Improving lives worldwide through credit unions

by John McKenzie, American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL)

At its virtual 2020 Annual General Meeting, the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) presented its Distinguished Service Award to the Indiana Credit Union League, which was accepted by League Chairman Kevin Ryan (CEO of Financial Center First CU) and me on behalf of Indiana’s credit unions. Receiving this recognition was a testament to the tremendous response from credit union leaders across Indiana to my requests for involvement as the Indiana League was hosting credit union groups totaling 43 individuals from seven countries during the past five years, with credit union leaders from our state also traveling to three countries. It was very gratifying to have the opportunity to work with and help these groups who are doing so much to make a difference around the world in how credit unions can improve the lives of people everywhere. The camaraderie developed with such dedicated individuals was a wonderful part of the experience, and then to receive this type of recognition from WOCCU was very humbling.

When the Distinguished Service Award was announced, I received many congratulatory messages from other league presidents, which was very much appreciated. I took that opportunity to share with them the reasons why the Indiana League and credit unions in our state make involvement in these WOCCU exchanges a priority. Thanks to a very supportive League board and the influence of our Immediate Past Chairman Dallas Bergl, CEO of INOVA FCU and WOCCU board member, promoting WOCCU and worldwide credit union development is now ingrained in our Indiana credit union culture. 

As part of the League System, there is so much that leagues do together and individually to help credit unions do more to help others. In Indiana, we choose to put a lot of time and resources into numerous projects and exchanges with credit union representatives from countries where WOCCU feels it could make a difference. Hosting groups of credit union leaders from other countries, and having our groups visit them in their lands, makes it easy to see that common denominator of dedication and determination to use credit unions to improve the lives of others; this exists among people drawn to credit unions worldwide. It’s a good feeling to try to help others by providing information, education, and support, so they can develop credit unions further and better overcome challenges when they return home. The friendships and relationships gained from the experiences are inspiring. I find that – in every part of the world – people attracted to credit union development are very purpose driven. 

WOCCU President/CEO Brian Branch, the board, and the incredible team of employees do so much. They are spread very thin given the demands on time and resources needed to support credit union development worldwide. There are so many other issues dealt with by WOCCU as well, such as on the regulatory front, where its efforts advocate for credit unions in important ways – before the issues can influence things negatively here in the United States.  

There are a lot of competing priorities for the time and resources of leagues and credit unions. When your organization reviews what will be emphasized looking ahead, please give every consideration to how it can do more to support WOCCU and the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions. In our case, we look forward to doing all we can to continue supporting WOCCU going forward.

John McKenzie

John McKenzie

John McKenzie has served as president of the Indiana Credit Union League since 1990. Prior to that, he held senior management positions with the League’s Servicecorp and Indiana’s ... Web: Details