Event Info

November 30th 12:30 pm -
December 2nd 12:00 pm PST

November 30th 1:30 pm -
December 2nd 1:00 pm MST

1 day, 23 hours, 30 minutes

Register Now

Venue Info:

4450 Blakely Avenue NE
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110


Program Overview

Your Association is proud to promote an immersive workshop hosted by Northwest Development Educators with support from BECU, the National Credit Union Foundation, and your Northwest Credit Union Foundation.

About the workshop

A unique opportunity to step away from the daily stress of balancing work and life to engage in a workshop designed for professionals of any level within the credit union movement. Attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of why credit unions are unique and well suited to make an impact on members’ lives and the community. Attendees will return to their credit unions as passionate advocates for their credit union and with a greater appreciation for the movement as a whole.


  • Understand the unique history and role of credit unions in the marketplace and the lessons we can bring to today
  • Gain a deeper understanding of why credit unions are different and how our cooperative principles & structure frame the day-to-day operations in a way that can leverage our uniqueness for growth and impact
  • Experience how financial health is affecting our members and what some credit unions are doing to provide solutions
  • Create a personal/professional action plan
  • Bring back a renewed appreciation for the CU movement and insightful ideas and potential solutions to your credit union

Who should attend?

Leveraging the Credit Union Difference is designed to appeal to a wide range of professionals, including:

  • Young professionals who wish to learn more about credit unions.
  • More seasoned professionals who have come to credit unions from banks and other industries, and want to apply their unique knowledge and skills to enhance their credit union’s purpose.
  • Longtime credit union employees who wish to deepen their appreciation for the uniqueness of credit unions & co-ops, re-ignite that passion, and find new approaches and inspiration.

In order to create an experience that is truly immersive, this workshop is all-inclusive. Lodging, meals, and all supplies are included in your registration price.

$675 – Single Occupancy Room for 2 nights
$600 – Double Occupancy Shared Room for 2 nights

What makes this workshop unique?

  • The conference is produced and presented by volunteer certified Credit Union Development Educators within the Pacific Northwest with support from the National CU Foundation and the Northwest CU Foundation.
  • Holding this in the beautiful wooded campus and sustainable facilities of Islandwood not only helps support their worthy mission, it provides a special opportunity to embrace our natural surroundings in a way that enhances learning beyond the boardroom, for deeper focus and idea generation.
  • The immersive curriculum connects credit union staff with our purpose and often creates passionate advocates.
  • Special activities and experiences, including fireside chats with s’mores.

About the Presenters

Lois Kitsch

National Program Director • National CU Foundation

For American credit unions, which operate in one of the world’s most competitive, and metrics-driven industries, Lois Kitsch is the cooperative conscience. She is the national program director of the National Credit Union Foundation’s REAL Solutions program, which helps credit unions serve financially underserved consumers. She also directs the Foundation’s Development Education program, which helps credit union leaders experience a transformational learning experience and maintain cooperative principles as the foundation of their cooperative business model. In both roles she motivates people to change the way they operate their businesses and think about serving marginal markets. Lois is a natural facilitator, mentor and consensus builder, a well-known public speaker and a successful program leader.

Mark Lynch

Senior Program Manager • National CU Foundation

Mark is the Senior Program Manager at the National Credit Union Foundation.  He has been a credit union member for 39 years and a credit union board director for 22 years.  Prior to moving to the US from Australia, he was the Deputy Chairman of the Australian National Credit Union, then Australia’s largest credit union and the Volunteer & Resources Manager with the Australian Credit Union Foundation.  He also served on the boards of two other cooperatives and the academic council of a business college.

Since moving to the US 10 years ago, Mark has delivered more than 500 presentations to credit union conferences in 48 states, predominantly on issues relating to growth strategies, board governance, credit union philosophy, serving the undeserved, and taxation.  His passion for cooperatives and the credit union movement has launched him into his career at the National Credit Union Foundation.  For the last 8 years, Mark has worked as a Field Coach with the National Credit Union’s REAL Solutions Program to help credit unions develop programs and services aimed at low wealth households, as well as the non-prime auto lending pilot, and retirement experiential learning programs.

Deborah Wege

Cooperative Community Advocate • BECU

Debbie has been a professional in the Credit Union movement for 35 years, and has extensive experience regarding the unique role and purpose of the cooperative credit union structure.  She understands and promotes the need for connection to the communities and members they serve.  Her background includes developing and implementing robust community giving and philanthropic support strategies including organizational giving/grants, employee volunteer and engagement programs, quality financial education, as well as, leadership, diversity and employee training programs.  Debbie served as Executive Director of the BECU Foundation, running and growing their Scholarship program for over 13 years.

Debbie is currently the Cooperative Community Advocate for BECU, a strong community based Credit Union in Washington State. She is also a certified Credit Union Development Educator through the National Credit Union Foundation since 1993, as well as earning her Caribbean CUDE and International CUDE designation, and currently serves on the CUDE Advisory Committee of the National CU Foundation Board.

Debbie has developed successful partnerships with high profile community organizations in her local communities and has a strong passion for credit unions and the positive benefits that the founding cooperative operating principals and philosophy of credit unions bring to members and the community.  Debbie has actively lobbied for the protection and growth of credit unions at both a state and national level. She has assisted in projects through the World Council of Credit Unions.

In addition to her work with BECU and the cooperative impact and philanthropic support, she also brings skills and experience in non-profit leadership and program development and support. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the board of Express Advantage, the non-profit organization established to assist and partner low income credit unions, such as Express Credit Union.

Debbie is a Seattle native, born and raised right here in the surrounding Seattle area. She spent her youth growing up on Beacon Hill and has a love and passion for this city and the Pacific Northwest.

Location & Travel Information

Islandwood is located 3 miles from the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal, which is just a short 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle. Groups that use Islandwood find that nature is not just a backdrop, it is an integral part of the learning experience.

Learn more about the unique learning environment that Islandwood provides here.


For more information about this unique workshop, please contact Debbie Wege, BECU Cooperative Community Advocate at debbie.wege@becu.org or 206-439-5907.

For questions about how to register, please contact Carmen Vigil, NWCUA Community Manager at cvigil@nwcua.org or 206-340-4817.