Leaders Honored for Volunteerism, Advocacy, and Achievement

Eileen Rivera
L-R: Immediate Past California League Board Chairman and Financial Partners CU CEO Nader Moghaddam; 2019 Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Eileen Rivera; California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President and CEO Diana Dykstra; and Nevada League Board Chairman and Silver State Schools FCU CEO Scott Arkills.

A group of exceptional leaders were recognized during the Credit Union Awards Ceremony for their remarkable service to the credit union movement and their members during the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ REACH 2019 conference in Monterey, CA.

From political advocacy on behalf of the entire industry to personal involvement in the lives of fellow peers and their credit union members, these special leaders have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their line of work. The following are this year’s extraordinary individuals within a decades-long movement in California and Nevada who continue putting “members first” through their actions.

LEO H. SHAPIRO LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Eileen Rivera, retired CEO of SkyOne FCU. This is the Leagues' highest honor, recognizing excellence in credit union philosophy and a lifetime of contributions to the movement. Rivera was honored for her more than 30 years in the industry. During her 26 years with SkyOne, she led the credit union through a significant period of growth and expansion. In addition, she has served on many other credit union-related organizations, including the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation, Global Women’s Leadership Network, the California League’s Board of Directors (including serving a stint as board chairman), and Credit Unions for Kids.

"I’ve been coming to the REACH Conference for 30 years and have seen every presentation of the Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award,” Rivera said as she accepted her award. “I’ve watched in awe as I wondered and dreamed if I’ll ever be worthy of receiving this award. I’d like to thank those who nominated me, and the League Awards Committee for selecting me. You all are making my dreams come true."  For more details on her accomplishments, click here.


L-R: Nader Moghaddam; 2019 League Award recipients—John Cassidy, Sue Longson, Dr. Jerald Jellison, Anna Tellez, Eileen Rivera, Natalie Dao (Orange County’s CU), Natalia Custodio, Kristi Longoria, and Scott Arkills.


DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD: John Cassidy, CEO of Sierra Central CU; and Sue Longson, advocacy consultant for Boulder Dam CU. The award recognizes credit union professionals’ service to the industry particularly within the last three years.  Longson was recognized for her work within in the credit union industry (which spans more than 30 years) as well his outstanding efforts in the arena of advocacy. For more information on Longson, click here.

Cassidy was honored for his involvement within the credit union industry and community outreach efforts. Under Cassidy’s leadership, everything Sierra Central Credit Union does is driven by what is best for its members and the community.  This philosophy was particularly demonstrated when tragic fires hit northern California in 2017 and again in 2018. Each time, Cassidy and his credit union staff came together to raise money to help those affected and assist members (some of whom lost everything).  For more information on Cassidy, click here.  

ALVIN GEORGE OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER AWARD: Dr. Jerald Jellison, USC CU board chairman. The award honors significant contributions by people who serve credit unions in volunteer capacities, such as a board director or committee member. It was renamed in 2013 in honor of the long-time credit union volunteer, J. Alvin George, who passed away that same year. Dr. Jellison has served as board chairman at USC CU for more than 35 years. His passion, leadership, and commitment to the service ideals of the cooperative movement have been the guiding light and driving force behind USC credit union’s growth from a limited-service $2 million institution serving USC’s blue-collar employees to a $570-million full-service credit union serving the entire Trojan family and the largely underserved and underbanked residents living near USC’s University Park and Boyle Heights campuses.  For more information on Dr. Jellison, click here.


L-R: Nader Moghaddam; 2019 Advocacy Award recipients—Dave Roughton, Marsha Mathias, Jose Luis Pacheco, Heri “Eddie” Garcia, Erin Mendez (Patelco CU), Wally Murray, Scott Arkills (Silver State Schools FCU), and Dan Gensler and David Kettlehake of American Share Insurance.


TOMORROW’S STAR AWARD: Natalia Custodio, marketing project manager for UNCLE CU; and Kristi Longoria, financial education administrator for San Mateo CU. The award recognizes the achievements by young credit union professionals age 35 and under. Custodio began as an intern at the credit union in 2016. She so impressed the leadership that she quickly moved from intern to full-time employee. She was promoted this year to the position of marketing project manager, where she is adept at applying her design talent and leading UNCLE’s marketing vendor partners. For more information on Custodio, click here.

Longoria was honored for her role in tailoring and delivering financial education to high school students and the most vulnerable populations.  She also created several programs to teach people of all ages about personal finance and budgeting—programs that have made significant impact on the communities San Mateo CU serves.  For more information on Longoria, click here.

KIM BANNAN ETERNAL FLAME AWARD: (individual recipient) Anna Tellez, CEO of Antioch Community FCU; (organization recipient) Orange County’s CU This award which recognizes efforts that contribute to the success and future of “Shapiro Group” or smaller asset-sized credit unions. The awards are named after the Leagues’ late vice president of credit union development and research and information. Tellez has long been a strong supporter of small credit unions, including serving on the Leagues’ Shapiro Advisory Committee. According to Siskiyou Central Credit Union CEO Becky Ives, who nominated Tellez for the award, she “is always willing to share her knowledge and help anyone at any time.” For more information on Tellez, click here.

Orange County’s CU and CEO Shruti Miyashiro were recognized for ongoing support of Shapiro credit unions, including Allied Healthcare FCU and Communidad Latina FCU.  The credit union offered Allied Healthcare FCU various resources including access to its training and workshops as well as helped Communidad Latina remain self-sufficient.  For more information on Orange County’s CU, click here.


Retired SkyOne FCU CEO Eileen Rivera, the 2019 Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, with some past recipients: Chuck Bruen, Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, Henry Wirz, and Stan Hollen.


ADVOCACY AWARDS. The Leagues recognized credit unions, individuals, and organizations for their outstanding advocacy efforts. This year’s recipients are:

ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR (CALIFORNIA): Dave Roughton, CEO of SAFE CU. He was honored, in part, for being instrumental in nurturing local relationships with elected officials in the Greater Sacramento area.

ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR (NEVADA): Wally Murray, CEO of Greater Nevada CU. He was honored for being a constant champion of the movement in terms of advocacy.

ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR (SHAPIRO GROUP): Heri "Eddie" Garcia, CEO of Thinkwise CU. Garcia has shown that asset size is not an issue when it comes to the commitment to advocacy.

ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR (VOLUNTEER): Jose Luis Pacheco, board director for Santa Clara County FCU.  He was honored, in part, because he has been successful in connecting with community leaders, elected officials and participating in League-hosted fundraisers. 

ADVOCATE CREDIT UNION OF THE YEAR (CALIFORNIA): Patelco CU (CEO Erin Mendez).  Patelco has been a key leader in aiding the League’s Advocacy team. CEO Erin Mendez is a member of the Leagues’ political action committee (PAC) and has used her leadership to increase corporate PAC contributions. 

ADVOCATE CREDIT UNION OF THE YEAR (NEVADA): Silver State Schools CU (CEO Scott Arkills). Silver State Schools has been a leader in aiding the League’s Advocacy team.  Additionally, CEO Scott Arkills has agreed to be the nominee for the state’s first financial literacy council.

SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR: ASI (American Share Insurance — CEO Dennis Adams). ASI and Dennis Adams were recognized for their continual support of the Leagues' advocacy efforts. 

POLITICAL PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR: Marsha Mathias, government relations director for Kinecta FCU. She has contributed to the Leagues' advocacy successes by helping to foster and develop long-term relationships with elected officials. 

For more information on each of these recipients, click here.

Earlier, at the Chapter Forum held the weekend before the start of the REACH Conference, several individuals and chapters were honored.  The Greater Valley Chapter received the Political Action Committee awards (for the highest amount raised at $38,306 and highest percentage of goal raised at 266 percent. The Orange County Chapter received the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation awards for the highest amount raised at $14,585 and highest percentage of goal raised at 478 percent. Awards of Excellence went to Nestor Serrano of the Orange County Chapter and Kathie Chism of the Tri-County Chapter. The 2019 All-Star Chapters Award recipients were East Bay Chapter, Orange County Chapter, and Tri-County Chapter.

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