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Wegner Awards fete Dorety Eckhardt Invest in America
National Credit Union Foundation chairman Gary Oakland and Vice Chairman Laida Garcia,  present Bill Eckhardt (center), president/CEO, Alaska USA FCU, Anchorage, Alaska, with the Wegner Award for Lifetime Achievement.
WASHINGTON (3/21/12)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) presented three Herb Wegner Memorial Awards at its annual dinner Monday night.  A special Anchor Award was also awarded to Bob Schumacher, the night's emcee and former CEO of MountainCrest CU, Arlington, Wash.

More than 900 credit union leaders and supporters attended the NCUF Dinner Presenting the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards, held in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, D.C.

The awards ceremony celebrated the highest national honors in the credit union movement, specifically:

  • Lifetime Achievement: Bill Eckhardt, president/CEO of Alaska USA FCU, Anchorage, Alaska;
  • Lifetime Achievement: Tom Dorety, president/CEO of Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla.; and
  • Outstanding Organization: Invest in America.
"Alaska USA's success is the result of a long-standing and strong commitment to member service, as well as dedication and hard work on the part of the officials, executives and every employee, past and present," said Eckhardt. "Accordingly, I accept the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of that entire Alaska USA team."

Gary Oakland, right, chairman, National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), and Laida Garcia, NCUF vice chairman, present Tom Dorety, president/CEO, Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla., with the Wegner Award for Lifetime Achievement. (Photos provided by the National Credit Foundation)
In accepting his award, Dorety thanked many and noted: "Our board at Suncoast has shown a great deal of foresight and courage over the past four years in making decisions in the best long-term interests of our members and not focusing solely on short-term results or specific ratios that others have suggested. I am proud that, when dealing with the recent financial crisis, Suncoast followed the words of Horton the Elephant: 'I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant's faithful 100%.'"

The Anchor Award, presented from time to time at the discretion of NCUF's board of directors, goes to an individual or organization that the board believes has demonstrated the foundation's mission of making financial freedom achievable through credit unions.

At this year's dinner, Schumacher was surprised with the award by NCUF Board Chairman Gary Oakland, who cited Schumacher's contributions to the credit union industry and NCUF, and his longtime support of programs such as Biz Kid$ and the Credit Union Development Education program. This also was Schumacher's last year as emcee of NCUF's Wegner Awards dinner.

"Tonight represents my 15th Wegner Awards program as your emcee and host," said Schumacher at the end of the dinner. "As some of you know, it has always been the 'best night of my credit union year' and I have had the best seat in the house."

Invest in America is presented with the Wegner Award for Outstanding Program. Pictured from left, are: Laida Garcia, vice chairman, National Credit Union Foundation; Donald Johnson, vice president of U.S. sales operations at General Motors; Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint; Dave Adams, president/CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League; and Gary Oakland, chair, National Credit Union Foundation.
He thanked NCUF and those in the audience "because, without you, there would be no Wegner Awards to share," he added. You see, it is from within you, this body, that we draw our honorees, our credit union Wegner heroes.  So I leave you with my father's words, 'let's all make sure that we take good care of each other.'"

Invest in America is a credit union growth and loyalty program that offers members discounts on consumer purchases. It was started in 2008 by CUcorp, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Michigan Credit Union League. CUcorp is now CU Solutions Group, a national marketing company that manages the program.

Through the program, credit unions banded together to promote and support credit unions products and services and those offered by participating American-based companies, such as General Motors or Sprint. Credit union members were given discounts to the companies, which in turn drove membership growth and loyalty.

Invest in America has since grown into an enhancement program helping credit unions to add vehicle loans, increase debit/credit card transactions/balances and provide non-interest income opportunities.

This year's winners will join an elite group of 47 individuals and 22 organizations whose efforts during the past 24 years have earned them the recognition of Herb Wegner Memorial Awards.
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