William J. Mellin has served as the president and CEO of the New York Credit Union Association since 2000. The New York Minute recently asked Mellin 10 questions about his time in the credit union movement, his thoughts on the future and more.
1. When did you first become aware of credit unions?
When my wife and I were first dating, she worked for New York Telephone Company and was a member of the company’s credit union. Today, that credit union is Capital Communications FCU. I joined CAP COM many years ago.
2. How did you get involved with the credit union movement and the Association?
I kind of grew up in the mortgage business, so my first position with the Association was Senior VP and Chief Operating Officer for CUC Mortgage, now called OwnersChoice Funding. As a member of the Association’s management team, I became involved in all aspects of the organization.
3. What’s the best part of leading the Association and statewide credit union movement?
Working with people who truly embrace the credit union philosophy of “people helping people” – particularly, the volunteers who serve on credit union boards and supervisory committees. The Association also has an incredibly talented staff that are committed to our mission of serving and supporting credit unions. Working alongside these folks is rewarding and fun.
4. What are the biggest challenges?
Keeping the credit union spirit alive and well. As many baby boomers retire, we need to educate and inspire the next generation of leaders. They need to know about our proud past and our promising future.
5. What is one accomplishment or moment that helped shape your career?
I’m very proud of the culture that we have built here at the Association. We support one another, we work hard, we have a lot of fun and we deliver great service to our members.
6. What do you think the New York credit union movement will look like in 10 years?
Unfortunately, we’ll have less credit unions, but we’ll also have strong larger credit unions that are well-positioned to serve more and more members.
7. How can credit unions compete against megabanks and tech behemoths like Amazon and Walmart?
By embracing the credit union difference, because it’s not what we do, but it’s why we do it that sets us apart. Additionally, we can compete by harnessing the power of cooperation, which has been the key to our past success and remains very much alive today.
8. Who are some of your credit union “heroes” and why?
There are many, but let me mention just one: Tom Dorety. Tom and I got to know each other during our many years on the CUNA board. Tom had the distinction of being president of a Florida based credit union during the peak of the housing market meltdown. Through hard work, personal sacrifices and incredible leadership, he led the credit union through it all, and now that credit union is strong and growing. Tom also always had the time and energy to take in foster children and take care of them in some of their darkest days.
9. Who has been your favorite Convention speaker to date?
Well again, many come to mind, but if I had to pick one it would be Gov. Jesse Ventura, known at the time as the Pirate of the Caribbean.
10. As a native of New York City, how did you become a Packers and Syracuse fan?
Both are because of my son. At a very young age, Brett Favre became one of Brian’s favorite athletes. And Syracuse because he went to Syracuse University. By the way, great to see a winning football season for the Orange!