CA/NV CU Leagues' REACH Innovation Group Showcase Inventive CU Solutions

The participants of California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ 2016 REACH Innovation Groups showcased their ideas and innovations for credit unions at the Leagues’ REACH 2016 conference, held Nov. 2-4 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

The purpose of the 2016 REACH Innovation Group was to develop new ideas and innovations for credit unions in coordination with the Filene Research Institute, and modeled after Filene’s i3 (Ideas, Innovation, Implementation) program. The group launched with a two-day experiential learning session, immersing the participants in the Filene Method of Innovation. Then the teams met weekly remotely, connecting every six weeks via webinars facilitated by Filene.

At the conference, a three-person panel of judges asked questions and gave feedback about each REACH Innovation Group team, which included:

Team Broken Boundaries (Ashley Brinkman, CU 1; Eurie Im, USC CU; Mindy Mills, SchoolsFirst FCU; Natalie Tomajan, Educational Employees CU; and Chris Olson, The Members Group) which presented CU Simplify, a comprehensive, simplified daily or weekly email incorporating extremely short news-information nuggets and member credit union examples/stories to create an employee engagement culture that’s highly participatory and rewarding. A background aggregating tool would collect, filter, and present only necessary and interesting content. This would create a higher-engaged workforce, which would boost internal moral and inspiration while simultaneously boosting member engagement, quality service, and productivity. Also, it would cut down on email bombardment and overload.

Team Beyond Seven was comprised of CEOs for four small credit unions: Christopher Bruno, McKesson EFCU; Christina Haley, PostCity Financial CU, Jon Hernandez, CalCom FCU; and Linda White, United Health CU. The group presented VABA (Voice Activated Banking Assistant)—an oral-command software system (app) for devices that operates behind a credit union’s mobile banking platform and allows members to incorporate banking into their packed day. VABA’s highly-relational software is secure through a self-activating one-time code and will transact money, make payments, respond to requests and queries, and even answer financial education questions. VABA makes the typical “banking” experience fun and easy.

Team CU Force (Anthony Couturie, SchoolsFirst FCU; Brenda Lopez, MyEE CU; Justin Weiler, BCU; Nicole Camrillo, Wealth CU; Steven Page, SafeAmerica; and Lawrence Curry, SkyOne CU) presented a CU Virtual Training Group—a virtual reality training module using headset/goggles that “gamifies” real-life simulations of members making requests, asking questions, and needing assistance. Employees are transported to a “real” situation in a real-looking branch (perhaps even their own) and faced with questions about the right choices to make. This would develop higher-engaged and more confident employees, which will create less turnover and more engagement as this model visually “meets employees where they are” in learning.

The panel of judges consisted of Direct President and CEO Tony Boutelle, CO-OP Financial Services EVP of Markets and Strategy Caroline Willard, and California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President and CEO Diana Dykstra. The moderator was Tansley Stearns, chief impact officer at Filene Research Institute.

About the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues: With headquarters in Ontario, CA, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues is the trade association representing the interests of more than 300 credit unions in California and Nevada, and their 10 million members. For more information, go to

About Filene: Filene Research Institute is an independent, consumer finance think and do tank dedicated to scientific and thoughtful analysis about issues affecting the future of credit unions, retail banking and cooperative finance. Filene is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Nearly 1,000 members make the nonprofit’s research, innovation and impact programs possible.

Larry Palochik, Senior Vice President of Member Solutions
California and Nevada Union Leagues

Tansley Stearns, Chief Impact Officer
Filene Research Institute


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