California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues and Utah Credit Union Association Form Alliance

(Top) Scott Simpson, President and CEO of Utah’s Credit Unions; (bottom) Diana Dykstra, President and CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.

LAS VEGAS, Feb. 28, 2024 – The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, together with the Utah Credit Union Association, announced today they have entered into an agreement to form a joint association support services organization.

While each state entity will maintain governance of their respective advocacy operations, non- advocacy related services and back-office functions will be done by the new entity born of the partnership. Leadership from the three states agree the operating model maximizes efficiency while preserving state leagues’ identities, which is critical to advocacy efforts.

“California, as a large state, has a big presence in the credit union space, but we’ve consistently honored and respected the work of all states.” said Geri LaChance, President and CEO of SESLOC Federal Credit Union and California Credit Union League board chair. “Ultimately, successful advocacy comes down to relationships at the local level. Personal relationships with policymakers are nurtured over time and are pivotal to credit unions’ ability to champion member and industry issues.”

“We’ve had a solid, successful partnership for many years in Nevada and California so when approached regarding the possibility of amplifying this model, it was a natural fit,” said Jennifer Denoo, President and CEO of Great Basin Federal Credit Union and Nevada Credit Union League board chair. “This is a strategic opportunity and sound plan for future success.”

“Our leagues have discussed at great length the desire to continue to amplify our strong, local advocacy machinery,” said Shane London, President and CEO of Deseret First Credit Union and Utah Credit Union Association board chair. “We recognize the need to achieve scale while remaining fiercely focused on the power of local advocacy. This model does both.”

The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues have played an important role in ensuring the sustained health of its member credit unions for more than 90 years. The partnership with Utah Credit Union Association, operating with the same focus since 1928, results in an organization that serves over 330 total credit unions and their more than 17 million members.

“California and Nevada have a long history of supporting each other as well as our fellow states in government advocacy,” said Diana Dykstra, President and CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. “It is critical to protect and amplify local affinity in the political and policy arena. This model works and works well.”

Dykstra, who recently announced her plans to retire after more than 40 years of service, spoke to the impressive qualifications and dedication to the credit union movement of her successor, Scott Simpson, current President and CEO of the Utah Credit Union Association.

“Scott’s decades of engagement in the credit union movement perfectly position him to lead the new partnership,” said Dykstra. “He is dedicated to the people helping people philosophy and with him at the helm, I know we can achieve even more impact, drive positive change, and empower each other to thrive and succeed in an ever-evolving landscape.”

Among other notable career accomplishments, Simpson was elected to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) board in 2022 and currently serves as a board member for America’s Credit Unions. He has served as the chairman of CULAC, the federal political action committee of CUNA, the National Advocacy Fund, and dedicated nearly a decade on the board and ultimately served as chair of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL). Prior to his service in credit unions, Simpson worked for the U.S. Senate and in electoral politics advising candidates and campaigns at every level of government.

“In this expanded partnership, I am inspired by the possibilities that lie ahead,” said Simpson. “Together, we have the power to shape tomorrow into something extraordinary and I am excited to team up and reach into the future.”

Q: Why is this happening?

A: The landscape of the credit union advocacy system has been changing. This is a strategic decision to steer the evolution of the league system in a way that maintains the strength of local control and affinity, keeping the main focus on advocacy while allowing for the pursuit of scale and efficiency for credit union support services.

Q: How is this different? What is changing?

A: For California and Nevada credit unions, it will feel very familiar. This is an expansion of our cooperative circle to include another state. Each state will still maintain the governance of their respective advocacy operations while jointly operating all non-advocacy related association services. This transformation is positioned as a partnership rather than an outsourced, management agreement.

Q: Why not just merge?

A: We feel it is critical to protect and amplify local affinity in the government advocacy mission of leagues. It is foundational culture and emotion in the political and policy arena. We believe merging in to regional or super-regional leagues therefore dilutes local control and impact. All other league services can and should seek efficiency. This model allows for both.

Q: What was your decision process?

A: Our industry is about collaboration. Discussions for using new collaboration to increase efficiency has been a key focus at several strategic planning sessions. In recent years, conversations on various joint options with Utah and CA/NV have been discussed with board support to do so. Each state board was jointly approached by our CEOs in 2023 with their observations and proposed solutions to the realities of the credit union market and the related association trajectory. For all three boards, the proposed solutions were sound and ultimately deemed both a strategic opportunity and a proper succession plan.

Q: What about existing leadership/staff?

A: Maintaining continuity of service to members of all three leagues is critical and there is ample talent in all the organizations. Retaining and optimizing that leadership and legacy will be a key priority. We will still need to execute on each organization’s 2024 plans, obligations, and budgets. We know there will be some redundancy. Where possible we will redeploy talent into this new model. This will be evaluated with care and equity, balancing the ability and needs of the employees with the strategic, future requirements of protecting and enhancing the credit union operating environment.

Q: How long will this transformation take?

A: We will continue to operate with the approved plans and budgets of 2024. Diana is retiring on July 1st and Scott will officially assume president/CEO duties at that time. From this announcement through 2024, the combined organizations’ member observations and needs will be gathered, organization assets and abilities evaluated. The new structures in this model will be built through the combined, strategic planning process beginning in Q3 of 2024. We may require some of 2025 to execute on this transformation.

Q: What about dues?

A: Each state will retain governance of their state’s advocacy operations through their respective board. This includes managing the financial requirement for that work through establishing a state-specific dues formula. The joint operation of the non-advocacy, association services will have its own pro-rata shared budget, delivered to each league board for approval. For the member credit union, this will be seamless, and you’ll still receive only one invoice from your league.

Q: When will Scott be named CEO?

A: Diana is retiring July 1st and Scott will officially assume president/CEO duties at that time.

Q: What differences will credit unions notice?

A: Organizationally it should feel very familiar. You are still a member of the same league as before. The joint operations are meant to be relatively silent and seamless. The sense of efficiency and combined resources should be evident over time.

Q. When does the new Partnership Alliance become official?

A: A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by the three boards on February 23, 2024. We are working under that agreement starting today and through our interim organizational period expected to go into early 2025.