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« Birth of a New Profession: The CU CEO | Main | Be Five-Star Planners »

‘Directors-in-Training’ Help Build Board

By Kristin Gilpatrick

Creating an associate director program not only ensures a steady succession pipeline for a credit union’s board of directors but ensures that new board members are up-to-speed on financial basics, credit union philosophy and issues, and the credit union itself, says Charles Smith, the CUES 2011 Director of the Year.  

The award-winning board director and chairman for $250 million First New York Federal Credit Union in Albany, N.Y., has steered his credit union’s associate director program to success during his 35 years as a credit union volunteer; 19 years as chairman.

“We have a terrific associate directors program—a ‘director-in-training’ program if you will—where they are given background training, attend every board meeting and asset/liability committee meeting, and fully participate in discussions, but they cannot vote,” explains Smith who actively mentors the associates. He adds that associate directors “serve until there is a board opening, and then we have an experienced, prepared list” of potential directors.

The last three board vacancies were all filled by associate directors, and two new associate directors are already participating.

The program began “as a strategy to deal with the problem that when a new director was elected she or he needed several months of preparation before they could contribute in a useful way to discussions or decision-making,” Smith says. “Now, we have someone who can step onto the board already prepared. This lessens delays in dealing with important issues and eliminates much of the frustration both experienced and new directors faced whenever there are new members on a board.”

The associate directors program is just one of many innovative programs and ideas Smith inspired in his credit union career, and one of the many reasons he was chosen to be CUES 2011 Director of the Year. To learn more about Smith and his award-winning initiatives, read his Director of the Year profile, “Service is the Brand” in CUES’ Credit Union Management magazine.

Kristin Gilpatrick is a freelance writer.

If you know a credit union director who inspires others and leads a credit union to success, nominate them for this year’s Director of the Year award. The award will be presented  at CUES’ Directors Conference, December 9-12 in Palm Desert, Calif.

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