California and Nevada leaders honored for volunteerism, advocacy, and achievements

ONTARIO, CA (November 5, 2019) — 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, held at the Monterey Conference Center 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 recipients of the League, Kim Bannan Eternal Flame, and Advocacy awards:

LEO H. SHAPIRO LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Eileen Rivera, retired CEO of SkyOne Federal Credit Union in El Segundo, CA. This is the Leagues’ highest honor, recognizing excellence in credit union philosophy and a lifetime of contributions to the credit union 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.”

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD: John Cassidy, CEO of Sierra Central Credit Union in Yuba City, CA; and Sue Longson, advocacy consultant for Boulder Dam CU in Boulder City, NV. 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.

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).

J. ALVIN GEORGE OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER AWARD: Dr. Jerald Jellison, board chairman for USC Credit Union in Los Angeles.  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.

TOMORROW’S STAR AWARD: Natalia Custodio, marketing project manager for UNCLE Credit Union in Livermore, CA; and Kristi Longoria, financial education administrator for San Mateo Credit Union in Redwood City, CA. 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. 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.

KIM BANNAN ETERNAL FLAME AWARD (individual recipient): Anna Tellez, CEO of Antioch Community Federal Credit Union in Antioch, CA; (organization recipient): Orange County’s Credit Union in Santa Ana, CA.  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.” Orange County’s CU and CEO Shruti Miyashiro were recognized for ongoing support of Shapiro credit unions, including Allied Healthcare Federal Credit Union in Long Beach, CA and Communidad Latina Federal Credit Union in Santa Ana, CA.  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.

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

  • ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR (CALIFORNIA): Dave Roughton, CEO of SAFE Credit Union in Sacramento, CA. 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 Credit Union in Carson City, NV. 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 Credit Union in San Bernardino, CA. 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 Federal Credit Union in San Jose, CA.  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 Credit Union in Pleasanton, CA (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 Credit Union in Las Vegas, NV (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: American Share Insurance in Dublin, OH (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 Federal Credit Union in Manhattan Beach, CA. She has contributed to the Leagues’ advocacy successes by helping to foster and develop long-term relationships with elected officials.

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.

L-R: Immediate Past California League Board Chairman and Financial Partners CU CEO Nader Moghaddam; 2019 League Award recipients—John Cassidy, Sue Longson, Dr. Jerald Jellison, Anna Tellez, Eileen Rivera, Natalie Dao (representing Orange County’s CU), Natalia Custodio, Kristi Longoria, and Nevada League Board Chairman and Silver State Schools FCU CEO Scott Arkills.

L-R: Nader Moghaddam with the 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.

About California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues

Headquartered in Ontario, California, the Leagues exist to help credit unions change people’s lives by supporting their operations, guidance, strategy and philosophy. Our trade association helps local credit unions in California serve nearly 13.8 million members and those in Nevada serve almost 400,000 members. Credit unions are for people, not profit!


Karla Davis
Vice President of Communications and Marketing
California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues

More News