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AACUC shifts gears but keeps its focus
A full generation after its launch in 1995, the African-American Credit Union Coalition is preparing to branch out into a new phase.

While the group’s early years were focused on networking, the emphasis later shifted to become more action-oriented, with a focus on advocacy, influence and awareness. While all of those things are still critical for the group, 2018 marks the start of a third phase in its development, transitioning to highlight professional development and mentorship, while also continuing to stress the importance of collaboration and spreading the word about the importance of diversity within the credit union movement.

“I think it is fair that the AACUC is recognized for its work in professional development,” said Pete Crear, the former WOCCU head who has been an instrumental figure for the coalition. “I think the association has its strongest and most lasting impact in its intern program and the scholarships it provides. Together these make a loud statement on behalf of African-American credit union professionals and volunteers.”

AACUC continues to work alongside partners such as the Credit Union National Association, National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, CUNA Mutual group, the World Council of Credit Unions, National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and more. But it has also expanded its reach, moving beyond U.S. borders to partner with credit unions in South America and the Caribbean. Among its next steps will also be determining how to best assist CUs in Puerto Rico devastated by last summer’s hurricanes.

“This is an organization that really does not mind doing the one-on-one,” said Sheilah Montgomery, retired president/CEO of CU of Atlanta and AACUC’s first president. “It doesn’t matter what size the credit union is, it doesn’t matter the stature of the CEO; if one of our credit unions needs help, we’re just a phone call away and we will do what we need to do to help that credit union succeed. One of our top goals is to find a way to make sure that those that can succeed will succeed with our resources and partnerships, whether it be personnel or financial. It’s not about the size of our organization, it’s about the impact.”

With that in mind, the following photos are a look back at the coalition’s early days.