Member News: Here’s What’s Happening in Northwest Credit Unions

6 Northwest credit union professionals become CU Development Educators; Columbia Credit Union announces 4 VP promotions; WSECU celebrates 60 years by paying it forward.

10/10/17

6 Northwest Credit Union Professionals Become Certified CU Development Educators

A total of 46 credit union professionals became Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) after being guided through the intensive Credit Union Development Education (DE) Training from the National Credit Union Foundation, held Sept. 13-20, 2017, at the Lowell Center in Madison, WI. The most recent DE graduating class included Credit Union Movement representatives from across the U.S., including six professionals from the Northwest region, as well as a representative from Zimbabwe.

Following is a list of the graduates from the Northwest:

  • Melissa Thometz, Branch Manager, Capital Educators FCU
  • Ashkan Jafari, Branch Manager, Unitus Community CU
  • Aaron Bresko, VP Indirect Lending & Consumer Underwriting, BECU
  • Kyle Craigen, Member Experience/Card Portfolio Analyst, Gesa CU
  • Ken Kelly, Manager‐ Training/ Development, Red Canoe CU
  • Amanda Stevens, Community Development Manager, TwinStar CU

After completing the September DE Training, Aaron Bresko, VP of Indirect Lending & Consumer Underwriting at BECU, said, “With 29 years in the Credit Union Movement, this program was undoubtedly the best class I have ever attended. It was fun, challenging, and opened my eyes to a new world of opportunities. I wish every credit union employee worldwide could have the privilege of having this experience.”

DE Training provides critical lessons in cooperative principles, credit union philosophy, and international development issues while incorporating challenges credit unions face today. During the recent week-long program, participants were involved in group exercises, field trips, and discussions with speakers from around the credit union system, and were required to complete team projects proposing solutions for credit unions to help alleviate or eliminate challenging situations.

For this training’s final case studies, participants worked through and presented solutions to critical issues that included financial stability among young adults and families, credit union board development, building microfinance programs in the Philippines, credit union solutions to predatory lending, the increasing issue of homelessness in America, and rejuvenating a stagnant credit union.

The National Credit Union Foundation is holding four DE Trainings next year. Credit union professionals interested in participating in one of the 2018 DE Trainings can visit ncuf.coop to learn more.

Columbia Credit Union Announces 4 VP Promotions

Columbia Credit Union is proud to announce the recent promotions of four employees to vice president positions.

Joe Dunn was named Vice President of Underwriting. In this position, he manages the underwriting department’s daily activities. He oversees the credit union’s consumer lending policies and all underwriting for mortgage, indirect, small business, and consumer lending channels.

Diane Dunning was promoted to Vice President of Lending Operations. She has 35 years of experience in the financial services industry, and is responsible for overseeing accurate and efficient systems and teams for loan onboarding, maintenance and processing for the credit union’s direct and indirect loans, including credit cards, personal loans, lines of credit, and real estate secured loans.

Jeff McLauchlin has more than 17 years’ experience working in the information technology field, and was promoted to Columbia Credit Union’s Vice President of Network Services. His responsibilities include managing the information technology department’s infrastructure, server administration, and help desk activities.

Kristi Muro was named Vice President of Talent. In her role, she manages the daily activity of the human resources department and is directly involved with recruitment efforts, employee relations, and compliance oversight.


Joe Dunn, Vice President of Underwriting

Diane Dunning, President of Lending Operations

Jeff McLauchlin, Vice President of Network Services

Kristi Muro, Vice President of Talent

“We take pride in hiring talented individuals and promoting employees from within our organization,” said Columbia Credit Union President and CEO Steve Kenny. “Joe Dunn, Diane Dunning, Jeff McLauchlin, and Kristi Muro were all named to vice president positions because of their exceptional skills and dedication to providing outstanding service to our members and employees. We’re proud they are part of our strong vice president leadership team.”

WSECU Celebrates 60 Years by Paying It Forward

Some say the traditional gift for a 60th anniversary is the diamond. This year, WSECU employees have been celebrating six decades as a credit union in $60 increments. The credit union’s “Up to Some Good” initiative allows employees to “pay it forward” by giving them a budget of $60 to spread some good in the community.

The guidelines are simple, and let employees respond in the moment to an opportunity they see to spread goodwill. They first spend their own money, and then get reimbursement from the credit union for up to $60. Employees have used the funds for a range of activities from charitable donations, to picking up a dinner tab, to purchasing items for the needy, to paying down school lunch debt.

“We wanted a special way to involve employees throughout the year in celebrating our 60th anniversary and to give back to our neighbors,” said Ann Flannigan, Vice President of Public Relations. “It’s been a lot of fun and quite moving to see all the ways our employees have run with the concept.”

Flannigan added that the staff members have enjoyed being able to be WSECU brand ambassadors in such a direct, tangible way.

Employee Melissa Ruiz, Consumer Loan Servicing Team Leader, was in a Les Schwab tire shop waiting for her car when she overheard a customer talking with the clerk. The customer said she needed a new tire because she ran over a razor but didn’t have more than $20 to spend. The clerk found a used tire at that price that would work short-term but really didn’t properly fit. Ruiz stepped forward to offer assistance.

“I felt compelled to do something,” said Ruiz. “I approached the counter and shared that I work for WSECU and as an employee I am encouraged to give back to the community. I told them that WSECU would like to pay for a new tire for her car.”

Both the tire customer and the clerk teared up with surprise. When the customer said she was not a WSECU member, Melissa assured her that was not a problem. The credit union just wanted to help.

Another example of getting Up to Some Good is West Olympia Branch employee Glory Stewart. She volunteered in a Garfield Elementary classroom and decided it was time to use her $60 to help outfit the classroom. With the teacher’s guidance, Stewart purchased a rug, a pillow, folders, Playdoh, and pens for student use.

“The instructor was so thankful to WSECU and our continued support of the community,” Stewart said.

Flannigan said that a true pay-it-forward outcome has happened several times where recipients of WSECU employee goodwill have stated that they will, in turn, do something good for someone else.

“That’s the best feeling of all, knowing that we’ve been a little link in a chain of good that might continue,” Flannigan said.

WSECU’s “Up to Some Good” activities will continue through the rest of 2017. The credit union will then evaluate and consider if it will continue beyond the 60th anniversary celebration.