Gesa CU’s SVP Lending Brett Jorgenson Wins Credit Union Times Trailblazer Award as ‘Lending Officer of the Year’

Cathy Olague, Vice President Marketing

(MARCH 2012) – Gesa Credit Union’s Senior Vice President of Lending, Brett Jorgenson was honored this week with a Trailblazer Award, Lending Officer of the Year, by the Credit Union Times. Awards were presented at a reception held Tuesday, March 20 at CUNA’S 2012 Government Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. This is the seventh year the Credit Union Times has given Trailblazer Awards.

Jorgenson was honored for building Gesa’s full-service Lending Department. When he joined the credit union in 2007, Jorgenson made it his mission to have the $550 million credit union be the lender of choice in Washington State’s Tri-Cities region.  Among his accomplishments, Jorgenson established the credit union’s Home Loan and Business Lending departments, centralized lending operations, and created new products and services to meet member needs. In the process, he grew the now $1.1 billion credit union’s loan portfolio from $323 million in 2007 to $856 million at year-end 2011.   

“Brett Jorgenson is a true trailblazer,” Gesa President & CEO Christina Lethlean said. “Brett has led our lending operations for the past five years. He has turned a small operation into the region’s leading lender. Gesa members are now able to look to us for business loans, home loans, credit cards, and student loans. We’re very proud of Brett’s achievements in developing a loan program that enriches our members’ lives and the communities we serve.”

Jorgenson sums up his leadership philosophy in two words: Service. Empowerment. “To me, service means real service; service that affects the member’s life; service that secures a lifelong member relationship,” Jorgenson said. “Empowerment means hiring the right people and letting them do their jobs.” Knowing that members often want to talk with a senior executive at their hometown credit union, Jorgenson is also available to members. Not a week goes by that he doesn’t talk directly with Gesa members.

It’s worked.  In its 2011 report, “Superior Consumer Lenders During the Great Recession,” The Filene Research Institute spotlighted Gesa as one of 21 credit unions nationwide  ‒ and just one of five with $1 billion-plus in assets – that grew its consumer loan portfolio by more than 5% each year of the recession, 2008-2010.  

Gesa Credit Union has served the Tri-Cities community since 1953 and is one of the state’s largest credit unions, with over 100,000 members. Gesa offers home loans, consumer and business loans, savings, checking, and money market accounts, and certificate and IRA accounts. Headquartered in Richland, Wash., Gesa has 10 local full-service branches and seven student-operated high school branches – the most in the state. Gesa’s commitment to local communities includes support for Junior Achievement, Habitat for Humanity, annual youth scholarships, and free financial seminars open to members and the general public.

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