Strengthening the Credit Union Industry Through Leadership

Gary Grinnell, NAFCU Board Chair

Credit unions’ board of directors play a vital role in the success of the institution. Whether you’re a leader of a credit union and work directly with your organization’s board—or you are a credit union member volunteering on the board of a credit union yourself—understanding your responsibilities is key.

I was honored to take on the role of chairman of the NAFCU Board of Directors this time last year. It is a privilege to work with NAFCU to advance the interests of an industry that puts members’ needs above all else. We recently held elections for open seats, and I was thrilled to welcome a newcomer to the Board and welcome back those who continue to dedicate their time serving NAFCU and the credit union industry.

It reminded me about the important role boards of directors play—in all organizations. For NAFCU, our main objective is to guide the association as it builds strategic priorities for advocacy efforts, compliance assistance, and education opportunities. We also provide financial oversight and accountability to ensure members’ dues are spent diligently and for purposes that support the association’s mission.

I have found that my leadership strategy as chairman of the board often shares striking similarities to my strategy as CEO at Corning Federal Credit Union. There, my role is to protect our culture and values, execute our strategy and mission, and ensure long-term success for our members and team.

Similarly, the role of the NAFCU board is to support staff and keep the organization focused on its mission. I’ve found that, as chair, my main role often comes down to facilitating an environment where the leadership and great team at NAFCU can execute their jobs effectively. When they are empowered to focus on what they do best—providing extreme member service, advocacy, compliance assistance, and education opportunities—we, as members of NAFCU, reap the rewards of their efforts.

When we come into a leadership position or have the opportunity to volunteer our expertise, it’s the culmination of a myriad of experiences, skills, and knowledge. It is humbling to be recognized for years of hard work and dedication. It also comes with high expectations and responsibilities.

For the NAFCU Board of Directors, it’s important that we recognize this and take time to reflect on the impact we can have on the entire credit union industry. Across the industry, our institutions are unique and serve specific communities that have varying needs. But, we share the same mission of providing safe, affordable financial products and services to those who need them most. NAFCU is here to make sure you and your institution can do that effectively.

Rest assured that NAFCU’s board is here for you. We will provide strong guidance to not only leadership, but all employees at the association on the challenges facing our industry and the policy priorities that will allow us to thrive. We will encourage smart investments in resources that will support you, and we will play an active role in advocating on behalf of the industry.

We are proud to serve and remain committed to strengthening credit unions. 

Gary Grinnell is president and CEO of Corning Credit Union in Corning, NY.