The President's Perspective
by Jeff Olson


Let me begin our 2020 President’s Perspective kickoff edition by wishing you all a Happy New Year! I sincerely hope you all have a bright new year filled with many blessings, good health, and a lot of success. This marks my 12th year at the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas (CUAD), and I am truly blessed with the opportunity to work in the credit union movement on your behalf.

“Far and away, the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Without your continued support, we simply wouldn’t be able to provide you the service, support, and leadership necessary to promote and maintain a strong and favorable credit union environment throughout the Dakotas. It is an honor and privilege to lead your Association, and I am thankful for the opportunity to be your partner.

In the rearview mirror: A 2019 recap by the numbers.

As we head into a new year, I wanted to provide you with a little snapshot of what we accomplished in 2019. We have much to be proud of!

In the area of compliance, we provided support and resources on 553 compliance calls; provided in-person BSA training for 351 members; held quarterly compliance conference calls for 108 members; wrote and published 82 compliance articles in the Memo; and we submitted 14 federal comment letters.

In the area of education and networking, CUAD hosted 12 education/networking events in 12 different locations with over 600 attendees participating. We also offered 126 webinars that brought in 228 attendees.

Our 9 active chapters hosted 45 meetings/socials events last year and nearly 1,500 credit union professionals came to learn and share.

Our communications continue to reach more and more members, as well as consumers each year. The Memo produced 894 unique stories in 2019 with nearly 1,400 daily subscribers. We have grown to 767 Facebook followers, up 263 from the previous year, and have 347 Twitter followers.

We also issued 33 individual press releases, which resulted in 51 unique stories in national credit union trade publications (27) and in local news publications (24) across the Dakotas.

Our charitable Credit Union Foundation of the Dakotas (CUFD) hosted four events and raised a record $36,411 in funds in 2019. The Foundation paid it forward, awarding $16,500 in scholarships, grants and disaster relief aid to our members and communities.

During the first quarter of 2019, your CUAD advocacy team was busy and engaged in both state and federal issues impacting ALL credit unions. In Bismarck and Pierre, CUAD advocates testified 18 times at 16 hearings in both state capitols. Our biggest win this February was in Pierre, with the passing of SB 37. This bill modernized the Multiple Employer Health Trust Statutes in the state.

In North Dakota, we had a direct impact on financial exploitation legislation, providing crucial testimony that led to amendments in a bill that will help financial institutions protect members. We also protected our lien priority on damaged and abandoned vehicles. And, we successfully advocated for the Department of Financial Institution’s funding to previous biennium levels, which was under direct threat and would have a negative impact during NCUA exams for some state-chartered credit unions.

On the federal level, we conducted and led 24 meetings with our elected representatives in Washington D.C. and participated in several more in-district meetings back in the Dakotas. Our CUPAC/CULAC political fundraising efforts also continue to help us remain relevant. Cumulatively, we raised just over $73,000 last year.  

Finally, on a more personal note, we officially said goodbye to several of our longtime credit union leaders. Let’s give one last salute to Darla Erb (Voyage FCU), Janice Katin (Affinity First FCU), and Mechelle Johnson (East River FCU), who retired as CEOs last year. We will certainly miss them.

Working for you.

There is a lot of geography to cover here in the Dakotas, and hitting the road on behalf of the movement is what we do year-in and year-out. CUAD has continued to review and expand our member value-added offerings while further streamlining our operations, thus building on dues-supported benefits for our members. We will continue working hard, providing value and increasing our relevance to credit unions of all sizes. 

Exciting new dues-supported solution to help you meet CU challenges.

And now, I am thrilled to announce that an exciting new resource will also be available to all member credit unions starting January 13th, 2020. This dues-supported platform is a go-to online destination for compliance information. It offers immediate access to current topics covering 15 major compliance areas with links to applicable laws, regulations, resources and frequently asked questions. Watch for more information to be revealed soon in the Memo.

South Dakota Credit Union Legislative Day coming soon!  

I am looking forward to seeing many of you for our annual South Dakota Legislative Credit Union Day in Pierre on January 29. On this day, we will Hike the Hill, hold a CEO Dialogue, and host our popular Legislative Social. This event is free, but please be sure to register here. It’s not too late to provide a topic for the leadership forum, please send your suggestions to Debbie Kruckenberg.  

MonDak Volunteer and CEO Roundtable filling up.

Who doesn’t want to get out of the Dakota cold for a few days? Now is the time to make your plans to join us for our fourth annual MonDak Roundtable February 11 – 12 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. This high-level educational opportunity is exclusively for CEOs and volunteer board members. We have also scheduled industry specific pre-conference sessions that are simply too good to miss! Be sure to check out the related Memo story today for important reservation deadline information, as well as some flight information we gathered just this morning. Have a great week!


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