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Collaboration consolidation Cornerstone/Heartland Merger
By Caroline Willard, President/CEO, Cornerstone League
Sept. 7, 2022 — Here’s a thought experiment for you. If Louise Herring were to somehow time travel to 2022, would she be proud of the legacy she built? What would she think of bankers’ attacks on credit unions, the interchange debate, or the hold financial technology has on consumers?
What would she do to ensure credit unions’ sustainability in today’s environment?
I believe the Mother of Credit Unions would draw from her famous quote, which encapsulates her resolve: “… the purpose of the credit union is to reform the financial system so that everyone can have his place in the sun.”
She would tackle the issue of ensuring credit unions’ sustainability by leveraging the gumption she displayed at 24 years old when she rode the bus to Estes Park, Colo., for the 1934 meeting that would establish the Credit Union National Association. She would tighten her focus, keeping her eye on the prize like she did when she ignored unfriendly comments and stares from her colleagues in those fateful days nearly 100 years ago.
Her resolve prevailed as she signed the original constitution for the national association that became CUNA, later co-founded the Ohio Credit Union League, and organized more than 500 credit unions.
And while in 2022 we find ourselves in a vastly different world, obstacles not unlike those Herring experienced still threaten our efforts to keep the credit union movement alive.
Which brings me back to her quote, “… the purpose of the credit union is to reform the financial system…”
Like Herring, I believe it’s time to reform the infrastructure that surrounds, supports, and advances our credit unions.
As certain forces seek to take us down, dismantle, and discredit the movement, we can mobilize our credit unions to do what we’re meant to do: provide unbridled access to affordable financial products and create financial well-being for all, but in a transformative way. As I’ve challenged my colleagues in the last year to ponder the question “Will credit unions be around in 100 years?” I can’t help but draw a direct line between survival, collaboration, and consolidation.
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