Severe and critical weather warnings, including the possibility of life-threatening tornados and flash floods, would not deter new NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood from making his first trip outside the Beltway since his Senate confirmation. On Monday, May 20, Chairman Hood visited Red Rock, Okla., to celebrate the first new credit union charter during his tenure as chairman.
Following an invocation by Tribal Council Vice Chairman Ted Grant and a Presentation of Colors by the Otoe-Missouria Color Guard, marching into the room with traditional Otoe-Missouria music; Otoe-Missouria FCU President & CEO Leilani Harpole welcomed Chairman Hood along with special guests and members of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe. Harpole suggested to everyone in her opening that the chartering presentation was the work of countless people over a long period of time to bring fair financial services to the Otoe-Missouria Tribe.
In her welcome, Harpole offered her thanks to the leaders of the tribal community who envisioned the need for fair financial services for “their people, their nation.” Harpole also pointed out the work of Cornerstone’s Operations & Engagement Vice President Lorri Gaither and others at the Cornerstone Credit Union league. Finally, she thanked her mentor credit unions … Tinker FCU and its President/CEO Mike Kloiber as well as First Family FCU and its President/CEO David Dykes.
Harpole used the moment to promote reversing a trend in the credit union movement. “At this time, there are other credit unions working on charters, and I hope they are successful,” she said. “I hope there is a movement turning the thinking about decreasing number of credit unions around to increasing the number of credit unions.”
Tribal Council and OMFCU Chairman John Shotton used the opportunity to talk about the benefit of a credit union to the tribe and how others will be watching closely as the credit union matures and grows.
“It seemed far-fetched when we started talking about starting a credit union,” said Shotton. “We have created wealth for the tribe, created jobs, but we are 30 miles from a town with a bank in it … we wanted those services here in our community.”
Shotton explained how the tribe considered purchasing a bank but determined that the credit union model is perfect for our tribal community.
“We’ll now be able to offer essential banking services right here in Red Rock,” he continued. “There’s a pathway laid out with NCUA to roll out all financial services to our tribe, their families, and employees of businesses.”
When Chairman Hood took to the stage, he commented about the importance to him of the credit union’s chartering.
“Credit unions have a connection with each other,” Hood explained. “A community with a common vision brought this credit union to fruition. Its members have been traditionally underserved by other financial services.
“Member-owners will now have access to affordable credit, and financial education to serve them in their lives,” he added.
“This is the first trip in six weeks outside of D.C.,” Hood concluded. “I wanted to share with you in this particular honor. I gave two testimonies before Congress, and proudly shared with them the great work of the Otoe-Missouria FCU. I support you and believe in you. I want you to succeed, thrive, and prosper.”
Cornerstone President/CEO Caroline Willard offered her congratulations to the credit union for its chartering, saying, “Cornerstone is thrilled at the chartering of the Otoe-Missouria Federal Credit Union and know that the decision to pursue starting a credit union was a prudent one by the Otoe-Missouria Tribal Council. As a result, members of the tribe, their families, and its businesses will have access to fair and equitable financial services as well as critical financial education by being member-owners of OMFCU. We extend our appreciation for the cooperation of Oklahoma credit unions in support of OMFCU and for the NCUA for supporting this new charter.”