2017 World Credit Union conference kicks off to the tune of a Viennese Waltz

Over 1,600 attendees from 58 countries meet for four days in Vienna, Austria

MADISON, WI (July 24, 2017) — World Council of Credit Unions welcomed over 1,600 people from 58 countries at the Austria Center Vienna in Vienna, Austria Sunday evening for the opening ceremonies of the 2017 World Credit Union Conference. From 23–26 July, participants will hear from world-class speakers, network and engage with colleagues from around the globe and learn from leading industry experts on topics such as young adult membership growth, advocacy, financial technology, operations, leadership and emerging trends.

A kaleidoscope of colors with flag bearers from all over the world welcomed 58 countries during the International Flag Parade. The audience also received a dynamic performance of traditional Austrian slap dancers relaying the sounds of Austria.

World Council Chair Daniel Burns, entrepreneur, lawyer and accountant, representing the Canadian Credit Union Association welcomed attendees to the event. Burns, an experienced corporate director in the fields of financial services, investment management and insurance, encouraged delegates for a “commitment to make a better world through the global credit union movement.”

“I said we must toss some of our humility and I really meant it. Credit unions are the answer for the non-banks, the under-banks and the exploited,” said Burns. “Now more than ever we must champion our story to the public and the policy makers.” Burns emphasized the importance of doubling advocacy efforts toward global regulators and building partnerships with financial technology.

“Today is a global leading of minds to solve our greatest challenges. We were the original social network of helping people to lead decent and fulfilling lives. Referencing the Broadway musical, The Sound of Music, “Let us not forget our model is a better way and open our own shutters and sing,” said Burns.

Special guest and member of the Vienna City Council and the Provincial Parliament of Vienna Dr. Kurt Stürzenbecher welcomed the attendees to “share solutions, connect and be inspired.” Stürzenbecher, who also serves as chairman of the city council committee for housing and urban renewal, praised the international event hosted for the first time in Vienna, encapsulated the spirt of the credit union movement and set the scene for the coming days.

During the opening ceremony, World Council presented its Distinguished Service Award (DSA), the industry’s top global honor, to four worthy individuals and organizations who have shown great contributions to further the credit union movement outside of their own countries:

  • Grzegorz Bierecki, nominated by the National Association of Co-operative Savings & Credit Unions (NACSCU), Poland
  • Dean Mahon, nominated by the Mountain West Credit Union Association, USA (Award accepted by Elizabeth Mahon)
  • Ukrainian National Credit Union Association, nominated by the Ukrainian Federal Credit Union, USA (Award accepted by Wasyl Kornylo)
  • Global Women’s Leadership Network, nominated by the World Council of Credit Unions, USA (Award accepted by Susan Mitchell and Calyn Ostrowski)

Earlier on Sunday, the World Council Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) program held a networking and educational session for credit union leaders age 35 and younger. During the program, facilitator Erin Hancock of Cooperative Management Education, Saint Mary’s University engaged the young professionals in impactful sessions on branding, global awareness, solving system problems with vision and velocity and youth inclusion.

The 2017 World Credit Union Conference concludes 26 July with a closing reception at the Hofburg Palace.

Follow conference activities, including daily event photos, on Facebook and Twitter with #WCUC2017.


Flag bearers enter Opening Ceremony

World Council Chair Daniel Burns

Austrian slap dancers perform during Opening Ceremony


About World Council of Credit Unions

World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform 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 300+ technical assistance programs in 90 countries. Worldwide, 87,914 credit unions in 118 countries serve 393 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at


Greg Neumann

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