WASHINGTON — Robert Schumacher, longtime National Credit Union Foundation leader and volunteer, was a surprise recipient of an Anchor Award at the annual GAC dinner honoring people and institutions that have exhibited particular leadership and innovation.
Past Anchor award winners have included former NCUA Board Chairman Dennis Dollar and the leaders of the three credit union leagues most impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Schumacher, the retired CEO of Mountaincrest CU in Washington state who serves as Awards & Recognition Committee Chairman for the NCUF, was noticeably surprised and emotional about the award which event organizers had carefully hidden from him before Monday night’s gathering.
Schumacher has served as master of ceremonies for the awards presentation for 15 years and as his retirement arrives, has become the public face of the ceremony and one of the biggest NCUF supporters and advocates.
Schumacher has also been an active supporter and advocate for Biz Kid$ since the idea was first presented and worked closely with other credit union leaders, show producer Jamie Hammond, the Washington Credit Union Foundation, NCUF and many others to get credit unions across the country to consider underwriting the program.
Schumacher also dedicated his time and talents to the DE program by volunteering countless hours as a facilitator, mentor and sometimes key speaker at several DE Trainings, according to the NCUF.
Schumacher pleaded with the crowd for patience as he struggled to get his presentation back on script for the awards ceremony, saying at one point “thank you, Gary Oakland – that's really written here,” pointing at the script.
Also Monday night, Invest in America, a national loyalty program for CU members, won the Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Program. Launched in in the depth of the latest downturn, in 2008, by a subsidiary of the Michigan Credit Union League, the program served as a way credit unions in Michigan could help support their members at a time when the state was losing thousands of jobs.
Through the program, IIA credit unions could band together to promote and support not only their own products and services, but also those offered by collaborative American-based companies, such as General Motors or Sprint. Credit union members were given discounts to the companies, which in turn drove membership growth and loyalty.
“It was our way of both supporting our members and highlighting the work of great American companies,” said Michigan Credit Union League CEO David Adams who was joined in accepting the award by executives from Sprint and General Motors.
And in another rarity, the NCUF recognized two CU leaders with Herb Wegner Lifetime Achievement Awards. Tom Dorety, CEO of the 520,000-member, $4.9 billion asset Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union and Bill Eckhardt, CEO of the 439,000 member, $4.8 billion asset Alaska USA credit union each received an award. The NCUF recognized Dorety for his leadership of both Suncoast Schools both before and through the recent economic downturn and the CUNA Board of Directors.
The Foundation recognized Eckhardt for his innovative spirit that Eckhardt attributed in part to the reality that a credit union headquartered in Alaska had to get used to doing things for itself to serve members. Alaska USA FCU was the first credit union to offer 30-year mortgage loans and one of the first to offer share drafts, was the first to serve members nationally and internationally through a dedicated member service center, and was one of the first credit unions to initiate a commercial lending division, provide mortgage servicing, and implement insurance trust services operations. The credit union also coordinated one of the first joint ventures to create the successful regional ATM Network, Alaska Option l, according to the NCUF.