United States Development Education (DE) Program Awards

Congratulations to the 2018 DE Award Winners!

Individual Achievement Award: George Ombado, Executive Director, ACCOSCA (Africa Confederation of Co-operative Savings & Credit Associations) for his leadership in bringing the DE Program to Africa. The Africa DE (ADE) program began with its first class in Kenya in 2014 and has since trained nearly 200 credit union professionals for Africa, the United Kingdom, the Caribbean and the US. ADE has created excitement among credit union leaders across the continent and is helping to foster collaboration, empower women in leadership and help African credit unions develop new pathways to serving those in their communities.

Cooperative Spirit Award: WEOKIE Foundation's BizKid$ Middle School Cooperative Entrepreneurship Competition (Brent Rempe, WEOKIE FCU; Nate Gillen, WEOKIE FCU; Tabatha Thurman, WEOKIE FCU; Mistie Leeds, Communication FCU; Giovanni Monterroso, Tinker FCU) for providing teachers with professional development, promoting cooperative business knowledge, and recognizing student achievement as they apply their knowledge in personal finance, entrepreneurship, and economics. The competition provides resources to teachers and students who are tasked with coming up with new business ideas that leverage the cooperative business model. The business ideas are presented at an event during National Cooperative Month and students also take part in a Reality Fair event. More than 25 organizations were involved in supporting the competition including credit unions, credit union system partners, electric cooperatives, and community organizations.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Lois Kitsch, Co-Founder of cu.difference and recently retired National Program Director at the National Credit Union Foundation, for a impactful career spent in the service of others. Through her work with WOCCU, Lois has promoted credit union development and financial empowerment in more than 40 countries. She was instrumental in growing the US CUDE Program over her 13 years at the Foundation and helping to guide the success of DE Programs around the globe. Lois has also dedicated her heart and soul to personal projects such as international development tours, and her ongoing work continues to inspire others and leave a lasting impact.
The United States Development Education (DE) Program Awards provide U.S. trained Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) the opportunity to honor those individuals who exemplify what DE stands for through their individual or cooperative efforts to make a difference in their credit union, community or on a national/international basis. Examples may include marketing and communications around the DE program to enhance participation, coordinating a project which benefits a local or national community, developing a fundraising strategy to benefit a local charity or credit union organization, promoting financial literacy and education to youth and adults, reaching decision makers through advocacy efforts, providing technical assistance to a credit union or related organization, or completing an international volunteer project. The awards are typically presented during the annual DE Workshop.

These awards are given in the following three categories:
  • Individual Achievement: - honors a single individual for accomplishments that have made a significant impact on the national or international basis. Nomination should cite a specific achievement.
  • Cooperative Spirit Award: honors a group of individuals for a project that has made a significant difference to a community, school, a credit union or the greater credit union movement.
  • Lifetime Achievement:  honors an individual who has made a significant and lasting contribution to the credit union movement and the DE program over several years of service.

2017 Award Winners

  • Lifetime Achievement: Marlene Shiels
  • Individual Achievement: Brandi Stankovic
  • Cooperative Spirit: Coastal Federal Credit Union CUDEs
Click Here to Read about the 2017 DE Award Winners

2016 Award Winners

  • Lifetime Achievement: Larry Blanchard
  • Individual Achievement: Kathy Chartier
  • Cooperative Spirit: Credit Unions Care spearheaded by Karen Hart

2015 Award Winners

  • Lifetime Achievement: Joanne Todd
  • Individual Achievement: Carla Decker
  • Cooperative Spirit: The Disclosures (Chad Helminak and Christopher Morris)

Past DE Award Winners


  • Lifetime Achievement: Michael Ray
  • Individual Achievement: Melvin Edwards
  • Cooperative Spirit: CU Aware (Patrick Livingston and Brandon McAdams)

  • Lifetime Achievement: Bob Schumacher
  • Individual Achievement: Paul Thompson
  • Cooperative Spirit: North Carolina CUDEs

For More Information...

...contact Chad Helminak, Director of DE and Cooperative Culture, at (608) 231-4078 or chelminak@ncuf.coop.