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In this episode of the CUNA News podcast, Crystal Long and Diana Dykstra, winners of the National Credit Union Foundation’s Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Individual Achievement, share their feelings on winning the award and the paths they followed to earn them such a distinguished honor.
Crystal Long is president/CEO of GECU in El Paso, Texas. Under her leadership, GECU has made a commitment to community development and enabled many El Paso residents achieve economic prosperity.
She is also a dedicated advocate for the credit union movement who puts her staff and members first. Long started her career with GECU as a file clerk at age 19.
Among her accomplishments, Long spearheaded the award-winning GECU Neighborhood Branch™ expansion strategy to serve members via personal teller machines (PTMs) and on-site loan officers in areas where financial services options are limited. Not only are the branches in more convenient locations for members to access, the PTMs allow for extended hours of operation.
GECU financial coaches also provide free and personalized counseling, financial education seminars, and financial literacy training to thousands of members each year. And it has launched initiatives such as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, which helps local families file their taxes for free and keep their entire refund.
Diana Dykstra is president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues. Throughout her career, Diana has dedicated herself to creating innovative partnerships that change both the competitive landscape and the lives of others.
Dykstra has been involved in several pioneering projects that continue to reverberate throughout the credit union industry. As senior vice president at Golden 1 Credit Union, Dykstra led her team to develop the prototype of the CU Direct Lending program in 1992. For more than 20, CU Direct has been a lending technology leader, helping credit unions fund $211 billion in loans.
In 2014, Dykstra was instrumental in launching the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues Financial Capability Initiative—powered by EverFi—which provides innovative online financial literacy programs to drive large-scale change at credit unions and the increase financial capability of their members.
The Foundation also honored Nusenda Credit Union Foundation with an Outstanding Organization Award for its innovation and cooperative leadership in creating their Co-op Capital Program, uplifting the Albuquerque community.
And it recognized Brett Martinez, president/CEO of Redwood Credit Union and CUNA chair, with an Anchor Award for his exemplary leadership during the 2017 California Wildfires.