CUANY’s Economic Forum delivers expert speakers, timely topics

Contact: Ron McLean, Association SVP
(800) 342-9835, ext. 8191, cell: (518) 469-5945

(Albany, NY) - Credit union leaders heard from economists, industry experts and a bestselling author during the Credit Union Association of New York’s 2013 Economic Forum. The event was held Oct. 8-9 at the Desmond Hotel in Albany, N.Y., drawing attendees from every corner of the state.

Following a brief welcome from CUANY President/CEO William J. Mellin, the Forum kicked off with a presentation from John Lass, CUNA Mutual Group’s SVP of strategy and business development. Lass highlighted emerging threats posed by non-traditional financial institutions, as well as new payment technologies expected to make an impact in the coming years. Lass also encouraged credit unions to look for growth opportunities by focusing on member needs instead of specific products or services.

“The presentation was great,” said Don Denofio, president/CEO of Saratoga’s Community FCU. “It wasn’t a dry economic presentation; it was a presentation on the bigger picture—what boards and CEOs have to be looking at as far as trends in the industry that will affect us the most.”

Following Lass’ presentation, attendees had their choice of concurrent breakout sessions led by industry experts. The three sessions focused on economic outlooks, asset/liability management trends and loan portfolio risk management strategies.

Day one concluded with a networking reception, allowing attendees to connect with their peers. “It’s really important to be exposed to high-caliber presenters, but there’s equal brilliance to be found in the networking and conversations with our colleagues,” said Jack Ewald, manager/CEO of UHS Employees FCU. “There’s really a lot to be gained by just speaking with folks on the other side of the state who are working in the same environment.”

The following morning began with a presentation by Dr. Barry Asmus, a senior economist with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Asmus offered a positive outlook on the U.S. economy and focused on the resurgence of American manufacturing and production.

The Forum concluded with a lighthearted presentation from keynote speaker Steve Gilliland. A credit union board member, bestselling author and Speaker Hall of Fame inductee, Gilliland encouraged the group to rediscover their passion and “enjoy the ride.”

“It’s so easy to get caught up in what we’re going to do next in order to stay competitive, but Mr. Gilliland really made me remember that we have to focus on the here and now—what we’re doing today,” said ACMG FCU President Vicki O’Neill. “And he knew how to drive home his point with humor. It’s always good to laugh.”

Lead sponsors of the Forum included CUNA Mutual Group, CO-OP Financial Services and CU Direct.

Keynote speaker Steve Gilliland engages the crowd.

From left: Speaker Dr. Barry Asmus; James
Mathews, Balance Sheet Solutions senior
analyst; Victor Vrigian, Alloya Corporate FCU
VP of marketing; William Mellin,
CUANY president/CEO.

Attendees enjoy a presentation.
Speaker John Lass discusses industry trends

The Credit Union Association of New York has served as the trade association for the state’s credit unions for 96 years. New York credit unions have assets of more than $65 billion and serve 4.9 million members. To learn more about CUANY, visit To find a credit union or learn more about the credit union movement, visit