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Tony Budet: 2024 Herb Wegner Memorial Award Winner

Tony Budet Outstanding Individual Achievement Award Winner

Tony Budet has created a culture of caring in his personal, professional, and spiritual life that’s undeniable. As a leader and mentor, he has rallied people around him to meet the most pressing needs of their communities and galvanized them in their darkest hours when those needs felt nearly impossible to address.

As the CEO of University Federal Credit Union in Austin, Texas, Tony championed the vision that UFCU and, for that matter, all credit unions are “social purpose organizations” with responsibility for building financially healthy communities. As he sees it, the credit union difference is in the impact we can achieve through investing in and generating lift in quality of life within communities served. Through this vision, and with the support of his board of directors and credit union staff, UFCU stands as a shining example of the credit union mantra “People over Profit” in Central Texas and around the world.

Tony and the UFCU team celebrate our cooperative principles, particularly 6, Cooperation Among Cooperatives, and 7, Concern for Community. Together with other likeminded leaders, Tony made time during his career to visit and explore how other cooperatives, both here in the U.S. and internationally, have meaningfully influenced quality of life in their respective communities and countries through world class collaboration. Such examples include Vancity and Desjardins in North America, SICREDI in Brazil, Mondragon in Spain, ACCOSCA in Africa, and the Emilia Romagna area of Italy, which perhaps has the highest concentration of cooperatives in the world. He believes such investments in community serve to create virtuous circles that inevitably also benefit those of us who choose to invest.

While leading UFCU, the cooperative partnered and collaborated with a wide variety of educational, civic, and nonprofit organizations in an effort to help them do what they do better. UFCU also benefitted from such collaborations. In 2008, Hurricane Ike devastated the Houston-Galveston area of Texas, destroying homes, threatening livelihoods, and leaving UFCU’s Galveston team searching for a base of operations to serve their members. Through the power of relationships long-nurtured by Tony and his executive team, good friends and fellow collaborators at AMOCO Credit Union enabled UFCU to resume operations from an interim trailer parked in front of that credit union’s primary facility along a busy interstate highway.

A commitment to collaborate well and meaningfully was also evident when Tony partnered with former NAFCU and CUNA chairs Tom DeWitt and Brad Green, respectively, and current leaders of the organizations, Lisa Ginter, Gary Grinnell, and Brian Schools to invite the respective CEOs, Boards, and member credit unions of these two fine organizations to come together to create America’s Credit Unions, a superior association positioned to better advocate for credit unions’ interests in years ahead.

“Tony is the best possible kind of leader to work for and with as well as the best possible kind of friend to have.” says D. Michael Harris, former chair and current director, UFCU.

And Tony’s skill for gathering talented and passionate people and galvanizing them to make an impact was also demonstrated in 2019 while serving on the CUNA board of directors, when he chaired a national task force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), which led to the adoption of DEI as the Eighth Cooperative Principle across the United States. Then, in 2022, he traveled to Africa to deliver the keynote to more than 600 African credit union professionals at the 2022 SACCA congress.

The examples of Tony’s good works are too numerous to name here, but they span his credit union career, and we’re confident they won’t end after his retirement in 2023. From the way he championed housing inclusion in partnership with Habitat for Humanity to inspiring the “DO GOOD” program at UFCU, which mobilizes the time and talents of the credit union staff for community service, they are all reflected in the many professional accolades he and UFCU have received during his tenure as President and CEO.

Heather McKissick, one of Tony’s former employees and CEO of CUES, says, ”…for the nine years I’ve been lucky enough to learn from Tony, that’s the only way he has ever positioned it. We are here to be of service – to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

Tony Budet leads with a servant’s heart; he inspires those around him, and we’re proud to present him this year with a Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement.

Visit https://www.ncuf.coop/foundationdinner to learn more about the Herb Wegner Award winners and register to attend the Foundation Dinner.

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