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Western CUNA Management School's new staff leaders (left to right): Brandi Gleason, Provost and Chief Operating Officer; Cyndee Lemon, Director of Support Services; and Cory McDaniel, Director of Campus Activities.
Western CUNA Management School's new staff leaders (left to right): Brandi Gleason, Provost and Chief Operating Officer; Cyndee Lemon, Director of Support Services; and Cory McDaniel, Director of Campus Activities.

Western CUNA Management School’s Key Leadership Changes

As Western CUNA Management School (WCMS) enters its seventh decade of preparing credit union leaders to meet the challenges of the credit union industry’s future, WCMS is announcing changes in its school administration team. The school is proud to name Brandi Gleason the provost and chief operating officerCyndee Lemon the director of support services, and Cory McDaniel the director of campus activities!

Today’s announcement further supports WCMS’s focus on the school’s continual refinement of curriculum, as well as its strong support and commitment to alumni, students, and their credit unions. WCMS students come from a diverse array of credit union management occupations and leadership positions across the Western United States. The school has always — and will always — encourage professionals in the credit union movement to take their careers to the next level by learning the breadth and depth of the industry, taking their newfound leadership principles back to their organizations to lead their credit union’s long-term success.

To carry out this decades-long “Head and Heart” philosophy that remains instrumental in the advancement of so many credit union leaders across the West, Gleason has joined the WCMS team to manage the school’s robust administrative structure while providing direct assistance to students and alumni. This will continue making the largest Credit Union National Association (CUNA)-recognized school the educationally transformative, relevant, and active institution it is today.

Simultaneously, Lemon and McDaniel will give back to the movement by contributing to the next generation of credit union leaders during the rigorous two-week, face-to-face portion of the curriculum occurring every July when WCMS students and faculty gather onsite at Pomona College in Claremont, CA. Having come from a long credit union background, Lemon is currently director of operations and human resources for Pacific Postal Credit Union in San Jose, CA. McDaniel serves as chief lending officer at University Credit Union in Los Angeles, CA — a credit union focused on supporting college and university educational communities.

Their roles and efforts will be essential in carrying out the goals of WCMS, as well as the personal achievements of upcoming credit union leaders across the 13 states the school serves.

Sharing the Experience and Fire with a New Generation
Dr. Michael Steinberger, dean and chief academic officer of WCMS, said he is ecstatic to welcome Gleason to the school’s staff leadership team and Lemon and McDaniel to the intense on-campus session each summer, noting the firsthand and transformative experience that WCMS has had on all three credit union leaders.

“Brandi, Cyndee, and Cory will now be a part of sharing that experience and fire with the next generation of credit union leaders as they bring an acute focus on the student learning experience to our administration team — inside and outside of the classroom,” Steinberger said. “One of the key strengths of a WCMS education is the bond students form with their classmates and faculty. In this environment, our new leadership team will focus on a multitude of crucial tasks, including overseeing the co-curricular challenges we give students that allow them to put their classroom education into practice, as well as building their professional network along the way — all in service to their credit union’s members.”

Diana Dykstra, president of WCMS and president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, said the school is honored to welcome Gleason, Lemon, and McDaniel as it reinforces the fundamental and dynamic life-changing principles that WCMS was founded on by aiding student leaders through their educational and career journeys.

“We look forward to leveraging the many talents our new leaders are bringing into our school to support our greatest asset — our students and alumni,” Dykstra said. “Their ‘Head and Heart’ philosophy is aligned with our WCMS mission, and their impressive background will no doubt serve current and future students well as they continue looking forward to making their unique mark on our credit union movement.”

Providing Leadership Philosophy Across the West
“I am beyond honored and grateful to be selected to continue my love of investing into the next generation of credit union leaders as a member of the Western CUNA Management School administrative staff and leadership,” said Gleason, who graduated in 2013 (Lambda Class) and has devoted many summers and school years to WCMS as former director of support services. “I am obligated to pass on the fire that was ignited in me to others — and I look forward to continuing this time-honored tradition.”

Lemon also expressed her excitement as she looks forward to contributing to the future of WCMS students and the school’s future every July. “Attending WCMS shifted my entire career focus,” said Lemon, who graduated in 2012 (Kappa Class), served as a graduate assistant in 2013, and was recognized as the first “Super GA” in 2014 (super graduate assistant). “The well-rounded credit union professional that I’ve had the honor and privilege of becoming today can be attributed to my solid foundation at WCMS — something I will use to pour back into continuing generations of students on campus every July.”

Gleason, Lemon, and McDaniel all said they are grateful to have been mentored and guided by WCMS faculty and alumni, as the school has given them an amazing vehicle to share the credit union movement’s leadership philosophy with so many others throughout credit unions in the western states. Over the years, WCMS has equipped them to truly become leaders who use “Head and Heart” as their guide.

“I am honored to join the WCMS team,” McDaniel said. “I look forward to working with staff and students to create a memorable on-campus experience.”

Nancy Wood — a ‘Key Part of the Heart of WCMS’ — is Retiring
Nancy Wood, director of school administration, will retire this December after an overlap with the new school leaders. Wood has served in her current role with WCMS since 2012, and she served as director of support services prior to that for 11 years.

Wood was instrumental in many of the recent educational updates to the WCMS experience, including the curriculum review earning 21 semester hours of college credit, implementation of the Frog Tank student innovation competition, and the curricular changes required by and inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to wish Nancy all the best as she retires this coming December,” Steinberger said. “She has such a heart for the student experience. For our students, our credit unions and our alumni, Nancy has been a key part of the heart of WCMS. Her legacy is the thousands of WCMS alumni she impacted, who are now using that support to improve the lives of their members. I wish her a joyful retirement — she has earned it. Our new leaders have large shoes to fill, indeed, and I know they will continue Nancy’s work.”

WCMS looks forward to continuing its more than 60-year legacy of helping credit union management meet the challenges of the future, utilizing its powerful and cutting-edge instruction to foster strategic change-making leaders — for today and tomorrow!

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