Tapping into the Source: Where the NJCUL Director and Volunteer Conference Came From
in League Initiatives
By: David Frankil, NJCUL President/CEO

It’s safe to say that it has been years—maybe even a decade or two—since the League hosted its own Directors Conference.

Sure, we’ve had the NJDNA meetings for a while, but compared to an in-depth conference, they are limited in scope and scale, and the format really doesn’t permit us to dig deeper into the issues facing our Directors and credit unions. There is certainly no lack of Director-focused conferences around the country that can fill this void, but they lack a local orientation—not to mention the expense and hassle of travel to expensive locations.

Seeing a need but wanting feedback before we took the plunge, we asked a group of our most active Directors to help us assess whether we needed a Conference here in New Jersey, and if so, what it should focus on. The group, which we named the conference steering committee, included:

  • Paul Camella – Pinnacle FCU
  • Peter Carpena – Pinnacle FCU
  • Gary Chizmadia – Credit Union of New Jersey
  • Pam Elliott – Lakehurst Naval FCU
  • Larry Rosenthal – Hamilton Horizons FCU
  • Walt Tanalski – Manville Area FCU
  • Anita Whalen – Atlantic Health FCU

We posed two questions to start, and here is what they told us…

  • There are plenty of Director’s Conferences around the country – do we really need a local, NJ-only event?
    • Yes - because we live here. We have a different economic climate than the rest of the country.  We are the highest taxed state in the union and at the same time are trying to convince people that a credit union is the best and safest place to entrust some of their wealth.
    • It would let us truly focus on local issues and solutions – no national conference will ever include discussion on topics like taxi medallions, or how NCUA is dealing with our issues in our State.
    • It would allow us to meet and get to know fellow NJ directors in a peer-to-peer format.
    • We have Directors that have wanted to go to some of those other conferences, but we couldn’t send them because they were too expensive. A local conference would alleviate travel/expense concerns.
    • A local event allows for timely updates on the issues we’re facing today.
    • It would demonstrate that the League understands the needs of volunteers and supports them.
  • Is it important for Directors from different credit unions to meet in-person?
    • Many of our Directors work in isolation, and we are all facing many of the same issues. This would help New Jersey Directors be the best representative for their members.
    • It would allo us to:
      • Share knowledge of issues/solutions related to NJ CUs.
      • Realize we all have many of the same concerns whether large or small.
      • Get to know other Directors personally, and see who you are actually talking to.
      • See the passion Directors have for their members.
      • Learn, to dig into the details of what the other person did.  To hear and see the emotions of that person on the topic under discussion.

We then turned to the question of content:  What topics would you as Directors see as compelling and relevant? We heard a few common themes:

    • Leadership – help us be better leaders for our credit union
    • Focus on our common issues and help us solve them
    • Provide ample opportunity for small group discussions, interaction and networking
    • Help us look over the horizon – how is the environment for credit unions changing: economic, political, regulatory, etc.
    • Best practices – from how to grant loans, to where we invest excess funds, to maintaining reasonable liquidity, to the number of employees we have doing the daily business, to fraud prevention.

Following on this input, we’re proud to announce the 2018 NJCUL Director and Volunteer Conference, starting Friday evening May 4 with a reception and running through Saturday, May 5, at the Chauncey Conference Center in Princeton, NJ. Check out the line-up of speakers and topics:

    • Chris Dawe – Chris is a nationally recognized credit union turn-around expert who works with NCUA and State regulators, and who is currently working with a New Jersey credit union. Chris will focus on a topic that too many New Jersey credit unions have faced or will face – navigating through difficult financial times.
    • Ryotaro Tashiro – A specialist at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve focused on the region, Ryotaro will provide a detailed review of national and regional economic conditions, monetary policy, and the role of the Federal Reserve in the economy, with a special focus on New Jersey.
    • Bob Fouratt – NCUA requires Boards to receive financial literacy training. Bob has been providing accounting, auditing, and consulting services to credit unions for over 35 years, and will present content that will not just satisfy the NCUA requirement, but help attendees apply the knowledge to their Board responsibilities.
    • Scott Butterfield – A trusted advisor to credit unions across the country, Scott will provide best practices for looking over the horizon, by developing strategic thinking skills.
    • Glory LeDu – CEO of League Infosight, Glory will focus on the role and right balance in developing an effective Board role in policy review.
    • Drew Edwards – An attorney who works with many New Jersey credit unions, Drew will focus on an issue that many Boards need to address as NCUA’s focus evolves: Director duties and indemnification.
    • 60 Ideas in 60 Minutes – We’re taking networking and peer-to-peer content to the next level – attendees will share their best practices in a rapid-fire session designed to get as many great ideas on the table in as short a period of time as possible!

I want to thank the members of our leadership group for their help in developing a killer line-up of topics and speakers. More details to come on the content, but you can learn more and register here.