James Marshall Joins The Cooperative Trust as Its Leader: Leadership Will Focus on Growing the Young Adult Community’s Engagement and Sustainability

MADISON, WI (June 19, 2013) The Cooperative Trust and Filene Research Institute announced today that James Marshall joined the Trust as its leader. Marshall succeeds Brent Dixon, who founded the Trust in 2010 as Filene’s young adult advisor and led it over the past three years. Theresa Hilinski will continue to serve as its community manager.

“We know that the young adults demographic is crucial to the future of credit unions,” said Mark Meyer, Filene’s CEO. “The Trust, brought to life with Brent’s vision and CUNA Mutual Group’s support, has been instrumental in connecting young adults to the credit union industry and the credit union industry to them. James brings a unique talent set that will compliment Theresa and create a strong team around young adult issues in the credit union system.”

Marshall will work with Filene to sharpen the Trust’s role in helping credit unions engage with young adults and grow membership among this demographic through outputs such as product ideas, Crash events and publications that capture key findings of the group. He’ll also strengthen the Trust’s foundation of developing young talent in credit unions and cooperatives through leadership opportunities, mentorships and peer idea sharing.

“Building on the clear vision and momentum achieved by the Trust under Brent’s direction, we want to evolve the Trust into a self-sustaining organization with long-term value and viability,” said Marshall. “We plan to do this by focusing on four key priorities: strengthening our online community; creating mentorship opportunities between young adults and veteran professionals; enabling product and service development around young adults; and, hosting a limited number of Crash events.”

The Cooperative Trust stems from more than 10 years of Filene research examining the young adult issues that credit unions and cooperatives face. In 2001, Filene published its first report addressing the financial services needs of young households, called “Life Cycle Marketing for Credit Unions: Young Households.” Building on those insights, Filene hosted a workshop on “Attracting and Retaining Young Adult Members” in 2003 designed to help credit unions develop workable strategies for attracting young adult consumers. From 2004 to 2006, Filene also published a series of Cool Solutions reports to provoke discussion on the enormous opportunity of a new generation of consumers just entering the financial services marketplace.

Then, in 2007, Filene launched its CU Tomorrow project, a clearinghouse for credit union young adult strategies. Under this initiative, the organization published research and open-source business plans to help credit unions attract younger members, promising young professionals and younger volunteers. Also under the CU Tomorrow project, Filene launched 30 Under 30. This community focused on gathering research and information on young adults’ financial habits and needs, and worked as smaller groups to develop business innovation plans to help credit unions better serve this emerging demographic.

In 2010, while serving as Filene’s young adult advisor, Dixon organized a group of 25 young credit union professionals called The Crash Network to crash CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference. With a three-year funding commitment from CUNA Mutual Group, The Crash Network became The Cooperative Trust in 2012. The Trust celebrated its fourth Crash the GAC event earlier this year. CUNA’s Center for Professional Development enables full access to the conference by providing full scholarships for every Crasher. PSCU Financial Services also sponsors lodging for the Crashers and their Thunderpunch party.

“What started as an experiment for young adults to be more engaged with the credit union industry turned into a community of young adult leaders fighting for the future of credit unions,” said Dixon. “Working collectively and alongside credit union veterans, this group is already making an impact in moving credit unions forward.”

“By 2020, young adults will dominate the workforce,” said Marshall. “In growing the Trust and making it self-sustaining and a permanent community, we’re ensuring that young credit union and cooperative professionals have the opportunity and resources to get involved in the industry now.”

About The Cooperative Trust
The Cooperative Trust is a grassroots community of young people who work in credit unions and cooperatives. Founded by the Filene Research Institute and made possible by CUNA Mutual Group, the Trust connects and enables several hundred young people fighting for the future of socially responsible finance through meet-ups, mentorships and collective action.

About Filene
Filene Research Institute is an independent, consumer finance think and do tank dedicated to scientific and thoughtful analysis about issues affecting the future of credit unions, retail banking and cooperative finance. Filene is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Nearly 1000 members make the Institute’s research, innovation and impact programs possible.

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