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45 CU Pros Become Certified CUDEs, 4 from Cornerstone Region

by Ken Anderson | Oct 12, 2018
Forty-five credit union professionals were certified as Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) after completing the National Credit Union Foundation's Credit Union Development Education (DE) Training. Four of those certified are from credit unions in the Cornerstone region

Forty-five credit union professionals were certified as Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) after completing the National Credit Union Foundation’s Credit Union Development Education (DE) Training. Four of those certified are from credit unions in the Cornerstone region.

The September DE Training was held Sept. 19-25, 2018, at the Lowell Center in Madison, Wis., and was attended by employees and volunteers from credit unions and system partners across the United States and the globe.

The most recent DE graduating class included credit union movement representatives from across the U.S, as well as representatives from Cameroon, Kenya, and the Philippines. From the Cornerstone region, all four graduates hail from Texas credit unions.

Shelly Chinnery, People’s Trust FCU in Houston

Shelly Chinnery
(Left to right): Jim Morrell, Shelly Chinnery, Amanda Stevens, and Chad Helminak.

Adrian Duran, FirstLight FCU in El Paso 

Adrian Duran
(Left to right): Jim Morrell, Adrian Duran, Lindsey Mueller, and Chad Helminak.

Sandy Flores, GECU in El Paso 

Sandra Flores
(Left to right): Jim Morrell, Sandra Flores, Marnie Gerkhart, and Chad Helminak.

 Valarie Prillman, Cy-Fair FCU in Houston

Valarie Prillman
(Left to right): Jim Morrell, Valarie Prillman, Chris Court, and Chad Helminak.

DE Training is an experiential training program that provides lessons in credit union structure, purpose and how they differentiate from other financial institutions. During the National Credit Union Foundation’s week-long program, participants are involved in group exercises, field visits, and interactive speaker sessions that provide insights into how credit unions can leverage their unique business model to help their members and communities overcome the financial and developmental issues they face.

Hear what the Cornerstone-region graduates have to say about their experience:

"Nothing can prepare you for the personal development and reflection of the DE program," said Valarie Prillman, vice president of HR and compliance for Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union in Houston. "This workshop is pivotal to creating or recreating the purpose of credit union employees!"  

“The opportunity to attend the CUDE training was an unbelievable experience and one that has opened my eyes to the difference that we can make for the communities we serve," said Adrian Duran, vice president, community service outreach for FirstLight FCU, who often visits schools or other groups in his community and shares with them the difference between credit unions and banks. "While I thought I already knew the difference, the CUDE Training provided me an opportunity to truly learn the impact that we can make in our communities through our cooperative values. I was able to live the credit union mantra of People Helping People and truly learn that we can make a difference in the lives of people we come across. Without the support of the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation, in the form of a $1,750 grant to attend the training, I would have remained in the dark and not had the opportunity to be a part of the Best Class Ever—September 2018!”  

"DE training was an experience that helped inspire and re-energize my passion for the credit union movement," said Sandra Flores, marketing manager for GECU. "I developed a strong foundation and appreciation for the history of credit unions. It was incredible to see the impact credit unions are making in our communities and globally. We were lucky to meet individuals from Kenya, Philippines, and Cameroon and hear the credit union efforts worldwide. People helping people in action!"

Training Staff

The program was facilitated by the Foundation’s Chad Helminak and co-facilitated by Jim Morrell from Peninsula Credit Union in Washington. Onsite event coordination was done by Maggie Wolff from the Foundation. The class was mentored by a group of six credit union professionals and CUDE alumni: Chris Court, Service 1st Federal Credit Union in Pennsylvania; Marnie Gerkhart, Filene Research Institute in Wisconsin; Jimese Harkley, CUES in Alabama; Ken Kelly, Red Canoe Credit Union in Washington; Lindsey Mueller, CoVantage Credit Union in Wisconsin; and Amanda Stevens, TwinStar Credit Union in Washington.

2019 DE Trainings

The Foundation hosts four DE Trainings each year in Madison, Wis. If you are interested in participating in an upcoming DE Training, visit to learn more or you can email to be put on a notification list for when registration opens up.  

More about the DE Program
Since 1982, more than 1,800 credit union advocates from over 36 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.