Lisa Servon 

CUNA Mutual Group Sponsored Keynote Speaker

Lisa Servon is Professor of City Planning at the University of Pennsylvania and former dean at The New School. She is the author of The Unbanking of America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2017); Bridging the Digital Divide: Technology, Community, and Public Policy(Blackwell 2002), Bootstrap Capital: Microenterprises and the American Poor(Brookings 1999), Gender and Planning: A Reader (With Susan Fainstein, Rutgers University Press 2005), and Otra Vida es Posible: Practicas Economicas Alternativas Durante la Crisis (With Manuel Castells, Joana Conill, Amalia Cardenas and Sviatlana Hlebik. UOC Press 2012). She has contributed to the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and The Wall Street Journal and has appeared on PBS News HourMarketplace Money and Radio Times and her research is featured in the documentary Spent: Looking for Change.

She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two children, and a dog named Friday.



Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno was elected NJ’s first Lieutenant Governor in 2009 and was re-elected in 2013.  In addition to serving as the Lt. Governor, she serves as Secretary of State.

Guadagno has led the Christie Administration's efforts to improve NJ’s economic vitality, encourage job growth, streamline government, and make businesses feel welcome in the state.

She oversees the NJ Partnership for Action (PFA), the state’s four-pronged comprehensive economic development strategy. The PFA is a public-private approach to economic development and the starting point for all initiatives to grow the state’s economy and create quality, sustainable jobs. 

Guadagno also chairs the Red Tape Review Commission, which has engaged in an ongoing review and reform of the State's regulatory process.

She also chairs the NJ Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force which is charged with forging an effective blueprint for securing the long-term growth and viability of the state’s military bases and Coast Guard installations.

As the Secretary of State, Guadagno is NJ’s chief election official, oversees promotion of the state’s $40 billion tourism industry, and administers programs related to the arts, culture, and history.

Guadagno was born in Waterloo, Iowa and is a cum laude graduate of Ursinus College. She received her law degree, cum laude, from the American University Washington College of Law. She and her husband reside in Monmouth Beach with their three sons.


Blesson Abraham

Blesson Abraham is the director of AdvantEdge Analytics -- a data analytics technology and services business helping credit unions deliver a better member experience through actionable insights. AdvantEdge is powered by a portfolio of software and consulting services designed to help credit unions act upon the insights and realize value. In this role he is responsible for helping credit unions integrate data, access insights and execute on their insights.

Prior to joining CUNA Mutual Group, Abraham has over 8 years of experience working within the credit union industry, with the majority of that time being spent at Baxter Credit Union. He served in a variety of leadership positions within the credit union and IT services industries.

He co-founded SavvyIntel in 2014 to help credit unions tell the story behind their data and help predict member behaviors through data science. He and his team have over 50 years of big data experience with 25 years of experience working within the credit union movement and now the SavvyIntel team is a part of CUNA Mutual Group.

Abraham earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Illinois Unversity.


Frank Allgood

Francis "Frank" Allgood has more than 15 years of experience in every facet of public information and marketing communications. He has a proven ability to plan, problem solve, prioritize projects and manage personnel in a time-sensitive, fast-paced environment.

After a short period with the Easley Progress, including a first place honor by the South Carolina Press Association, Francis joined GSA Business in 2000. He successfully led a struggling media company into a brand the business community came to know and respect.

In 2003, he was named South Carolina Small Business Administration’s Journalist of the Year. Under his strategy, company sales grew threefold from 2002 to 2007, ultimately making the business attractive for acquisition in 2008.

Before joining YMC, Francis served as the central point-of-contact for another Greenville based marketing firm. There he directed, planned and managed comprehensive marketing, advertising, public relations and branding strategies for various clients including several community banks.

Since 1999, he has been married to Jeneane Rekowski Allgood. They have two children, Thomas and Penelope. In 2008, he was one of only 40 alumni profiled in “40 Alumni for 40 Years” by his alma mater, USC Upstate.


Don Arkell

Don Arkell started his career in the Credit Union industry working as a frontline lender at Clark County Credit Union, in Las Vegas Nevada. While at CCCU, Don quickly moved through the ranks at the credit union, working in all areas of Sales and Lending. He eventually founded a CUSO owned by CCCU– Members Auto Brokerage Service, Inc.

Taking a break from the industry, Don established himself in the Pharmaceutical and BioTech Sales arena working for both Fortune 50 and startup companies. He was recognized for his sales abilities winning several national Sales Awards and mentoring Sales Teams.

After years in the world of Biotech, he couldn’t resist the call of the Credit Union once again. Don joined up with Red Rocks Credit Union in Highlands Ranch, CO in 2007 and helped RRCU to establish a vibrant Sales culture while transforming the Credit Union from full retail delivery to offering 100% of consumer loans and member service through remote delivery channels. This effort drove down operational expenses while increasing loans, total assets and net income.

During the difficult economic times of the last decade, Don Arkell navigated the organization through the muddy waters of the mortgage business by overhauling the entire Real Estate Lending program. Focusing on the core values of the organization, Don completely rebuilt this vital area of the organization by implementing a successful Consultative Lending strategy. Don’s efforts are credited with turning this failing area around and growing into the most profitable area of the credit union.

Don’s unique leadership style and passion for Sales and Leadership have made him a sought after speaker, trainer and strategist. Don Arkell joined the team at CULendingAdvice in September 2015. His extensive Sales and Lending experience married well with the established consultant practice at CULA.


Lauren Bethea

Lauren Bethea is an Economic Development Specialist (EDS) for the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA) Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives. Lauren began her career with NCUA in April 1997 as an Examiner in Region II after transferring from the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC). In 1999, Lauren was promoted to the EDS position with the responsibility of providing one-on-one consultation, training and recommendations to improve the financial and operational condition of small credit unions. Lauren has a Philadelphia, PA duty station but works with credit unions nationally.

Lauren is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and a minor in Economics. Lauren also holds the Credit Union Development Educator and Certified Financial Counselor designations.


Ancin Cooley

Ancin Cooley, CIA, CISA, is the Founder and Principal of Synergy Credit Union Consulting, Inc. Synergy provides a range of risk management services to financial institutions, which include strategic planning, board training, loan reviews, ALLL consulting, MBL Process improvement, and regulatory exam remediation. As Principal, Ancin manages a growing portfolio of clients throughout the United States. He brings more than 10 years of experience to the industry. Ancin honed his skills while working as a regulatory examiner for the US Treasury. As an examiner, he performed safety and soundness examinations for community and mid size institutions ranging from $100 million to $15 billion in total assets. After leaving regulatory work, Ancin worked for a regional accounting firm where he led internal audits, as well as loan and pre-regulatory examiner reviews.

John Dearing

John has played a key role in the success of Capstone, Strategic, Inc. (Capstone) since 1996. The firm focuses on helping organizations grow successfully through proactive strategic growth programs. Capstone has particular expertise in assisting in acquisitions of closely-held not-for-sale businesses and has completed over US$1 billion in transactions. John leads Capstone’s client engagement teams and operations while advising clients on strategic external growth (acquisitions, investments, and partnerships).

For over ten years, John has worked with credit union and CUSO  leaders  and  board  members  on  developing and implementing strategic growth plans, due diligence training, market and prospect evaluation, valuation, and the prioritization of growth initiatives. His experience includes facilitating acquisitions for PSCU, Ongoing Operations, and South Carolina Financial Solutions as well as working with Member Driven Technologies and CU Realty.

John’s background also includes credit assessment and loan recommendations with the Export- Import Bank of the United States, The Americas Division, where he honed his international banking and finance skills. As Director of a trade association and as the Co-Administrator of a healthcare insurance fund, John focused on accounting and operational efficiencies for profit and not-for-profit entities. He gained additional consulting and international business experience while attending the Institute of European Studies in Vienna, Austria.

John has taught thousands of executives about external growth topics, focusing on proactive growth, mergers and acquisitions, and business valuation. He has delivered various presentations to a number of executive organizations and conferences.


Drew M. Edwards

Edwards & Edwards is a law firm serving New York and New Jersey. Stephen J. Edwards graduated from William & Mary School of Law in 1974, and began representing credit unions in 1976. Drew M. Edwards joined the firm in 2009 after graduating from Columbia University School of Law. Today, we represent over 35 credit unions, assisting our clients with collections, regulatory compliance, and day-to-day legal problems.

Tony Kitt

With over 30 years of business experience, Tony brings highly developed talents as a strategic leader for large, complex organizations. With a reputation as a collaborative change agent and a hands-on team builder, Tony joined Plexcity from the CANV CU Leagues where he directed the innovation and planning processes through oversight of existing business partnerships, new business initiatives and internal-facing support functions.

Tony spent 9 years at Western Corporate Federal Credit Union (WesCorp) proving leadership to the IT, Payment Systems, Member Services, and Marketing and Communications departments. Prior to joining WesCorp, Tony was an Air Force Officer, appointed the first Chief Financial Officer for United States Northern Command. In his 20 year career he held financial management staff and command positions at all levels in the Air Force, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Tonya Sieracki

Tonya Sieracki is a Strategic Account Executive specializing in CO-OP Products and Technology.  As an Account Executive, Tonya works closely with the Product and Business Development teams to provide tactical technical knowledge and direction based on the vast suite of CO-OP’s products and services to client credit unions.  Getting her start in the credit union industry, Tonya worked for Service Centers Corporation as part of the Michigan-based SC24 ATM network prior to their merger with CO-OP in 2003.  She then moved into other industries working on software and system development before returning to the industry with CO-OP in 2015.

Ben Smidt

Ben Smidt serves as MGIC’s Digital Marketing Program Manager. He leads corporate development and management of MGIC's digital marketing strategy. This includes establishing a clear vision for all digital marketing initiatives and providing strategic direction for the company's social media marketing efforts.

Michael Taylor

Michael Taylor is a SchellingPoint principal and co-founder. Mike leads the research and development of SchellingPoint’s Advanced Management Consulting skills and methods, and SchellingPoint’s education and training services for external and internal management consultant, leaders and managers.

Mike has used these methods in over 100 projects in the Fortune 50, pre-revenue ventures, not-for-profits, academia, associations, global alliances, federal and state government agencies, management consulting firms, and credit unions.

Prior to forming SchellingPoint, Mike was a turnaround CEO, after building MDS as VP, Professional Services with five colleagues from Andersen Consulting (Accenture), where Mike was a Director in the Products Industry.

Mike holds a B.Sc. (Hons.) in Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics, and Economics from the University of Warwick, England, and has guest lectured at Cornell, Duke, Penn, SMU, Warwick, and Wharton business schools.



New Jersey Credit Union League
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