45 CU professionals become certified Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs)

MADISON, WI (October 10, 2018) — Forty-five credit union professionals were certified as Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) after completing the National Credit Union Foundation’s Credit Union Development Education (DE) Training.

The September DE Training was held September 19-25, 2018 at the Lowell Center in Madison, Wis. and was attended by employees and volunteers from credit unions and system partners across the United States and the globe.

“The DE experience gave me the opportunity to look at my job through a whole new lens,” said Jamila Collins, Development Coordinator at the Ohio Credit Union League. “This program has ignited a fire in me to ensure that my community is educated about finances, and specifically knowledgeable of the work of credit unions, the history, and the movement.”

DE Training is an experiential training program that provides lessons in credit union structure, purpose and how they differentiate from other financial institutions. During the National Credit Union Foundation’s week-long program, participants are involved in group exercises, field visits and interactive speaker sessions that provide insights into how credit unions can leverage their unique business model to help their members and communities overcome the financial and developmental issues they face.

Class Graduates

The most recent DE graduating class included credit union movement representatives from across the U.S, as well as a representative from Cameroon, Kenya and the Philippines. They are: Charles Akinbola, Elements Financial Federal Credit Union in Indiana;  Scott Albrecht, BCU in Illinois; Ray Black, Advia Credit Union in Michigan; Cathy Boucher, Boston Firefighters Credit Union in Michigan; Jill Carlson, Mid Minnesota Federal Credit Union in Minnesota; Shelly Chinnery, People’s Trust Federal Credit Union in Texas; Gary Chizmadia, Credit Union of New Jersey in New Jersey; Jamila Collins, Ohio Credit Union League in Ohio; Lorraine Davis, Diamond Lakes Federal Credit Union in Arizona; Adrian Duran, FirstLight FCU in Texas; Christian Elden, Midwest Community Federal Credit Union in Ohio; Sandy Flores, GECU in Texas; Deanna Frame, Guardians Credit Union in Florida; Rini Fredette, PSCU in Florida; Kirsten Grimes, Illinois Credit Union System in Illinois; Robert Henson, Credit Union National Association in the District of Columbia; Dulcey Hordge, Suncoast Federal Credit Union in Florida; Stephanie Karr, BECU in Washington; Michael Koceja, Simplicity Credit Union in Wisconsin; Anahi Lopez, Guadalupe Credit Union in New Mexico; Teresa Loy, Central Credit Union of Florida in Florida; Lydia Lozano, CUNA Mutual Group in Wisconsin; Maylene Malapitan, Cebu Mitsumi Multi-Purpose Cooperative in the Philippines; Milai Benson, Mwalimu National SACCO in Kenya; Kolleen Morse, EvergreenDIRECT Credit Union in Washington; Awah Richard Ndoh, Camccul LTD in Cameroon; Joan Nelson, Coastal Federal Credit Union in North Carolina; Mira Ness, New York University Federal Credit Union in New York; Jorge Ortiz, North Side Community Federal Credit Union in Illinois; Nancy Patton, Canvas Credit Union in Colorado; Lindsay Pelletier, Sheboygan Area Credit Union in Wisconsin; Valarie Prillman, Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union in Texas; Amber Reyes, Reliant Federal Credit Union in Wyoming; Tara Roether, Landings Credit Union in Arizona; Trisha Rome, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union in California; Valentina Scott, Arizona Federal Credit Union in Arizona; Danielle Smith, Gesa Credit Union in Washington; Rod Snyder, Red Canoe Credit Union in Washington; Jennifer Statham, WSECU in Washington; Kim Steepy, TwinStar Credit Union in Washington; Adam Stewart, Pima Federal Credit Union in Arizona; Betsy Thomas, Unitus Community Credit Union in Oregon; Denyse Vargas, Rio Grande Credit Union in New Mexico, Cindy Wiggins, Peach State Federal Credit Union in Georgia; and Laura Williams, CUNA Mutual Group in Wisconsin.

Training Staff

The program was facilitated by the Foundation’s Chad Helminak and co-facilitated by Jim Morrell from Peninsula Credit Union in Washington. Onsite event coordination was done by Maggie Wolff from the Foundation. The class was mentored by a group of six credit union professionals and CUDE alumni: Chris Court, Service 1st Federal Credit Union in Pennsylvania; Marnie Gerkhart, Filene Research Institute in Wisconsin; Jimese Harkley, CUES in Alabama; Ken Kelly, Red Canoe Credit Union in Washington; Lindsey Mueller, CoVantage Credit Union in Wisconsin; and Amanda Stevens, TwinStar Credit Union in Washington.

2019 DE Trainings

The Foundation hosts four DE Trainings each year in Madison, Wis. If you are interested in participating in an upcoming DE Training, visit to learn more or you can email to be put on a notification list for when registration opens up.

More September DE Training Testimonials:

“As a newcomer to the credit union movement, diving into the ‘why’ behind the credit union philosophy and some of the development issues our customers face every day was a real eye-opener. I’m coming away with a new perspective that I plan to put to good use in our community!” – Christian Elden, Marketing Director at Credit Union of New Jersey.

“The CUDE program is one of the most comprehensive, empowering and inspirational trainings I have ever been a part of. I have spent the last 10 years as a credit union member but only the last 6 months as a credit union employee. This experience was exactly what I needed for establishing a firm foundation to my career. Thanks to the CUDE program, I am proud to be a part of the credit union movement, and I am thrilled to share my excitement and new knowledge with others.” –Charles Akinbola, Universal Associate at Elements Financial Federal Credit Union.

“The Development Educator Program is one of the hardest, most rewarding experiences that I have had the privilege to be a part of. The depth it provides in understanding the credit union movement and the impact individual DEs have when they graduate is second to none. I have come away not only as a DE, but as a better person, friend, spouse and parent. This program has sincerely changed my life!” –Betsy Thomas, Branch Manager at Unitus Community Credit Union.

About National Credit Union Foundation

The National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) is the charitable arm of the U.S. credit union movement and works as a catalyst to improve people’s financial lives through credit unions. Through grants and programs, the Foundation is strengthening financial well-being, igniting passion, and instilling knowledge about the credit union difference, and uniting resources to help credit union people during disaster. Donations to the Foundation ultimately enable credit unions to help their members reach life-changing goals and achieve financial freedom.

More about the DE Program

Since 1982, more than 1,800 credit union advocates from over 36 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. For more information on the DE program, visit under “How We Help”.


Danielle Brown

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