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NCUA Chairman Todd M. Harper Remarks at the Investiture Ceremony

July 2022
NCUA Chairman Todd M. Harper Remarks at the Investiture Ceremony
Todd M. Harper

July 11, 2022 - Chairman Todd M. Harper took the oath of office at a ceremonial swearing-in administered by Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Sandra L. Thompson at the NCUA headquarters in Alexandria, Va.

As Prepared for Delivery on July 11, 2022

Distinguished guests, family, friends, and colleagues, thank you for joining me today, both in person and virtually. I am deeply humbled by the trust and faith placed in me by President Biden and his Administration, the United States Senate, and each of you.

Let me first recognize my parents, Dr. Ronald and Christine Small, as well as my sister, Becky Garver, and her daughters, Bree, Kate, Mia, and Georgia. All of them are participating virtually today.

Long ago, my mom and dad instilled within me a commitment to public service and leadership, as well as an appreciation for finding common ground. And, their early lessons in borrowing, budgeting, and fiscal responsibility set me on the course to today’s ceremony. So, even though I paid off that holiday club loan from the cooperative “Bank of Mom and Dad” in 1975, I will always be indebted to them.

Thank you also to the Honorable Kyle Hauptman, NCUA Vice Chairman, the Honorable Marty Gruenberg, FDIC Acting Chairman, Acting Comptroller of the Currency Mike Hsu, and the Honorable Rohit Chopra, CFPB Director. I am grateful you all are here. The four of you are not just colleagues. You have also become friends and confidants.

And, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my congressional mentors, former Congressmen Paul Kanjorski and Ed Royce. Both men demonstrated for me the give and take required to govern effectively. I also gleaned those lessons from many former NCUA Board members and chairmen, including JoAnn Johnson, Gigi Hyland, Mike Fryzel, Debbie Matz, Rick Metsger, and Mark McWatters.

And, I am honored to have the Honorable Sandra Thompson with us today. Thank you, Director Thompson, for administering the oath of office, as well as for your friendship and counsel.

Director Thompson and I come from the same place — Chicago’s South Side and its sprawling suburbs. Director Thompson also had family in East Chicago, another city next door to my hometown. In traveling through Hammond, Indiana, to see those relatives, she would drive past the factories and steel mills that dominate the landscape. Director Thompson once confessed that the large oil refinery located two miles from my childhood home scared her. Truth be told: It scared me, too.

But, growing up amidst that vast industrial complex created for both of us a deep appreciation for hard work and fairness, as well as a commitment to helping others and building a better tomorrow. That’s probably why we both answered the call to public service.

In her stellar career, Director Thompson has broken glass ceilings to become the head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. I look forward to the day when one of you on the NCUA team will follow in her groundbreaking footsteps by becoming the first career civil servant to become an NCUA Board Member.

Additionally, I must thank my trusted team: Catherine Galicia, Jean Marter, Sam Schumach, and Elizabeth Eurgubian. With brilliance, focus, and strategy, Catherine led my recent confirmation efforts to serve a full term on the NCUA Board. I wish she could be here in person today to share this moment. But, she is here in spirit and watching from home. Thank you also to Larry Fazio, Rendell Jones, and Kelly Gibbs for your roles in today’s proceedings, as well as your dedication and leadership.

But most of all, I owe my greatest thanks to my partner, Tom Beers. He has always believed in me and in what I could achieve, even when I had doubts. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Tom, for sitting by my side every day for the last 30 years, in both good times and bad. I truly could not have achieved my dreams and this moment without you.

Three years ago — when I first joined the NCUA Board — few, if any, of us could have imagined the lengthy pandemic and unprecedented economic challenges that we, as an agency and society, would face. Nevertheless, we responded deliberately, pragmatically, and carefully. Together, our work — as a Board and as an agency — has strengthened the credit union system’s resilience. We have also prepared for future economic dislocations.

Additionally, we have, together, adopted temporary liquidity reforms and implemented targeted capital standards. And together, alongside other regulators, we have encouraged lenders to work with borrowers and get through a crisis unlike any other in modern history. As an agency, we have also, together, advanced economic equity by emphasizing fair lending oversight, compliance with consumer financial protection and pandemic-relief rules, and financial inclusion.

In achieving each of these things, we have followed a philosophy that should guide all financial services regulators. Specifically, we were fair and forward looking; innovative, inclusive, and independent; risk focused and ready to act when needed; and engaged appropriately with stakeholders to develop effective regulation and efficient supervision. This philosophy will continue to drive our actions in the years ahead.

Lastly, and most importantly, I want to speak directly to the entire NCUA team. You are an incredibly talented group of public servants whose work touches the financial lives of more than one in three Americans who entrust credit unions with their hard-earned savings. Thank you for your commitment to making our system of cooperative credit the best in the world. Through stronger consumer financial protection oversight and appropriate safety-and-soundness supervision, we have ensured that credit union members have access to safe, fair, and affordable products and services.

Immediately after the Senate’s confirmation vote last month, I shared with staff an excerpt from the lyrics of Humble and Kind, one of Tim McGraw’s biggest hits. Today, I’d like to share another portion of that insightful song:

Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re goin’, don’t forget turn back around
And help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind

If you think about it, that verse encapsulates the cooperative values that underpin the credit union movement and what we, as an agency, should seek to accomplish each day. It is our duty and privilege to ensure that credit unions can thrive so they can best serve their members, operate fairly, and help current and future generations achieve financial security.

Going forward, my focus will remain on the strength of the system, the needs of credit union members, and the NCUA’s preparedness to respond to evolving economic conditions. As such, I will continue prioritizing capital and liquidity, cybersecurity, consumer financial protection, and inclusion. By inclusion, I mean both diversity, equity, and inclusion within our agency and economic inclusion within the broader financial service system. And, to keep pace with the changing competitive and technological landscape, I will foster innovation within the agency and credit unions, as appropriate.

If we all do our jobs right, we will be successful in fulfilling the credit union system’s statutory mission of promoting access to affordable credit, especially for people of modest means. And, through our collective efforts to support small credit unions, minority depository institutions, and low-income credit unions, we can achieve something our founders envisioned: “a more perfect union.” That, in turn, will strengthen our democracy.

As a servant leader, I will continue to practice honesty, humility, humanity, and humor. I ask that you each do the same. Honesty builds trust with others, and trust in teams builds success. Humility is a moral compass, so recognize that good ideas come from others and remember to share the credit. Humanity forms real connections within teams to create success for all. And, humor is what keeps us going. In the spirit of sharing credit, I must thank another mentor, the Honorable Mary Schapiro who once led the CFTC and the SEC, for sharing her 4-H leadership style with me.

Finally, to my fellow Board members, Vice Chairman Hauptman and the Honorable Rodney Hood, you have been partners in setting the course for the NCUA during the pandemic. Thank you for your continued service to this important agency and the 131 million Americans it serves. Because of your commitments to reaching consensus, whenever possible, we have steered a steady ship. Please know that I will continue to negotiate in good faith and with an open mind. I will also recognize that all ideas can be improved upon. I know that you will do the same.

In closing, thank you again to everyone for being here with me. I will cherish the memory of today for many years to come. And, I will always strive to make the world better for tomorrow.

Be safe, be well, and be kind. Thank you!

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