BECU’s Gary Oakland wins Foundations’ Mark of Excellence Award


August 24, 2011
Lynn Heider
(503) 350-2225
(503)358-0773 (mobile)
Washington and Oregon Foundations to present Summit Awards to four industry leaders

Seattle, WA. — In recognition of his 25 years leading one of America’s largest credit unions, The Washington and Oregon Credit Union Foundations are pleased to announce that Gary Oakland, President and CEO of BECU, will receive the Mark of Excellence honor at the Summit Awards dinner.

The Mark of Excellence Award is the highest honor offered in the Summit Awards program. It recognizes a credit union professional for significant contributions to the credit union movement over a sustained period of 25 years or more through advocacy, philosophy, education and civic involvement.

Oakland has held the reins at BECU since 1986.  Founded in 1935 by 18 Boeing workers with assets of just $9, BECU today is the nation’s fourth largest credit union, with nearly 703,000 members and assets of over $9.5 billion.   Oakland is credited with successfully guiding members through recessions, Boeing strikes and the national mortgage meltdown.

On his watch, low-cost loans were offered to striking Boeing workers and to victims of natural disasters.   Oakland’s team reversed a banking trend that offered the highest interest rates to the biggest savers, and instead offered the highest interest rates to the first $500 members deposited in checking and savings accounts. “The Member Advantage” incentivized new savers and sent a message to the market about the credit union’s long-term commitment to members’ financial well-being.

“He continuously demonstrates his forward thinking vision and his ability to leverage the cooperative model for the greater good of the membership,” noted Tom Berquist, SVP Member Strategies, in nominating Oakland for the honor.

 Awards Committee member Earlene Fantz concurred. “Gary stands out for his achievements on many levels.  The list of his accomplishments and activities is overwhelming,” she commented.

Oakland is currently Chairman of the National Credit Union Foundation’s Board, and serves on the boards of Junior Achievement of Washington, Impact Capital and other organizations.  He worked with the Washington Credit Union Foundation and other industry leaders to help fund and launch BizKid$, the Emmy-award winning, nationally televised program teaching financial literacy to elementary and middle school students.

Oakland earned a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Washington State University. He also spent a semester at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, studying comparative political and economic systems, graduated from the Advanced Management Program at Duke University Fuqua School of Business and is a Certified Consumer Credit Executive. 
In addition to Oakland, three other industry leaders will receive Summit Awards.  The Foundations expect to announce the winners of the Credit Union Professional of the Year, the Distinguished Credit Union Volunteer and the Young Credit Union Professional of the Year by mid-September.

The Mark of Excellence presentation will be the crowning event at the Summit Awards dinner.  The program will be co- hosted by the Washington and Oregon Credit Union Foundations at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, WA, on September 22, 2011, as part of the Northwest Credit Union Association Convention.  Interested media may contact Lynn Heider, AVP Communications,


About the Summit Awards program:
The Summit Awards recognize leaders who advance the Northwest credit union movement.   Individuals are honored in four categories including Distinguished Credit Union Volunteer, Credit Union Professional of the Year, Young Credit Union Professional of the Year and the Mark of Excellence for 25 years or more of service.

About the Northwest Credit Union Association (
The Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) is the not-for-profit trade association serving Oregon and Washington’s 200 credit unions and their 4.2 million members. The NWCUA is the voice of the Northwest credit union movement, providing legislative, regulatory and public advocacy in addition to education, compliance, networking support and business solutions to its members.

For information on how to join a credit union, please visit

Click here to download a copy of the press release.

Posted in Article Post.