WCMS Honors Northwest Graduates and Retiring President

On July 23 in Pomona, California, STCU Director of Consumer Lending Rich Lentz became only the seventh person in the history of Western CUNA Management School to receive its highest honors. During the graduation ceremony for the school’s NU class, Lentz was honored for earning high honors on the three exams and two projects conducted during the program.

Two other Northwest credit union professionals, Numerica Credit Union’s Wendie Ellis and STCU’s Kristopher Keller, also graduated with honors, with Ellis qualifying for high honors.

NWCUA President and CEO Troy Stang gave the commencement address to the NU class. He spoke passionately about the need to serve as strong advocates for the credit union movement. Throughout his speech, he weaved a story about a member at the first credit union he worked at in Minnesota who went from needing $26 loans to get through from paycheck to paycheck to owning his own property.

“Dream through the eyes of your members,” said Stang.

The commencement also celebrated the contributions of retiring WCMS President Dr. James D. Likens, who served the school for 44 years.

Rogue Credit Union President/CEO and WCMS Board Chair Gene Pelham announced at the event the creation of the Western CUNA Management School James D. Likens Fellowship. This fellowship, designed to live on in perpetuity, will offer an internship to one Pomona College student every summer to work at a not-for-profit organization and help improve its ability to be a positive force to change lives. Dr. Likens served as a professor at the college for 46 years.

Pelham recounted a favorite story of Likens about a school nurse who encouraged his mother to become a teacher and got her to promise one day to send her then-fourth-grade son to college. His mother did both.

“That nurse created a ripple effect that has lasted for years,” Pelham said.  Because of Dr. Likens “leaders have been developed and our movement has thrived.”

WCMS 1999 graduate Mark Meyer, CEO of the Filene Research Institute, received this year’s James D. Likens Alumni Recognition Award for significant achievement in the credit union field since graduating from the school.

Meyer quoted Edward Filene in accepting the award, saying in part: “We live in incredible times.” He advised the NU class that it’s important to “stand up on one anothers’ shoulders to move forward.”

According to its time-honored tradition of giving back to WCMS, the graduating class presented WCMS President Dr. James D. Likens with fundraising checks totaling $95,000 — $15,000 from an auction event by the three classes and $80,000 raised over the past three years by the NU class.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Events.