2016 CUNA Lending Council Award winners revealed

WASHINGTON, DC (November 2, 2016) — The 2016 CUNA Lending Council Awards were formally presented at this year’s CUNA Lending Council Conference, held Oct. 30-Nov. 2, 2016, in Las Vegas. The awards recognize outstanding work in credit union lending and exceptional service to CUNA Lending Council.

“Throughout all of this year’s winners, you see a talent in lending strategy and a commitment to credit union ideals that are exemplary,” said Bob Stowell, CUNA Lending Council Chair and SVP/Chief Strategy Officer, Firefly CU. “In their own unique ways, each of these winners are making lending stronger in the credit union movement.”

Five credit unions were honored with the Excellence in Lending Awards, which recognize credit unions that achieve outstanding lending results through sound, stable operations.

The winners, listed by category, are:

  • Business Lending (assets more than $250 million): Service CU in Portsmouth, N.H. developed a comprehensive strategy centered on commercial construction lending and floor plan financing to widen banking relationships with business members. The credit union created a CUSO initiative to allow for lending opportunities beyond its initial business lending footprint of New Hampshire to other New England markets. In 2015, Service CU issued $15.8 million in loans through this expanded lending program.
  • Consumer Lending (assets more than $250 million): USF FCU in Tampa, Fla. refocused its strategic plan to center on loan growth. Key elements included expanded indirect auto lending operations, credit card and balance transfer incentive programs and the installation of an auto loan recapture program focused on both current and target members. This organization-wide effort boosted consumer loan volume by $2 million per month.
  • Consumer Lending (assets less than $250 million): NET CU in Olyphant, Penn. simplified its previously complex loan policy to focus on FICO score and debt-to-income ratio with the goal of facilitating more lending across all credit tiers. In addition, the credit union launched new auto lending products and promotions, including a 125 percent LTV loan option and a first-time car buyer program. These programs increased the credit union’s loan portfolio from $49.8 million in 2014 to $64.1 million by mid-year 2016.
  • Mortgage Lending (assets more than $250 million): United Nations FCU in Long Island City, N.Y.  mortgage portfolio grew by 20 percent in 2015 due to its focused efforts in expanding markets. The credit union opened a new branch in Washington, D.C., along with a services center in Virginia – both with a focus on servicing mortgages – and introduced a special program for qualified United Nations employees and retirees wanting to finance a home in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Low-to-Modest Means Lending (assets less than $250 million): Lower Valley CU, Sunnyside, Wash. partnered with community groups to develop path-to-citizenship loans to help immigrant members cover expenses associated with the naturalization process. As part of this effort, the credit union accepted alternatives to social security numbers from working nonresidents for auto and home loans and offered financial education classes and materials in both English and Spanish. The credit union’s assets have grown by more than $50 million during the last three years with loan-to-share ratio increasing from 79.20 percent to 93.51 percent.

The Rising Star Award, which honors an emergent talent in the field of credit union lending, was presented to Stephanie Zuleger, vice president and chief lending officer of Y-12 FCU in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Zuleger’s achievements in her young career include revamping Y-12’s mortgage products and services, implementing new lending origination platforms for both consumer and mortgage loans, and co-founding the Tennessee Credit Union League’s young professionals group.

The Top Contributor Award was presented to Jaccie Gaines, consumer loan manager at Matanuska Valley FCU in Palmer, Alaska; and Scott Baker, vice president of lending at Priority CU in Orlando, Fla. This award recognizes the value and expertise that both professionals have shared with peers through collaboration on the CUNA Councils Community.

To learn more about CUNA Lending Council, please visit


The Rising Star Award was presented to Stephanie Zuleger, vice president and chief lending officer of Y-12 FCU in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About CUNA

Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is the only national association that advocates on behalf of all of America’s credit unions, which are owned by 135 million consumer members. CUNA, along with its network of affiliated state credit union leagues, delivers unwavering advocacy, continuous professional growth and operational confidence to protect the best interests of all credit unions. For more information about CUNA, visit To find your nearest credit union, visit

About CUNA Councils

CUNA Councils is a member-led organization dedicated to connecting passionate people, great ideas, original content and relevant resources to find solutions and inspire achievement through the power of peer collaboration. CUNA Councils serves seven areas of credit union management, including CEOs, lending, marketing and business development, finance, human resources and organizational development, technology and operations, sales and service. For more information, visit


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