Northwest Professionals Excel at Western CUNA Management School


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The Western CUNA Management School granted diplomas to 109 professionals in a ceremony at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., on July 19.

Northwest credit union professionals shone brightly on the graduation stage.

Teri Robinson, CEO of Portland-based Pacific Northwest Ironworkers Federal Credit Union, received the James D. Likens Alumni Recognition Award for significant service in the credit union field since graduating from WCMS. Robinson completed the program in 2008, and since then became a CEO, led her credit union from low net worth to financial health, and recently gained approval for a nationwide charter. All of that was possible, Robinson noted, because of her WCMS experience.

“Wow,” a surprised Robinson told graduates when she was called to the stage to receive the award. “I met some really amazing people in my journey here. I learned a lot about the passion for credit unions, and I took it back to my real life…We are needed now more than ever as credit unions, not just for my members, but for all of your members.”

Winning the Charles M. Clark Memorial Award was Evan Strandberg, Business Development Manager at Vancouver-based iQ Credit Union. The honor is given to the student who best represents high moral character, leadership, credit union dedication, and academic achievement.

“Our first day of school, we are reminded that our families at home, our friends, and our coworkers are sacrificing so we can be here,” Strandberg said. “I just hope I made them proud.”

He certainly made his classmates proud. When they nominated him for the award, they called him “a living example of the credit union ideal.”

Four Northwest credit union professionals graduated from WCMS with “High Honors.” They are:

  • Scott Haeg, Operations Manager, Connection Credit Union, Silverdale, Wash.
  • Scott Rabe, Director of eBusiness and Software Development, STCU, Spokane
  • Jeffry Roberson, Chief Information Officer, Rogue Credit Union, Medford, Ore.
  • Christine Ruzzi, Director, Member Resources, Northwest Credit Union Association

STCU’s Rabe also received the Rick Craig Prize for Excellence in Project II, recognizing excellence for his second-year project. Class projects generally take WCMS students more than 200 hours to complete.

Three Northwest credit union professionals graduated with honors. They are:

  • Alicia Carlson, Underwriter, Inspirus Credit Union, Seattle
  • Matthew Rice, eCommerce Director, East Idaho Credit Union, Idaho Falls, Idaho
  • Eric Zittel, Vice President of Consumer Lending, Harborstone Credit Union, Lakewood, Wash.

The commencement speaker was Lauren MacVay, President/CEO of Juneau, Alaska-based True North Federal Credit Union.

“We are witness,” she said, “to an incredible amount of innovation and change. It is an incredibly exciting time to be alive. “

MacVay added that advocacy is an important mission for credit unions.

“There is a need for our voice, our numbers, our data, and our stories,” she told graduates.

WCMS helps credit union professionals from 13 western states to develop their career and leadership potential. The program lasts three years, and offers a mix of on-campus, high level academic curriculum and in-credit union practical experience. Information about registration for 2019 can be found online. Your Association’s Foundation is a resource for scholarships for professionals employed by NWCUA member credit unions. In addition, The Kathy Thomson Legacy of Life & Learning Scholarships are available for Idaho credit union professionals.

Posted in Around the NW.