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4/30/2014 » 7/31/2014
2014 Webinar Series - Frontline

Awards Committee

Awards Committee

The Network Awards Committee facilitates statewide and national awards programs and judges entries. On the national level, the committee coordinates Minnesota’s entries for CUNA’s Dora Maxwell and Louise Herring Awards and the Desjardins Award for Financial Education.

On the state level, the committee recognizes individuals and organizations through the Professional and Volunteer of the Year Awards and the Simon Hellermann Award for Credit Union Philanthropy.

Below are brief descriptions of the state and national awards programs offered by the Minnesota Credit Union Network. More information about the awards, along with nomination forms, will be available approximately three months before the awards deadlines.


State Awards

Timeline: The call for nominations for the following awards typically takes place in January with a February deadline. The awards are presented at the MnCUN Annual Meeting in April.
Outstanding Professional of the Year Award
This award is given to recognize the noble service of one outstanding credit union professional who has selflessly given time, effort and talent to the support and promotion of the credit union ideal and the betterment of credit unions in Minnesota.
Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award
This award recognize the noble service of one outstanding credit union volunteer who best exemplifies the credit union spirit through dedication to, and belief in, the credit union movement.
Simon Hellermann Award for Credit Union Philanthropy
Given on a three-year cycle, this award was established to recognize demonstrated excellence in credit union philanthropy and contributions to the Minnesota credit union movement. This philanthropic award is a tribute to Minnesota credit union philanthropist Simon Hellermann for his dedication to the movement, and specifically to the Children’s Miracle Network-Credit Unions for Kids. Individuals, credit unions, chapters and affinity groups are eligible to win this award. (The next Hellermann Award recipient will be named in 2015.)

National Awards


Timeline: The call for nominations for the following awards typically takes place in late May to early June, with a mid-July deadline. Statewide award winners are announced in August. Winning entries on the state level advance to compete nationally, with national results typically available in November. National award recipients are recognized at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference the following February.


Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award: The Dora Maxwell Award recognizes credit unions that promote social responsibility. In particular, the focus of the award is to draw attention to external credit union projects and activities that benefit the community.


Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action: The Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action focuses on the internal programs and services of a credit union. Credit unions who received the award have demonstrated the practical application of the credit union philosophy within the actual operations of the credit union.         


Desjardins Youth and Adult Financial Education Awards: The Desjardins Youth and Adult Financial Education Awards formally recognizes the leadership of individual credit unions and chapters on behalf of youth and adult financial education. Activities eligible for consideration include those that raise awareness and marshal resources on behalf of financial literacy.      



2013 Professional & Volunteer of the Year Award Winners

MnCUN's Outstanding Professional of the Year 2013: Jeff Schwalen, Hiway Federal Credit Union
The 2013 Professional of the Year honoree is Jeff Schwalen of Hiway Federal Credit Union in St. Paul. Schwalen is the epitome of professional and someone who truly stands behind the "people helping people” philosophy. He has  served Hiway Federal Credit Union as President & CEO for a decade. During his time at the helm, the credit union has seen a steady rise in membership, assets that have grown by $350 million, and has developed a tradition of offering innovative products and services to its members. 
►  Watch: Video tribute for Jeff Schwalen


MnCUN's Outstanding Volunteer of the Year 2013, Verne Palmberg, West Financial Credit Union 
The 2013 Volunteer of the Year honoree is Verne Palmberg of West Financial Credit Union in Medina.
Palmberg has served credit unions as a board member for a total of 22 years, with nine of those as Board Treasurer for the West Financial Board of Directors. Palmberg is an influential force for the credit union, leading the push for a successful merger and helping attract community members to a local grocery store credit union branch. He is a tireless volunteer who is actively engaged in promoting the benefits of becoming a credit union member.

►  Watch: Video tribute for Verne Palmberg



Committee Members


Sandra Wiederholt, Chair
Ecolab CU

Patti Gohl
SouthPoint FCU
Marian Murphy
HomeTown CU 


Rick Odenthal
Central Minnesota CU 

Francis Odhiambo
Associated Healthcare CU
Renee Schuyler
West Financial CU


Randy Willert
Two Harbors FCU 


* Connie Kuhn
MnCUN Staff