Cornerstone welcomes new ARCUA Executive Director

Cara Tharp will lead advocacy efforts at Arkansas Credit Union Association

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS (February 12, 2024)Cornerstone League welcomes Cara Tharp as the new executive director for Arkansas Credit Union Association, the League’s political division in Little Rock, effective Feb. 5.

Tharp replaces long-time Arkansan and Cornerstone employee Vicky Salkeld Dahinden, who retired in December 2023. Dahinden will perform Tharp’s onboarding to ensure she’s fully prepared for the upcoming legislative and political engagement activities in Little Rock and Washington, D.C.

“I’m delighted to welcome Cara Tharp as executive director for ARCUA as we continue to champion credit union interests in Arkansas,” said Cornerstone League Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy Officer Jim Phelps. “Tharp’s enthusiasm for the credit union movement, her proficiency in regulatory oversight, and her experience in program management and banking have prepared her for success in this new role.”

From 2014 to 2024, Tharp was the program manager for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. She provided regulatory oversight for veterinary medical licensing and registration for foresters; managed the application process for new licenses and license renewals; administered the written State Board Examination; and acted as the custodian of records and handled Freedom of Information Act requests. She also worked with the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission and the Arkansas Forestry Commission, and she managed the consumer complaint process and assisted with rulemaking, rule revision, and the rule promulgation process.

As a member of the Regulatory Policy Task Force from 2017 to 2024, Tharp assisted in creating a model policy for use by member regulatory boards of the American Association of Veterinary State Board and worked to ensure that the AAVSB’s Practice Act Model remained current as a useful tool in veterinary regulation. As a member of the Occupational Licensing Advisory Group, 2018–2021, Tharp participated in a three-year U.S. Department of Labor study on occupational licensing and the regulations that govern the practices of licensed occupations. She also served as chair of the Survey and Information Committee.

Tharp graduated from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla., in December 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in human environmental sciences.

“We welcome Cara Tharp to the Cornerstone family and look forward to a high level of engagement between ARCUA and our member credit unions in Arkansas,” said Caroline Willard, Cornerstone League president and CEO. “As executive director, Cara will manage all government relations responsibilities, and I feel confident she will serve and represent Arkansas credit unions well.”

About Cornerstone League

Cornerstone League is among the nation’s largest regional credit union trade associations, serving approximately 600 credit unions in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Cornerstone exists to advance the success of credit unions in the region through legislative and grassroots advocacy; regulatory and compliance support; training, educational, and networking opportunities; essential communications related to news and information affecting the credit union industry; and other products and services that establish Cornerstone as the essential partner for credit unions. For more information, visit


Tanya Dittberner
Director, Communications and Media Relations
Cornerstone League

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