MADISON, Wis. -- Robert Hoel, former executive director of the Filene Research Institute, Harriet May, president and CEO of the $1.2 billion GECU (Government Employees Credit Union), headquartered in El Paso, Texas, and the State Employees Credit Union Foundation in North Carolina have been named as the winners of the 20th Annual Herb Wegner Memorial Awards by the National Credit Union Foundation.
An announcement of the awards praised Hoel, now residing in Middleton, Wisconsin, as recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for his body of research in financial institutions, marketing strategy, and consumer analysis. May will receive the Individual Achievement Award in recognition of her heartfelt commitment and proactive approach toward the American Dream of home ownership for residents of her border city. The State Employees Credit Union Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina will receive the Outstanding Organization Award for quickly becoming one of the most successful private credit union foundations in America, NCUF said.
During his tenure as executive director of the Filene Research Institute in Madison, Wis., Hoel orchestrated the accumulation of research that has transformed into real benefits for credit unions and consumers, the Foundation said. NCUF also praised Hoel for leading the creation of the Center for Credit Union Innovation, which was formed to translate research into actionable initiatives. Among those initiatives was the pilot of REAL Solutions, a program that has changed the way consumers use alternative financial service--and made them more affordable through credit unions.
Hoel was also instrumental in research that helped prompt the passage of the Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998. He delivered a Special Report from the Filene Research Institute that showed Congress the importance of credit unions being open to small employer groups who need access to reasonably priced financial services. Today, Hoel is a member of the National Examining Committee for the Certified Credit Union Executive program; the Capitalization Program Committee of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions; and the Credit Policies Committee at Great Wisconsin Credit Union.
NCUF said May's grassroots efforts established the El Paso Affordable Housing Credit Union Service Organization in 2002. Her leadership led Government Employees being selected as one of eight financial institutions chosen to pilot an affordable home loan program in 2004 that has resulted in $14 million in mortgages for qualified low-income residents. May is a tireless crusader of financial education and counseling for housing, credit, and foreclosure prevention, the Federation said.
"Throughout her 33 years at GECU, May has made a positive impact on the credit union movement locally, nationally, and internationally," the Federation said. "She has volunteered her time
to serve on
the boards of
Union National Association, Town North National Bank (the only U.S. bank owned solely by credit unions), the Filene Institute Research Council, and the World Council of Credit Unions. Recently, May was appointed to the Thrift Institutions Advisory Council, which led to a meeting with President George W. Bush to discuss financial literacy issues."
Although it is still relatively young, the Foundation noted that SECU's Foundation has already crossed over into topics like education, energy, health care, housing, and human services. "The positive impact has been felt throughout the entire state of North Carolina," the NCUF said.
The Foundation praised in particular an energy project in partnership with N.C. GreenPower that will save an estimated $1 billion for SECU members and employees over the next four years, through the use of renewable resources to save energy and minimize waste. Also a $2 million grant built a 40-bedroom hospitality house at the University of North Carolina, known as SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals and over $200,000 in grants and a 0% loan built Hertford Pointe, a housing project in rural North Carolina to help recruit and retain teachers by providing affordable and safe housing.