Credit Unions, Chapters, Professionals Honored at Amplify Awards Dinner

Patricia E. Smith (second from left), 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, celebrates on the red carpet with Sarah Canepa Bang, CO-OP Financial Services (left), Mandy Jones, Oregon Community Credit Union, and Carlyn Roy, TAPCO Credit Union.

Editor’s note: this article provides a summary of all Amplify Awards presented. In the coming weeks, Anthem will profile each category in more detailed articles. Photos from the awards event can be found here.

The Northwest Credit Union Association’s Amplify Convention concluded in Portland Thursday night with the Amplify Awards Dinner & Gala, a celebration of Credit Union Movement excellence. Eleven credit unions received regional CUNA Awards for social responsibility and financial education outreach, while two Chapters were honored for excellence in leadership, education, advocacy, and philosophy in action. Five credit union professionals were recognized for advocacy, innovation, and leadership impact.

Unitus’ Patricia E. Smith Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Taking top honors Thursday evening was Patricia E. Smith, who “exemplified outstanding overall and sustained leadership in the Credit Union Movement,” according to Troy Stang, President & CEO of the NWCUA. 

In keeping with an NWCUA tradition, the previous year’s award winners helped to bestow the honors. In presenting Smith’s Lifetime Achievement Award, iQ Credit Union President/CEO Roger Michaelis noted that Smith “checks off every box on the awesomeness list” leading Unitus Community Credit Union through exponential membership and asset growth and making all decisions with the member as the focal point. Smith was honored as well for outstanding board governance, personal volunteerism, and advocacy throughout her 35-year credit union movement career.

Smith’s daughter and two grandchildren made a surprise appearance on the Amplify Awards stage to announce her honor—an emotional moment that captured the hearts of nearly 300 dinner attendees.

Trailhead CU’s Jim McCarthy Wins Innovation and Impact Award

For his leadership driving change including conversion to a community charter and a transformational name and brand change, Trailhead Credit Union President/CEO Jim McCarthy won the 2015 Innovation and Impact Award. On McCarthy’s watch, a downtown Portland credit union elevated its status with the rollout of the Trailhead brand. It resonated with young people. Another branch was opened on the city’s northeast side, membership grew 20 percent and the average age of new members was 33. Lending increased 40 percent as well.

Event emcees Stang and Denise Gabel—NWCUA Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of the Northwest Credit Union Foundation (NWCUF)—lauded McCarthy’s active leadership in legislative advocacy and as a member of the NWCUF Board of Directors. They noted that one of the awards committee judges called McCarthy “the total package.”

Oregon State CU’s Rachel Pross Honored as Young Credit Union Professional of the Year

As a prominent voice at advocacy events and a regular contributor of pro credit union articles to the Huffington Post, Rachel Pross is well-known as a champion for the Credit Union Movement. That was just part of the reason awards committee judges chose to honor her as the Young Credit Union Professional of the Year, however. Keen understanding of credit union financials, contributions on the national stage as a compliance speaker, and her work teaching credit union professionals about the Bank Secrecy Act rounded out her impressive resume. Pross is AVP – Risk Management at Oregon State Credit Union.

Kathie Philp, Tom Johnson Receive Advocate of the Year Honors

Click here to see photos from the Amplify Awards Dinner & Gala.

For answering “every advocacy call to action, every single time,” Kathie Philp, President/CEO of Klamath Falls based Pacific Crest Federal Credit Union, was named the Oregon Advocate of the Year. Philp engaged 400 Pacific Crest members to sign a letter in support of the credit union tax status when the bank lobby attacked, and arranged for the letters to be personally delivered to congressional representatives. Despite the distance she has to travel, Philp is always in attendance for her state Governmental Affairs Committee meetings and at state and federal advocacy events.

Tom Johnson, President/CEO of STCU, was named the Washington Advocate of the Year. Johnson, judges noted, is on a first name basis with many Washington State legislators as well as with his federal delegation in Washington, D.C. Johnson contributes heavily to the development of the Northwest policy agenda and works effectively with regulators. When Congress weighed whether to maintain the credit union tax status, Johnson led the Spokane credit union community in collecting nearly 800 “love letters” from credit union members, and 13,575 signatures on petitions.

Impressive Roster of Regional CUNA Awards Winning Credit Unions

Regional CUNA Awards were presented, recognizing nine Northwest credit unions for excellence in social responsibility, community service, and financial education outreach.

The following credit unions received Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility and Community Service honors:

  • USAgencies CU – Portland, OR
  • Mid Oregon CU – Bend, OR
  • Maps CU – Salem, OR
  • Rogue CU – Medford, OR
  • SnoCope CU – Everett, WA
  • ACU – DuPont, WA
  • Gesa CU – Richland, WA
  • STCU – Liberty Lake, WA
  • Advantis CU – Milwaukie, OR

Two credit unions received Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Member Service Awards. They were Gesa CU and Maps CU.

Honored with Desjardins Adult Financial Education Awards were:

  • Gesa CU – Richland, WA
  • USAgencies CU – Portland, OR
  • Oregon State CU – Corvallis, OR
  • Rogue CU – Medford, OR

Credit unions winning Desjardins Youth Financial Education Awards include:

  • STCU – Liberty Lake, WA
  • Rogue CU – Medford, OR
  • Oregon State CU – Corvallis, OR
  • Gesa CU – Richland, WA

Two Chapters Take Home Excellence Banners

The NWCUA presented Chapter Excellence Awards to two highly engaged credit union communities including:

  • Willamette Chapter of Credit Unions—Leadership and Education categories; and
  • Spokane Chapter of Credit Unions—Advocacy, Philosophy in Action categories and the LEAP Award honors for demonstrating excellence in all four priority areas of chapter focus.

The Amplify Convention stage moves to SeaTac, WA in 2016.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790,

Posted in Advocacy News, Awards, CUNA, NWCUA.