Gesa’s Jorgenson Honored as Lending Officer of the Year

Brett Jorgenson, Gesa Credit Union’s senior vice president of lending, was honored this week with a Trailblazer Award by the Credit Union Times. Jorgenson was named Lending Officer of the Year for his efforts in building and leading Gesa’s full-service lending department, adapting the credit union’s lending programs to fit members’ changing economic needs.

When Jorgenson joined Richland-based Gesa in 2007, he made it his mission to have the $550 million credit union be the lender of choice in Washington’s Tri-Cities region. Among his accomplishments, Jorgenson established the credit union’s home loan and business lending departments, centralized lending operations, and created new products and services to meet member needs. In the process, he grew the now-$1.1 billion credit union’s loan portfolio from $323 million in 2007 to $856 million at the end of 2011.

“Brett Jorgenson is a true trailblazer,” Gesa President and CEO Christina Lethlean said. “Brett has led our lending operations for the past five years. He has turned a small operation into the region’s leading lender. Gesa members are now able to look to us for business loans, home loans, credit cards and student loans. We’re very proud of Brett’s achievements in developing a loan program that enriches our members’ lives and the communities we serve.”

A Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Lending Council member since 2001, Jorgenson sums up his leadership philosophy in two words: “service” and “empowerment.”

“To me, service means real service,” Jorgenson said. “Service that affects the member’s life. Service that secures a lifelong member relationship. Empowerment means hiring the right people and letting them do their jobs.”

Knowing that members often want to talk with a senior executive at their hometown credit union, Jorgenson also goes out of his way to make himself available to members. Not a week goes by that he doesn’t interact directly with Gesa members.

And it’s worked. In its 2011 report, “Superior Consumer Lenders During the Great Recession,” The Filene Research Institute spotlighted Gesa as one of 21 credit unions nationwide—and one of just five with $1 billion-plus in assets—that grew its consumer loan portfolio by more than 5 percent each year from 2008 to 2010.

Awards were presented at a reception held Tuesday, March 20, as part of the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, D.C., marking the seventh year the Credit Union Times has recognized leaders in the movement with Trailblazer Awards.


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