DE Alumni Project Highlights

Graduates of the Credit Union Development Education (CUDE) program are encouraged to design projects that reflect their personal commitment to furthering credit union community development.

Here are some highlights of recent CUDE projects that shows the passion, creativity, and commitment to the credit union community that is shared by Development Educators:

Senegal Volunteer Assignment - Lois Kitsch

Ever since my DE training in 1986, I have been interested in international development. There are several projects that I have done that connect my passion for credit unions and developing strong financial lives for consumers to international development. One of my favorite projects was in Senegal. In mid-2013 I traveled to the country to west Africa to work on a volunteer assignment for the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA). My assignment was to provide training to rural women on how to manage the finances of their small businesses...Click to Continue Reading

CUaware - Patrick Livingston & Brandon McAdams

CUaware was founded in April 2011 and was primarily designed as a professional networking group. CUaware works to capitalize on credit unions’ two greatest resources: our amazing people and our rich heritage. Many working professionals tend to lose sight of credit unions’ larger purpose – the guiding principles of cooperatives. What they don’t lose sight of is meeting the needs of their member/owners. Conferences like CUDE and Credit Union Principles and Philosophies cultivate and foster credit union professionals on this greater purpose - seeking to be social and fiscal advocates for our members. However, these conferences can only reach so many people. Enter CUaware. CUaware has demonstrated value to participants and operates in partnership with sponsors to create a low-cost option for credit union professionals to learn, share, grow...Click to Continue Reading

Passionate People Work in Credit Unions Worldwide - Nancy Johns

Nancy Johns

After DE in 2000, I set a course to become even more passionate about credit unions.  Little did I know back then that it would take me to Jamaica, the UK, the Philippines, and Africa.  My initial project out of DE was modeled after Pat Sterner’s DE project – Project Differentiation.  You have to take yourself back to the late 90’s and early 2000’s when political advocacy for CU’s was in its infancy.   Project Differentiation was a succinct way to let your elected officials know what a credit union was, how their financial coop model differed and most importantly what they did for their members – far beyond the scope of just being a financial institution.  The document for my credit union ended up being 28 pages, which we then encapsulated down to 2-3 pages, which we would hand out on The Hill in DC.Sometimes, you just have to “do” a project to get inspired and propel you forward...Click to Continue Reading

Incorporating Cooperative Principles into Annual Conference - Patrick La Pine

My DE project was incorporating the seven cooperative principles into the Southeast Credit Union Conference and Expo in June, 2014. At DE training, I learned more about the cooperative principles than I knew going into the training. As I left DE training, I felt it was very important to get our credit unions back to our roots. The cooperative nature of credit unions not only makes us unique, but they are what drive our operating structure...Click to Continue Reading

Cesar E. Chavez, Cooperative Principles, & the Credit Union Movement - Oscar Porras

March 6, 2015 the Cesar E. Chavez Leadership Conference would be celebrating its 25th anniversary. I had the opportunity to provide a workshop for students at the conference. Having learned that Mr. Chavez started a credit union, I used that as a basis for my project. As a planning committee member, one of my responsibilities was to review applications for potential scholarship recipients of the 25 scholarships we give away. As I read through the applications, I noticed there was a very basic understanding of who Cesar was and more importantly, what he did for farm worker’s rights. I focused my workshop on three things; history, cooperative principles, and...Click to Continue Reading

Foundation Fundraising through CIF - Bob Schumacher

To me, very few things in credit union land are more important than taking care of our history, philosophy and heritage. After graduation DE in 2001, I became fully aware of the importance of the roles and responsibilities that the National Credit Union Foundation and State CU Foundations in that regard. A colleague of mine (Chuck Purvis), who was working in the Corporate Credit Union Network, had devised a fairly painless but ingenious way to collect, in a sustaining way, funds for both the State Credit Union Foundation network (SCUF) and the National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation). It was called the Community Investment Fund or CIF for short....Click to Continue Reading

Precise and Compelling Outreach – Jared Dance

My DE project was connecting and engaging with the lower income individuals in our branch network through financial literacy, outreach initiatives, and exact dedication. Selection was made in four specific markets surrounding our branches and school zones. Through various service hours, scouting events, library outreach, presentations, biz kids movie nights, healthy family nights, and community centers partnerships it came to light. In addition, this project was achieved by managing various reality fairs in our core high schools and lastly partnering with other key organizations on these dates. These events were accomplished by TwinStar due to the passion to be in our communities, to be a center of the communities, and also a resource to those in need...Click to Continue Reading

Financial Counseling - Mark Lynch

My latest DE project is to partner with other DE’s to help them develop a counseling and education program at their credit union. I am helping them to develop a long term vision of where they would like to take their program in the future, and then help to construct short term goals and plans for the next year. The third piece is the development of a way to track, measure and report on activities and outcomes. It is in its very early days. However, the plan is to closely monitor the progress and impact of each program...Click to Continue Reading

Member Business Lending Training in Barbados - Sharon Weinberg

After more than 30 years working for commercial banks and new to the credit union movement I enrolled in the Credit Union Development Educator program to “grow a heart”. My experience in Madison changed the way I approach my role as Chief Credit Officer at TwinStar Credit Union and the way I approach life. The experience exposed me to the Cooperative Principles and put me in touch with our membership. I completed my DE project in November by providing training to several credit unions in Barbados.   The opportunity arose when the Barbados Co-operative & Credit Union League LTD reached out to WOCCU for a volunteer to provide training for Member Business Lending.  It was important to them that the trainer also be a DE so WOCCU reached out to the CUDE network and the dots were connected from there...Click to Continue Reading

CO-OPatopia - Mary Beth Spuck

My DE Project was developing and coordinating a special event called CO-OPatopia to celebrate cooperative businesses and all they contribute to our communities and the local economy. This event was an opportunity to bring together a variety of co-op people from across many sectors to talk about how they could encourage greater 'cooperation among cooperatives'--one of the core cooperative principles and something very unique to the co-op movement...Click to Continue Reading

DE Volunteer Outings - Christopher Morris

In early 2014, I started organizing local volunteer activities about once a month for 2-3 hours and invite local Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) to participate. The volunteer outings focus on a few of the international development issues, which are an outgrowth of the National Credit Union Foundation’s DE Training and have been identified as barriers to economic growth and prosperity for families around the world. All issues are relevant to families in Madison as well...Click to Continue Reading

Do-$ave - Pam Swope

Credit union development efforts are often linked to programs designed to meet the needs of low-income members. Pam Swope helped a new audience benefit from the credit union difference: adults with learning and mental disabilities. “You or I don’t think twice about our ability to deposit our paycheck or budget our money,” Swope said. “But that’s not always the case for people with disabilities...Click to Continue Reading

American Friends of Kenya - Joanne Todd

My DE project began when I worked on a local development program that brought my credit union into an area high school—a program that’s still going strong and has provided many local students with the opportunity to be an intern at Northeast Family. But I knew there were more ways to help.  I happened to go on a trip with a high school group that was affiliated with a girls’ school in Kenya.  We saw firsthand the challenges the Kenyan people faced, especially in terms of healthcare and education. By the time we returned, the adults who had been on the trip knew we wanted to do something more...Click to Continue Reading

Life on the Edge - Cathy Brorson

The primary goal of two “Life On the Edge,” events was to provide experiential learning opportunities, resources, community input and tangible outcomes to help change participants perception of, and response to poverty within our community – as well as how that relates to homelessness and housing – by providing a deeper understanding of the challenges and obstacles those in poverty face day to day...Click to Continue Reading

Making a Difference in New Orleans - Claire Ippoliti

Throughout 2007, in post-Katrina New Orleans, I brokered meetings between ASIFCU and the St. Bernard Project community to help make a new community center a reality. I was a liaison—I helped residents understand the credit union difference and I worked with ASI Federal Credit Union to create a loan product that would meet residents’ needs without being too risky for the credit union. And it worked. People got training and many were able to return to their homes...Click to Continue Reading

Credit Union Man - Fred Brown

Credit Union Man gets his message out through live appearances, social media, list servs, and Facebook. To date, I have spoken at more than a dozen schools and other student-related venues in half a dozen states and spoken to hundreds of young people about the credit union difference. I’m hoping that Credit Union Man can help us connect to young people and turn the tide for our movement...Click to Continue Reading

The Disclosures - Chad Helminak & Christopher Morris

The Disclosures are “musicians with a mission” that write songs and perform presentations about the importance of financial literacy and social responsibility. Since the release of their first album of original credit union songs in 2011, entitled “(Hey, We’re) The Disclosures”, CUDEs Chad Helminak and Christopher Morris have presented highly-rated education sessions and music performances to credit unions, chapters, trade associations and vendors across the nation. Their latest album, “The Secret to Being Rich”, was released in December, 2013 and is focused on youth financial literacy...Click to Continue Reading

For More Information... Chad Helminak, Director of DE and Cooperative Culture, at (608) 231-4078 or