Credit union staff from both Carolinas learned about the history of co-ops and credit unions, and immersed themselves in their differentiating principles at the 2015 Principles & Philosophy Conference. The event, which took place in Greenville, SC November 1-3, attracted 45 attendees from 22 credit unions and credit union organizations.
The conference, now in its sixth year, is produced by a volunteer group of Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) working in partnership with the Carolinas Credit Union League. A core group of 12 CUDEs worked together on this year’s conference, and made some programming changes and enhancements to the overall conference experience.
Participants kicked off the event with a memorable history segment featuring “credit union pioneers”. CUDEs dressed as historical figures and read a series of personal accounts of the pioneer’s actions in a first-person narrative. These engaging personal narratives included Alphonse Desjardins, Dora Maxwell, Edward Filene and Roy Bergengren among others.
The recap of the credit union history included visits by credit union “pioneers” Roy Bergengren (Terri Hendrix), Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch (Toni Davisson), Dora Maxwell (Deb McLean), Friedrich Rafeissen (Brandon Pugh) and Alphonse Desjardins (Jeff Hardin).
“Sometimes we can get caught up in the timeline aspect of the history and focus attention on the results our credit union pioneers delivered,” shared Jeff Hardin of the Carolinas Credit Union League. “Our purpose with the history narratives was to dwell on the motivations our credit union heroes had and the injustices they were trying to overcome. In this way, we hoped to humanize the pioneer’s stories and encourage the attendees to consider the impact they might be able to make.”
The conference continued with a deep dive into the Seven Cooperative Principles, and the attendees worked in small groups to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within each principle. One highlight included National Cooperative Business Association President/CEO Mike Beall doing a live Face Time presentation on the HR 1151 fight of nearly 20 years ago. Beall focused on the political context of the battle that re-shaped field of membership and Open & Voluntary Membership (Principle One) for credit unions.
The 45 attendees were broken up into smaller groups to allow for collaborative conversations about the principles. Each participant was encouraged to consider how they could take the message back home and use the principles as a springboard toward moving the cooperative and credit union movement forward.
“Overall we had a great, engaged group of professionals who were eager to learn more about the key differences that distinguish credit unions in the financial services marketplace,” said Hardin. “All the CUDEs in the Carolinas look forward to seeing the impact these professionals will have on our movement.”