The President's Perspective
by Jeff Olson

Summit greetings from Sioux Falls!

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with many of you this week during our 14th annual Summit meetings which kick off today at the Denny Sanford Premier Convention Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  

The annual Summit is our biggest educational and networking conference each year. As I’ve often said, the need to meet in person again is a strong one, and we are moving forward in the same pioneer spirit that Dakotans are so well known for.

As you know, the 2020 annual meeting is the culmination of planning that began back in late 2018. Yes, more than 18 months of planning is put into this event. If you recall, when the pandemic was just beginning, our board and staff made the decision to move the entire meeting from May to October. As you can imagine, this was no easy task. Then, in August, the board decided to move forward with an abbreviated in-person event. Once that decision was made, we reworked most everything into one condensed day that includes keynote speakers, several breakout sessions, the annual business meeting, and our awards and recognition banquet.

Official business actually begins this morning, as the current association’s board of directors meets one final time before our annual business meeting on Tuesday afternoon. Elections will be held during that official meeting, as there is one board seat being contested this year: SD DIVISION B.

We are very pleased to have two qualified credit union professionals running for this seat. It has been established that there will be a quorum allowing the election to take place.

Keith Robbennolt has been the President/CEO of Sentinel FCU (Box Elder, SD) since 2018. He is a South Dakota native, who holds degrees in both Business Administration and Marketing. Prior to joining the credit union movement, Keith worked in the banking world for nearly 20 years in positions ranging from teller to senior vice president of production/branch operations. You can learn more about Keith from this CEO Spotlight piece from May of 2018.

Dawn VanAsh has been involved with credit unions for more than 30 years. Starting as a teller, she was promoted to several roles including loan officer and assistant manager, prior to becoming CEO of Oahe FCU (Pierre, SD). A South Dakota native, she is a graduate of CUNA management School. Her previous work experience included retail sales and working for the State of South Dakota. You can learn more about Dawn from this CEO Spotlight from April 2017.


Summit activities.

Later today, we will head out to the Elmwood Golf Course for our annual Summit Golf Scramble. If the weather forecast is correct, a near-perfect Dakota day awaits the 50 or so golfers that signed up in advance. Then, it’s back to the Convention Center for the Vendor Social.

Tomorrow morning, we begin our general sessions and once again, the association team has put together a terrific leadership and educational event featuring national and regional speakers and presenters.  We have also added several industry-specific breakout sessions that are designed for credit union professionals, emerging leaders, and volunteers.

I am especially excited to meet Joe Schmit, our featured keynote, as I have been listening and following him since my college days at Bemidji State. He is an award-winning broadcaster and community leader who will talk about “Impact Leadership – Influence through purpose, persistence, and passion.”

We also have Shawna Suckow, a world-known speaker/author who will definitely appeal to everyone who deals with marketing issues and challenges specific to credit unions. Breakout sessions will center upon topics including collections, HR issues and managing time off, and embracing the change post-pandemic. These are all timely and pressing issues of today.

While this year’s events will be held under the cloak of a pandemic and will certainly look different than previous years, we truly believe that we can mitigate the risks while each attendee takes precautions to protect ourselves and others. We are providing “Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union” protective face masks and hand sanitizer at the registration table, and our seating will allow for social distancing.

Last but not least: We plan to share a major announcement with our Summit attendees early tomorrow morning! This news will be made public in a special Summit Memo announcement tomorrow morning from our communications team so you can be part of the exciting news. Be on the lookout!

I wish you could all be here with us for this extraordinary event, but you can still participate by following the Memo, as well as our Facebook and Twitter platforms this week.   

Have a great week!




<< Go to Memo List