About Us

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning creates an invaluable opportunity for dialogue and consensus between the Board and Management on the Vision, Goals, Performance Objectives and Priority Initiatives for your organization.

Executive Recruitment

 We have developed an extremely effective recruitment process. At its heart is making sure we understand exactly the competencies you are looking for in a new leader. With a clear direction in mind we use creative avenues to find competent candidates. The result is a person who makes a smooth transition to your culture and contributes to your success from day one. 

Executive Compensation

 An effective executive compensation philosophy and program are critical to recruiting, motivating and retaining a talented leadership team.  We can help you create a competitive and attractive compensation package for your executive team members. 

Merger Facilitation

 As interest rate margins compress, member demands for services increase and competitors multiply - merger becomes an alternative that cannot be overlooked.  We help credit unions determine if merger is a viable option, identify desired traits in a merger partner and construct a favorable merger agreement. We also assist with the approval process and member vote. 

The Team

James L. This,PhD President/CEO


James This is a nationally recognized consultant, facilitator and trainer in the areas of strategic planning, leadership development, interpersonal communication and marketing. Jim is one of the principals of James L. This and Associates. He is probably best known as a founding partner of The Paragon Group – one of the most respected consulting firms in the credit union industry. Through these companies, Jim has helped credit unions for over twenty-five years.

Jim’s specialties include strategic planning, executive recruitment, leadership development and executive assessment. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and schools and one of the creators of the Volunteer Leadership Institute. The Institute is the premiere source of continuing education for credit union volunteers.

Jim earned his BA from Wake Forest University and his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. He holds the title of Senior Professional in Human Resources from the Society for Human Resource Management.

Jim’s career has found him in three arenas—financial services, teaching and management consulting. During his long association with the Washington State Employees Credit Union he held key positions as Marketing Manager and Executive Vice President. He has taught at the University of Southern California, the University of Texas, Permian Basin, St. Martin’s College, South Puget Sound Community College and The Evergreen State College. 

Jim served as a member of the Supervisory Committee for the Washington Share Guaranty Association. He is active in the community – having served on a number of volunteer boards over the past 45 years. On a personal note - Jim is an avid golfer and proud grandfather.

Susan Girsch Chief Operating Officer


 Susan works with credit unions on various projects including board assessments, charter changes, and workforce recruitment. In addition, Sue manages The Volunteer Leadership Institute (presented by The Paragon Group).

Sue developed and managed The Paragon Group’s vendor management and enterprise risk management programs. Working with a software developer and legal team, the solution was developed to meet NCUA/FDIC guidelines for managing third-party vendors. The vendor management program is the premier solution in the industry. Asset size for clients range from $12 million to more than $10 billion.

Sue has worked with numerous credit unions and banks, small to large, facilitating workgroups as they developed, implemented and trained staff on overdraft protection programs.

As Paragon’s Training Manager, she developed and taught classes on MS Office software. She has spent many hours designing curriculum to meet the specific needs of her clients. In addition she has presented workshops to state agencies, credit unions and non-profits using the DISC (dominance, influence, steadiness, compliance) survey as a basis for developing improved team building within the organizations.

Prior to working at The Paragon Consulting Group, Sue worked as an instructor for South Puget Sound Community College and Kirkwood Community College.

Sue is a member of the Board of Directors of evergreenDIRECT Credit Union. She loves to travel and spend time with her family.