A record turnout of more than 1,200 credit union leaders and supporters this week for the Foundation Dinner — the National Credit Union Foundation’s primary fundraising event — set the tone for an evening that lauded the credit union movement’s work to improve financial wellbeing for all, while rallying the system to do more.
Bill Cheney, CEO of SchoolsFirst FCU, was also commended for embodying the cooperative spirit, as well as his unwavering financial and strategic support for the credit union movement at both the national and global level. Over the past 35 years, Cheney has helped navigate the industry through significant times of change, while maintaining a laser focus on its mission to improve people’s financial lives.
For this, he was officially honored on stage with this year’s Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement by the Foundation — the U.S. credit union movement’s highest national honor. You can view interviews, images, and memories of Cheney’s career and achievements here.
“I’m honored to receive this award from the National Credit Union Foundation and to be part of the credit union movement that helps members and their families achieve financial wellbeing — not just in the United States, but around the world,” said Cheney at the evening’s conclusion. “The award’s namesake, Herb Wegner, provided an example of leadership to which we all aspire. I share this achievement with colleagues who have mentored me throughout my career, as well as my friends and family who support me.”
The award — now in its 34th year — is named in honor of the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) late president and CEO Herb Wegner from several years ago, whose tireless dedication and innovative ideas and deeds truly revolutionized the way credit unions serve their communities. It recognizes his spirit of innovative, creative, risk-taking leadership and remains a symbol of human service each year.
For more than 30 years, Cheney has played a significant role in the credit union movement, first serving in community and employee-based credit unions, followed by roles as president and CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues and president and CEO of CUNA, the nation’s largest advocacy group for credit unions.
Cheney worked in Washington, D.C. and throughout the country representing America’s credit unions before the White House, Congress, and federal government agencies. A common thread throughout his career has been his unwavering commitment to helping all members thrive, advancing efforts to support diversity and inclusion, and championing the credit union cooperative’s principles.
In 2021, Cheney was awarded the Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award by the California Credit Union League, recognizing excellence in credit union philosophy and a lifetime of contributions to the credit union industry. It is the League’s highest honor, named after Leo H. Shapiro, the “father” of the California credit union movement and founder of the California League.
The Leagues would like to congratulate Cheney on being honored with the Herb Wegner Memorial Award — and thank him once again for his many contributions to the entire credit union movement!
This year’s four honorees of various awards (including Cheney) have collectively dedicated almost 150 years to the credit union movement. Cheney’s fellow honorees include Linda Bodie, CEO and innovator of Element FCU (West Virginia); Brian Branch, former president and CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions (Wisconsin); and Winona Nava, CEO of Guadalupe CU (New Mexico).
“Through their vision, leadership, and commitment to the cooperative principles they have displayed — and continue to embody — this year’s honorees have made an immeasurable impact on financial wellbeing at a global level,” said Gigi Hyland, executive director of the Foundation. “By celebrating their storied achievements, the Foundation seeks to catalyze all of us to do as much as we can to ensure everyone can achieve financial freedom through credit unions.”
As the charitable arm of the U.S. credit union movement, the annual gala is central to the Foundation’s fundraising. Support through sponsorship and attendance directly affects the Foundation’s ability to catalyze change through grants, education, events, resources and more.