Cheney Honored for Lifetime Achievement; Others Recognized

Bill Cheney, Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award honoree and President and CEO of SchoolsFirst FCU (center), with his fellow award honorees.
Bill Cheney, Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award honoree and President and CEO of SchoolsFirst FCU (center), with his fellow award honorees.

Bill Cheney was awarded the Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award on Tuesday afternoon during REACH 2021! The award recognizes excellence in credit union philosophy and a lifetime of contributions to the credit union industry.

(View or download any of this week’s photos from the REACH 2021 photo gallery)

Cheney, president and CEO of SchoolsFirst FCU, received the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ highest honor and was among many other credit union leaders honored during a special awards ceremony. Cheney’s special recognition is named after Leo H. Shapiro, considered the “father of the California credit union movement” and founder of the California Credit Union League.

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude to receive the Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award. I owe so much to my boards of directors and the many team members and other volunteers who I have had the honor to serve with throughout my career,” Cheney said. “I share this award with my fellow credit union colleagues across California, who live our credit union philosophies each day. I look forward to continuing my advocacy of credit unions and bringing financial well-being to members and team members for many years to come. Thank you for this honor!”

For more than 30 years, Cheney has played a significant role in the credit union movement, first serving in community and employee-based credit unions, followed by roles as president and CEO of the Leagues and president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the nation’s largest advocacy group for credit unions. Cheney worked in Washington, D.C. and throughout the country representing America’s credit unions and their more than 100 million members before the White House, Congress, and federal government agencies.

A common thread throughout Cheney’s career has been his unwavering commitment to helping all members thrive, advancing efforts to support diversity and inclusion, and championing the credit union cooperative’s principles.

Sixteen other leaders and organizations were also recognized during the Credit Union Awards Ceremony for their remarkable service to the credit union movement and their members. This year’s recipients are:

Distinguished Service Award
Nader Moghaddam​, President and CEO of Financial Partners CU
Recipients of the Leagues’ Distinguished Service Award are honored for service to the credit union community over the most recent three years. Moghaddam was honored for his dedication to the credit union movement spanning more than 20 years. As a passionate advocate of the movement, he has served on many councils, committees, and boards.

Alvin George Outstanding Volunteer Award
Don Bertucci, Board Chairman of Chaffey FCU
This award honors significant contributions over the most recent three years by people who serve credit unions in a volunteer capacity. It was renamed in 2013 in honor of long-time credit union volunteer J. Alvin George. Bertucci was honored for his individual contributions to Chaffey FCU and the education community, as well as the contributions made by those volunteers and leaders he has recruited over the years.

Alvin George Outstanding Volunteer Award
Barbara Thomas, Board Director of Educational Employees CU
Thomas was honored for her service and support of individuals, the credit union, and the community. She’s been a driving force behind various grants and financial literacy programs at Educational Employees CU.

Tomorrow’s Star Award
Hector Martin, Vice President of Retail Services at County Schools FCU
This award recognizes the achievements in the most recent three years by young credit union professionals who are 35 years old or under. Martin was honored for his service and achievements that have directly benefited the credit union community, primarily Shapiro-sized credit unions in Southern California.

Kim Bannan Eternal Flame Awards
Randy Icelow, President and CEO of Rolling F CU (individual); and Western CUNA Management School Alumni Association (organization)
These awards recognize efforts that contribute to the success and future of Shapiro Group credit unions and are named after the Leagues’ late vice president of credit union development and research and information. Icelow was recognized for his dedication to help other small credit unions improve and successfully reviving his local chapter in the Central Valley.

Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Member Service Award (more than $1 billion in assets category): a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) award
Patelco CU
The credit union’s ScoreUp Credit Builder Loan fills a gap in the credit union’s financial health and wellbeing offering, designed to support people with bad credit, little credit, or no credit. Unlike a secured loan, ScoreUp requires no money upfront and builds a member’s credit profile while also building their savings. By the end of the loan, a member will have established or improved their credit score, as well as having the added benefit of an emergency savings or a down payment for something else.

Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award (more than $1 billion in assets category): a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) award
Travis CU
The credit union fosters financial inclusion and empowers economically vulnerable youth. To promote the ideal of cooperative self-help and bring about human and social development, the credit union places high importance on youth financial education throughout its 12-county service area, having full-time youth and diversity financial education officers devoted to developing relationships with schools, counties, nonprofits, and political representatives to build alliances with organizations that support diverse and economically vulnerable youth populations. In 2020, the credit union provided financial education to over 9,000 individuals, of which over 5,000 are youth. In 2021 (year to date as of October), it has been able to provide financial education to 15,000 individuals, of which about 5,000 are youth.

Western CUNA Management School Recognition
Additionally, the Western CUNA Management School (WCMS) Alumni Association was honored for the service and financial assistance it provides to students whose credit unions may not have the financial resources to send them to Western CUNA Management School.

Advocacy Awards
These recipients are credit unions, individuals, and organizations displaying extraordinary leadership in advocacy and political action:

2021 Political Professional of the Year — Pascual Garrido, Director of Business Development and Community Relations, SCE FCU
Garrido was honored for his commitment to advocacy by building strong relationships with local leaders, hosting state and federal lawmakers at the credit union, and attending virtual legislative meetings.

2021 California Advocate Credit Union of the Year — Kinecta FCU
The credit union was honored as a tireless advocate for the credit union movement and recognized as one of the most involved credit unions in all aspects of advocacy.

2021 Nevada Advocate Credit Union of the Year — Greater Nevada CU
Greater Nevada CU was recognized for its persistence and lobbying efforts to help protect and advance the agenda of credit unions in the state.

2021 California Advocate of the Year — Geri LaChance, President and CEO, SESLOC FCU
LaChance was celebrated as a strong PAC and grassroots supporter, and was honored for her involvement with legislators.

2021 Nevada Advocate of the Year — Jennifer Denoo, President and CEO, Great Basin FCU
Denoo was recognized for her commitment to advocacy, stepping up for all federally chartered credit unions and the movement as a whole.

2021 Shapiro Advocate of the Year — Upward CU
Upward CU was honored for its dedication to advocacy, never missing a political or legislative meeting, advocacy event, and regularly participating at League-hosted fundraisers.

2021 Volunteer of the Year — Les Brown, Board Chairman, Sacramento CU
Brown was honored as an outstanding and dedicated volunteer advocate for Sacramento CU and all credit unions in California!

2021 Nevada PAC Advocate of the Year — Steele Hendrix, Executive Vice President, Boulder Dam CU
Hendrix was touted for his valuable contribution to the PAC committee, which has helped transform the Leagues’ political program and culture of giving.

2021 California PAC Advocate of the Year — Michael Duffy, President and CEO, Financial Center CU
Duffy was honored for his hard work and helping PAC reach its goals.

2021 Supplier of the Year — PSCU
PSCU was celebrated as a leading advocacy sponsor, which has allowed the advocacy team to raise valuable funds for PAC as well as execute critical government affairs events.

Stay Engaged During REACH
Attendees and League staff will be sharing photos, comments and memories through Twitter (@CUatREACH), Instagram (cuatreach), and the REACH Photo Galleries.

REACH is one of the credit union industry’s premier annual events, attracting leaders and system partners from across California, Nevada and the United States. This year it’s held from Nov. 1 – 4 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa in Palm Desert, CA!

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