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  • Writer's pictureW.B. King

Prodigy Scholarship Winner SnoCope's Rohde Earns Free Ride to CU Development Educators Program

By W.B. King


Taking on new challenges, investing in learning and surrounding himself with like-minded people has been Dustin Rohde’s philosophy since starting his career in 2004 as a teller at MountainCrest Credit Union.


“Credit unions and their purpose are my passion – it’s why I’ve continued to deepen my commitment and education to all facets of these institutions,” Rohde told Finopotamus.


Rohde’s ethos will be further realized later this year when he attends the 2023 CU Development Educators program in Madison, Wis. The trip is made possible by a scholarship from the Salt Lake City-based Prodigy, a core processing and private cloud credit union service organization (CUSO).

“I submitted my application in early February 2023, and my CEO [Steve Ellis] and I received the news that I had been chosen for the scholarship,” said Rohde, current vice president of lending at SnoCope Credit Union. “Once it was announced I just had to accept and happily agreed.”


Rohde joined the $83.6 million Everett, Wash.-based credit union in 2012 as a loan officer, setting his sights on achieving other professional milestones.


“Still seeking to advance my career by hard work and dedication, I was promoted to my current position in December 2016,” he told Finopotamus. “This has been the most rewarding endeavor that has provided the opportunity to be further involved in a community-based credit union that serves people searching for a more member-focused experience.”


Overcoming Budgetary Challenges


With more than 6,500 members, the $83.6 million SnoCope Credit Union supports one branch and has a current lending portfolio of $55.1 million. The scholarship opportunity, Rohde explained, will present areas of growth for the credit union and its valued membership.


“I am deeply grateful that Prodigy offers these types of scholarships to their credit unions. SnoCope [Credit Union] is a small financial institution and does not have a large budget for employee education and training,” he said. “Without this scholarship, I would be unable to attend this event.”


Developed by the National Credit Union Foundation to build awareness of issues that often prevent people from achieving financial freedom, the CU Development Educators program is among credit union-focused educational initiatives that Prodigy CEO Amber Harsin enthusiastically supports.

Amber Harsin

“We understand how important enhancing credit union leaders’ education is and that shouldn’t be stunted because their credit union lacks the resources – in fact, that makes it more important,” Harsin noted. “We’re very excited for Dustin, because we know he’ll take full advantage of this opportunity and bring it back with him to SnoCope Credit Union.”


While Rohde hasn’t attended a CU Development Educators program to date, colleagues who have had the opportunity “praised” the experience, he said.


“This program builds awareness of the development issues that prevent members from achieving financial freedom and educates credit union employees and gives them the tools to help members achieve them,” he said. “I can’t think of a better training event if you work at a credit union.”


Inaugural Scholarship Winner’s Perspective


Later this year, Prodigy will offer its third and final scholarship where a candidate will be selected to attend Western CUNA Management School (application details forthcoming).


“We operate according to the eight cooperative principles, the fifth of which is education, training and information,” Harsin explained. “We expanded our scholarship program this year to ensure credit union executives have the opportunities they need to succeed – regardless of the size of their credit union or its budget – and benefit the entire credit union movement.”


In February, for its inaugural scholarship, the CUSO sent Tina Wickes, vice president of lending of the $68.5 million Columbine Federal Credit Union, to CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.


“Attending GAC was a great experience all around,” she told Finopotamus. “Not only was it my first time attending, it was my first time in Washington, D.C. as well.”


Tina Wickes attending the Governmental Affiars Conference in Washington, D.C.

Wickes, who has spent 13 years working at credit unions as a lending executive, began her post at the Centennial, Colo. -based Columbine Federal Credit Union, which supports more than 7,000 members, in 2020.


“One of the highlights of the [GAC] conference was getting the opportunity to meet with our senators and house representatives, bringing forth issues and prospective bills that will impact the credit union movement,” Wickes shared, adding that she met with Colorado’s two Democratic Senators John Hickenlooper and Senator Michael Bennet, among other representatives.


“We spoke about protecting our tax status, the economic impact credit unions have in our associations region, the prospective issues with interchange should the expansion of the Durbin Amendment move forward,” Wickes continued. “We also addressed the modernization of the Federal Credit Union Act and dispelling the myth of ‘junk fees.’ These were just a few of the topics we covered – all important to our movement.”


Since returning from GAC, Wickes has been selected as the advocacy coordinator for Columbine Federal Credit Union (within its Association).


“I hope to be able to contribute and raise awareness in a meaningful way,” Wickes said, adding that she was also able to meet with Harsin while at GAC, resulting in other memorable experiences.


“Amber is wonderful. She was able to bring me several events such as The Under Ground Collision, where I was able to meet many like-minded people in the [credit union] movement, and hear a panel discussion touching on topics such as technology, economic instability, and other credit union professionals experience with ‘Climb Africa,’” she said.


The latter initiative is a fundraising campaign associated with African Confederation of Cooperative Savings & Credit Associations (ACCOSCA). With supporters like the CUNA Mutual Group, ACCOSCA promotes savings and credit cooperatives in Africa.


“This [Climb Africa] experience opened the door for my credit union to become more involved with CU Pride as an organizational ally and support the LGBTQ+ credit union community,” Wickes added.


Embrace the Experience


As Rohde’s looks forward to traveling to Madison, Wis. this coming September to attend the CU Development Educators program, he is most eager to “meet new people and discover their distinctive viewpoints” on credit unions.


“This is an excellent way to connect with those who share my enthusiasm and for enhancing the financial stability of our members,” he said. “I’d love to discover what others are doing to better serve and educate their members on how to thrive financially.”


When Finopotamus asked if Wickes had guidance for a fellow Prodigy scholarship winner, she said to ask a lot of questions, wear comfortable shoes and soak it all in.


“My advice would be to really embrace the experience. I had not been involved much with advocacy and governmental affairs prior to attending GAC, and to be quite honest, I was terrified at first,” Wickes shared. “I quickly realized there were many credit union professionals in my same boat, and asking questions to gain a deeper understanding helped me immensely.”


Rohde’s hopes to bring back new ideas that will augment SnoCope Credit Union’s existing loan program and suite of services, all of which are designed to “help members in need,” he said.


“The objective is to depart with the skills and information necessary to comprehend the needs of my community and how I can provide for them both now and in the future,” he told Finopotamus.


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