Northwest Credit Unions Shine on National Stage


Front Row (left to right): Shelan Stritzke, Manager HR, iQ Credit Union; Jessica Jones, SVP Administrative Services, Universal 1 Credit Union; Michelle Waln, SPHR, VP of Culture, Heartland Credit Union; Marielle Richie, Education Coordinator, Gerber Federal Credit Union. Back Row (left to right): Silvia Dimma, Chief HR Officer, Michigan State University Federal Credit Union; Marcos Rocha, HR Generalist, Key Point Credit Union; Scott Wuerch, Organizational Development Advisor, Royal Credit Union; Debbie Schorzman, HR Generalist.

Of the six credit unions receiving national Employee Engagement, Staff Development, or Management Practice honors at the recent CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council Conference, two were from the Northwest. That’s an impressive showing for the region, but not a surprise when you consider their accomplishments.

Seattle-based Verity Credit Union brought home an Innovative Staff Development award for “Verity University.” Employees choose “majors” in areas where they’d like to grow—sometimes in their own departments and often in other areas where their two-to-three-year commitment really stretches their muscles. And yes, there’s a graduation ceremony at the end of the rainbow. It comes complete with a PTO and financial reward.

“One of our values is that learning is life-long. It never stops,” said Matthew Kingston, Training & Development Specialist.

To that end, the credit union has revamped Verity University within the last 18 months to ensure it stays relevant. The program has been successful for nearly 18 years. The curriculum is built around core competencies including leadership. The employee “students” have access to the executive team including President/CEO John Zmolek. They also prepare in depth projects.

Kingston was able to point to two recent student projects that were immediately helpful to Verity. A marketing student, he said, designed a branding standards and style guide, and a community relations liaison developed a branch staff community volunteer program.

Vancouver-based iQ Credit Union was recognized for its “WE and Community” program. Members of iQ are well familiar with the “plaid-clad” teams and roving Plaid Wagon that showcase the credit unions’ signature brand while helping in the community.

In 2017, iQ implemented a Community Time Off program giving all employees a paid day off to support a local charity of their choice. The results were astonishing—the team volunteered more than 575 hours, and staff turnover at the CU dropped 6 percent.

Ten Northwest credit unions sparkled at the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council Conference this spring, bringing home prestigious Diamond Marketing Awards. Many won multiple awards and needed an extra suitcase to bring home the bling.

Winning national Diamond Awards were:

  • BECU
  • Fibre Federal Credit Union
  • First Tech Federal Credit Union
  • Gesa Credit Union
  • Horizon Credit Union
  • ISU Credit Union
  • Northwest Community Credit Union
  • OnPoint Community Credit Union
  • St. Helens Community Credit Union
  • STCU

Posted in CUNA.