Lives Lived with Purpose

The following persons are in transition.  They have dedicated most of their professional lives to the service of credit unions.

A Farewell Address

Jim Dean arrived at Affinity Credit Unions, Des Moines Iowa five years ago.  It was a turnaround situation in multiple respects.  In September 2023 the credit union was awarded NAFCU’s credit union of the year recognition.

The following is from his farewell message to the credit union members and the team he led.

“As the saying goes, days pass slowly but years go by in a blur. When we moved here from Illinois in September 2018, my commitment to the board of directors was to work as your CEO for five years. It’s been a pleasure leading this member-owned cooperative into its 75th year, but now is the time for me to retire and let a new leader take over.

“Our mission statement and vision of Building Better Lives was an important change introduced five years ago. That has been the focus ever since and we have made this a reality. We have excellent staff from front to back & our volunteers are engaged and motivated to work in your best interests.

“We don’t focus on the community to earn rewards but have earned rewards and the highest acclaim in large part because of our community impact.

“Our marketing focuses on our brand. If you compare our offerings to those big credit unions who do this, we line up quite well throughout our entire product line.

Yes, our commercials talk about the Best Credit Union Ever, but having received the National Credit Union of the Year in the $500 million and under category is something to shout about.

“We might add that our credit card program is the best ever as well as our checking accounts in terms of fairness and transparency.

“Highlights of my time include our Building Better Holidays campaigns. Non-profit organizations are reluctant to promote themselves, so we’ve done that for many in our community.

“We fought hunger in partnership with the Food Bank of Iowa & through our six-year partnership with the Iowa Wild and by working with organizations like Meals from the Heartland.

“When COVID-19 shut down Iowa, and much of the world, we immediately communicated our decision to waive all fees, allow payment deferments, and alleviate financial pressure that lost wages brought. We closed our lobbies and transitioned many employees to remote working for the first time ever.

“I’m very proud of the annual meetings we have conducted. Member democratic control, as well as education, are two of the seven principles on display the second Tuesday of May each year.

“Most of all, I’m proud of our people. This includes our leadership team, employees, and volunteers. They understand what working in the member’s best interest means and that is emphasized by all managers daily. This is a relationship business and much of our recipe for success.

“I probably should mention that our financial performance has been off the charts excellent, something we don’t mention often.

“My door is a quick left as you enter the Hoffman lobby. The door is (almost) always open, so stop by this month to say goodbye or maybe hello for the first time.

“Thank you for this opportunity.”

Honoring a Lifetime

On October 3, 2024 the cooperative community will inducte five new honorees in the Cooperative Hall of Fame in Washington, DC.  One is a credit union veteran.  Here is his brief resume from the announcement.

Introduced to credit unions in the late 1970s, Clifford Rosenthal has spent his career promoting financial equity and inclusion in the nation’s most overlooked and underserved communities.

Growing up amidst transformative campaigns for social justice in the 1960s, Cliff began his cooperative journey by organizing and managing food cooperatives in New York City and Connecticut. This led him to Washington, DC, and the National Association of Farmworker Organizations where he was tasked to organize a credit union to serve its members.

Upon his return to New York, Cliff joined the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (the Federation), first as a volunteer until he was hired as staff. By early 1983, the Federation was preparing to close for good after federal funding was eliminated.

Sustained by his conviction that community development credit unions (CDCUs) were important and must be preserved, he once again took on a volunteer role as the Federation’s Executive Director. In partnership with Annie Vamper, the pair rebuilt the Federation into a catalyst for transformative change.

Understanding the critical role capital plays in low-income communities and CDCUs, Cliff pursued a two-pronged strategy to capitalize CDCUs by creating new channels to mobilize private investments and by expanding sources of public financing. This eventually led to the birth of the CDFI Fund in 1994 after President Clinton signed the Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act. As well, he worked to secure NCUA’s allowing low-income credit unions the privilege of raising secondary capital.

Cliff retired from the Federation in 2012, renamed Inclusiv in 2019, to join the federal government as the first head of the Office of Financial Empowerment within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He subsequently published Democratizing Finance: Origins of the Community Development Financial Institutions Movement. In 2019, he was inducted into the African American Credit Union Hall of Fame.

I understand Cliff has another book to be released about his many adventures with low income credit unions.

Washington Credit Union Daily’s New Home

Credit union’s self-awareness depends much on the writers and press dedicated to telling the industry’s stories. One person is David Baumann. He has been covering the credit union industry for more than seven years, first at the Credit Union Times and then at CUCollaborate.

Based in DC, his blog is free on Substack.  His focus is the multiple legislative, regulatory, and political developments affecting credit unions.  Readers may go to his website, call up a story or scroll down to the “subscribe” option.

The Changing Seasons of Lives

I first heard a performance of O Love by Elaine Hagenberg (b. 1979) a week ago at American University’s December chorus concert.

The concert’s title was Stay with Me. The selections presented the theme of relationships on which all  depend.

The beautiful melody might not fall strictly into the Christmas music genre. Rather, it is a message for all seasons.

The words have a story. George Matheson, a Scottish Presbyterian minister, found himself at age 20 alone when he went blind and his fiancé decided to break off the marriage. She left him. He turned to the Lord. In the darkness of the moment, he wrote this hymn in five minutes. It never needed any editing.


Why this Day Lives in Memory


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