CUAD Gaining Attention for Summit!
by Frank J. Diekmann
Cooperator in Chief at

Editor’s note: As CUAD President/CEO Jeff Olson wrote in his President’s Perspective on Monday, moving forward with an in-person meeting with our Summit this fall has brought a bit of attention to your association. So far, we are the only league that will be holding such a meeting since the pandemic became our “new normal.”

Frank Diekmann of CUToday contacted Olson for an interview last week, and published this article on Wednesday. We wanted to share this with you, as it is timely and important – and also quite readable with an understated humor. You can read directly from the CUToday website here, or for your convenience, the article is reprinted below in its entirety. Enjoy!


If you just can’t stand the idea of one more Zoom meeting in 2020 and are really longing for an old-fashioned face-to-face credit union conference, get yourself to Sioux Falls, S.D. in early October.

That’s when the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas will be hosting its annual Summit at the Denny Sanford Premier Convention Center. Yes, inside a convention center. And that’s not all. The attendees will also be staying in an actual hotel. For those of you for whom hotels are just a foggy memory at this point, in this case it’s called a Sheraton. You can Google it.

At a time when the coronavirus pandemic has publishing several announcements per week of formerly in-person events going virtual, the CUAD will be holding what may be the only live event in the people-helping-people industry with people.

“There has been some debate” over whether to hold the CUAD Summit, acknowledged Jeff Olson, president/CEO of the association. But plans are moving full speed ahead now.

The Summit is typically held in May—with the word “typically” joining “uncharted” and “unprecedented” in the Frequency of Usage Hall of Fame in 2020 – but it was pushed back to the fall, when the CUAD also holds another event each year. 

As Olson explained, in the spring when the CUAD bumped the meeting back it joined just about every other group in just assuming the pandemic would be largely under control later in the year. Olson noted the CUAD shares a meeting planner with state leagues in Montana and Minnesota, and at the time both of those groups felt the same way.  We all know how that has turned out.

Except in the Dakotas.

‘Enthusiasm to Proceed’

“Our board decided to move forward,” said Olson. “We had a charity event in Sioux Falls in late June and we had a great turnout. We canvassed everyone there and they said they can’t wait to meet again. That gave us the enthusiasm to proceed. Someone has to take the leap, someone has to walk the plank. Someone has to go first.”

Playing a role in helping the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas to go first is the fact there has never really been a lockdown in North or South Dakota as there has been in other states. Olson noted the CUAD’s offices—it has two—were only closed for a week earlier this year. Similarly, many credit unions also shut down their branches for a short period of time. 

As the recent motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D. made loud and clear—get it?!—the states have largely remained open for business, although there has recently been a spike in coronavirus cases in South Dakota.

Custom Face Masks

“We have been monitoring the risk,” said Olson. “It’s the same as going to the grocery store and going to the gym.  People are out and about and have been since March.”

But that isn’t to say the CUAD Summit will take place as if COVID-19 never reached the country. Attendees will be offered protective face masks—imprinted with the Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union message—and the meeting will be shorter than it usually is. 

“People are going to have to take a little more responsibility,” said Olson. “We may not see some of the socializing we have seen in the past. There will be sanitary stations. Instead of 6-8 people at a table, we may have two.”

Olson said the CUAD is expecting approximately one-third of the 200 people the meeting normally attends. It is also expecting approximately half of the 35-40 vendors that normally fill the trade show.

He said a sufficient number of people will be on hand for a quorum and for the Association Annual Meeting and board elections. The meeting will also include an awards banquet and recognition ceremony, and two Hall of Fame inductees will be announced.

A charitable golf outing at Elmwood Golf Course amid the fall foliage is also on the agenda.

Bending Over Backward

On the plus side, Olson said the Sioux Falls convention center is a large facility, allowing for plenty of social distancing. “And the convention center and the hotels have been bending over backwards to get us to hold the meeting,” he said.

Olson said there has been a “little bit of pushback, but not too bad,” after the CUAD announced it would be moving forward with the meeting. “The attitude in both states is not too bad. To those people, we say we understand you have to make a choice.”

If your choice is to be at an in-person event with other CU folks, the dates are Oct. 5-6.

Frank J. Diekmann is Cooperator in Chief at and can be reached at Diekmann is also author of 501 Name Tags: How Everything You Need to Learn About Business can be Learned at a Conference & Forgotten in the Trade Show. For info:


<< Go to Memo List