International Credit Union Leadership Program participant Gervis Portes Nina met with U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina during his internship with SC Telco Federal Credit Union.
WASHINGTON — After four weeks away from their homes and families, Gervis Portes Nina, regional business manager for Coopcentral in Las Matas de Farfán, Dominican Republic, and Gelson Rodriguez, loan officer for Cooperativa Maimon in Maimon, Dominican Republic, are completing the final week of their U.S. credit union internships at the Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, D.C. More than 200 professional fellows from 51 countries are meeting at the event to discuss topics such as entrepreneurship, women's empowerment and worldwide legislative issues. The Professional Fellows Congress is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of Citizen Exchanges, and includes participants from World Council of Credit Unions and the 16 other Professional Fellows Program grantees.
Nina spent the past month with SC Telco Credit Union in Greeneville, S.C., where he studied the credit union's policies, procedures and best practices. Each of the credit union's departments shared with Nina their challenges and the keys to their success. In addition to the credit union component, Nina visited a Spanish class at Landrum High School in Landrum, S.C., where he shared about cultural differences and life in the Dominican Republic. Later in the month, Nina met with U.S. Rep.Trey Gowdy.
Gelson Rodriguez focused on lending products and procedures at Dane County Credit Union in Madison, Wis. Pictured left to right are Carla Wolf, human resources manager; Katie Kruger, branch manager; Crystal Brandt, member service representative; Rodriguez; Bridget Brei, underwriter; and Marshall Arehart, lending manager.
"These exchanges build bridges of understanding and friendship throughout the worldwide credit union movement," said John Radebaugh, North Carolina Credit Union League president and CEO. "They also show staff at North Carolina credit unions that they are part of something larger. It was a pleasure to see our credit unions embrace this program and provide a transformational learning experience to their Dominican guests and the staff members who worked alongside them."
While Nina interned in South Carolina, Rodriguez was working hard at Dane County Credit Union in Madison, Wis. Rodriguez focused primarily on loan processes and procedures and the unique way in which Dane County Credit Union serves its members with credit builder loans and one-on-one credit report reviews. Like Nina, Rodriguez had the opportunity to participate in other activities such as a Wisconsin Credit Union League event and a visit to World Council headquarters.
ICULP participants (pictured left to right) Claudio Wolters, Coopmedica manager; Naty Lamourthe, Coopmedica training manager; and Rodriguez met with World Council President and CEO Brian Branch at World Council's headquarters in Madison, Wis.
"We appreciated the opportunity to visit once again with our international colleagues and discuss credit union awareness, advocacy and other important issues," said Brett Thompson, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Credit Union League, which has had an official partnership with the Dominican Republic's credit union association, AIRAC, though World Council's International Partnerships Program since 2007.
"The knowledge and perspective we gain through this partnership is invaluable, and we'll look forward to continuing to foster our relationship with credit unions in the Dominican Republic."
Rodriguez and Nina are among the nine fellows that traveled to the United States through World Council's International Credit Union Leadership Program (ICULP), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of Citizen Exchanges. In coordination with the Wisconsin Credit Union League and North Carolina Credit Union League, World Council paired each participant with a U.S. credit union for the duration of the internship. Participants will return home with new ideas and strategies to improve their credit unions and promote growth in the Dominican credit union system.
"This program directly aligns with World Council's vision to build a global community," said Brian Branch, World Council president and CEO. "It provides an opportunity to directly connect our member associations AIRAC in the Dominican Republic and Credit Union National Association in the U.S. to exchange ideas, experiences and best practices in an effort to positively influence credit unions in both countries."
Wisconsin credit unions participating in the program were Summit Credit Union (Madison, Wis.), Taylor Credit Union (Medford, Wis.), Glacier Hills Credit Union (West Bend, Wis.) and Dane County Credit Union (Madison, Wis.). Participating North Carolina credit unions were Latino Community Credit Union (Durham, N.C.), State Employees Credit Union (Raleigh, N.C.), Coastal Federal Credit Union (Raleigh, N.C.) and United Services Credit Union (Asheville, N.C.). SC Telco Credit Union (Greeneville, S.C.) participated in the program as well.
Dominican fellows also met with National Credit Union Administration representatives to hear a regulatory perspective of the U.S. credit union system.
World Council is currently accepting applications through Nov. 16, 2012, from U.S. credit union employees interested in participating in the next ICULP opportunity in the Dominican Republic. World Council will select 11 U.S. participants to travel to the Dominican Republic for a two-week internship with one of 15 World Council-affiliated credit unions, Jan. 13–16, 2013. More information on ICULP and an application are available at www.woccu.org/leadershipprogram.
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 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.