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


“Good People All”

Today’s carol and credit union story is captured in the opening line of the music below. First, the credit union’s account.

Every Touchpoint Matters

This is the story of a member contacting  the President of his Credit Union  after reading the monthly Newsletter.  And what happened next.  (used with permission)

From: Daniel H. <>
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2023 11:32 AM
To: Jeff Carpenter <>
Subject: Thank you

I received your news letters In Regards of thanksgiving and all the delightful things Weokie does for their members.  my wife and I are thankful for you and the company for providing good deeds to the community.  we ourselves have been struggling and I’m not going to lie. our account has been at struggles with overdrafting every month to make ends meet. but we work every day to try to improve ourselves to be better. one day our account will stay on the positive side and look forward to all the new adventures to come.

I loved this message because our member, who is going through some health and financial challenges, was simply thanking WEOKIE for being such a great community citizen.

Thanks to Diane we were able to learn more about his account.  We agreed that I should reach out to see if a meeting would be of interest.  I engaged in an email exchange with Daniel and coordinated a meeting with Daniel and his wife Jessica to meet with Patrick  and myself at South.

Setting up a Meeting

Patrick did some great work preparingfor the meeting. Together we probed to learn their story and understand how they got to this situation. Much was from their trying to help so many others in their family.

Patrick talked  through lots of options. I might have added some too, but in the end, Patrick was able to convince everyone (yes, including me) that taking “one step” not sixty, was the best path forward.

We extended a significant signature loan to get them out of the mountain of high-risk debt that was pushing them to the brink of financial collapse.  Patrick was empathetic, yet firm, in his conversations. He was able to gain agreement to eliminate Courtesy Pay, for WEOKIE to handle the pay-offs, and to set up automatic loan payments on the day their monthly income is credited to their WEOKIE accountall of these help mitigate our risk.

We met with them, took the loan application, approved it, and paid off their high-interest loans in 48 hours.  That led to the following email from Daniel:

From: Daniel H. <>
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2023 3:47 PM
To: Jeff Carpenter <>
Subject: thank you


My wife and I would like to thank you for the help you and your team for the opportunity to help us succeed in our goals and for giving us Patrick to work with. he was an awesome gentleman. he worked hard to help us out and succeeded in getting what we needed done for a good approval. I’m looking forward to a good start in bettering ourself. we will keep in contact and keep you updated on our success. 

thanks again 

Dan and Jessica

Special thanks to Melissa, Diane, and Patrick for letting me participate in living our vision of making a difference, one person at a time.  And affirming that “every touchpoint matters” is a good strategy.

Today’s Music of the Season

The Wexford Carol  is a traditional religious Irish Christmas carol originating from the town Enniscorthy in County Wexford. The subject of the song is the nativity of Jesus Christ.  This recording is from Clare College, Cambridge in composer John Rutter’s arrangement, which begins with Good people all.



Fall Colors


Burning Bush

Bethesda Tree

Last taste of summer sunflower

Logan berry

Autumn camellia

Pansies should winter over


Leaves everywhere

European Hornbeam-last to shed

Fall’s endgame



The Thanks in Giving

We give for many reasons and are better for it.

Poet Alberto Ross provides an understanding.

When Giving Is All We Have 

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.

One river gives its journey to the next.

A Teacher’s Story



Wisdom: On Regulation


Share Insurance & Regulatory Choice

“The fact that there is an insurance option-private insurance for state-chartered credit unions-assures that the NCUSIF will be different from the premium based FDIC fund, that it will be funded with deposits from credit unions, and can be counted as an asset on the books of credit unions.  The fact that there is an insurance option guarantees there will be a charter option, and thus a regulatory option.

This is to the good for everyone.  A single regulator is sooner or later bound to become a lazy or an arrogant regulator.  The best ideas will not bubble up; the regulated will not flourish to their maximum potential.  But with two regulatory options, competition is going to allow the best ideas to come to the fore and allow the dynamic credit unions to expand.”  (pgs 46-47)


Note: From the Coach’s Playbook,  a collection of  Ed Callahan’s observations.  These are a summary of operating values for the credit union system. Ed began his professional career as a high school math teacher and football coach.  His thirty years in credit unions included Chairman of NCUA (1981-1985), co-founder of Callahan & Associates, and CEO of Patelco from 1987 through 2002.

The Cooperative Advantage

Cooperatives Are Unique

“The first word in credit unions always has to be MEMBER.  The second word has to be COOPERATION.

“We are a cooperative movement.  Credit unions are co-ops.  People join, agreeing to cooperative to better one another’s lives.   They pledge themselves to cooperation.

“We have seen what this spirit has done for us in the past.  From fragile, tiny groups of people a hundred years ago pledging to themselves they would save and borrow from from one another in a spirit of helpfulness to a movement of 90 million Americans and $700 billion in assets. That is the power of helpfulness and cooperation.”  (pgs. 58-59)

NoteThe Coach’s Playbook is a collection of the thoughts of Ed Callahan from his thirty years working a multiple levels including CEO of Patelco Credit Union and Chairman of NCUA (1981-1985).

Wisdom: The People’s Movement

The People’s Creation

“We don’t have to concern ourselves when people ask, “but what did Congress intend us to be?”  Our movement does not exist because it was created from the top (i.e. Congress) down.  Rather it was created from the bottom (i.e. the people) up.

We told Congress what we intended to be: cooperatives that would try to serve the needs of their members, whatever those needs might be.” (pg52)

NoteThe Coach’s Playbook is a collection of the thoughts of Ed Callahan as a federal and state regulator, innovator and credit union CEO.  The book was published by Member Value Network.

Wisdom: Running Lean

           On Running Lean

I started my career as a football coach. Something you learn from coaching is that people can do more than they think they can.   They can be faster, work harder and do more than they thought possible when they got up in the morning.

“When I arrived at Patelco, I reviewed the numbers.  The credit union was sending 10% of income to reserves and returning 4-5% to members as dividends.  Patelco was bloated and did not know it.

“I set a new goal: 10% to reserves 28% to expenses and 62% back to the members,  To get that 10-28-62, everyone had to work leaner and better.  Nothing was considered sacred.” (pgs 22-23)

Note: The Coach’s Playbook is a brief collection of the thoughts of Ed Callahan over his 30 plus years in credit unions. The book was published in 2006 by the Member Value Network.

Children on the Front Lines of Change

I was sent the following article, The Civil Rights Showdown Nobody Remembers, prior to a reunion.

It is by Louis Menand, published in the New Yorker, July 31, 2023 and in the print edition on August 7 under the title “The Children’s Crusade”

The Supreme Court and Civil Rights:  Separate is Not Equal

Clinton High School, Clinton TN was the first southern school to be integrated by court order in 1956.  This 15-page New Yorker story describes the event.   This initial case is sometimes  overlooked because of the subsequent much publicized Federal Government’s  intervention in Little Rock’s Central High School. In that situation,  President Eisenhower sent in the 101 st Airborne to support the Court’s integration mandate after Governor Faubus called out the Arkansas National Guard to prevent it.

The excerpt below is the final paragraphs which  provide the significance of this first integration effort. The event was seminal. The author’s portrayal  of how children, not grownups, were  on the front line again and again is his most crucial observation.

Sometimes change in society must be led by the most vulnerable.   Political rhetoric,  governmental orders and passionate ideals can be inspiring.  But who does the heavy lifting?

The Author’s Conclusion

This brings us to the real scandal of (the Court’s school desegregation decision in) Brown. The Supreme Court finally interpreted the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as it had been intended: to protect Black Americans from state-ordered discrimination. The Court was not wrong when it held public-school  segregation laws unconstitutional.

But its decision placed the burden of desegregation—not just some of the burden, the entire burden—on children. Schoolchildren, both white and Black, were required (few volunteered) to do something that no adult was required to do. Socialized since birth to avoid unnecessary contact with the other race, they were suddenly expected to handle a situation that their parents, outside of military service, had never been asked to handle.

Labor unions and police forces and fire companies were not required to integrate in 1954. Restaurants and hotels and theaters were not required to integrate. Places of business were not required to integrate. Water fountains and bus stations and city parks were not required to integrate. Only public schools were required to integrate.

Clinton High School had eight hundred students. It was insane to send twelve Black teen-agers in there while demonstrators screamed abuse outside and there was not a single Black teacher in the building. It was insane to send nine Black teen-agers into Central High School in Little Rock with eighteen hundred white students and no Black teachers. It was insane to ask one Black adolescent, fifteen-year-old Dorothy Counts, to walk a gantlet of taunting whites so that she could single-handedly integrate Harry P. Harding High School, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Desegregation was a war. We sent children off to fight it. 

This story causes one to ask, what are today’s children fighting for?