Retired CUNA Mutual Group executive Larry Blanchard received what’s considered one of the nation’s highest honors from the consumer movement this week.
Blanchard, credited with being one of the credit union industry’s most effective leaders of the past two decades, received the 2012 Esther Peterson Consumer Service Award from the Consumer Federation of America at the organization’s 42nd annual awards dinner Wednesday in Washington.
Blanchard, who began his credit union career at age 17, was hailed for his leadership of the Credit Union Campaign for Consumer Choice that led to the passage of H.R. 1151, the Credit Unions Membership Access Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton in August 1998.
Prior to that, he played a key role in the 1991 effort to maintain credit union independence known as Operation Grassroots, the CFA and CUNA Mutual said.
Blanchard retired in 2008 as senior vice president of corporate and legislative affairs for CUNA Mutual and now serves the company as a senior consultant.
Pete Crear, retired CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions, presented the award and credited Blanchard with “strengthening credit unions and the credit union movement for more than a half century with his committed, energetic and skillful work.”
Blanchard said, “While the Esther Peterson Award honors consumer service, it pays tribute to the realization that it is teamwork that brings about the results. Teamwork has made every achievement possible on behalf of consumers through the good times and difficult times. And without my teammates, I would not be standing here tonight."
Peterson was a lifelong consumer advocate who served in the Kennedy, Johnson and Carter administrations.
Previous awards presented to Blanchard include the National Credit Union Foundation Herb Wegner Memorial Award. He also is a member of the CUES Hall of Fame, Credit Union House Hall of Leaders and the National Cooperative Business Association Hall of Fame.
In 2003 he was named by NAFCU as one of the 10 most influential people in shaping the credit union movement’s future in the past 35 years.
Also Wednesday night, the CFA awarded the Philip Hart Public Service Award to U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Brooksley Born, former chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Betty Furness Consumer Media Service Award winner to Marketplace, a business radio program.