Amplify the CU Voice

New CUNA chairman outlines three key issues affecting CUs.

March 20, 2012
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It might not take much to fill Harriet May’s petite shoes, Mike Mercer joked on Monday.

“But she’s a big legend to follow,” the new CUNA chairman said of his predecessor.

Mercer thanked GAC attendees for “being here and advancing the cooperative business model. Credit unions help people afford life—and that can’t happen without you.”

Mercer, president/CEO of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, said there are real threats to the credit union business model, including attacks by banking trade groups and the “suffocating” regulatory burden.

He outlined three key issues affecting credit unions:

• Our times and the role of credit unions. Our nation’s huge challenges such as armed conflicts and financial stresses may make credit unions seem insignificant. But it’s important to remember that “our work helps people with their dreams,” Mercer said. “We’re on the 50-yard-line of the stadium of opportunity.”

• Our country’s challenges, including the high debt and a polarized government. “Volatility creates opportunities for credit unions—we’re the voice of reason, he said. “Maybe we should modify our motto to ‘Not for Wall Street, not for Washington, but for Main Street.

• Our personal responsibility. Our nation was built on individual freedom and personal responsibility—and so were credit unions. “Credit unions can serve members in their own ways” and shouldn’t have to contend with overbearing interference from the government.

This week, “Our personal responsibility is to amplify the credit union voice,” Mercer said. “This will happen on Capitol Hill.”

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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