Five Northwest Credit Union Professionals Earn CUDE Certification


The latest group of Credit Union Development Educators became certified in June after a week-long training. Five of the graduates hail from the Northwest.

Five Northwest credit union professionals have become Credit Union Development Educators (CUDE) after completing the National Credit Union Foundation’s Development Education (DE) training.

In total, 47 were certified in the latest training, held in Madison, Wis. Credit union professionals and volunteers from across the country come together to learn about credit union structure, purpose, and how they differentiate from other financial institutions.

During the week-long program, participants are involved in group exercises, field visits, and interactive speaker sessions centered around how credit unions may leverage their unique business model to help their members and communities overcome the financial and developmental issues they face.

There are four DE trainings held each year, with the next one in September. This summer’s graduates from the Northwest include:

  • Heidi Cleveland, Chief Marketing Officer at Verity Credit Union
  • Ronna Idzenga, Community Development Administrator, Harborstone Credit Union
  • Cindy River, Director of Operations, TwinStar Credit Union
  • Angie Stempson, Marketing Coordinator, Red Canoe Credit Union
  • Tonita Webb, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer, Seattle Credit Union

What They Said About DE Training

  • “After 25 years in the financial industry with about half of that time at credit unions and the rest in community banks, I have been searching my whole career for something like DE Training. It was incredibly empowering to learn how to leverage the credit union philosophy to create tangible and impactful solutions to development issues all over the world! It was the most inspirational experience of my career!” – Heidi Cleveland, Verity Credit Union
  • “Before being a part of the DE program, I loved working in the credit union industry. Now, I understand that I am part of a powerful and amazing ‘movement.’ Getting back to the roots of why we do what we do is a powerful reminder that we have purpose. Everyone has a story, and everyone deserves a voice. DE is the heart of the Credit Union Movement.” – Cindy River, TwinStar Credit Union
  • “My week in Madison for CUDE certification was an amazing infusion of credit union love and learning! CUDE reinforced the credit union difference, and for me, confirmed this is where I should be. I look forward to using my new knowledge to impact my Red Canoe Credit Union team, and to improve the lives of our members.” – Angie Stempson, Red Canoe Credit Union
  • “Although I was already a huge credit union cheerleader, joining the DE tribe has elevated my enthusiasm and deepened my passion for the Movement more than I could have imagined. DE has afforded me access to a worldwide ‘brain trust’ of like-minded credit union people with a wide variety of skills, expertise, and compassion for development issues that I can tap into as needed to benefit my work at my own organization.” – Ronna Idzenga, Harborstone Credit Union
  • “DE school was a fantastic reminder of why credit unions are needed. It also reminded us that credit unions must have a balance of business and social responsibility. – Tonita Webb, Seattle Credit Union 

DE Training was facilitated by the foundation’s Chad Helminak and Lois Kitsch from CU Difference. The most recent training session was Kitsch’s last before her retirement, and Helminak will lead future sessions. The training also included a group of six credit union professionals serving as mentors, including Debbie Wege, Cooperative Community Advocate with BECU.

The April, 2018 regional DE Training graduates included:

  • Steve Joffe, Consumer Loan Underwriting Manager, BECU
  • Chris Kirkley, Vice President of Lending, Peninsula CU
  • Carmen Vigil, Director of Cooperative Momentum, NWCUA
  • Alexis Wharton, Olympia Branch Supervisor, Olympia CU

For those who would like to experience a snapshot of the CUDE program, but cannot yet commit to the week-long training, Northwest Development Educators are hosting an immersive two-day workshop, Leveraging the Credit Union Difference, this November.

The workshop is a collaborative effort, supported by BECU, the National Credit Union Foundation, and the Northwest Credit Union Foundation. The workshop begins Nov. 29 at 12:30 p.m. (PST) and ends Dec. 1 at noon. It will be held at IslandWood in Bainbridge Island, Wash. Those who wish to register can do so here.

Posted in Around the NW.