WASHINGTON — More than 800 CU industry executives and volunteers gathered at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Feb. 28 to honor the National Youth Involvement Board, former CUNA CEO Dan Mica and Rudy Hanley, longtime CEO of SchoolsFirst CU, with the Herb Wegner Awards for 2010.
The ceremony, held every year as part of CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference, recognized the NYIB for its pioneering work helping to draw young people into credit unions and furthering financial education; Dan Mica for his guidance in helping to make credit unions a potent political force and Rudy Hanley for his inspirational leadership in embodying the credit union ethic.
"This year’s winners will join an elite group of 45 individuals and 21 organizations whose extraordinary efforts over the past 23 years have earned the credit union movement’s highest national honors," said emcee Bob Schumacher, CEO of MountainCrest CU, Arlington, Wash.
Brandon Pugh, chairman emeritus of NYIB, and current Chairman Rebecca Isaacs accepted the award on behalf of the organization. In her remarks, Isaacs reflected on the organization's history and the millions of students that have been helped to a better understanding of finance through the group's work. But she also noted that the organization had been founded in 1972 to help lower the average age of credit union members and that CU members still, on average, remain older than the American population as whole. "So our work will continue," she said.
The NCUF reported that NYIB’s annual conference has gathered an average of 125 participants that explore current challenges and techniques with peers and that the website www.nyib.org has a data collection feature that encourages reporting of presentations in topics that include budgeting, money management, saving and credit union background.
For old times' sake and after the urging of the crowd, Mica opened his remarks at the ceremony with a familiar question: "Isn't it a great day to be in Washington?" A video recalling his years as CUNA's CEO after having been a U.S. Representative from Florida depicted him using the phrase.
In addition to leading CUNA through the landmark legislative fight to enact the Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998 (H.R. 1151), Mica also oversaw CUNA's move to Washington and growth in its political presence at the federal level.
"When I started with CUNA, I believe our PAC was at about $400,000," Mica told the assembled leaders. "Now, I think it’s about $4 million and is recognized as one of the most effective PACs of our type of organization out there," he added.
In addition to his general political work, the NCUF award also recognized Mica's safeguarding the NCUA as an independent federal credit union regulator for an independent credit union system; protecting credit unions’ federal tax exemption; leading CUs in the prolonged battle for bankruptcy abuse reform legislation and making sure credit unions are part of balanced regulatory relief legislation during the Great Recession.
Hanley used his presentation, in part, to remind the audience that the founders of the credit union movement had not left guidance on having a good ROA or a strong capital ratio. Instead, he said, their guidance had focused on the essentials.
"They talked about people," Hanley said, "and people helping people and credit unions being not for profit, not for charity but for service. That is the core of what we must be about as credit unions," he said.
NCUF recounted how Hanley’s career began teaching high school math and being a tax and small business consultant. It was joining CUNA to develop a white paper to retain tax-exempt status for credit unions that inspired him to work with CUs.
"I decided the ‘people helping people’ philosophy on which credit unions are built was a perfect match for me," said Hanley.
After his CUNA experience, Hanley returned to California, joining the California Credit Union League as head of the league’s research and information department, providing compliance and operational guidance to credit unions, before taking the helm of SchoolsFirst FCU (formerly known as Orange County Teachers FCU) in 1982.
Today, SchoolsFirst FCU is the largest educational credit union and the fifth largest credit union in the country. It has steadily grown to over $8 billion in assets, serving nearly half a million members through 33 branch locations.
"The credit union is acknowledged as a training-ground for future system leaders," wrote John Annaloro, president/CEO, Washington Credit Union League, when NCUF announced Hanley had won the award. "His stewardship is respectfully modeled by other CEOs."