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46 CU Pros Become Certified CUDEs, 6 from Cornerstone Region
Wednesday, October 4, 2017 6:40 AM

CUDE Class of September 2017
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Foundation’s Transformational CU Training held in Madison

Forty-six credit union professionals became Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) after being guided by dedicated program facilitators and mentors through the intensive Credit Union Development Education (DE) Training from the National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation). Six of those graduates are from the Cornerstone region. The DE training was held Sept. 13–20 at the Lowell Center in Madison, Wis.

After completing the September DE Training, Marsha Needham, training director for MemberSource Credit Union in Houston, said, "It was amazing to witness what a group of 46 CU folks could do. We changed lives in that one week together. One of our activities was to raise $5,000 for a River Food Pantry in two hours. We raised over $12,000 using social media—and that was one afternoon! This could only happen because of the movement’s core principles and keeping our purpose constant."

"The Credit Union Development Program reminded me of the reason I joined the credit union movement in the first place—people helping people," Needham continued. "Through experiential learning, I was able to take what I was learning in the classroom and apply it to other areas of my life. It gave me a sense of confidence to reach outside of my comfort zone and embrace the credit union philosophy. Lao Tzu stated, 'The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.' I made that step at DE, and now my journey continues. I am forever changed because of my experience at DE, I am eternally grateful."

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

For this training’s final case studies, participants worked through and presented solutions to critical issues that included financial stability among young adults and families, credit union board development, building microfinance programs in the Philippines, credit union solutions to predatory lending, the increasing issue of homelessness in America, and rejuvenating a stagnant credit union.

Class Graduates
The most recent DE graduating class included credit union movement representatives from across the U.S, as well as representatives from Ghana, Scotland, Peru, and Malawi. They include Cornerstone region graduates:

  • Kanika Boutte, Energy Capital CU, Houston, Texas
  • Hazel Kennedy-Ledesma, GECU, El Paso, Texas
  • Steve McCathran, People's Trust FCU, Houston, Texas
  • Marsha Needham, MemberSource Credit Union, Houston, Texas
  • Suzanne Peterson, Resource One CU, Dallas, Texas
  • Victor Williams, Randolph-Brooks FCU, Universal City, Texas

To see the entire list of graduates, visit

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2018 DE Trainings
The Foundation is holding four DE Trainings next year, all taking place in Madison, Wis. Anyone interested in participating in one of the 2018 DE Trainings can visit to learn more or they can email to be put on a notification list for when registration opens up. 

More September DE Training Testimonials
“The CUDE program has been an eye-opening experience," said Kanika Boutte, chief operations officer, Energy Capital Credit Union in Houston. "It has allowed me to get back to the basics and reconnect with the purpose of credit unions and serving our community.”

“Just when you think you know everything about the credit union movement, the DE training experience showed me just how much I didn’t know,” said Hazel Kennedy-Ledesma, SVP and chief lending officer, GECU in El Paso.

“DE Training is a one-of-a-kind development opportunity for anyone in the credit union industry,” said Erika Romenesko, LDP content manager at CUNA Mutual Group. “Through experiential learning and true teamwork, you will find even more passion and awareness of the differentiating factors credit unions have in your community and the world. I’m forever changed by my experience in DE Training!”

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.”

Since 1982, more than 1,700 credit union advocates from over 35 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”.           

About the 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.