Western CUNA Management School Transforms Credit Union Careers

“Transformative,” “Passion-awakening,” “crucial,” and “amazing,” are all superlatives graduates of the Western CUNA Management School (WCMS) have used to describe their three-year higher learning experience.

For two weeks every summer during their program, credit union professionals meet on the campus of Pomona College in Claremont, CA. They are fully immersed in hi-level credit union system curriculum that covers financials, operations, and the philosophy that makes cooperative, not-for-profit credit unions unique among financial institutions.  During the rest of the year, they work on projects that may require 250 hours of their time, but fully prepare them to advance to senior leadership positions.

“The moment you set foot on campus you are engulfed by the passion that drives our movement.,” said Justin Martin, Chief Human Resources Officer at Seattle-based Verity Credit Union. “The classes and projects deepened my understanding of all areas of the credit union, allowing me to contribute more strategically.  I walked away with a robust network and a high-level of confidence in my own potential”.

Martin graduated from WCMS last year, and sees his education as “a pivotal point in my credit union career.”

Kolin McMann, President &CEO of Lakewood, Washington-based American Lake Credit Union, pointed out that dedicated credit union professionals can be laser-focused on their current jobs, and may not have a global view of what it takes to run a credit union.  For McMann, getting the big picture was huge, but there’s more to WCMS that that.

“Building relationship with your peers, people in your region is one of the best assets,” he said.

Jim Hier was already well established in his credit union career when he enrolled to fulfill a personal goal. For Hier, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Tigard, Oregon-based NW Preferred FCU, It reaffirmed everything he knew and admired about what makes credit unions great.

“It’s still alive, and it thrives at WCMS,” Heir said, noting the caliber of classmates makes him extremely confident the movement is sustainable.

“The future of credit unions is in good hands,” he said.

Editor’s note: Make your WCMS dream a reality. Apply for a scholarship from WCMS by May 15 at


Your Northwest Credit Union Foundation is also a resource: https://nwcuf.org/scholarships-and-grants/

Posted in Article Post, Events.