The accolades were pouring in Friday for Rick Craig, the retiring president/CEO of Utah’s $5.4 billion America First Federal Credit Union, described as a steady stalwart defending for three decades the bank attack on the tax exemption.
“His support for the industry has been simply unwavering,” said Scott Simpson, the president/CEO of the Utah Credit Union Association. “Rick’s ability to navigate this difficult challenge and deploy resources was constant.”
Craig announced Thursday his plans to retire from the helm of the Riverdale/Salt Lake City-based credit union on Sept. 1, his 70th birthday, to be succeeded by John Lund, executive vice president.
Craig, who has been with America First 35 years and has served in numerous leadership posts within CUNA, the UCUA, the Credit Union Executives Society and others, began with America First as executive vice president and was named president in 1997.
“He’s a leader who will be sorely missed,” declared Michael Milovich, president/CEO of Eastern Utah Community CU of Price and a past director of UCUA.
Craig has long been credited with standing up to the powerful banking lobby beginning in the late 1990s through a series of court and legislative challenges that eventually resulted in a milestone NCUA 2006 ruling tightening business lending and field of membership expansion. Earlier court rulings forced scores of Utah credit unions including America First to flee the state charter.
Craig, a former vice chairman of the Utah Credit Union Association and a member of CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Committee, previously served on CUNA’s AICPA Audit and Accounting Guide Task Force and its Governmental Affairs FOM Committee. He also was appointed to CUNA’s National Action and Response Administrative Council and provided input to CUNA’s Environmental Scan.
He has served on the Utah governor’s Board of Credit Union Advisors. Within CUES, he was director for nine years and in 1995 was chairman. In 1996 he was inducted into the CUES Hall of Fame.
Lund, the soon-to-be CEO of America First, started as a branch manager and was later promoted to vice president of branch operations and lending and in 1997 was made executive vice president succeeding Craig.