A credit union leader who arrived in the U.S. as a 14 year old political refugee has been recognized with the 2011 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Rudy Hanly, CEO of the $8.4 billion SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, headquartered in Santa Ana, California, fled with his family from Soviet-occupied Hungary in 1957, learned English in the U.S., served in the U.S. army after graduating high school and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics hrough the GI Bill and a Juris Doctorate.

Hanly was teaching high school math and working as a tax and small business consultant he joined CUNA and began working with credit unions, including for the California Credit Union League before signing on with SchoolsFirst 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 a half a million members through 33 branch locations. “The credit union is acknowledged as a training-ground for future system leaders,” wrote John Annaloro, CEO, Washington Credit Union League. “His stewardship is respectfully modeled by other CEOs.”

The success of the credit union comes from his deep commitment to providing quality services to SchoolsFirst’s FCU members. Annaloro explained. He has a reputation for spending hours with every new hire during their credit union orientation to ensure every single employee knows the meaning of the credit union difference. “In doing so he spreads the system’s philosophical objective and economic improvement for all,” Annaloro added.