Toggle Search

A Year of Transformation

A Message from President & CEO Brett Thompson and Former Board Chair Val Mindak

Annual Meeting Remarks
May 06, 2021
By Brett Thompson & Val Mindak
  • More on The Movement

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of loss. Grief. Compassion. Challenges. Isolation. Growth. Fear. Frustration. Connection. Hope. Humility. Resilience. Transformation. Both personally and professionally, the past year has required us to dig deep, often with only our values to guide us. Undoubtedly, this experience has and will continue to shape us as we prepare for economic, social, and cultural recovery in 2021 and beyond.

As a Movement, Wisconsin’s credit unions held fast to their belief in People Helping People throughout 2020 by providing over $2.58 billion in relief and counting. We are proud of how you have risen to meet this incredible challenge and have served your members, employees, and communities when they have needed you most.

At The League, the pandemic has indeed been a time of transformation. Last March, we pivoted to a fully virtual environment to keep our members and staff safe. This meant that we needed to transform how we connected with one another, provided resources, engaged policymakers, raised funds, and more. We ensured value at a distance and that your credit union had the resources you needed to operate under extraordinary circumstances in the following ways:   

  • Political & Legislative Advocacy. Hike the Hill, State GAC, and CUNA GAC were all held virtually and maintained strong attendance, with many first-time attendees. At these events, and during other various conference calls or Zoom meetings, Credit Union Activists were able to engage decision-makers and encourage support for The Movement on a variety of issues, including those related to the economic impact of COVID-19.

  • Regulatory Advocacy. The League submitted 12 comment letters to state and federal regulators in 2020 to emphasize the impacts that various regulatory changes would have on Wisconsin’s credit union operations, while also keeping a close eye on rapid regulatory changes brought on by the pandemic.

  • Compliance. Last year, The League’s compliance team released over 120 couriers, made 60 updates to ii Releases, introduced four new credit union forms, and provided compliance support via the compliance hotline to over 1,700 callers. Also, six monthly compliance webinars were rolled out to give credit unions live training on important legal developments and other changes related to COVID-19.

  • Education & Training. In 2020, The League was able to reach 94% of our member credit unions through virtual education & training programs—a 6% increase. This included 60 complimentary events held to support credit unions during the COVID-19 pandemic and new virtual offerings like our Virtual Leadership Conference and YP Be U App/Conference. In addition, over 1,100 members participated in DEI training opportunities.

  • Development. The Saver’s Sweepstakes® program became a vital lifeline to its participants in 2020, who have saved $6.5 million since the program’s launch. At the beginning of 2021, early withdrawal fees were also eliminated for these accounts, allowing savers easier access to their emergency funds.

  • The Foundation. The Wisconsin Credit Union Foundation created a sense of community through two popular virtual fitness fundraisers that raised nearly $20,000 and served in place of its annual golf outing. $55,000 was distributed in scholarships, grants, and disaster relief funds in 2020, and The Foundation additionally purchased 34 webcams for member credit unions under $50 million in assets.

  • Communications & Marketing. To speed up how quickly we could provide you with the latest information, a special COVID-19 email series for credit union leadership was launched at the beginning of the pandemic (and included a COVID-19 resources webpage). Additionally, virtual networking was strengthened through upgrades to our commUNITY platform, including the creation of discussion forums for COVID-19 and chapter leaders.

The League will continue evolving to meet your needs as vaccine distribution grows and we enter recovery, embracing the lessons learned from the past year while looking towards the future with a renewed sense of what The Credit Union Movement is all about. Thank you for your dedication and support.

About The Author

Brett Thompson is the President & CEO of The Wisconsin Credit Union League. Val Mindak is the former chair and current member of The League Board of Directors.