CREDIT UNION BUILDER AWARD

The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation created the Credit Union Builder Award in 2008 to allow credit unions and organizations to make contributions in honor of or in memory of a significant individual who has been instrumental in their success. Contributions are typically made at a special time of significance – i.e. upon retirement or upon the individual’s passing – to acknowledge their contributions to credit unions.

The name of the recipient and the donating credit union are permanently displayed in lobby of the state trade association, the Minnesota Credit Union Network, as a tribute to those who have dedicated time and energy to building the credit union movement.

The honorees (or their families, in the case of a memoriam contribution) receive acknowledgement from the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation, and donors are also listed online and in the Foundation’s annual report. A minimum $1,000 contribution is required for the Credit Union Builder Award. The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation, Inc., St. Paul, Minn., is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. For tax purposes, contributions may be tax-deductible.

 

(click here for printable contribution form)

 

With questions, please feel free to contact us!

 

Honorees:

2014
Penny K. Jarnothonorarium contribution made by Energy Services Federal Credit Union
Penny K. Jarnot has dedicated more than 25 years of service to Energy Services Federal Credit Union and the credit union movement, from which she will retire as Manager/CEO in October 2014. Penny has always lived the philosophy of “people helping people,” continually going above and beyond to better serve the credit union’s membership. Her member-driven attitude has yielded growth in members, assets, services, and additional branches. During her career, Penny was active in the credit union movement where she was a very instrumental voice for small credit unions. She served on the Minnesota Credit Union Network Board of Directors for six years, and she chaired MnCUN’s Awards Committee for 11 years. Penny was also active in the Central Minnesota Chapter of Credit Unions and served as a mentor to other credit unions as well as her employees.
Jacqueline Moenhonorarium contribution made by Mayo Employees Federal Credit Union
Jacqueline L. Moen has dedicated 18 years of volunteer service to Mayo Employees Federal Credit Union, ranging beginning in 1996 through her retirement from the Board of Directors in 2014. Her service has included eight years on the Credit Committee – as chair for four years and secretary for two years – one year on the Supervisory Committee, and nine years on the Board of Directors, which includes eight years serving as Secretary to the Board. Jackie was instrumental in helping to shape the policies and strategic direction of MEFCU during a time of significant growth and branch office expansion. Her contribution of time, talent and commitment to the credit union industry and to the MEFCU membership is very much appreciated! The MEFCU Board of Directors wishes her well in her retirement.
Jim DeBilzanhonorarium contribution made by Unity One Credit Union
After more than 35 years as a member of the Board of Directors of Unity One Credit Union, Jim DeBilzan retired in May 2014. During his tenure on the board, Jim served as secretary for five years and chaired numerous committees. He was active on the education, marketing, technology, and loan committees, and held a strong passion for the credit union “people helping people” philosophy. While serving on the board, he completed several modules of the Credit Union National Association’s Volunteer Achievement Program. In addition to his service at Unity One Credit Union, Jim was also the Manager of Saint Pascal Parish Credit Union in St. Paul for the past 32 years.
Steve Ahlnesshonorarium contribution made by Greater Minnesota Credit Union
Steven M. Ahlness began as General Manager of Mora Cooperators Credit Union on Dec. 1, 1977. After more than 36 years, Steve will retire as the CEO of Greater Minnesota Credit Union, with offices in Mora, Elk River, Milaca, Pine City, Isle and Ogilvie. During his career, GMCU has grown to nearly $150 million in assets and 20,000 members. Steve has overseen mergers, implemented new products, opened new branches, and helped build the Minnesota credit union community into what it is today. He is well-known throughout the credit union movement with an impressive track record of credit union and community involvement. He has always worked to improve the lives of his employees and GMCU's members, truly embracing the credit union philosophy of “People Helping People.” Steve has been an advocate for credit unions in St. Paul and in Washington, D.C., and he has given his time to support several local organizations, as well as boards and committees for the Minnesota Credit Union Network and Minnesota Credit Union Foundation. Steve was honored as MnCUN’s Outstanding Professional of the Year in 2005.
Robert Kiginhonorarium contribution made by CUNA Mutual Group
Robert Kigin, CUNA Mutual Group Sales Executive, dedicated more than 32 years of service to CUNA Mutual and to the credit union movement. Bob joined CUNA Mutual in 1982 as a Group Coverage Representative Trainee in St. Paul, serving over 100 credit unions in the North Central Marketing Division. He was promoted to Group Sales Manager in 1990. In 1993, he was one of the first Account Vice Presidents to be appointed under restructuring, and has also served in the positions of Executive Group Representative and Account Relationship Manager. Bob has served as a Sales Executive since 2006. Beyond CUNA Mutual Bob has devoted a lifetime to supporting the credit union movement as a member, and as a credit union Board member for the past nine years. Throughout his career, Bob was a strong advocate of the credit union movement, building strong partnerships with credit unions and Leagues, and has worked hard to position every member of his team as a trusted adviser. He has received numerous awards and recognition, including being invited to seven Presidents Councils. Bob will retire from CUNA Mutual on May 30, 2014.
Debbie Brunshonorarium contribution made by Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union
After more than 20 years of service to Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, Debbie Bruns retired in April 2014. Debbie has been instrumental in the growth and success of Affinity Plus during her tenure and never wavered from her strong passion to put people first – including members, employees, and those she interacted with in the Grand Rapids community. From the CU’s first loans in the Grand Rapids market to her leadership of branch expansion in the community, her service has been nothing short of outstanding. Affinity Plus has three locations in Grand Rapids today with over 30 employees.
Jim Seiferthonorarium contribution made by Hiway Federal Credit Union
Jim started with Hiway in 1972 as Controller & Vice President of Finance. He was promoted to President in 1991 and then appointed to the Board of Directors when he retired in December 2002. Jim served on the Board for 11 years, retiring in October 2013. During the four decades of Jim's service to Hiway, assets grew from $17 million to $919 million. Under Jim's leadership, Hiway emerged as a full-service financial institution and many new convenient services were added, such as debit cards and internet banking. He was committed to supporting high-quality services that members expect and deserve. Jim was actively involved with Credit Union for Kids and promoted fundraisers, such as employees paying for casual days and payday Friday hot dog cookouts, which continue on today. Hiway still operates under Jim's belief that “It is better to be first in service rather than first in size.”
Harry Carterhonorarium contribution made by TopLine Federal Credit Union
Harry Carter served as President & CEO of TopLine Federal Credit Union for 14 years. During his tenure TopLine experienced notable innovative growth and expansion, as he blazed a trail in community charter expansion, successful retail branching, and mobile banking. Under his leadership, TopLine increased its membership, market share, product offerings and community impact through unique programs, like financial education initiatives for all ages. The credit union nearly doubled in size from $175 million in 1999 to over $340 million in 2013 and has received numerous awards and accolades for its efforts in financial education and social responsibility. Harry was an active participant in the credit union industry during his 22 year career, including service and chairmanship of the Minnesota Credit Union Network Board of Directors, MnCUN’s Political Involvement Committee, and in community organizations such as the North Hennepin Area Chamber of Commerce, North Hennepin Community College Foundation Board, and the Brooklyn Park Rotary. Retiring in December 2013, Harry will be remembered for fostering a culture shaped by individual respect and trust with focus on delivering hallmark premium service each and every day.
2013
Judy Greffhonorarium contribution made by Associated Healthcare Credit Union
Judy Greff (Root) dedicated more than 30 years to the credit union industry and retired from Associated Healthcare Credit Union (2011-2013) in December 2013, where her leadership role helped AHCU and Bluestone Federal Credit Union successfully merge. In addition to her time at AHCU, she managed NSP Highbridge Credit Union (1983-1989), was President of MTC Employees Credit Union (1989-1994), and President of Bluestone Federal Credit Union (1994-2011). She was actively involved in the credit union movement, serving on committees with the Minnesota Credit Union Network, including the Credit Union for Kids, Awards Committee and the Nominating/Elections Committee. Also, Judy provided financial education to women in the Eagan Homeless Shelter, served on the board of directors for the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation from 2004-2010, was active in the River Cities Chapter and a member of GREAT (Grass Roots Education & Action Team). Her commitment and dedication to the credit union industry are appreciated and will be remembered.
Allan J. Brennanhonorarium contribution made by Postal Credit Union
Allan J. Brennan has been a Postal Credit Union member since 1952. He has been on the Board of Directors since 1996 and prior to that served for a year on the Supervisory Committee. Al served as chairman of the Technology Committee and has been a member of the Asset & Liability and Policy committees. Al has been instrumental in helping shape the policy and direction of Postal Credit Union and his contribution of time, talent and commitment to our members and the credit union movement is greatly appreciated. Al retired from the Postal Credit Union Board in 2013, after serving more than five terms over the span of 17 years.
Merlin J. Magnussonmemoriam contribution made by General Mills Federal Credit Union
Merlin J. Magnusson was the first general manager of General Mills Federal Credit Union, beginning on March 1, 1966. He worked for GMFCU for 25 years before retiring in 1991. Merlin was a strong leader in the early years of the credit union and remained a member of GMFCU until his passing on July 1, 2013. A frequent visitor to the credit union, Merlin was a familiar face to employees and members alike. He dedicated much of his career to building GMFCU into the credit union it is today, and his many contributions to the organization and the industry will not be soon forgotten.
Jeff Schwalenhonorarium contribution made by Hiway Federal Credit Union
Jeff Schwalen served as President & CEO of Hiway Federal Credit Union for 10 years. During his tenure, the credit union experienced a steady rise in membership, assets grew by $350 million, and Hiway developed a reputation for offering innovative products and services to its members. Jeff was very active in the Minnesota credit union movement, serving as a table officer and member of the Minnesota Credit Union Network Board of Directors from 2007-2013. He was also an active member and past chairman of MnCUN’s Political Involvement Committee and CENCOPAN Partnership Steering Committee, a group active in international credit union development in Paraguay. Jeff embodies the credit union philosophy of “people helping people” in the community as well, having served as a Scout Master with the Boy Scouts of America, as a member of the Minneapolis Builders Association, as a participant in the Junior Achievement financial education program, and as a member of the finance commission for his local church. Jeff has been a longtime proponent of Credit Unions for Kids, serving on Minnesota’s steering committee and leading Hiway to becoming a fundraising force for Children’s Miracle Network and the local Gillette Children’s Hospital. Jeff retired from Hiway in October of 2013.
Robert Marksmemoriam contribution made by Mayo Employees Federal Credit Union
Robert Marks became the Manager of the Mayo Clinic Employees Credit Union in 1970, a time when the credit union operated out of a small space which had previously been two exam rooms. At that time the credit union had assets of $1 million, and Bob was hired from the State Capitol Credit Union to provide credit counseling to Mayo employees in addition to managing the office. Over his tenure, Bob expanded the services and the credit union grew to $34 million when he retired in 1991. Bob was a warm, approachable person who was loved by members and staff. He greatly enjoyed the Hiawatha Valley Chapter Meetings and had near perfect attendance during his tenure. Mayo Employees Federal Credit Union is pleased to honor Bob, who passed away Nov. 2, 2012.
Gail Krallhonorarium contribution made by Minnesota Power Employees Credit Union
Gail Krall became President/CEO of Minnesota Power Employees Credit Union in 1979, growing the credit union from $1.9 million in assets to $85 million before her retirement in 2013. Gail played a vital role in the Minnesota credit union movement for more than 34 years. Her dedication is seen in her willingness to give of her time, resources and energy to credit unions. She is a leader for the state’s credit unions, serving on the Minnesota Credit Union Network and Network Service Corporation Board of Directors for five years. She was also appointed to the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank’s Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council. Gail is a powerful advocate for credit unions in the political arena, and through her work on the Minnesota Credit Union Network’s Political Involvement Committee was named to the Credit Union House Hall of Leaders in Washington, D.C. She has been a strong supporter of shared branching through her role with the Minnesota Credit Union Service Corporation. Gail’s career demonstrates a tireless energy and enthusiasm for the credit union cause of “people helping people.” Gail doesn’t just believe in that philosophy – she puts it into action every day.
Bill Winterhonorarium contribution made by St. Cloud Federal Credit Union
When Bill Winter was hired in 1975, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union had only 1,600 members, three employees, and $1 million in assets. By the time Bill retired as CEO in 2013 after 38 years of service, SCFCU had grown to almost 15,000 members, 57 employees, and over $100 million in assets. His tireless efforts made significant and far-reaching contributions to the credit union movement. Bill served on the boards of Minnesota Item Processing Corporation, Minnesota League of Credit Unions, Minnesota Credit Union Network, Minnesota Corporate Federal Credit Union, and Network Service Corporation. He was a long-standing member of MnCUN’s Political Involvement Committee, and he lobbied at both the state and federal levels for issues that affect the credit union industry. In February of 2013, Bill was inducted into the Credit Union House Hall of Leaders in Washington, D.C., in recognition of his dedication and leadership. Bill was also active in the St. Cloud community on the Rotary Club and as board member, chair, and government affairs committee contributor for the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Bill led countless SCFCU staff and volunteers who will ensure that his passion for members and his philosophy to “do the right thing” will be his legacy for many years to come.
Lee Benedicthonorarium contribution made by Soo Line Credit Union
After 45 years of service to the credit union industry, Lee J. Benedict retired from Soo Line Credit Union (SLCU) in 2013. Of those 45 years, Lee spent 33 years leading SLCU as President & CEO. During his tenure, three credit unions merged into SLCU: MN&S Credit Union, Carson’s Employees Credit Union and Saulte Saint Marie Credit Union. The Saulte Saint Marie Credit Union merger resulted in an outstate office for SLCU in Glenwood, Minn. In 2004 and 2007, under Lee’s direction, the credit union expanded its field of membership to serve Pope County and Scott County, along with the cities of Burnsville, Lakeville and Eureka Township. In addition to his leadership at SLCU, Lee also spent 13 years of service on the Board of Directors at CU Companies, including a term as Board Chair. His dedication, commitment and contributions are greatly appreciated.
Roger McClurehonorarium contribution made by Postal Credit Union
After 36 years of service, Roger McClure has retired from the PCU Board of Directors. During his tenure Roger played a significant role in guiding the credit union to the successful organization it is today. When he was first elected to the board in 1977, PCU had one office in the main post office. Five offices now exist, and PCU has become a full-service financial partner for more than 45,000 members. Roger has served on a variety of board committees and as committee chair throughout his volunteer career at PCU. Roger is a strong advocate for the credit union movement and has spent countless hours lobbying state and national lawmakers on issues of importance to the industry and PCU. His dedication and commitment is greatly appreciated.
2012
Walter Noreenmemoriam contribution made by Postal Credit Union
Walter Noreen devoted his life to helping others and embodied the credit union philosophy of “people helping people.” An Assistant Postmaster, Walter was first elected to the Board of Directors of St. Paul Postal Employees Credit Union (now d/b/a Postal Credit Union) in 1967. Among his many affiliations, Walter served as District Governor of Lions International, and was an active member of the St. Paul Park/Newport Lions Club. He helped found the St. Croix Lions and helped create Camp New Hope. Walter took an active role in politics and was a strong advocate for the credit union movement and greater good of all. After over two decades of volunteer service, he retired from the board in 1990.
James Piercememoriam contribution made by Postal Credit Union
James Pierce was first elected to the Credit Committee at St. Paul Postal Employees Credit Union (d/b/a Postal Credit Union) in 1976, and served as its chairman from 1977-1978. He was elected to the Board of Directors in 1982, and elected board secretary in 1988. Jim was a tireless supporter of Postal Credit Union and the credit union movement. He was the first recipient of the Minnesota League of Credit Union’s “Outstanding Credit Union Volunteer of the Year” award in 1995. After over two decades of volunteer service, he retired from the board in 2002. Jim was an avid golfer and proud PCU member.
Michael Hoey honorarium contribution made by Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union
Michael Hoey is a great figure in the Minnesota credit union movement. As a Board Member at Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union for 18 years – including two terms as Chairman – Michael never saw barriers to any opportunities to do more for credit union members. Michael is an entrepreneur with incredible drive and is always striving to help people. Humble and innovative, he is a long-time advocate for credit unions, always putting the member first. During his tenure with Affinity Plus, the credit union’s assets grew from $150 million to more than $2.5 billion and membership quadrupled. In Michael’s primary role as an entrepreneur, he is the founder of six medical products companies. A former faculty member at the University of Minnesota and Hamline University, he currently serves as a guest lecturer and business strategy advisor for medical companies. He also serves on boards for other national companies and – despite his busy schedule – never wavered in his commitment to Affinity Plus and the credit union industry.
Carl Longhonorarium contribution made by US Federal Credit Union
For 34 years, Carl Long served as a volunteer Director and Committee Member for US Federal Credit Union. From the late 1970s to his retirement from the US FCU Board of Directors in 2012, Carl volunteered thousands of hours to hundreds of committees, meetings, and strategic planning sessions. During his tenure he saw the credit union grow from $20 million to nearly $900 million in assets, serving tens of thousands of new members along the way. Carl’s commitment to the cooperative movement is a testament to US Federal Credit Union’s Promise of Service, Value and Experience our Members Can Trust, Every Time.
Russ Plunkett honorarium contribution made by Postal Credit Union
Russ Plunkett is a well-respected, passionate member of the credit union movement. He served as a past board member of the Minnesota League and Minnesota Credit Union Network and is a former MnCUN Chair. He has been a River Cities Chapter Chairman, CUNA Mutual Policy Owner Representative, MnCUN’s Political Involvement Committee member and held positions on CUNA’s Governmental Affairs, Bylaw Review, and Cooperative Alliances Committees. During his tenure at PCU, Russ has overseen a revolutionary expansion of service offerings, including technology enhancements like online banking, bill pay, e-statements, online loan approval and more. Under Russ’ leadership, PCU’s Mortgage department has expanded to include loan origination, complete closing and title services, and mortgage servicing. The CU also added Business Services to its full line of financial solutions. Russ has overseen the opening of three PCU offices and assets have grown from $22.9 million in 1981 to $511 million in 2011.
2011
Marv Folkestadmemoriam contribution made by Richfield Bloomington Credit Union
Marv was involved in the Bloomington Schools Credit Union from 1964 until 1991 as a board member and board president. Upon the merger with Richfield Schools Credit Union in 1991, he served as a board member until his death in 2009. Marv was always a champion for our credit union and, as a former educator, a champion for financial literacy. He was instrumental in adding seven scholarships donated by RBCU to our local high school and college students. He advocated strongly for ALL members and adhered to the people helping people philosophy. His contributions to credit unions as a President and Board Member will always be remembered.
Quentin Johnsonhonorarium contribution made by Richfield Bloomington Credit Union
As a RBCU board member for 44 years, Quentin was involved in many major strategic decisions in the credit union’s 54 year history. He retired from the board in 2011 after many successful years of growth at RBCU. Quentin served as board chair for 25 years, overseeing the addition of new services, new buildings, credit union mergers, and the successful conversion to a community credit union. Quentin saw the credit union move from the basement of the CEO’s home to a newly-constructed building in 1991, faced three mergers, and experienced membership growth of from less than 1,000 to over 16,000. He oversaw RBCU’s expansion into three communities in 2004 to ensure the credit union’s longevity and viability for years to come.
Lynn Kothe honorarium contribution made by North Memorial Federal Credit Union
Lynn became the President of North Memorial FCU in 1978, growing the organization from $369,000 in assets to $32 million before her retirement in 2012. During her years in the movement, she was actively involved in politics at the local, state and national levels. Lynn served on countless boards and committees both within Minnesota and beyond, providing support to the Minnesota Credit Union Network, Credit Union National Association, Minnesota Item Processing Board and the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation. Lynn has a passion for credit unions, the movement’s “people helping people” philosophy, and has a strong desire for everyone to experience the credit union difference.
John E. Larsonmemoriam contribution made by Liz Larson & Minnco Credit Union
John Larson was dedicated to the members of Minnco Credit Union. He served as a volunteer for 28 years, serving 10 years on the credit committee and 18 on the board of directors - 17 of which were as board chairman. John played an active role in the credit union movement, attending many events, chapter meetings, seminars and conferences in an effort to stay current with the industry. Being knowledgeable about industry trends and what legislative, regulatory and economic factors were affecting Minnco helped John to better serve the credit union and its members. John was also active in the community, as well as his church. His life was a great example of service to others. John will be missed, not only as a great credit union supporter, but also as a friend.
2010
Pat DeHaan memoriam contribution made by Minnesota Item Processing Corporation
When MnIPC was formed as a corporation in 1994, the management of United Educators Credit Union felt strongly in the service MnIPC was developing and purchased ownership shares in the company. Believing in MnIPC’s philosophy to provide credit unions a quality cost-effective check processing alternative, United Educators Credit Union Executive Vice President Pat DeHaan was quick to volunteer for the position. Over the years, Pat’s extensive financial background and understanding of operations helped make MnIPC the technically-savvy and viable company it is today. Pat stepped down as a MnIPC board member in 2010, and her service contributions will be always be remembered.
2008
Bill Brooksmemoriam contribution made by US Federal Credit Union
Bill Brooks was an advocate of credit unions for most of his life, and served the industry for nearly four decades in a variety of capabilities. He lobbied 25 years for credit unions at the Minnesota Legislature and in Congress. He was the former President of Lawyers Credit Union, and he served on the US Federal Credit Union Board of Directors (including a Chair position) from 1995 until his death in 2008. Bill’s career demonstrates a tireless energy and enthusiasm for the credit union cause of “People Helping People.” Bill didn’t just believe in that philosophy – he put it into action every day.
Dean Nelson honorarium contribution made by CU Companies
Dean was one of the founding fathers of CU Companies. In 1987, he and two other credit union executives had a vision to build economies of scale and offer a competitive mortgage solution to their members. Dean and his colleagues realized that by embracing the credit union philosophy of cooperation, they could deliver a better product together than they could on their own. With Dean’s assistance, the three credit unions formed a multi-owned credit union service organization, CU Mortgage Services. As time went on, other credit unions realized the benefits and purchased stock or partnered with CU Companies, allowing the organization to expand its services to Realty, Title Services, Preferred Investments, Business Lending, and Correspondent Lending.
Carl Sandburg memoriam contribution made by Novation Credit Union
Carl was a charter board member of Novation. He served on the board for more than 30 years, many times as the board chair. Carl spent his 36-year professional career as a polymer chemist for 3M Company and in 1983 was inducted into the prestigious Carlton Society at 3M. He was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, he and wife Ruth raised their family and made their home in St. Paul. Carl embodied the credit union spirit of democracy; he was an advocate for members always ensuring that Novation fulfilled its mission of providing value and remaining safe and sound
Sen. David H. Senjem honorarium contribution made by Mayo Employees Federal Credit Union
Sen. Senjem is a long-time member of the Mayo Employees Federal Credit Union, serving as a volunteer on the Board of Directors and Credit Committee for a combined 23 years. During his time with the credit union, he held positions of Board Chair for seven years and Board Secretary for eight. Sen. Senjem began his career in the Minnesota Senate in 2002, and has served as both Senate Majority Leader and Senate Minority Leader. He has been a long-time friend, supporter and champion for the Mayo Employees Federal Credit Union since the beginning of his career at Mayo Clinic and continues to openly support credit unions at the State Capitol.