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Caroline Casey, CEO of Kanchi and Founder of the O2 Ability Awards, addresses attendees during the opening general session of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues' 2013 Annual Meeting and Convention.

SURPRISE SPEAKER INSPIRES ATTENDEES
updated 10/29/13 10:13 AM
Opening Day at Annual Convention
The audience got an explosive surprise during Monday's opening general session at the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues' 2013 Annual Meeting and Convention, with O2 Ability Awards founder and Kanchi CEO Caroline Casey launching on stage to tell her tragedy-to-triumph story of overcoming personal insecurities and obstacles from being born legally blind.

"Be dangerous in dreaming," she told credit union CEOs, board members, executives, and others. "We can't control recessions, cancer, and other horrible events in life. But we can control our response. Please don't try to be someone you aren't."

Casey, an Irish immigrant, has dedicated the past decade of her life to changing how global society views people with disabilities. At Kanchi, she developed a set of best practices (based on ISO 9000 quality standards) for businesses to help them see "disabled" workers as an asset as opposed to a liability. Hundreds of companies have adopted those standards, changing their policies and attitudes.

"Nearly one billion people around the world have a disability, with more than $9 trillion in disposable income," Casey said. "As credit unions, you say you want to change people's lives. We're people too. You helped me start my financial life again, and I will never forget that."

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Attendees were also greeted on stage by Leagues President and CEO Diana Dykstra and Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President and CEO Bill Cheney, both of whom reiterated the "Unite For Good" message that is empowering state leagues, CUNA, and credit unions to collaboratively work together to reach out to consumers and legislators in Congress and state capitols.

All day Monday, as well as Tuesday morning, credit union executives had the opportunity to get a "close up" with the convention's high-impact keynote speakers, as well as special guests from the credit union system, during the Executive Series, which is one of a few touch points brand new to this year's event. They included McGonigal; Teddy Goff, social media guru; Dr. Neil Goldman, a credit union visionary; Elizabeth Whitehead, director of NCUA's Region 5; Jan Owen, commissioner of the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO), and Mary Martha Fortney, President and CEO of the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS).

Leo H. Shapiro Award and Other League Awards
During Monday's opening general session, Travis CU CEO Patsy Van Ouwerkerk received the Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award, the California Credit Union League's highest honor.

Named after Leo H. Shapiro, the father of California's credit union movement, the award recognizes Van Ouwerkerk's lifetime of contributions to the California credit union movement.

Past winners of the award gathered on stage with Van Ouwerkerk as she accepted the award and commented to the audience on how honored she feels to be involved in the California credit union movement.

On Tuesday morning, the Leagues' other award winners were recognized both privately at a special reception, as well as on stage in the general session. They included:

  • Xceed Financial FCU CEO Teresa Freeborn—the Distinguished Service Award
  • Ventura County CU Board Chairman Roxanne Ostrem—the J. Alvin George Outstanding Volunteer Award
  • L.A. Healthcare FCU CEO Annice Kim—the Tomorrow's Star Award
  • Thompson Consulting Inc. CEO Randy Thompson—the Kim Bannan Eternal Flame Award (for an individual)
  • Catalyst Corporate FCU—the Kim Bannan Eternal Flame Award (for an organization)

An Exciting, Eventful Kick-Off
Attendees made their rounds to a number of exciting venues, presentations, educational sessions, networking events, and yearly meetings all day Monday and throughout Tuesday morning of this year's convention, including:

  • The Western CUNA Management School Breakfast
  • The California and Nevada Youth Involvement Network Planning Session
  • Bite of Reality Financial Literacy Workshop
  • Shapiro Group Networking Reception
  • Credit Union Volunteer Networking Reception
  • Executive Series

Credit union CEOs, executives, board members, and other attendees from California, Nevada, Texas, Hawaii, and Alaska searched within themselves to "reach up, reach out, reach deep" as they explored innovative concepts, philosophies, and strategies to take back and transform their credit unions.

RMJ Foundation Donor Appreciation Gala
On Sunday evening, the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation held a Donor Appreciation Gala to recognize those who have supported the foundation this year (in lieu of its annual Beacon Awards Gala).

Those who attended from credit unions and other organizations were recognized for their contributions in helping make the Bite of Reality financial workshop successful—an ongoing initiative that creates a one-day real-life financial budgeting scenario for California and Nevada school kids, helping them venture into "the real world."

 
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