Obituary: Charles E. Snyder, a US co-operative banking pioneer

He was president and CEO of the National Cooperative Bank

The US co-operative movement is in mourning following the loss of Charles E. Snyder, president and CEO of the National Cooperative Bank, who died unexpectedly on 6 November at the age of 68.

A lifelong co-operator, Mr Snyder began his career in co-operatives in 1980 as president of Temporaries Federal Credit Union. In 1983 he joined the National Cooperative Bank as corporate vice president and chief financial officer. Nine years later he took on the role of president and CEO, which he held for 38 years.

During this time he sought to advance co-operatives in all sectors and served on various cross-sector task forces and boards.

His efforts were recognised via a series of awards, including the Jerry Voorhis Award from the National Association of Housing Cooperatives and the Esther Peterson Consumer Service Award, presented by the Consumer Federation of America. He was inducted to the Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2012.

Born in Pennsylvania, Dutch Country, Mr Snyder attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and earned a CPA and a master’s degree from George Washington University in Washington, DC.

In a moving online tribute NCB described him as ‘caring’ and someone who “truly cared about people and how he could make a difference in their lives”.

David J. Thompson, president, Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation, also paid tribute to him. He said: “Chuck’s premature death is a heavy blow to the development of co-operative in the USA. In particular, minority and emerging co-ops have lost their best co-operative friend. 

“I have known Chuck for four decades both as a good friend and an astounding co-operative collaborator. Chuck was an amazing ambassador to the wider co-operative business community and built the bank in many sectors. However, I will remember Chuck most for his personal efforts to lift up the minority and emerging co-operatives that were the core supporters of the original effort in 1974 to create the National Consumer Cooperative Bank and its non-profit subsidiary, the Office of Self-Help Development and Technical Assistance.

“The best way that we can commemorate Chuck’s passing would be for the board members and staff of the National Cooperative Bank and Capital Impact to re-read the original mandate that established both co-operative institutions and to then redouble their efforts to support and develop minority and emerging co-operatives. Let us further Chuck Snyder’s dream by what we now do from tomorrow and forever in his name.” 

Carla Decker, chair of NCBA CLUSA’s Board of Directors and president and CEO of DC Credit Union said: “Chuck’s commitment to the co-operative community was unparalleled. He was a mentor to many cooperative leaders over the years. He stood up for co-operative enterprises in the Halls of Congress and throughout the U.S. business community.”

Doug O’Brien, president and CEO of NCBA CLUSA said: “The co-operative community has lost one of its greatest leaders. Chuck’s contributions are immeasurable. While we mourn this loss, we are forever grateful for all that he contributed to the co-operative community.”

Mr Snyder is survived by his wife and their two daughters.