Top Directors Honored at NWCUA Directors’ Conference

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Four credit union board members and two credit unions took top honors in the Northwest Credit Union Association’s 2014 Directors’ Awards. Their contributions to the credit union movement were celebrated with a gala dinner during the 2014 NWCUA Directors’ Conference.

“You deserve these honors,” said NWUCA Chief Operating Officer Denise Gabel, who served as the emcee. “All of you are committed to the credit union value proposition, and all of you contribute to the positive impact credit unions have on their communities. It’s only fitting we spend this night honoring you.”

Credit Union Director of the Year

Warren Kuwahara, who has served NW Plus Credit Union in advocacy and board leadership roles for a quarter century, was named the Credit Union Director of the Year. An early supporter of open membership and shared branching, Kuwahara was also a guiding force supporting his executive team through growth that included mergers, branch networking and the transition to a state charter.

Spirit of the Community Award

For his success in raising nearly $400,000 for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, IBEW & United Workers Credit Union Board Member Lee Duncan won the Spirit of the Community Award. Duncan has spearheaded the credit union’s “Unions for Kids” program for more than a decade. In its first year out of the gate, Gabel noted, the charity raised $25,000. Last year, the total was $64,000.

Distinguished Impact

Jerry Hauck, an 11-year Rogue Credit Union board veteran, won the Distinguished Impact Award.

“I consider him a mentor and a friend, and I am not sure how the credit union would have fared in the financial crisis without his leadership,” said Gene Pelham, Rogue President and CEO. Pelham nominated Hauck for the honor.

Hauck supported the credit union throughout the crisis, Pelham said, by ensuring that Rogue had full staffing, full benefits and better services when the members needed them most. Hauck is also credited with instilling a stronger executive performance and evaluation program.

Advocate of the Year — Oregon

A surprised Jan Uffelman from Mid Oregon Credit Union, accepts the Oregon Credit Union Advocate of the Year award. Watch her acceptance speech here.

Mid Oregon Credit Union board member Jan Uffelman was named Oregon’s Advocate of the Year. Uffelman, Gabel noted, has personally attended CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference seven times, has attended congressional town halls and has personally met with both of Oregon’s U.S. Senators. In addition, she maintains direct contact with six state legislators.

“When I do something, I tend to do it with passion,” a surprised Uffelman told attendees to the awards dinner. Uffelman was looking for “a new passion” after retiring from her teaching career and found it when she was elected to Mid Oregon’s board just a year later.

“I never thought I’d be involved in politics or anything related to politics,” she said, but she dove in when she saw the opportunity to advocate for members.

“Thanks for the recognition,” she said, “but we all need to stand up and be recognized for what we are doing as directors.”

Advocate of the Year — Washington

Teamwork was rewarded in the advocacy category when the Advocate of the Year — Washington trophy was presented. The entire board from TwinStar Credit Union took the honors for policy that directs the credit union’s senior leadership team to be politically engaged. In addition, Gabel announced, TwinStar posts the names of NWCUA-endorsed candidates and supporting statements to it website, so members will know which candidates to support in elections.

Credit Union Commitment to Board Excellence

The credit union receiving this honor must prove programs, processes and practices demonstrating a commitment to board excellence. USAgencies Credit union did just that, according the awards program judges. The credit union created an Associate Volunteers Program, requiring potential board members to complete a year-long training program before becoming eligible for nomination. In the program, newly-elected board members are mentored by veteran board members. Directors at the credit union are also required to complete the CUNA VAP financial literacy training, and to continue leveraging training opportunities for as long as they serve on the board.

More to Come

“The Directors Awards dinner kicked off our 2014 awards season,” said NWCUA Member Resources Director Brandi Gleason. “Next week we will issue calls to entry for our Chapter Excellence, Summit, CUNA and Advocacy Awards honoring credit unions and professionals for innovation, community impact and excellence.” Those awards, Gleason notes, will be presented at AmplifyTM Convention in Spokane, October 7-9.

Questions about this story? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225,

Posted in Awards, Events, NWCUA.