Cornerstone League President/CEO Caroline Willard addressed the Dallas Chapter of Credit Unions on Wednesday, giving a state of the union address. In addition to the League, Willard leads the Foundation and Resources, the League’s service corporation, serving approximately 450 credit unions.
In her introduction, she touted Cornerstone’s purpose and many benefits. The organization’s mission is to support member credit unions’ long-term success through advocacy, development opportunities, critical training, and enhanced communication and outreach, as well as through services for audit and consulting, regulatory and compliance, information security, and executive search and professional recruiting.
Willard then discussed that amid the pandemic, civil unrest, and other challenges in 2020, Cornerstone reinvented itself with new branding and a new website and shifted its events and learning opportunities to virtual. Additionally, Cornerstone introduced new products and services, including AffirmX and the Foundation Pandemic Response Strategy, resulting in 331 newly certified financial counselors and 33 recertifications.
Willard then turned to the industry's dramatic changes over the last year, including the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Paycheck Protection Program, improved credit union operations, and the adoption of new technologies. She also touched on asset growth due to increases in deposits and fewer loans, delinquencies, and increased diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
Looking ahead, Willard welcomed new Chief Revenue Officer Ryan Dold, who is responsible for overseeing Resources’ sales and pricing, and coordinating activities supporting its policies, goals, and objectives. She also congratulated the new Cornerstone League at-large board of directors (by asset category) Dale Hansard Jr., Caprock Federal Credit Union; JoBetsy Tyler, First Central Credit Union; Jessie Swendig, Neighborhood Credit Union; and Brandon Michaels, JSC Federal Credit Union.
As far as political contributions, Willard noted that the League has decided to pause contributions temporarily. She reaffirmed that the League will proudly support legislators on both sides of the political spectrum who have proven to be credit union champions and will continue to make decisions based on lawmakers’ positions on industry-specific issues. The League is also temporarily pausing contributions to federal candidates to give the organization time to carefully assess the political landscape. Because these contributions are personal funds donated by members, Willard communicated to the group that the League has been and will continue to be intentional in its consideration of how political action committee funds should be handled.
To help CUNA’s communications with elected officials, Willard encouraged members to submit short videos to CUNA’s Advancing Community site at advancingcommunity.com.
Willard then highlighted some upcoming Foundation deadlines and initiatives. The Foundation recently rolled out a new online grants portal via its website. She also explained Donor Advised Funds, which give a credit union the flexibility of its own foundation without the task and cost of starting and managing a private foundation.
Willard then commented on legislative and regulatory priorities. “With a freshly sworn-in Congress, a credit union advocate now serving on the National Credit Union Administration, and legislative sessions starting in all three states, we are energized to fight for our legislative and regulatory priorities on behalf of credit unions.”
Cornerstone’s congressional priorities in the new 117th Congress include defending the federal credit union tax exemption, pursuing measures to create national data security and privacy standards, defending credit unions from onerous regulations that impede their ability to serve members, advocating for the elimination of and/or credit union exemption from CECL, and successfully identifying, tracking, and supporting/defending bills related to COVID-19 that could impact credit unions.Cornerstone offers Chapter programs across Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. These chapters provide credit unions with monthly meetings and training opportunities, fundraisers, and other special programs. To learn more, visit the website.