Wegner Award Recipients Named

October 23, 2009

The 22nd annual Herb Wegner Memorial Awards, sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), will be presented Feb. 22, 2010, in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference. This year’s four recipients are:

1. Richard Heins, Lifetime Achievement Award. Heins is lauded as a creative and innovative thinker, an independent leader, a tenacious motivator, and a lifelong learner. He served as president/CEO of CUNA Mutual Group and:

  • Created private mortgage insurance;
  • Led the development of a brokerage of insurance products;
  • Participated in the design and implementation of the original CUMIS bond; and
  • Led the development of CUNA Mutual Group’s expansion into delivery of direct response marketed products to credit union members.

2. Dick Ensweiler, Individual Achievement Award. Ensweiler, Texas Credit Union League president, worked to benefit members of many state, national, and international organizations. He helped advance innovative programs, such as:

  • Credit Union Development Education—NCUF’s training program that leverages the cooperative business model as a competitive advantage;
  • Image survey—the Texas League’s benchmark/planning tool that improves services based on members’ needs;
  • International Remittance Network (IRnet)—the World Council of Credit Unions’ affordable alternative to expensive country-to-country wire transfers;
  • Juntos Avanzamos—the league’s program that helps credit unions reach first-generation immigrants; and
  • Loss avoidance alert system—an Internet application that informs credit unions with near-immediate updates on fraud and other illegal financial activities.

3. HarborOne Credit Union, Brockton, Mass., Outstanding Organization. The credit union’s multicultural banking center is a national model that delivers critical human services credit unions need to reach new immigrants and build trusting financial relationships.

4. Biz Kid$, Outstanding Program. After three seasons, Emmy-winning Biz Kid$ is the highest-carried program on American Public Television and the first television series sponsored by credit unions. Every episode includes stories from successful young entrepreneurs reinforcing the importance of budgeting, saving, and giving back to the community.

To register for the gala dinner, held at the Grand Hyatt Washington, visit

When it comes to problem solving, employees can be your most valuable resource, say Pamela Bilbrey and Brian Jones, authors of “Ordinary Greatness: It’s Where You Least Expect It.”

Use these questions to get employees’ creative juices flowing:

  •   What would make this a better place to work? Managers often shy away from asking this question for fear of what the answer might be, Bilbrey says. But most of the time, “it’s often the little things that matter most to employees, and the changes usually are minor and cost effective.” It could be something as simple as making sure the water cooler stays stocked in the break room, she notes.
  • •How can we improve service? Just because a service strategy worked great, doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do things. Ask staff what they hear members say about the credit union—what are their complaints and compliments? The key is to stay connected to the people in your organization that live and breathe your service principles.
  •   What would you do away with? For example, would it be a policy, paperwork, or a meeting? The fact that many processes exist doesn’t mean they’re necessary. As businesses grow and evolve, needs change.
  • What works well—and how can we make it even better? All too often, managers focus only on what doesn’t work. You also need to focus on what is working well and why. “By focusing on the positive, you’ll find even more solutions and new ideas than when you simply concentrate on what doesn’t work,” Jones says.


“Workaholism” can do more harm than good, and striving for a balance is essential for executives, their families, their organization, and employees, experts maintain.

Chip Levy, principal and founder of the Rochelle Organization, conducted a leadership self-assessment for executives and found CEOs and senior staff rated themselves lowest on the statement, “I have a well-integrated, balanced lifestyle.”

He explains why in Associations Now:

  • Today’s leaders learned at the feet of baby boomers, many of whom experienced the late stages of World War II. This instilled in them the ideals of self-sacrifice and leading by example. “But this is less true,” Levy says, “of newer fields and organizations, and of younger leaders [generation Xers and millenials] who place a greater value on work/life balance.”
  •  Some leaders confuse management with leadership. Levy’s research uncovered these top three leadership skills for effective CEOs:

1. A sense of vision and mission for the organization;
2. Clear support for staff development; and
3. A positive attitude toward change.

  • Some CEOs are threatened by star performers and tend to be micromanagers. This is risky, and often means CEOs are never freed from taking care of the organization. Rather, their skill set should include the ability to create contingency plans and train senior staff.

The magazine offers these suggestions for executives in search of change:

  •   Commit to leaving work at a reasonable hour at least one night each week.
  • Commit to working only eight hours at least one day each week.
  • Take care of yourself: Exercise, eat well, and get plenty of rest.
  • Turn off all electronic communication devices such as cell phones when you go to bed.
  • Delegate or outsource more, even if you think it’s something no one else can do as well as you.

Credit union directors increasingly are finding themselves targets of lawsuits—possibly putting their personal assets at risk, says John Wallace, product executive for CUNA Mutual Group’s bond and management & professional liability insurance products.

One way to guard against this threat is director indemnification, which reimburses or compensates directors if they suffer hurt, loss, or damage.
To receive indemnification, the indemnification needs to be allowed under applicable federal, state, or case law, and it must be expressed in any of the following:

  • The bylaws of the organization;
  • The articles of incorporation;
  •  A board resolution; or
  • A contract between the director and the organization (commonly referred to as contractual indemnification).

“As a credit union director or officer,” Wallace says, “fully understanding your credit union’s indemnification policy and making sure you’re covered will help protect your personal assets—and help you sleep a little better at night.”