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Jim Drogue to retire: attend Convention to wish him well!


When The League's SVP of Credit Union Development & Fundraising Jim Drogue retires in May following a 37-year career working with credit unions, it's the people he says he'll miss the most. His friendships span not just the state, but the nation. Please join The League, including at Convention, in wishing him all the best!

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Jim Drogue

 

Jim had spent almost 25 years in lending and management for what was then Commonwealth Credit Union in Sun Prairie, just around the time it merged with Summit CU in 2001. He decided he was ready for a change in direction in the fall of 2001 when he accepted a position at The League as its Senior Consultant.

In that role, Jim consulted with credit unions with assets below $1 million as well as those with over $500 million on every issue imaginable. He became VP of League Operations in 2002 and has served since then as The League's liaison to the Office of Credit Unions and NCUA, the state and federal credit union regulators.

 

But in 2004, Jim's responsibilities – and contacts throughout the CU system- expanded beyond his imagination. As The League's VP of Credit Union Development, he worked with the Filene Research Institute to launch in Wisconsin what is now the nationwide REAL Solutions initiative.

The effort began by helping credit unions implement alternatives to predatory check cashing services, but grew to help credit unions improve member wealth-building, financial education, community service and outreach to unbanked and financially underserved groups, including young adults and new Americans. Over the next nine years, Jim engaged Wisconsin credit unions in:

 

  • Free tax preparation efforts in conjunction with the WI Dept. of Revenue and AARP that save state taxpayers close to $17 million annually.

 

  • The Investor Education in Your Workplace Program,® a collaboration with the University of Wisconsin, Dept. of Financial Institutions and Precision Information. It has educated more than 4,000 CU employees in Wisconsin from 80 credit unions, expanded to at least 10 other states and is stimulating many millions of dollars in new investments annually.

 

  • Partnerships with schools and teachers. During Jim's tenure, he has seen the number of student-run, in-school credit union branches grow to more than 100, more than in almost any other state. He has also overseen the growth of the brass|STUDENT PROGRAM, a Wisconsin Credit Union Foundation-funded program that offers 382 teachers and students at 309 public high schools a quarterly personal finance magazine and online resources. He has also been a frequent presenter at The National Institute of Financial & Economic Literacy, which improves teachers' financial lessons for tens of thousands of high school students. Wisconsin credit unions have funded a majority of the sponsored attendees.

 

 

"Jim's leadership helped broaden the scope of REAL Solutions to capture the breadth of value credit unions provide as not-for-profit, member-owned co-ops," said League President & CEO Brett Thompson. " In so doing, it has become the framework within which credit unions nationwide share best practices for outreach and equip Activists with success stories and outcome data that drives credit union advocacy."

Guided by the National Credit Union Foundation, REAL Solutions now involves credit unions in 40 states and saves more than $6 billion in annual benefits for America's 96 million credit union members.

"Wisconsin has always been the epicenter of the credit union movement, with CUNA, CUNA Mutual Group, the World Council of Credit Unions, the Filene Research Institute and now Credit Union House, all in Madison," Jim said. "Wisconsin credit unions have always strived to work with these organizations, collaborate, and set new standards for member service. It has been my honor simply to be part of it."

Jim also cited the rapid growth of Wisconsin's Young Professionals program, a career development program that taps young talent for CU growth and outreach. "We are the first in the nation to have YP representation on a League Board, another indication of the progressive nature of the credit union leaders in our state," he said.

He also points to the national attention The League's Compliance Specialist Program received in Credit Union Magazine – and the praise it is earning from program participants – for helping credit unions expedite compliance workload. "It was Wisconsin credit unions themselves who conceived the idea and whose collaboration makes the program possible," Jim emphasized.

When it comes to advice, he urges credit unions to step up their political giving efforts with the same zeal they pour into community and charitable activities. "Without that strong support on the legislative and regulatory front, credit unions will find it increasingly difficult to compete, and ours is the last influence that keeps banks' pricing at least somewhat in check," he said. All credit unions, he said, should encourage voluntary giving by employees through Payroll Deduction.

 

"In Wisconsin and in so many other states, dedicated professionals truly bleed credit union philosophy," he said. "We know we are the best alternative to banks and have created a model to demonstrate that. And that means we're well on our way to achieving the vision we'll be talking about at Convention for the continued growth of this movement."

Join us at Convention in wishing Jim many happy years in retirement! His last day in the Madison office is May 15. You can also send him an email at jdrogue@theleague.coop.


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