CUNA Board Director Jim Morrell Shares Key Updates from Q1 Board Meeting

Editor’s note: This past February, long-time Northwest advocate and President and CEO of Peninsula Credit Union Jim Morrell took his seat on the CUNA Board of Directors. Below, Morrell shares a brief recap of CUNA’s first board meeting of 2022 as part of a commitment to keep Northwest credit unions informed and engaged on current and upcoming national priorities.

The CUNA Board meets once a quarter. Our first quarter meeting was held during the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, D.C. While many topics were covered, three subjects stood out for me. These are areas that highlight our collective power as an industry around three current, relevant priorities.

How CUNA is Continuing the DEI Conversation on a National Level

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is the 8th Cooperative Operating Principle adopted by the CUNA Board. Advocacy continues to tell our DEI story to Congress and other relevant coalition partners.

Amplifying this great work, we wrote to several entities about ways credit unions are championing the DEI effort in their communities, including to the:

  • Senate Banking Committee regarding a hearing titled, “Exploring How Community Development Financial Institutions Support Underserved ”
  • S. House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) Diversity and Inclusion Subcommittee highlighting how credit unions are well-positioned to advance financial inclusion for minority and women-owned businesses.
  • Senate Banking Committee on a hearing titled, “The Role that Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions Serve in Supporting Communities.”
  • HCFS, for a hearing for the record, “An Unprecedented Investment for Historic Results: How Federal Support for MDIs and CDFIs Have Launched a New Era for Disadvantaged Communities.”
  • HCFS Consumer Protection Subcommittee regarding a hearing titled “Small Businesses, Big Impact: Ensuring Small and Minority-Owned Businesses Share in the Economic ”

Leaders in Congress recognize that credit unions play an essential role in fostering financial inclusion. The CUNA/League System continues to advocate for the advancement of the Expanding Financial Services for Underserved Communities Act.

DEI was a key topic during two breakout sessions at the 2022 CUNA GAC, and CUNA has put together an Issues Brief titled, “Credit Unions Enthusiastically Embracing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Results from CUNA’s Annual Member Survey.” CUNA Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Samira Salem, summarized some highlights:

  • Since the CUNA boards’ 2019 adoption of DEI as a cooperative principle, the percentage of credit unions focused on diversity, equity and inclusion jumped by 23%.
  • There are now 60% of credit unions intentionally focused on DEI (i.e. they are either planning DEI efforts or actively working to promote DEI and create more robust practices) up from 37% in 2019.

Credit Unions’ Support for Ukraine

During the CUNA GAC, we were addressed by one of the most impassioned speeches I have ever heard from the Ambassador of Ukraine to the USA, Oksana Markarova.

In a follow-up letter to Jim Nussle, CEO of CUNA, she shared this: “I kindly ask you all to show continued great leadership in recognizing that not only is there a substantial risk for your investments and economic security, but also a moral imperative to do your part.”

Subsequently, in March, the CUNA Board passed a “Resolution in Support of Ukraine” that we will remain united with Ukrainian credit unions, support WOCCU and the Worldwide Foundation (WFCU), and continue to work to ensure access to not-for-profit financial cooperatives for the Ukrainian people through the conflict and eventual rebuilding and recovery.

There have been amazing examples of credit unions in Oregon coming together and many others in Idaho and Washington, as well, that have contributed funds to support the humanitarian efforts of our sister credit unions in Ukraine. You may still do so through the WFCU’s Ukrainian Displacement Fund.

On April 27, I received the following update from WCFU on these efforts:

  • The Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund is being deployed between Ukraine’s credit union system for short-term relief efforts and long-term rebuilding. WFCU is currently focused on the most urgent needs of Ukraine’s credit unions and their displaced members.
  • Simultaneously, WFCU has convened a task force, comprised of leadership from Ukraine’s two national associations, Ukrainian diaspora credit unions in the U.S. and Canada, and other international credit union partners adjacent to Ukraine and/or committed to its resilience. This group’s focus is to collaborate on the creation of a reconstruction plan for Ukraine’s credit union system, long-term.
  • $50,000 has been allocated to humanitarian work in Ukraine via PARD (Podolsk Regional Development Agency), supporting the purchase and distribution of food, medical supplies, appliances, and other items needed by displaced citizens coming from Eastern Ukraine.
  • $200,000 is being earmarked in support of continued agri-lending and producing of Ukraine credit union farmers.
    • Half of this amount is being deployed to execute a fuel coupon initiative, which allows credit unions to distribute fuel coupons to members on a first-come, first-served basis. Fuel is in short supply and will allow member farmers to harvest their crops during the current growing season.
    • The other $100,000 will aid in agri-loan reimbursements to member farmers who are challenged in paying back the principal amount of their loan. Both schemes support the growing food security crisis within Ukraine, which extends to food scarcity issues worldwide.

Upcoming Initiatives

The 2022 I Love My Credit Union Campaign will take place again in July. Launched by the Illinois Credit Union League, the social media campaign calls on the Credit Union Movement to come together on a single day to inspire authentic and high-energy conversation about why we love credit unions. The 2022 social media blitz will be held on July 29 with the hashtag #ILoveMyCreditUnion.

All credit unions have access to a collection of free tools, such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn graphics, messaging templates, logo formats, and other design tools, to make participation as easy as possible. For more information and resources about #ILoveMyCreditUnion, visit the campaign online.

Stay tuned for more CUNA Board updates from Morrell later this year.

Posted in Leadership.