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


STCU Names New CEO

STCU President/CEO Tom Johnson with Ezra Eckhardt, president-elect.

Ezra Eckhardt, a Spokane native with a record of community service, will become president-elect of STCU on Oct. 23. He will become president and CEO starting Jan. 1.

“STCU knows the importance of service to both the community and their member-owners, and that is really compelling to me,” said Eckhardt, who was president of Spokane-based Sterling Bank when it merged with Umpqua Bank. “The credit union is playing a critical role in shaping the future of Spokane and the region.”

Eckhardt is the fifth person to take the helm of STCU, which was founded by Spokane teachers in 1934. He replaces President and CEO Tom Johnson, whose seven-year tenure has seen the credit union nearly double its membership and grow to $2.6 billion in total assets.

Johnson announced earlier this year that he would retire, while remaining active in the community. Among his many other civic activities, he is president-elect of Greater Spokane Incorporated, an organization that Eckhardt also has served.

“Ezra won’t need much introduction among the region’s business and community leaders,” Johnson said. “I’m gratified that the credit union will be in the hands of someone with a long history of community involvement and leadership with so many organizations doing important work.”

Eckhardt attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was a Distinguished Graduate (ninth in a class of 975) and earned a degree in European history. He served six years in the U.S. Army, including supporting operations in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Liberia, and as a Company Commander at Ft. Benning, Georgia.

After another six years in management at Honeywell and Microsoft, he returned to Spokane in 2004, earned an MBA from Gonzaga University and became Sterling’s chief administrative officer.

Eckhardt became Sterling’s president and chief operating officer in 2009. He became executive vice president of operations at Umpqua when the two banks merged in 2014, and he stayed in that position through February 2016. Since early 2016, Eckhardt has served as chief operating officer at Oregon-based Wave Form Systems Inc., a provider of advanced surgical technologies ― commuting from Spokane.

Serving on the Spokane International Airport board of directors since 2015, Eckhardt chairs its finance committee, helping oversee about $50 million in capital improvements every year. He has served since 2012 on Vision 2030, GSI’s planning board for any future expansions at the WSU medical school. Also since 2012, he’s served on the board of directors and executive committee for G-Prep.

“Ezra’s commitment to Spokane and his proven leadership made him a clear pick for the position,” said Dolores Humiston, chairwoman of the STCU Board of Directors. “STCU will continue to take a leadership role in the community, while maintaining the strong business practices that enable us to help meet our members’ financial goals.”

BECU Hosts Annual Closing for Good, Bringing Financial Reality Fairs to More than 7,000 Teens

On Oct. 9, BECU helped teens get familiar with managing their finances through its annual Closing for Good event at 12 high schools throughout Washington state.

BECU closed its doors for a day of service where more than 1,800 employees hosted financial reality fairs for more than 7,000 high school students in Puget Sound and Spokane. At the fairs, students learned what it is like to build and balance a budget, make tough financial choices, and live within their income. The goal of the day of service was to create realistic financial choices for teens in a setting where they could evaluate each choice and receive coaching on the decision process.

The credit union also extended its support to parents nationwide by providing resources to inspire the Next Big Talk with their teen about money management, with the goal of creating financially savvy adults.

BECU’s resources for parents looking for information and encouragement to discuss finances with their teen include a conversation guide focused on four areas of financial health: spending, saving, borrowing and planning. The guide features questions for parents and teens to answer together to start a discussion on managing money responsibly, tips for healthy financial behaviors and activities to reinforce the four areas of financial health.

“Nearly half of Americans cannot come up with $400 to cover an emergency expense without having to borrow or sell something. Through resources like Closing for Good and the Next Big Talk, BECU is committed to helping reverse this trend,” said Tom Berquist, BECU’s senior vice president of Marketing and Cooperative Affairs. “We believe that talking with teens early and often about money is as important as speaking to them about other life challenges. The earlier we can help teens begin to develop healthier financial habits, the better.”

Idaho Professionals Celebrate CULAC Success

CLIMB Idaho’s “CLIMB for CULAC,” a statewide event held at two venues to rally support for CULAC, was a great success. Both venues celebrated with games, networking, food, and fun to engage credit union employees on the importance of donating to CULAC.

Between the participating regions, CLIMB was able to raise $2,495 for CULAC, covering a large percentage of Idaho’s annual goal of $18,250 in one night.

The CLIMB Idaho Executive Committee extends a special thank you to all the participants and volunteers for their support.

Posted in Around the NW.