In recognition of his boundless career spanning 50 years in the credit union movement living out “service before self”, the National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) is pleased to announce John Fiore, director, Andigo Credit Union and director emeritus, Alloya Corporate FCU in Illinois as a recipient of the 2020 Herb Wegner Memorial Outstanding Individual Achievement Award.
Fiore will be one of three Herb Wegner Memorial Award winners honored at the annual fundraising gala hosted by the Foundation at the Marriott Marquis on February 24th, 2020 in conjunction with the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. Tickets and sponsorships are available for this must-attend event by clicking here.
“John has had a tremendous impact on the credit union system through his work with the National Credit Union Foundation, Illinois League and the corporate credit union system,” said John Gregoire, chair of the Foundation’s Wegner Awards Selection Committee and president of The ProCon Group. “He has been a leader at all times and in all settings and we’re excited to add him to our list of Wegner Award winners.”
Instrumental Industry Pioneer
Fiore joined the loan department of Motorola Employee’s Credit Union (now known as Andigo Credit Union) 50 years ago. After 16 years of service and hard work, he earned the position of President and CEO, maintaining this role for 29 years until retiring in 2014. During his career, he was instrumental in pioneering projects and initiatives that continue to impact the credit union industry today.
Fiore was one of early Board members of Card Services for Credit Unions (CSCU). CSCU became the nation's largest electronic payments association exclusively serving credit unions. Working with Visa and MasterCard, CSCU ensured credit unions' voices were heard and prepared to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of electronic payments. With the help of his leadership, the card services membership increased from 1,700 to 2,600.
Fiore also recognized a need to help credit unions without the resources or expertise necessary to perform portfolio analysis and so he helped CSCU in creating the Virtual Card Consultant – the industry’s first online portfolio analysis software.
In the wake of the financial crisis, many credit unions began to lose sight of the importance of corporate credit unions, but Fiore never wavered. He worked tirelessly and fearlessly to secure members and $70 million in capital to build a new corporate - Alloya Corporate FCU. Today, Alloya Corporate FCU serves 1,500 members nationwide to provide services and solutions that enable them to support their members, local communities and so much more. Alloya continues to thrive and exceed financial goals, paying an unprecedented $36.6 million in cash dividends in 2018.
“John's name should to be synonymous with why corporate credit unions made it, and why that's a good thing”, said Amy L. Sink, CEO of Interra Credit Union. “Corporate credit unions provide critical support and services for credit unions across the country that would not survive otherwise.”
Additionally, while John was serving on the National Foundation’s Board of Directors, he played a critical role in creating and developing the Community Investment Fund (CIF), making it the National Foundation’s primary funding mechanism at the time. CIF has been responsible for funding millions of dollars for the National Credit Union Foundation and state foundations, assisting small and developing credit unions, improving cooperative development and financial education.
As a strong supporter of Filene’s i3 Innovation program, which develops new and innovative products and services for credit unions and their members, Fiore passionately encouraged his staff to become involved. The introduction of Debt in Focus, now Money Savvy, to credit unions was made possible by the participation of MECU staff on the i3 team under Fiore’s leadership.
Unwavering Member and Credit Union Advocacy
Not only is Fiore known as a fearless leader of innovation, but he’s also recognized for his passion and dedication to serve the common man, or the “little guy”.
"’What’s best for the members?’ is the question that epitomized John’s top priority,” said Todd Adams, CEO of Alloya Corporate FCU. “He believed that if all decisions were made in the best interest of the membership, then all things would fall into place. John never lost sight of that and had the foresight to think about what members might want or need down the road.”
Assets sprung nearly 95% under his tenure (from $50 million to nearly $900 million) and membership soared more than 60% to 38,000. Under Fiore’s leadership, MECU consistently ranked above every other major financial provider and substantially above the average credit union using Forester Research’s “customer advocacy” metric and benchmarks.
His focus was always about what is best for the credit union movement, his members and his community. He invested his personal time and commitment to make sure that members of his credit union were not taken advantage of by mainstream banking and were given products and services that were priced for their benefit.
He was also a tireless advocate for credit unions. A perfect example of this occurred in 2014 when he took on the role of key point person in representing Illinois credit unions opposed to the NCUA’s risk-based capital (RBC) proposal. Calling upon his detailed and effective negotiating skills, Fiore communicated with other credit union CEOs to develop and create a cohesive position and served as a speaker to represent that view at the NCUA’s Listening Session in Chicago. His fervent efforts, along with those from credit union professionals across the country, led to significant changes in the proposal.
As former Chairman of the Illinois Credit Union League, Fiore was a pioneer for the credit union movement and his voice still echoes on Capitol Hill today. He was constantly striving to uplift the entire community and movement by giving a voice to smaller institutions, forever advocating for those who couldn’t advocate for themselves.
Devoted to Volunteerism
In addition to member and credit union advocacy, Fiore has been an advocate for several charitable causes. Over the past 20 years, he has served as a director, committee member, delegate or trustee of 20 different credit union organizations. Of those organizations, he was or is chairman of 10, a true testament to his devotion to the credit union movement.
Serving as Chairman of the Board for each of the Illinois Credit Union System’s entities (Illinois Credit Union League, ICU Service Corporation (LSC), Services Credit Union, Illinois Political Action Committee (CUPAC), and Illinois Foundation), Fiore was the epitome of commitment, dedication, and professionalism as he worked alongside his fellow directors to ensure every side of an issue was heard, understood, and equally represented.
Fiore played a vital role in starting, organizing and promoting an annual fund raiser for the Children's Miracle Network on behalf of his chapter. Over the course of 10 years, the event raised over $165,000. To encourage philanthropy among the staff at MECU, he offered his employees the option to make a charitable donation to Children's Miracle Network instead of cashing out unused vacation time. These efforts helped double the amount of funds raised for Credit Unions for Kids from 2011 to 2013.
Furthermore, as a board member for the Illinois Credit Union Foundation and CUPAC, he helped raise tens of thousands of dollars on behalf of those organizations and CU LAC to assist those in need and to secure credit union's future operating needs. He has also served as a coach, mentor, and friend to the Illinois Young Professionals’ Group.
He also served on the National Credit Union Foundation Board of Directors as a member and Chairman. During this time, he was the driver for a “separate but equal” relationship between the Foundation and CUNA. This enabled the Foundation to grow significantly while maintaining a strong and trustworthy partnership with CUNA.
He has been widely recognized throughout the movement for his achievements including being named the CUES Executive of the Year (2001), Illinois CUES Executive of the Year (1995), and the ICUL Spirit of Service – Employee of the Year (1999). He was inducted into the CUES Hall of Fame (2002), the ICUL Hall of Fame (2000), and the Credit Union House of Leaders (2011).
Following his retirement, Fiore has remained active on the Boards of four different organizations, including Andigo Credit union, Alloya Corporate Federal Credit Union the Illinois Foundation and CUPAC.
“John embodies the credit union cooperative principles due to all his volunteer efforts on various industry boards,” said Sean Rathjen, CEO of Consumers Credit Union. “He’s consistently given back by serving on these boards and has always made sure that the credit union philosophy remains intact. His efforts have never been for personal benefit; he does it to make the system better.”