Western CUNA Management School recognizes students; Alumni discuss crisis’ impact on CUs

ONTARIO, CA (December 7, 2020) — Western CUNA Management School (WCMS) honored those students who excelled in their completed projects during a virtual ceremony held on Nov. 20.  Following the conferring of honors, the school hosted its first-ever virtual roundtable with alumni discussing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on credit unions.

For Project 1—completed between the student’s first and second year and focused on a critical evaluation of the student’s credit union and membership—23 received honors and 11 high honors. For Project 2—completed between the second and third year and featuring financial projections, strategic plans, and a business plan for future credit union operations—23 students received honors while 14 received high honors.  Abiy Selassie, branch manager at SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union in Santa Ana, CA, received the Rick Craig Prize for Excellence in Project 2 recognizing excellence in the second-year project, the school’s highest award for the project.

Through these projects, WCMS students are required to take academic concepts from the classroom and apply them to the reality of the credit union experience, said Dean and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Michael D. Steinberger. Both Project 1 and 2 take about 100 hours to complete.

“Students completing their projects this year are to be commended given the increased challenges and responsibilities brought on by the pandemic,” Steinberger said during the virtual ceremony. “You represent the future leadership of the credit union movement.”

Following the announcing of honors, a panel of alumni—California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President and CEO and WCMS President Diana Dykstra (class of 1992), Comunidad Latina Federal Credit Union CEO and former Deputy Commissioner Credit Union Division for the Department of Business Oversight Erick Orellana (class of 1998), and Rogue Credit Union Executive Vice President Matt Stephenson (class of 2008)—discussed the impact the pandemic and recession are having on credit unions. The panel was moderated by Steinberger.

They focused on the need for adaptability and innovation on the part of credit union leaders to weather the crisis.

“Just keep moving forward, you are the next generation,” Dykstra advised students.

Orellana implored students to “make sure you are passionate about who you want to serve,” while Stephenson told them “your careers, your members, and the movement will all benefit from (your actions and leadership)”.

The virtual 2020 Project Honors Ceremony and Alumni Panel is available on the WCMS website,, for interested credit union professionals.

Below is the list of all the awardees.

Project 1 Honors

Gil Amundsen, TwinStar Credit Union (Washington); Meagan Barrett, Northern Colorado Credit Union (Colorado); Dana Bedwell, Otero Federal Credit Union (New Mexico); Jaime Campanella, Numerica Credit Union (Washington); Mark Cardella, Pacific Service Credit Union (California); Tina Covington, Altura Credit Union (California); Brittany DeVries, Clearwater Credit Union (formerly Missoula FCU, Montana); Erica Espinoza Doi, SESLOC Federal Credit Union (California); Marisa Howard, Xceed Financial Credit Union (California); Angie Knips, Rogue Credit Union (Oregon); Monica Lauber, Wauna Federal Credit Union (Oregon); Kelly Mobley, Vantage West Credit Union (Arizona); Carl Murphy, Colorado Credit Union (Colorado); Amen Oviasogie, Xceed Financial Credit Union (California); Rony Peraza, Los Angeles Federal Credit Union (California); Maia Pinnow, CUNA Mutual Group (Wisconsin); Sarah Roman, Orange County’s Credit Union (California); Farren Shumate, Washington State Employees Credit Union (Washington); Matthew Stringham, America First Credit Union (Utah); Crystal Terwilleger, Canvas Credit Union (Colorado); Christine Turner, Vantage West Credit Union (Arizona); Thomas Von Eschen, Frontwave Credit Union (California); Vanessa Wagoner, Red Canoe Credit Union (Washington)

Project 1 High Honors

Amera Aiello, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union (California); Ryan Brown, Canvas Credit Union (Colorado); Jordan Gray, LBS Financial Credit Union (California); Christopher Hibbs, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union (Alaska); Jessica Jamison, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union (California); Gina Jorgensen, Rogue Credit Union (Oregon); Cheryl McCarthy, Rivermark Community Credit Union (Oregon); Benjamin Metzger, Canvas Credit Union (Colorado); Tiani Moses, HFS Federal Credit Union (Hawaii); Aaron Pitroff, Members 1st Credit Union (California); Ian Wiggins, Wauna Federal Credit Union (Oregon)

Project 2 Honors

Katie Adams, Valley First Credit Union (California); Adriana Alexander, iQ Credit Union (Washington); Ariana Balch, UNCLE Credit Union (California); Jethro Casinas, Maui Federal Credit Union (Hawaii); Kevin Cole, Mid Oregon Federal Credit Union (Oregon); Lori Fink, Unitus Community Credit Union (Oregon); Grace Flores, Pacific Service Credit Union (California); Laura Hansen, Rogue Credit Union (Oregon); Emily Hawkins, Mission Federal Credit Union (California); Erick Kniestedt, TwinStar Credit Union (Washington); Ellie McIntyre, Numerica Credit Union (Washington); Andrew Murawa, First Entertainment Credit Union (California); Douglas Newell, Inspirus Credit Union (Washington); Kim Ngo, Patelco Credit Union (California); Rachel Nielson, SESLOC Federal Credit Union (California); Aprylle Odlum-Chang, Patelco Credit Union (California); Antoinette Olivas, Guadalupe Credit Union (New Mexico); Heather Padget, Centennial Lending LLC (Colorado); Laura Patterson, Mountain America Credit Union (Utah); Susan Rice, Bellco Credit Union (Colorado); Dustin Rohde, SnoCope Credit Union (Washington); Austin Schock, Glendive BN Federal Credit Union (Montana); Aaron Sugimoto, CU Hawaii Federal Credit Union (Hawaii)

Project 2 High Honors

Brodie Cook, America First Credit Union (Utah);  Kevin Davies, SESLOC Federal Credit Union (California); John Granato, Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union (New Mexico); Jonathan Holland, Spokane Teachers Credit Union (Washington); Jess King, Coast Central Credit Union (California); Nina Myers, Fitzsimons Federal Credit Union (Colorado); Athar Nazir, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union (Alaska); Diana Nellis, America First Credit Union (Utah); Andrew Reding, BECU (Washington); Kent Richard, Blue Federal Credit Union (Wyoming); Abiy Selassie, Schools First Federal Credit Union (California); Corey Suraci, Connection Credit Union (Washington); Bradley Tichenor, Partners Federal Credit Union (California); Neal Weber, Blue Federal Credit Union (Wyoming)

About Western CUNA Management School

For more than 60 years, Western CUNA Management School has helped credit union management staff meet the challenges of the future. WCMS is the West Coast-based leadership and philosohical institution for current and future credit union leaders, preparing individuals with the depth and breadth they need to contribute to their credit union’s success, the credit union movement, and their own personal career goals.


Nancy Wood
Director of School Administration
Western CUNA Management School (WCMS)

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