40 CU Professionals Become Certified CU Development Educators (CUDEs)

Christopher Morris

Foundation’s CU Philosophy Training held April 18-25 in Madison

Madison, Wis. – Forty credit union professionals were guided by eight dedicated program facilitators and mentors through the intensive week-long Credit Union Development Education (DE) Training. The April 18-25, 2012 training was held at the Lowell Center on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, Wis.

Team Projects
During the week-long program, participants were involved in group exercises, field trips, encouraged to ask questions of visiting speakers, and are required to complete team projects proposing solutions for credit unions to help alleviate or eliminate challenging situations in any given area.

“DE Training provides critical lessons in cooperative principles and credit union philosophy while incorporating challenges credit unions face today,” said Lois Kitsch, DE Facilitator and National Program Director for the National Credit Union Foundation. “It is timeliness that we strive for in the entire DE training experience as participants work through critical issues that include member business lending, mergers and small credit unions, bank conversion, serving emerging markets, national branding, and credit union development in Haiti.”

“This was an eye opening experience that allowed me to separate myself from my daily routine and take a macro view of our movement,” said Tony Emerson, class attendee and President & CEO of The Credit Union League of Connecticut. “As a league president, I found it especially motivating to see the passion and dedication others have for seeing our industry survive and be there for our members. It should be everyone’s goal to attain this designation!”

Class Graduates
The 2012 graduating class included credit union movement representatives from across the U.S. and one from Kenya participating through the African DE Scholars Program. They are: Carrie Allen, Heritage Family FCU in Vermont; Karen Bejarano, TruWest CU in Arizona; Josh Bergman, Washington State ECU in Washington; Creighton Blackwell, Coastal FCU in North Carolina; Kevin Brueseke, Missouri CU Association in Missouri; Robin Brule, New Mexico Educators FCU in New Mexico; Amanda Canon, Advancial FCU in Texas; Windy Campbell, Electric Cooperatives FCU in Arkansas; Ruben Cisneros, Border FCU in Texas; Don Cohenour, Missouri CU Association in Missouri; Brad Covey, Credit Union National Association in Wisconsin; Jennifer Crawford, Randolph-Brooks FCU in Texas; Robyn Darocha, Associated School ECU in Ohio; Kathy Day Shelton, MECU of Baltimore Inc in Maryland; Liz Edmondson, Mississippi CU Association in Mississippi; Tony Emerson, The CU League of Connecticut in Connecticut; Jackie Ewing, CUNA Mutual Group in Wisconsin; Andrea Gabel, CUNA Mutual Group in Wisconsin; Ken Gardner, Greater Texas FCU in Texas; Mark Hohenstein, Missouri CU Association in Missouri; Sasha Kemble, Verity CU in Washington; Jeffrey Kunberger, Suncoast Schools FCU in Florida; Christopher Lumley, MECU of Baltimore Inc in Maryland; Joe Mecca, Coastal FCU in North Carolina; Shannon Mendes, Aventa CU in Colorado; Beatrice Ongala, Finnlem Sacco in Kenya; Steve Pagenstecher, Valley CU in Oregon; Jenni Pinney, National Credit Union Foundation in Wisconsin; Mike Read, Peoples Trust FCU in Texas; Bill Rockemen, Wisconsin Credit Union League in Wisconsin; Teresa Shively, GESA CU in Washington; Kevin Smith, Credit Union National Association in Wisconsin; Mitzi Smith, Maps CU in Oregon; Alicia Steindorf, Summit CU in Wisconsin; Haylee Teeple, Finance Center FCU in Indiana; Lisa Totaro, Sunmark FCU in New York; Sheila Troxel, CP FCU in Michigan; Chris Wolgamott, Meritrust CU in Kansas; Ken Worthey, Jr., Belvoir FCU in Virginia; and Chelsie Zima, St. Mary’s and Affiliates CU in Wisconsin.

Upcoming DE Training
The next DE Training will be held at the Lowell Center in Madison, Wis. on September 6-13, 2012. Registration is still open and can be found at

More Attendee Testimonials from the Spring 2012 DE Training
“Industry trainings and conferences remind you that you are a part of something bigger than yourself and your credit union, but DE Training goes a step beyond,” said Lisa Totaro, Marketing Associate at Sunmark Federal Credit Union. “DE reminds us that we are part of a worldwide cooperative movement united by deep philosophical principles, and helps cement what sets us apart. It reminds us what ‘people helping people’ is really about. I am excited to build upon the week with a renewed focus on the cooperative principles and work to help mold the future of our movement with the rest of the DE family.”

“DE training has been the single-most enlightening experience I have had since joining the credit union movement,” said Stephen Pagenstecher, Vice President of Member Relations at Valley Credit Union.  “Regardless of your age, title, experience or where you call home, DE provides exactly what you need to come home energized about the world of possibilities available to credit unions. It’s a wake-up call, a recommitment to our founding principles, and a call to action.”

“The DE program is such an incredible experience… both empowering and humbling at the same time,” said Joe Mecca, Marketing/Advertising Manager at Coastal Federal Credit Union. “I really can’t equate it with anything else I’ve done, whether inside the credit union world or outside. However, if I had to summarize DE with only one lesson learned, that would be: ‘given little more than their own passion and a common purpose, ordinary people can achieve the most amazing things.'”

“The Poverty Simulation (or Life Simulation) on its own, is worth the price of attendance,” said Jeff Kunberger, Service Center Manager at Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union.  “Being able to put yourself in your member’s shoes as they live week to week and day to day, and the frustration of all the obstacles placed in front of them opens your eyes to all the potential products, services and solutions we as a credit union can offer to improve the quality of our member’s lives.”

More about the DE Program:

The mission of the Credit Union Development Education (DE) program is to promote credit unions’ social responsibility and domestic and international development through interactive adult education and professional networking. By linking credit unions’ past and present, the DE program brings renewed relevance to credit unions’ seven cooperative principles and the philosophy of “People Helping People.”

Over the past 30 years, more than 1,000 credit union advocates from over 30 countries have graduated from DE Training to become Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs).  Once they earn their CUDE designation, people return to their jobs with a sense of personal enrichment and renewed energy to share what they have learned.  This growing corps of credit union advocates devotes professional and volunteer time to spreading the credit union message to audiences throughout the country.

The National Credit Union Foundation is the primary sponsor of the DE program.  Support is provided by CUNA Mutual Group, the Credit Union National Association, the World Council of Credit Unions, state foundations and leagues.

For more information on the DE program, visit under Foundation Programs.

About the National Credit Union Foundation (
The National Credit Union Foundation is the US credit union movement’s primary national philanthropic program provider, fundraiser and grant-maker. Through NCUF grants and programs, credit unions provide widespread financial education, create greater access to affordable financial services, and empower more consumers to save, build assets, and own homes.

NCUF is funded primarily by investments in the award-winning Community Investment Fund (CIF) and by generous Corporate Supporters led by the Credit Union National Association and CUNA Mutual.  All NCUF donors provide support that empowers NCUF and state credit union foundations to make financial freedom achievable through credit unions.

The National Credit Union Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization. NCUF continues to earn the Better Business Bureau seal of approval as an “Accredited Charity” for meeting all 20 BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for national charities.

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