Brandsma, Hein, Nowacki Win Summit Awards at Amplify Convention

Rick Brandsma, who led Sound Credit Union through 14 mergers to become a 21-branch operation with more than $1 billion in assets, was honored Thursday with the Northwest Credit Union Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the Summit Awards Dinner & Gala in Portland.

The awards capped a three-day Amplify Convention that included the Association’s annual business meeting, general sessions featuring nationally-known speakers, a trade show featuring more than 100 exhibitors, educational and impact sessions, and an auction that raised more than $130,000 for Credit Unions for Kids and the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals.

Jill Nowacki, vice president of development for Maps Credit Union, was honored as Young Credit Union Professional of the Year at the gala for her advocacy work and her role in marketing, strategic communications, human resources, community outreach and more.

The key to accomplishing so much before the age of 35? “Just show up,” Nowacki said. “Answer the call.”

Rick Hein, president and CEO of OSU Federal Credit Union, won the Innovation and Impact Award for his leadership on a variety of advocacy campaigns; his role on local, regional and federal boards and committees; his involvement in his church and community; and his commitment to innovative financial-literacy programs, including a mentoring program for 140 young adults.

Hein paid tribute to the members and employees at OSU Federal, saying their efforts helped the credit union raise $27,000 this year for Credit Unions for Kids.  His personal philosophy? “If you’re not at the table,” he said, “you’re on the menu.”

Brandsma was honored for his role as president and CEO at Sound, where he oversaw dramatic growth, expanded the credit union’s field of membership and converted from a federal to state charter, as well as his significant community involvement in the Tacoma area and beyond. Brandsma chairs a local business-development council and the advisory board for the University of Washington Tacoma’s Milgard School of Business. He led the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, and was a director for the Tacoma City Ballet.

“Rick has committed his life to improving the lives of credit union members,” NWCUA Chief Operating Officer Denise Gabel told the Summit Awards audience, “and to promoting the credit union philosophy.”

Brandsma said his personal bucket list for the future includes traveling to Europe. But his first priority? “Continuing to grow our business,” he said.

Other awards announced Thursday:


“Top of the Hill”: Advantis Credit Union, Oregon Community Credit Union, OSU Federal Credit Union, Pacific NW Federal Credit Union, Peninsula Community Credit Union, Rivermark Community Credit Union, Solarity Credit Union, Sound Credit Union, STCU, St. Helens Community Credit Union and United Health Services Credit Union

Oregon Volunteer of the Year: Jake Jensen, Advantis Credit Union

Washington Volunteer of the Year: Sadie Hawkins, Our Community Credit Union

Oregon Professional Advocate of the Year: Larry Hoff, Fibre Federal Credit Union

Washington Professional Advocate of the Year: Brooke Van Vleet, St. Helens Community Credit Union


Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award (First Place): Maps Credit Union

Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award (First Place): Solarity Credit Union

Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Award (First Place): Unitus Community Credit Union

Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Award (Honorable Mention):  Solarity Credit Union

Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award (First Place): BECU, Fibre Federal Credit Union, North Coast Credit Union, Maps Credit Union, Mid Oregon Credit Union, Unitus Community Credit Union

Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award ( Second Place): Oregon Community Credit Union

Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award (Honorable Mention): Solarity Credit Union


Leadership: Central Oregon Chapter

Education: Southeast Washington Chapter

Advocacy: Pierce County Chapter

Philosophy in Action: Southwest Washington Chapter

Overall Best Practices: Capitol Chapter

View photos of all winners from the Summit Awards Dinner & Gala here, and read more about  the award winners in next Tuesday’s edition of Anthem. Questions? Contact Gary Stein: 503.350.2216,

Posted in Advocacy News, Awards, Federal.