MADISON, Wis. — Engaging credit union executives and volunteers from developed countries in World Council of Credit Unions' (WOCCU) programs and activities is the best way to gain organizational support, as well as reignite the credit union philosophy among credit unions worldwide. That was the message participants took away from WOCCU's Corporate Strategic Conference (CSC), which met in Madison last week.
"I am a fan of World Council," Barry Jolette, WOCCU chair and president and CEO of San Mateo Credit Union in Redwood City, Calif., told participants during his opening comments. "I'd like to believe that we can make a difference in peoples' lives."
Jolette was on hand with other representatives from U.S. credit union leagues and credit union organizations in Canada and Ireland to meet with WOCCU staff to better understand the organization's inner workings and help define strategic approaches for better serving the global movement in the coming year. The goal of the CSC, now in its second year, is to enhance WOCCU's capabilities by including representatives from partner organizations in defining its future directions, according to Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and COO.
"The purpose of this meeting is about looking analytically at ourselves, determining what we have learned and deciding where we need to go," Branch said. "If we focus only on what staff can do, we limit our range. But if we extend that range by reaching out to our partners, we may be able to tap unlimited possibilities."
The importance of credit union executive and volunteer engagement in WOCCU's various initiatives was a recurring theme throughout the four-day meeting. Becoming involved in WOCCU's annual World Credit Union Conference, its International Partnerships Program and other activities can reignite interest in credit union philosophy as well as provide valuable service to the global credit union movement, according to CSC participant and WOCCU Treasurer Anne Cochran, president and CEO of the Louisiana Credit Union League.
"Involvement in WOCCU takes us back to our philosophical roots," Cochran said. "It's fulfilling, gratifying and a way to re-engage in the global movement."
In addition to Cochran and Jolette, partner organization representatives included Mike Lanotte, senior vice president and general counsel for the Credit Union Association of New York; Murray Williams, COO for the Iowa Credit Union League; Alan Moore, international development officer for the Irish Credit Union League Foundation; and Derek Cameron, program officer for the Canadian Cooperative Association. Field officers from WOCCU development program in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Mexico and Sri Lanka also joined staff members from WOCCU's Madison and Washington, D.C., offices. More than 40 presenters and evaluators participated in the program held at the Hilton Garden Inn Madison.
"The ability to gather staff from around the globe for an annual planning session has always been an asset for World Council," said Pete Crear, WOCCU president and CEO. "But the opportunity to engage the expertise of partners in our global development efforts significantly extends our reach and enhances our ability to improve the lives of people worldwide through the power of credit unions."
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 105 countries serve 217 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.