Credit Union Times Luminaries


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David Tuyo, University Credit Union: Dr. David Tuyo has led University Credit Union ($1.1 billion in assets; 50,396 members) through major projects and initiatives over the past year, including a complete core system conversion, a successful merger with Chabot Federal Credit Union and resulting systems conversion, multiple construction projects and new branch locations, implementation of a new “work from anywhere” program and the launch of several new fintech partnerships. During this time, he led the organization in year-over-year growth to surpass $1 billion in assets and 50,000 members. He is described as a charismatic leader who prioritizes professional development and continued education for individual team members. He led an initiative to have all executives attend the Cardwell 306 Leadership Program and the CUES CEO Institute. He also refined the credit union’s org chart to provide the team with a road map to understand how they are supported as well as increased bandwidth to focus on leadership traits and developing their professional skills.
Emily Hollis, ALM First: Emily Hollis, founder and CEO at ALM First, is an accomplished capital markets and asset liability management expert. Under her leadership, ALM First has grown to more than $78 billion of investments under management, from $50 billion in 2021, with a client base of more than 300 financial institutions representing more than $800 billion in assets. Under Hollis’ leadership, ALM First expanded its service offerings beyond traditional fixed income investment advisory with business lines that grew rapidly in 2021. She has a client-first mentality, which is underscored by her decision not to raise fees as assets increased at a time when many clients were challenged by the pandemic. She seeks out employees who are rising stars and makes an effort to get to know each team member through one-on-one CEO chats. In addition, Hollis uses her experience as a former professional ballerina to encourage future women leaders by sharing her personal experiences at Women in Banking events.
Howard N. Baker, Greater Texas|Aggieland Credit Union: Six years ago, Howard Baker joined Greater Texas|Aggieland Credit Union ($993 million in assets; 81,954 members), which was on solid footing but had room to improve to remain competitive and meet the changing banking needs of members. Baker, president and CEO, led the organization to examine every member touchpoint and find ways to eliminate obstacles for members. His strategy includes significant investments in technology, including a new loan origination system built on artificial intelligence that has helped increase loan production by 200%. Baker also invested in building a member-focused team and he ensured every employee remained on the payroll during the pandemic even when they couldn’t work. Baker spearheaded the building of a new headquarters campus with more than 50,000 square feet of state-of-the-art space, which was started and finished during the pandemic. Under Baker’s leadership, the credit union’s assets are up 74%, its loan portfolio is up 105% and membership is up 26%.
Greg Mitchell, First Tech FCU: Greg Mitchell leveraged his background as the child of a single parent with limited financial resources to learn about the importance of budgeting and equal access to financial education. He was the first in his family to graduate from college and has worked for more than 35 years in the financial industry, including nine years as president/CEO of First Tech Federal Credit Union ($15.9 billion in assets; 636,707 members). In line with his people-before-profit philosophy, Mitchell believes in hiring diverse talent based on skill and fostering an inclusive culture that allows leadership to learn what issues are most important to the team and members. He led First Tech’s DEI&B Council cultivation initiative, a partnership with the Portland Trail Blazers to extend its reach to new demographics, and a flexible student loan refinance program to help recent graduates. First Tech has grown by more than 62% and ranks as the nation’s eighth-largest credit union.
Mollie Bell, Ent Credit Union: The role of chief development officer at Ent Credit Union ($9.1 billion in assets; 473,470 members) did not exist before Mollie Bell took on the role four years ago. Bell developed a framework for learning and development initiatives, helped define the credit union’s culture and streamlined internal communications. Her day-to-day job functions include managing and investing in Ent University, implementing its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion strategies, building improved employee experiences, creating new strategies for employee engagement, and investing in communities and building relationships. Her mission is to develop engaged employees who are invested in building the financial quality of life of members, and her efforts have a direct impact on turnover, revenue, productivity and member satisfaction. A 15-year veteran of the credit union industry, Bell previously held executive-level positions at CUNA, Filene Research Institute and CUNA Mutual Group, and before that, she was an attorney, consultant, teacher and business owner. Together with her husband, Bell founded a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Fostering Love Rescues, which provides care for aging equines.


Doug Burke, Aux, LLC: Doug Burke has been at the helm of Aux LLC for most of its 30-year history. Under his leadership, the CUSO has grown from its origins in 1992 solely focused as a Shared Branching network with two employees into a broader CUSO that continues to provide shared branching to a six-state region while adding back-office support services. It now supports more than 200 credit unions nationwide and has 52 employees. In 2021, Burke noticed an opportunity to provide credit unions with graduated access to a CFO. Aux now provides fractional CFO support to those credit unions not able to afford or attract a highly skilled CFO. Today, 39 credit unions use Aux for accounting and CFO support. Despite operating in an environment that has been negatively impacted by COVID-19, Aux has continued to grow. Over the past 12 months under Burke’s leadership, the CUSO has experienced revenue growth of nearly 20%, 19 new clients and 21 new employees.
Kendall Garrison, Amplify Credit Union: When Kendall Garrison became CEO of Amplify Credit Union ($1.5 billion in assets; 57,079 members), he outlined a plan for the Central Texas credit union that included fee-free banking and award-winning lending. Two years later, he has achieved those goals. As of 2021, real estate loan production had grown from $127 million in 2017 to over $1 billion in both the origination and servicing arms of its business, a key piece of which was its expanding loan participation sales. In February 2022, Amplify launched fee-free banking for all members, removing a total of 40 account and transaction fees for depositors. Since launching fee-free banking, the cooperative’s community has responded with enthusiasm, including a 67% increase in new members and almost $10 million in new deposits from new members.
Matt Rarden, Kirtland FCU: Kirtland Federal Credit Union ($991 million in assets; 49,837 members) was stagnant two years ago when Matt Rarden joined as CEO. The credit union had not opened any new branches or offered new products for years. Rarden’s first initiative was to create a strategy that employees could understand, executive leadership would be excited about and the board would support. He worked to unify the executive leadership team, led a rebranding and improved employee benefits and compensation. Under his leadership, the credit union’s financial results are heading in the right direction. Loan production closed in 2021 with a 73% increase, its loan portfolio grew 89.9%, and member deposits showed a favorable 95.8% increase. Under Rarden’s leadership, Kirtland has started the process of opening three new branches and relocating one branch to better serve members.
Sterling S. Nielsen, Mountain America Credit Union: Sterling Nielsen leads Mountain America Credit Union ($14.7 billion in assets; 1,082,235 members) with a focus on cultivating innovative leadership and serving underserved markets. In 2012, Nielsen, CEO of MACU, challenged employees to grow the credit union to $10 billion in assets in 10 years. MACU employees met that goal 2.5 years early, an achievement Nielsen credits to the efforts of employees and leadership. The credit union now has $15 billion in assets, more than 1 million members and 100 branches in six states. Emphasizing the importance of small businesses, MACU helped more than 7,000 businesses navigate the Payroll Protection Program during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also recently turned its attention to increasing support for the underserved and vulnerable by reaching out to the growing Hispanic population with unique products, services and guidance through employees who are native Spanish speakers. MACU also piloted a program qualifying individuals without Social Security numbers for lending and deposit products.
Kelley Ferguson, Numerica Credit Union: Over the past 24 years, Kelley Ferguson has led in various capacities at Numerica Credit Union ($3.6 billion in assets, 171,142 members) and become a cornerstone of the organization’s growth, success and member engagement. Two years ago, amid the pandemic, Ferguson stepped into the role of chief administration officer, expanding on his chief information officer duties to include HR and culture in addition to information technology, organizational alignment, card services, facilities and executive administration. He was instrumental in quickly transitioning the credit union’s employees to remote work during the pandemic, and he refreshed its Connections program that invites all employees to be heard. He visited all 21 branches last year to thank them for their work and remind them of the critical role they play in Numerica’s success. This year, Ferguson launched the “Be the Light” initiative focused on positively impacting team members and the community through service challenges, employee celebrations, member engagement, and lunch and learn wellness activities.


Andrea Brewer, PremierOne Credit Union: Andrea Brewer, CEO of PremierOne Credit Union ($557.9 million in assets; 24,352 members), embraced change during the tumultuous economic environment of the pandemic when others resisted it. Brewer believes the credit union is only as successful as its employees and that it will be more successful if it considers what is important to them. That’s why in the midst of the pandemic, Brewer launched a management development program in response to staff requests for growth and development opportunities. The program provides non-management employees with an opportunity to develop their leadership skills through an 18-month program, complete with time for practical hands-on management experience. In addition, Brewer presented an opportunity to expand the organization's branch footprint in an area designed to better serve the underserved market. The branch features all bilingual employees and an expanding two-year bilingual strategy targeting those most in need of financial education and services to better their financial lives.
David Frazier, Texans Credit Union: Four years after Texans Credit Union ($2.2 billion in assets; 113,436 members) was released from conservatorship by NCUA, David Frazier took the helm in 2020 with the vision not only to turn the credit union around but also to make it one of Texas’ premier credit unions. It was an audacious goal for a credit union struggling with high turnover, low morale, poor membership service and outdated technology. Frazier focused on changing the trajectory of the credit union by resetting the culture, enhancing efficiency throughout the organization, driving revenue and improving the member experience. He built a strong executive team and implemented leadership training, then worked on process improvements and invested in digital technology. Overall, Frazier has fostered a culture that is energetic, excited about the future and fully focused on creating an exceptional member experience. Under his guidance, Texans has experienced positive membership growth for the first time in a long time, growing at a pace of 5.6%.

We are pleased to continue our presentation of the LUMINARIES Class of 2022 Finalists, who are being recognized this year for the many dynamic and inclusive ways they are driving the credit union industry forward.

The finalists were selected by our editorial team from several hundred stellar nominations in four award categories: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Executive Leadership, Innovation in Technology and Product Innovation.

This slideshow highlights the 12 finalists from our Executive Leadership: Individual Executives (WEST) category. We had so many quality entries that we decided to geograpically split the category into East and West, so we could better represent the outstanding leaders across the country.

The LUMINARIES Class of 2022 Finalists recently were reviewed by a diverse panel of judges from across the credit union industry, and a select group of winners will be announced on stage at the program’s first awards dinner and gala — set to take place Nov. 9 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C.

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