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MONTEREY, Calif. – The California Credit Union League’s Big Valley Educational Conference kicked off with a dinner honoring David Chatfield that was not only a toast to his esteemed career, but also a lighthearted roast by some of the industry’s best known leaders. The tributes included an international address from Poland’s National Association of Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions President Grezegorz Bierecki, who presented Chatfield with his organization’s Phoenix Award, given to those who have helped rebuild the country’s credit union system. Bierecki, who came to the U.S. 15 years ago as a credit union intern with the World Council of Credit Unions, also spent time at the league with Chatfield. While presenting the award, Bierecki thanked the retiring leader for serving as a personal mentor to him, and helping to re-establish the credit union system in Poland following Communist occupation. According to Bierecki, thanks in part to Chatfield’s efforts in Poland, the country now has 1.5 million credit union members, representing one in six households. Additionally, 1,556 credit union branches work together to maintain the largest retail-banking network in the country. League Executive Vice President Matt Davidson brought down the house with an impersonation of former NCUA Chairman Norm D’Amours. “Dave, I’d like to congratulate you on your retirement, although I wish it had come earlier,” Davidson said, mimicking D’Amours, who is unpopular with many in the credit union industry, particularly Chatfield. FSCC CEO Sarah Canepa Bang joined in the comedy, saying Chatfield had given her his new address, but when she used the Google Earth service, which uses satellite imaging to show images of street addresses, she discovered he had given her the address of a gas station in Fresno. “I should have known better, after Dave gave me the e-mail address dave@leavemealone.com,” Bang said. Banquet emcee Diana Dykstra, immediate past league chair, ribbed Chatfield as well when she listed his many positions in the industry, including with CUNA, the Filene Research Institute, the Alaskan Credit Union League and Alaska USA Credit Union. “You just can’t keep a job, can you, Dave?” Dykstra said. Chatfield scored a number of lavish retirement gifts, culminating with a brand new motorized fishing boat from the league. CO-OP Network CEO Stan Hollen announced his organization was donating $10,000 to the World Council of Credit Unions’ Training Fund in Chatfield’s name, and WesCorp CEO Bob Siravo presented Chatfield with airline passes for the outgoing leader and his wife, Chris, so they can return to the U.S. mainland to visit grandchildren. The Chatfields plan to divide their time between properties in Alaska and Hawaii. Other speakers at the fete included NCUA Chairman JoAnn Johnson, CUNA CEO Dan Mica, CU Direct CEO Tony Boutelle, and a host of past and present league leaders. -

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