaningful conversations with legislators.

12/10/2019

Frank Chinn, center, on the scene during Oregon Credit Union Day at the Capitol in 2019.

Like many who serve on credit union boards, Frank Chinn is on fire about credit unions. He’s passionate about the benefits of membership, he’s optimistic about credit unions’ potential to tackle social issues, and he’s not afraid to share his pro-credit union message with anyone – including legislators.

As Chair of the Board for Portland-based Unitus Community Credit Union, Chinn had attended many legislative meetings and Credit Union National Association Government Affairs Conferences. But as he puts it, “I was wallpaper in the background.”

Then, two things lit a fire for him. First, his CEO, Steven Stapp, is Chair of the World Council of Credit Unions Board of Directors. As he saw more of Stapp’s work, he experienced credit unions’ global impact. Then, Chinn saw the possibilities of the Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union national campaign to raise credit union awareness. He was one of the first credit union board chairs to endorse the campaign, and the support he received helped him realize how important directors’ voices are in the Credit Union Movement.

Legislators, he says, will lean into board members’ messages about credit unions.

“I think often legislators know who the people are in the room who are employees,” Chinn said. “When you get board members in the conversation, elected officials really listen. They think, this must really be important to these board members, and they take into consideration how many members on Main Street every director represents.”

What’s his “elevator speech?” That’s easy.

“Credit unions were established to help their communities,” Chinn said. “We fill a gap in providing services and doing things banks don’t do. The motivating factor for credit unions isn’t profit. Ours is how to give back to the community, to our members, and how we best serve them.”

Chinn has some helpful hints for any director sitting on the sidelines. It boils down to three simple points:

  1. Educate yourself and educate your fellow board members. Find out what issues are threats or opportunities for credit unions.
  2. Find your passion. Where do you want to make a difference?
  3. Just do it! Put yourself as a director out there, and don’t be afraid to share the message.

“You’re moving the needle, you’re moving the rock, and you’re moving the industry,” Chinn said, when you advocate from a director’s perspective.