Gary Oakland Wins Wegner Award for Lifetime Achievement

Gary Oakland, who led BECU in Seattle to unprecedented growth as its CEO for 26 years and whose generosity and selflessness made him an industry leader and an influential contributor to a wide variety of community causes, has been named the winner of the 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.

The award, announced Wednesday by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), is one of the credit union movement’s highest honors. Oakland will receive the award on Feb. 24, 2014, at the NCUF’s annual gala dinner in Washington, D.C.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to receive this award,” Oakland says. “When I think of all the past recipients, as well as all the people who really made things happen during my career, I’m overwhelmed. This award belongs to all the people who helped and guided me.”

Under Oakland’s guidance, BECU grew from 108,000 members when he assumed the role of CEO in 1986 to more than 775,000 members at the time of his retirement in 2012. During that time, Oakland’s dedication to helping Boeing employees and to the credit union’s philosophy of “People Helping People” never wavered.

“Gary advocated for the member at every turn,” says Rae K. Miles, president of Innovative Resources, LLC. “He changed policy to help Boeing employees when they needed it most, and led by example in promoting the importance of thrift to the membership. His efforts went well beyond the membership of BECU.”

Those efforts included locating the funds to keep more than a dozen low-income credit unions afloat during times of hardship, helping to found two low-income-designated credit unions and creating a credit union service organization that provides mortgage solutions to approximately 600 credit unions.

Oakland played a key role in the launch of the PBS television show “Biz Kid$,” an award-winning financial education program for children. Under his leadership, a coalition of credit unions raised $2.6 million a year to make the project possible, earning nationwide recognition—and 11 Emmy nominations.

He established the BECU Foundation, which has awarded more than $1.5 million in college scholarships to 715 students. He served on the board of Seattle’s Neighborhood Children’s Club. And he has supported a variety of nonprofits dedicated to providing affordable housing, including Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, Impact Capital, and Plymouth Housing.

“Gary is a slam dunk for the Wegner Lifetime Achievement Award,” says John Gregoire, chairman of the NCUF selection committee and president of The ProCon Group. “Everything he touches turns to success for the average American consumer. It’s evident in the growth of BECU, the state supervision system, dual credit union chartering, “Biz Kid$”, NCUF, and much more.”

Benson Porter, BECU’s current President/CEO, agrees.

“On behalf of the members and employees of BECU, we want to congratulate Gary on being awarded the Herb Wegner Lifetime Achievement Award,” Porter says. “Gary’s passion for the credit union philosophy has made a significant positive difference for BECU members, employees and the communities we serve.”  

For more about Oakland’s role in the credit union movement and beyond, read the NCUF’s news release.


Questions? Contact Gary Stein: 503.350.2216,

Posted in Awards.