Four GoWest Members Graduate from NCUF’s DE Program

The most recent cohort of graduates from the National Credit Union Foundation’s Development Education (DE) program have much to celebrate.

Four of which, are members of the GoWest community:

  • Teri Robinson, Ironworkers FCU
  • Angie Kerr, Air Academy FCU
  • Odyssey Dudra, Ent Credit Union
  • Jenni Brennan, Clackamas FCU

Not only have they received their CUDE designation, but they finish out the 40th anniversary year of the DE program. Since 1982, more than 2,000 credit union advocates from 35 countries have learned how to put ideology into action, to better understand and positively impact their communities.

“I came away from this experience empowered, energized, and informed about the credit union industry as a whole,” says Jenni Brennan, marketing specialist at Clackamas Federal Credit Union, and one of several GoWest members in CUDE graduating class. “I also walked out with a brand new community of folks from all over the world whom I can reach out to for advice or brainstorming power.”

Many graduates have used terms like “transformative” and “life-changing” to describe their CUDE experience. The program is designed as an immersive experience, focused on applying the cooperative principles guiding credit unions to new programs, services, and solutions to community problems and needs.

Carmen Vigil, GoWest VP of Credit Union Engagement, is herself a graduate (Spring of 2018) and now a Credit Union Development Educator.

“Attending CUDE created a transformational shift in how I see my work with credit unions,” said Vigil. “It helps illuminate just how special the not-for-profit cooperative structure is and how working collaboratively with other credit unions can lead to bigger results.”

Angie Kerr, operations manager-mortgage for Air Academy Federal Credit Union, said the structure of the program itself contributes to its success.

“The way teams are put together with a focus on not knowing people’s titles creates a dynamic where people aren’t intimidated by titles and may be more inclined to participate in a different way,” said Kerr. “The field trip to the pantry was a real-life scenario of an organization dedicated to helping put food on families’ tables. Getting a case study and creating programs to facilitate a need in a community really made you think about your own community and what resources could be put towards helping a specific need in the communities your CU serves.”

DE participants learn about the “intersectionality” of development issues that impact their communities and prevent people from achieving financial freedom — personal issues like health, food insecurity, and financial literacy, and the cost of and access to health care, transportation, and childcare.

“Our communities are not static,” said Vigil. “They are constantly growing, evolving, and changing. It’s critical to understand those we serve, their needs, and how credit unions can deliver real value.”

Vigil said GoWest will provide many opportunities in the year ahead for members to collaborate on these issues, including the Credit Union Collective Impact Advisory Group, the Marketing, Community Outreach, and Business Development Council, and a workshop titled Leveraging the Credit Union Difference (November 2-4, 2023, details coming soon).

CUDE graduates are better able to identify community needs, understand how those needs can compound, and how to address them. “I am able to help define and inform my community about the development traps that are affecting our area the most,” said Brennan. “Education is one of the first and best ways to help communities help themselves, and if I can help define the issue, then I can also help my community come up with creative solutions to our development traps. I came away with many new avenues to pursue. Some small in scope and some that are gigantic snowballing ideas.  One area that I am looking forward to researching more about, is solutions to childcare offerings and cost.”

The DE program offers participants a firm grounding in the principles that guide credit unions and cooperative financial models around the world.  The program brings to life the idea of People Helping People and Credit Unions Helping Credit Unions. “The cooperative model we use to help each other help our members is unique in the world of financial institutions,” says Brennan.”

“I think my big take-a-way from the program was how quickly we can forget where the initial credit union mission came from,” says Kerr. “As we try to compete with banks and expand our field of membership, it’s important to stay focused on how we can help those we serve. It really put our roots into focus and reminded me of the why behind what we do.”

Did you know your entire credit union can conveniently access the collaborative power of the GoWest community? A 2023 Power User Council Membership offers your entire credit union staff all-inclusive access to 24 Councils throughout the year and a network of credit unions across six states. Get yours now for the best deal!

Posted in GoWest Foundation, Top Headlines.