PenFed President/CEO James Schenck, right, receives the Credit Union Hero of the Year award from CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle, left.

LAS VEGAS – CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle honored James Schenck, president/CEO of the $20.2 billion Pentagon Federal Credit Union in Alexandria, Va., as the 2017 Credit Union Hero of the Year Monday. Schenck was announced as the winner of the annual Credit Union Magazine program in May and presented with his award during a general session at CUNA’s America’s Credit Union Conference.  

Nussle described one of Schenck’s key accomplishments as the PenFed Foundation’s opening of the Defenders Lodge in Palo Alto, Calif., which provides housing for veterans receiving medical treatment in the area. Since opening two years ago, the Defenders Lodge has provided more than 70,000 free hotel stays to veterans and their families, according to Credit Union Magazine.

“James has long been a champion for the communities his credit union serves,” Nussle said. “He has established a variety of programs and addressed a number of unmet needs, particularly for our nation’s heroes.”

Upon accepting the award, Schenck credited credit union employees and board members nationwide for his success.

“I would have never asked to be nominated for this award, because the success of any credit union is a result of teams working toward a common purpose,” Schenck said. “Today, I’m not accepting this award on behalf of myself or PenFed, I’d like to accept it on behalf of the nearly 300,000 credit union employees and 70,000 board members. You are truly credit union heroes, and you are American heroes.”

Each year, readers of CUNA’s Credit Union Magazine select an individual who “exemplifies the movement’s philosophy of ‘people helping people’ and has gone the extra mile to make a difference in their communities” as the Credit Union Hero of the Year. The other nominees for 2017 were Amy Nelson, president/CEO of the $97.1 million Point West Credit Union in Portland, Ore.; Dan Newberry, vice president of retail operations at the $1.7 billion TTCU The Credit Union in Tulsa, Okla.; and Karen Reams, president/CEO of the $38.9 million Millstream Area Credit Union in Findlay, Ohio.