Well-known credit union leader Kyle Markland has quit his job as CEO of Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union in St. Paul.

The departure was announced to employees Wednesday.

Dave Larson, most recently senior vice president, is serving as interim president and CEO.

Larson told the Star Tribune that when board Chairwoman Connie Roehrich made the announcement Wednesday, she indicated that Markland's reasons for leaving were personal ones having to do with he and his wife being empty-nesters. After 16 years with Affinity Plus, he wanted to take a sabbatical and figure out the next move, Larson said.

"I was surprised," said Larson. "Kyle and I worked together for 12 years and I'd like to believe we accomplished a lot together."

Markland, 49, of Eagan, did not return phone calls Thursday.

Larson said the board will do a national search for a new CEO and also look inside the organization.

Affinity Plus is the state's second-largest credit union and under Markland's leadership grew from a co-op with about $350 million in assets to a major force with 175,000 members and assets of $1.6 billion.

Affinity Plus reported a 67 percent increase in net income of $17.6 million in 2012.

Markland was considered an aggressive, charismatic leader of one of Minnesota's largest credit unions, and the bane of Minnesota bankers for his "Ditch Your Bank" ad campaign, aggressive expansion and attacks on what he said were high bank fees and impersonal service.

Credit unions, chartered originally as membership cooperatives to make small loans and provide basic low-cost services, do not pay corporate income taxes. Commercial bankers say that has given credit unions an unfair advantage as credit unions have expanded their product offerings and broadened their customer bases, making them bigger competitors to commercial banks.

Markland is the second high-level departure from Affinity Plus in about a month. At the end of July, the credit union's chief administrative officer, Liz Hayes, also stepped down. Larson said the timing was a coincidence and the two departures are unrelated.

Affinity Plus has enjoyed remarkable success in recent years, adding branches and gaining national exposure. Last year, the Credit Union Times named Markland CEO of the Year as part of its annual Trailblazer awards.

"He was willing to do things that were different, that were more public," said Mark Cummins, president and CEO of the Minnesota Credit Union Network.

Staff writer Neal St. Anthony contributed to this report.