Award to be presented at the annual Herb Wegner Memorial Awards Dinner
MADISON, WI (October 17, 2018) — The National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) has announced that Brett Martinez, President/CEO of Redwood Credit Union, will be honored with the Foundation’s Anchor Award for his exemplary leadership during the 2017 Northern California Wildfires.
The Anchor Award is given from time to time at the Foundation Dinner Presenting the Herb Wegener Memorial Awards and is awarded at the discretion of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Individuals who have lived out the mission of the Foundation while providing extraordinary support and advancement of the credit union movement are honored with this coveted award.
The Anchor Award will be presented at the Foundation’s annual fundraising gala at the Marriott Marquis on March 11, 2019, in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. Registration for dinner sponsorships and tickets will be available on the Foundation website (ncuf.coop) later this year.
“Brett Martinez’s inspirational leadership and passion for doing good can be seen in the philanthropic work done by his organization,” said Foundation Executive Director, Gigi Hyland. “Brett has never failed to prove his commitment towards improving the lives of community members through financial literacy, philanthropy and emergency response.”
Credit unions are in Martinez’s blood, having grown up in the industry with a mother who served as a CEO of a small credit union in Southern California. As a passionate credit union advocate, Martinez has been an inspirational and impactful leader in the credit union system for over 28 years. Martinez has held his position as President and CEO of Redwood Credit Union (RCU) since 2003.
In October of 2017, a series of wildfires ravaged many areas in Sonoma, Napa, Lake, and Mendocino counties in Northern California. The fires were, at the time, the most destructive in state history, claiming 44 lives and destroying more than 6,500 homes and 150 businesses. Martinez did not hesitate in acting to assist those in dire need of the credit union’s help, spearheading the creation of the North Bay Fire Relief Fund (NBFRF) in partnership with California State Senator Mike McGuire, and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat newspaper.
“Martinez, the RCU team, and community partners showed what happens when people quickly come together to support a community,” said Troy Stang, President and CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association. “That’s a true demonstration of credit unions’ ‘People Helping People’ philosophy.”
Through the cooperation and dedication of the community partners, over $32 million was donated to the NBFRF, coming from every state in the U.S. and 23 different countries. The entire fund was distributed to support fire survivors’ immediate needs including: direct funding to fire survivors who lost homes or experienced financial hardship, financial support to first responders who lost homes while fighting the fires and protecting the community, gift cards for K-12 and college students who needed school supplies or clothing, grants to small businesses who lost property or goods in the fires, support for survivors’ health and well-being, and grants to local nonprofits for supporting immediate needs. RCU paid all administrative costs so that 100% of donations went directly to fire relief efforts.
“Brett Martinez and Redwood Credit Union have been so supportive in helping the entire community after the fires. At Sonoma State, our students, staff, and faculty who were directly impacted by the fires were able to receive support from the fund,” said Dr. Judy K. Sakaki, President of Sonoma State University. “Redwood Credit Union is special because it is not only a very valued community institution, but it is also an amazing community partner.”
“The actions of the Redwood Credit Union team to be a catalyst for cooperation in a time of crisis is a testament to the ‘power of purpose’ for all credit unions,” said Gene Pelham, President/CEO at Rogue Credit Union.
The NBFRF represents one of the largest and most successful disaster relief efforts in Northern California history, truly representing Martinez and RCU’s embodiment of the credit union values of mutual self-help, cooperation, economic empowerment, and volunteerism.
About The National Credit Union Foundation
The National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) is the charitable arm of the U.S. credit union movement and works as a catalyst to improve people’s financial lives through credit unions. Through grants and programs, the Foundation is strengthening financial well-being, igniting passion and instilling knowledge about the credit union difference and uniting resources to help credit union people during disaster. Donations to the Foundation ultimately enable credit unions to help their members reach life-changing goals and achieve financial freedom.