Carol Schillios to Receive National Credit Union Foundation’s Wegner Award for Individual Achievement

Award Recognizes Work with World’s Neediest People

The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) will bestow the Herb Wegner Award for Individual Achievement upon Credit Union Development Educator Carol Schillios, founder of the Fabric of Life Foundation and the Schillios Development Foundation.

On six continents, Schillios has worked with some of the world’s neediest people – and equally well with their nations’ presidents, dignitaries, and villagers – by forming cooperative partnerships worldwide that provide access to affordable credit, education, and self-sufficiency.

Schillios’ current projects are changing lives in Mali, Senegal, and Zimbabwe, Africa, and HoChiMinh City (Saigon), Vietnam. Her hands-on work focuses on improving quality of life for women and their families. For example, Schillios developed a cooperative training center (Hr J) in Mali to teach former beggars how to generate income, stay healthy, plan families, and prevent AIDS.

“Before Carol’s teaching, their livelihood depended on begging in the streets for money,” relates Earlene Fantz, president/CEO of American Lake Credit Union in Tacoma, Wash., and volunteer board member of the Washington Credit Union Foundation. “In a matter of 18 months, Carol was able to teach dozens of young women how to own and manage successful cooperative businesses to support themselves and their families.”

Schillios’ results – economic freedom and independence – mirror NCUF’s mission: to promote and improve consumers’ financial independence through credit unions.

“True to the spirit of the Herb Wegner Award, Carol’s work brings pride in the worldwide credit union concept to everyone involved,” explains Washington Credit Union League President John Annaloro. “Her partners in teaching micro-finance and self-help include some of the world’s biggest economic development agencies: Freedom from Hunger, The World Bank, World Education, and the World Council of Credit Unions.”

But unlike most foundations on a global scale, the Fabric of Life Foundation and Schillios Development Foundation are essentially solo projects. Schillios established her foundations nearly 20 years ago to channel donations through legally tax-exempt structures. Donors can contribute funds, volunteer time, or open savings accounts in her projects’ start-up credit unions.

In the U.S., Schillios has trained more than 300 credit unions in 41 states to change their thinking and behavior. Her courses range from “Credit Union Values and Service Philosophy,” to “Selling the Credit Union Way.”

“Carol doesn’t just teach; she creates an experience,” says Kathy Trammell, president of the Pierce County Chapter of Credit Unions. “She took us on a trip to a third world country; her story brought reality to the core values of credit unions.”

“During her three decades in credit union work, Carol Schillios has achieved what many of us have only dreamed about,” observes Bruce Rouillard, past president of the Washington Credit Union League. “She has passionately brought insights to us regarding the plights of others less fortunate; she has brought eloquence to the podium, and brought leadership to the floor.”

“While it is customary for folks like me to recommend ‘people of position’ for the Individual Achievement Award,” notes Georgia Credit Union Affiliates President Mike Mercer, “Carol Schillios exhibits a degree of commitment and personal sacrifice that is rarely achieved…. Honoring Miss Schillios would send a strong message that it is dedication, determination, and personal initiative – not title – that represents the kind of leadership important to the success of cooperative movements like ours.”

Upcoming Wegner Awards

Individual achievement will be the second of three prestigious awards to be celebrated at NCUF’s Herb Wegner Memorial Awards Dinner during CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference at the Hilton Washington on Feb. 25, 2007.

Next, NCUF will feature the recipient of the Herb Wegner Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award.

The first award to be presented on Feb. 25 will honor the year’s Outstanding Program, a partnership between Prospera Credit Union and Goodwill of North Central Wisconsin to place the first credit union services inside a Goodwill retail store.

The Wegner Awards are named in honor of late CUNA CEO Herb Wegner, who revolutionized the ways credit unions serve their communities. The awards recognize Wegner’s spirit of “innovative, creative, risk-taking” leadership.

“If Herb were alive today,” concludes former co-worker Mary Olson, “he and Carol would probably be working side-by-side….”