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Recent DE Grad Says He's Proud to Have a Career with a Cause
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 6:40 AM

Nathan Gillen

Forty-two credit union professionals, including five from Cornerstone Credit Union League-affiliated credit unions, became Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) last week after being guided by eight dedicated program facilitators and mentors through the intensive Credit Union Development Education (DE) Training from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). The Sept. 4-11, 2013 training was held at the Lowell Center on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, Wis.

Nathan Gillen, WEOKIE CU in Oklahoma City, Okla.; Sonya Harris, Peoples Trust FCU in Houston, Texas; Jack Moore, American Airlines FCU in Fort Worth Texas; Tara Neal, Texoma Community CU in Wichita Falls, Texas, and Caleb Thomas, First Class American CU in Fort Worth, Texas were among the 42 credit union professionals to complete the program.

Gillen, a director of education at WEOKIE CU, says it was a fantastic experience. Going through the training, he says, really reinforced why we’re here.

“We’re a movement of people,” notes Gillen. “And no matter what position we hold in the credit union, we are making a difference in the lives of our members and the communities we serve.”

DE Training provides critical lessons in cooperative principles and credit union philosophy while incorporating challenges credit unions face today. During the recent week-long program, participants were involved in group exercises, field trips, issue discussions with speakers from around the credit union system, and are required to complete team projects proposing solutions for credit unions to help alleviate or eliminate challenging situations in any given area.

In the final case studies, participants worked through and presented solutions to critical issues that included credit union solutions to payday lending, a small credit union merger dilemma, the “Don’t Tax My CU” campaign, building an Islamic banking center, developing a credit union awareness campaign, and to compensate or not compensate credit union board of directors.

Gillen and Harris were two of seven on the “Don’t Tax My CU” team. They also had a mentor.

“Working on this particular project broadened my knowledge on why we have the tax exemption, as well as how important it is to protect it,” adds Gillen.

Upon completing the program, DEs are encouraged to share what they’ve learned with others. Gillen says he will focus on making sure everyone at his credit union knows and understands the credit union operating principals.  

“When I started with WEOKIE CU 12 years ago, I was just a college kid that needed a job,” recalls Gillen. “I’m still here at the credit union today because I thoroughly enjoy having a career with a cause.”

“We’re about helping people – plain and simple,” says Gillen.