National Foundation graduates first-ever virtual DE class

The National Credit Union Foundation held its first-ever virtual Credit Union Development Education training session Sept. 14 through Oct. 9, and two leaders with ties to the New York credit union movement were among the 37 graduates.

Robert Suarez, AVP of community development at Bethpage Federal Credit Union, and Teresa Freeborn, president/CEO of Xceed Financial Credit Union — which is based in California but has a presence in Rochester — completed the program along with employees and volunteers from credit unions and system partners across the United States.

DE training provides lessons in credit union structure, purpose and the “why” that differentiates credit unions from other financial institutions in which participants engage in small and large group exercises and interactive speaker sessions focused on the credit union difference,  development issues and empathy. Each lesson provides insights into how credit unions can leverage their unique business model to help their members and communities overcome the financial and developmental issues they face.

“The DE program was truly a rewarding experience,” Freeborn said. “I have worked in this credit union system for my entire career – in Canada and the United States and taking the time to focus on all things credit union by attending the DE program this year was like a tonic to me. It was so good to be reminded that what we do as credit unions is noble work.”

Suarez said that the DE program “was an incredible experience that solidified just how much credit unions truly care about their members and communities. The credit union philosophy of ‘people helping people’ is a mission that has carried on throughout the history of the industry.”

He also said that “the message may be simple, but is reaffirmed by the passion and commitment each of us have every day to better help our members to make sound financial decisions so that they may achieve their dreams.”

Both Freeborn and Suarez expressed their thanks for the opportunity to participate in the program. “Thank you for reconnecting me to my beloved movement and what we stand for. It will stay with me forever,” Freeborn said.

“I am honored to have participated in and graduated from the first-ever virtual DE program, and want to thank my credit union, Bethpage, for this great opportunity,” Suarez said.

To learn more about the DE program, visit the National Foundation’s website.

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