Tom Dorety Wins Wegner ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award

Josie Collins
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Madison, Wis. – In recognition of his outstanding leadership and selfless commitment to the credit union industry, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) is pleased to announce Tom Dorety, President and CEO of Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union in Tampa, Fla., as one of two winners of the 2012 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.

This is the first time in NCUF’s history that two awards for Lifetime Achievement will be given.  Dorety’s award will be one of three total Herb Wegner Memorial Awards presented at a special dinner hosted by NCUF at the Grand Hyatt Washington on March 19, 2012 —Monday night of the Credit Union National Association’s 2012 Governmental Affairs Conference.  Online registration for dinner tickets will be available later this year on the NCUF website (

“When you look at the lifetime efforts of Tom’s, you realize that this is the perfect description of dedication, compassion and success within the credit union world,” said NCUF Awards & Recognition Committee Chairman Bob Schumacher.  “No matter what Tom does, it seems to turn into something good for someone else.”

“Most people are probably not aware of the extent of Tom’s contributions to the credit union movement because he often lets others accept the accolades,” noted Stan Hollen, President/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.  “Tom has given so much to his profession, his credit union, and the greater credit union community over the years.”

Dorety has been President/CEO at Suncoast Schools FCU since April 1996, previously serving as a Senior Vice President for 8 years.  Suncoast Schools FCU is the largest credit union in Florida and the 11th largest in the country, with almost $5 billion in assets.  Prior to coming to Suncoast Schools FCU, he spent 13 years at State Employees’ Credit Union in Raleigh, N.C.  Dorety has served as Chairman of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), Filene Research Institute, National CEO Roundtable, and MEMBERS Trust Company.  He currently serves on the boards of the CO-OP Financial Services Network, Hillsborough County Education Foundation, and All Children’s Hospital.

A Powerful Voice & Advocate for Credit Unions

“While Suncoast Schools FCU always comes first with Tom, he has been relentless in his pursuit to make things better for credit unions and ultimately make things better for credit union members, said Rae K.  Miles, President of Innovative Resources in Madison, Wis.  “A perfect example of this was Tom’s leadership of the National Action Response Program (NARP).  NARP was established by CUNA to help states respond to attacks on state-chartered credit unions.  Tom took on a leadership role with NARP when it was faced with its greatest challenge in the state of Utah.”

Dorety served as Chairman of CUNA from 2008-2009.  During that time he helped build consensus with fellow board members and served on almost every major committee.

“Tom stepped up to provide strong leadership during some of the most challenging times in the history of credit unions,” remarked Dan Mica, former President/CEO of CUNA.  “It was his passion and ability to motivate people to action that stand out as defining characteristics of his incredible leadership.  He built consensus when there was no consensus.  He brought people to action when they hesitated to get involved.  And he addressed issues that nobody else wanted to even talk about.”

As Chairman of CUNA and a representative of one of the largest credit unions, Dorety was often times called upon to address various groups on behalf of all credit unions.  He represented credit unions at Congressional hearings, with state governments across the country, and with competing trade groups.  And in most cases, he was able to incorporate a personal story about a credit union member whom he had known who would be touched by the pending action.

Innovative Leader

Dorety has been a driving force behind many key industry initiatives, playing a leadership role at the local, state and national levels, as well as with many key credit union service providers.  Examples include the formation of both REAL Solutions and the i3 Group while Dorety served as Chairman of the Filene Research Institute.

Another example of Dorety’s innovation and foresight was his transformation of the Suncoast Trust Company into MEMBERS Trust Company.  Recognizing the growing need for Trust services among credit unions, he saw the opportunity to transform the existing Suncoast Trust Company into a national trust company that could provide trust services for credit unions all over the country.

“This innovative and very credit union-oriented approach to expanding the reach of credit unions for their members is indicative of Tom’s ability to see an opportunity and also execute on that opportunity,” said Gary Oakland, President/CEO of BECU in Seattle, Wash.

Community & Education Supporter

Dorety also played a key role in important collaborative development initiatives, credit union campaigns at the local level, and community development activities.  For example, Dorety initiated the formation of the Suncoast for Kids Foundation, which contributes $1 million per year to public schools on Florida’s West Coast.  Additionally, he was successful in rallying Tampa area credit unions to build a new intensive care wing as well as a new Center for Autism at All Children’s Hospital in St Petersburg, Fla.

“What has impressed me most about Tom has been the culture of giving back that he’s developed at Suncoast,” said William E.  Hoffman, President of the Hillsborough Education Foundation in Tampa, Fla.  “The credit union and their Suncoast for Kids Foundation are creative and relentless in supporting the students and teachers in our community.  One extraordinary example is the implementation of a program where Suncoast gives back the proceeds from their new debit card program.  That has not only benefited our community, but all the counties served by Suncoast.”

Through Dorety’s leadership, Suncoast has developed an intrinsic culture of educational volunteerism and community outreach.  For instance, Suncoast Schools FCU engages area students with various financial literacy programs and by placing student operated credit unions branches in local elementary, middle and high schools.  Suncoast Schools FCU has been supporters of an innovative program for at-risk school students and has been providing college scholarships and grants for years.  The credit union also holds school supply drives each year, which are then distributed to students and teachers with the most need.

“Tom’s leadership and unquestioned support of our schools, teachers, students and employees is displayed in all that Suncoast supports and in their continued partner’s role,” said MaryEllen Elia, Superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Fla.

Universally Respected

“Beyond his innovation and leadership is his humanity and genuineness,” added Oakland.  “He is respected not only for what he has done, but how he has done it and how he has treated people along the way.  He is often regarded as the calm and thoughtful voice of any issue that may arise.  His opinion is sought out and listened to with keen ears.  His is one of few voices that is universally respected and highly regarded.”

* Note to Editors: A high-resolution version of Tom Dorety’s headshot is available here:


About the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards:

The awards are named in honor of the late Credit Union National Association CEO Herb Wegner, whose tireless dedication, innovative ideas and deeds truly revolutionized the ways that credit unions serve their communities.  The awards that bear Wegner’s name recognize his spirit of “innovative, creative, risk-taking” leadership.  View past award recipients here.

About the National Credit Union Foundation (

The National Credit Union Foundation is the US credit union movement’s primary national philanthropic program provider, fundraiser and grant-maker.  Through NCUF grants and programs, credit unions provide widespread financial education, create greater access to affordable financial services, and empower more consumers to save, build assets, and own homes.

NCUF is funded primarily by investments in the award-winning Community Investment Fund (CIF) and by generous Supporters led by the Credit Union National Association and CUNA Mutual.  All NCUF donors provide support that empowers NCUF and state credit union foundations to make a real impact in the credit union community.

The National Credit Union Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization.  NCUF continues to earn the Better Business Bureau seal of approval as an “Accredited Charity” for meeting all 20 BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for national charities.


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