Tag Archives: desert schools

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Desert Schools Promotes Meshey to President

Desert Schools Federal Credit Union has announced the appointment of the organization’s new president, Jeff Meshey. Desert Schools’ current CEO and President, Susan Frank, will retain the title of CEO and remain in the foremost executive leadership position. A former senior executive vice president and veteran of Desert Schools, Meshey assumes the role following 20 years with the company, all of which have been under Frank’s tenure.

Meshey has long been a key contributor to Desert Schools’ immense success in the Arizona market, leading the charge to expand the organization’s presence across three counties. Prior to the economic downturn in 2008, he was instrumental in leading the growth of the credit union’s branch network, helping to move the organization’s area of service solely from school employees to a full community charter, now serving any member of the community who lives or works within the three counties that the branches occupy.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to move further into a leadership role within Desert Schools and am humbled by the organization’s faith in me,” said Meshey. “I believe in being both a leader and a servant for our members and employees, and I look forward to continuing to make a difference in my new position.”

With $3.8 billion in assets, more than 300,000 members and 50 branch locations across Maricopa, Pinal and Gila Counties, Desert Schools Federal Credit Union assumes the title of largest credit union in Arizona.

financial

Credit unions grow membership, revenue

Like many other industries, credit unions in Arizona are bouncing back from the economic downturn.

Credit unions, which are similar to banks in the products and services that they offer except at a slightly lower cost, are taking advantage of consumer disenchantment with big banks to attract new members. According to a recent National Credit Union Administration report, through the first quarter of 2012, credit unions around the country combined for a record 92.5 million members.

“As local, member-owned financial institutions, credit unions are simply doing what they have always been good at,” said Scott Earl, CEO of Mountain West Credit Union Association, a trade organization of credit unions across Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming. “They have a long history and reputation for providing excellent member service, financial education and a wide variety of financial services to fit their members needs. The recent increased recognition of these qualities and the progress credit unions have made is establishing their success as an industry.”

Nationally, credit unions generated $2.1 billion in profits and added 667,000 new members in the first quarter of 2012, a 25 percent spike in profits compared with a year earlier. Most large Arizona credit unions — including Desert Schools, TruWest, Arizona State, Credit Union West and Arizona Federal — saw profits roughly double in the first quarter of 2012, compared with earnings from a year earlier.

“The word ‘profit’ is a bit of a misnomer,” said Paul Stull, senior vice president of strategy and brand for Arizona State Credit Union. “Credit unions do have net income. However, all credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives. The net income or funds available after expenses are paid become part of a credit union’s capital or are used to build new branches, purchase new technology or offer additional services.”

Something that Arizona State Credit Union added recently were construction loans to its home loan portfolio in anticipation of an improving economy, as evidenced by the 27 percent growth of new home sales in the first quarter, compared to the prior year.

The construction loan program allows members the opportunity to lock in their mortgage rate early and avoid the possibility of fluctuating rates during the construction phase. Additional perks to this all-in-one loan include needing to only qualify once, signing one set of loan documents and paying one set of loan fees for both the construction-phase financing and permanent mortgage.

“As a local financial cooperative, the Credit Union is proud to offer low rates and flexible terms on a product that few financial institutions are offering,” said David E. Doss, president and CEO of Arizona State Credit Union. “We are excited to add construction loans to our home loan options as it is one more way we can assist members residing in the Arizona communities we serve.”

A J.D. Power and Associates study this year showed that consumer backlash against fees and the perception of poor customer service from some of the bigger banks have caused some consumers to switch to credit unions, whichunlike banks, which are run as private businesses seeking profits, operate as nonprofit entities and are technically owned by their members.

“Generally credit unions offer lower fees and better interest rates than banks,” Stull said. “This is one reason consumers may come to a credit union. We also see many people that switch because they want to do business with a local financial institution that is based in Arizona. Our deposits are returned to the community in the form of loans than in turn grow jobs and economic development in the communities we serve. Many consumers have made a choice to support local businesses, and credit unions are a great example of that.”

While credit unions never issue subprime mortgages, which many experts blame for helping lead the nation into the recession, credit unions did get hit with the impact of the failing economy. One lesson Earl said they learned: Innovation.

“Learning to manage resources while providing increased quality of services through the recession has challenged the way credit unions approach problems,” he said. “Increased creativity and credit union technology are some of more positive lessons for the long term.”
In addition to lower fees and increasing efficiency that is resulting from lessons learned in the wake of the recession, Stull said credit unions offer free financial counseling, will help members create a budget to manage their funds, and Arizona State Credit Union’s Home Affordable Refinance Program has allowed homeowners who owe more than the house is worth to refinance and reduce their payments.

“Choosing a credit union is a win-win situation for consumers,” Stull said. “They can get a better rate or lower fees to help them stretch their budgets, and they can benefit their community by doing business with a local financial cooperative that helps create jobs and grow the local economy. You get a good deal and you can feel good about helping your community, too.”

Desert Schools - community service and leadership award

Desert Schools Honored For Community Service In Arizona

Desert Schools Federal Credit Union, the largest not-for-profit membership-based financial institution in the state of Arizona, announced today that it has been selected by Toastmasters International and the organization’s District 3 Governor as the 2012 award recipient for community service and leadership for the state of Arizona.

This is the first time Desert Schools has been recognized by Toastmasters, a globally recognized, international nonprofit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of helping members improve their communication, public speaking and leadership skills. The organization has more than 270,000 members and over 13,000 clubs in 116 countries.

Desert Schools will be presented with the Toastmasters International 2012 award for community service and leadership on Friday, May 18th. Cathy Graham, vice president of marketing at Desert Schools Federal Credit Union, will accept the award on the credit union’s behalf.

Desert Schools has built its foundation on a fundamental passion for lending a personal hand toward positive change throughout Valley communities and encourages its employees to get involved in the same philanthropic spirit on which the organization has prided itself since its founding.

The Desert Schools ‘CommuniTeam’ – a group made up of dedicated employee volunteers – is active throughout Valley communities and offers Desert Schools’ employees the opportunity to volunteer their time and philanthropic talents throughout the community. Participating in nearly 130 community projects in the Phoenix metropolitan area, 45% of Desert Schools’ employees got involved with or led community projects in 2011, volunteering 2,902 hours to support various causes.

Susan Frank, President and CEO of Desert Schools, said, “We couldn’t be more honored to accept this award from an outstanding organization like Toastmasters International. Giving back to our community has long been the cornerstone of Desert Schools’ business. The time that Desert Schools staff is able to spend year in and year out doing good throughout our Valley is something that we’re very proud of, and it means that much more to be recognized by such an extraordinary philanthropic organization.”

In 2011, the credit union coordinated fundraising efforts with employees, vendors and partners to give back more than $770,000 to the community. Desert Schools raised $360,285 for the Children’s Miracle Network, $224,178 for the United Way and $96,000 in community grants in 2011 alone.

The credit union also awarded $30,000 in community service scholarships to high school seniors and college freshmen for demonstrating dedication to their studies and continued education as well as their commitment to giving back to the community. Scholarships were awarded for Fall 2012 coursework.

For more information on Desert Schools Federal Credit Union, visit Desert Schools’ website at desertschools.org.