A Recap of the 2019 Star Gala with the Event’s Coordinator, Diana Adell
This past September, the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation hosted the 12th Annual Star Gala at the Vehicle Vault in Parker, Colorado. Each year, this event allows us to recognize some of our industries finest while raising money for programs that support the long-term success of Credit Unions within their communities.
Money raised from the Gala funds Foundation programs that provide scholarships for numerous leadership, professional development and academic opportunities; financial services, development and public financial education grants; and other programs supporting credit unions in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming.
We sat down with Diana Adell, who has served as the Director of Events for the Mountain West Credit Union Association for the past 23 years, to talk about this year’s Gala. In addition to producing the Association’s two biggest yearly fundraisers – the Foundation’s Annual Golf Tournament and the Star Gala – Diana manages the MWCUA Leadership Institute in all three states, assists with the management and recruitment for the Chief Executive Institute and the Executive Leadership Program, and helps with several young professional events.
This is our conversation.
Q: This year’s venue was very unique! What did everyone who attended this year’s Gala think about The Vehicle Vault?
Diana: The venue was stunning. The Vehicle Vault is so much more than a place to host an event. It’s a car museum with gorgeous cars from every decade. For this year’s Gala, we set up a photo booth right in front of a 1900’s limo style Mercedes, which was so much fun. And the Gala itself was in a giant room with the museum’s permanent collection of cars all around the parameter and the tables and stage in the center of the room. This allowed guests to meander around the room, looking at the cars while visiting with one another and enjoying a cocktail. It was really phenomenal.
Q: Two other things that were unique about this year’s Gala was the emcee, Denny Corby, who is also a magician and entertainer, and the dessert presentation after the awards ceremony. Can you tell us a bit about Denny and the desert scape?
Diana: Denny Corby did an amazing job. You know, right after the Gala he was a guest on Penn and Teller where he performed the same trick that he opened with at the Gala! Gala guests, and anyone who wasn’t able to attend, can watch it on YouTube.
But the last trick he did was an especially big hit. Denny took out a $100 bill and asked Todd Pearson, our Foundation Chairman, to sign it before doing a whole bunch of fun things with the bill. Because Todd had signed it, we knew that it was the same bill. Finally, Denny cut into an orange and pulled the bill – still signed by Todd – out of the center of the orange. It blew everyone away.
Speaking of Todd, before the event, I talked with Denny about doing something fun with Todd this year. Denny had the idea to have a few pairs of socks printed with Todd’s face on them. Todd loves crazy socks, so this was perfect! A few of Todd’s friends wore the socks, including Denny.
After the awards presentation, Biscuits and Berries conducted a live pastry show that was spectacular – and delicious! Their pastry chefs used a variety of pastries, dessert sauces, candies, and other confections to create an edible work of art. Guests could walk up to the dessert table and watch them create the dessert scape.
We also ran live video of the entire event that was projected onto a large screen. So, guests could watch the pastry chefs work no matter where they were in the room.
Q: Tell me a bit about the awards presentation and this year’s Star Gala award recipients.
Diana: This year’s award recipients reminded me once again about why I love this industry. Every single one of our winners was incredibly gracious and they all wanted to celebrate their team. With each award, they brought every team member present to the stage so that they could accept the award together, as a team. They emphasized the fact that their accomplishments are a result of teamwork, not individual feats.
I really feel that this attitude is a testament to Credit Union leaders. It showcases the dedication that credit union professionals have for working together in the service of others.
Q: I know that putting together the Gala is a big project that takes months of work and effort from many people.
Diana: Every single year, I’m blown away by the group of people I get to work with to prepare for and facilitate the Star Gala. Every single person and vendor involved is professional, competent, and just so great to work with. This year’s AV people did an amazing job with the sound and lighting. It was wonderful having the event projected onto a screen so that everyone could see what was happening on stage more clearly.
Our designer knocked our socks off with the table decorations. HomeSlice is a local band that has performed at several Gala’s, including this year, because they are so talented, professional, and entertaining. The music, the food, the decorations, the audio and visual touches, the venue and the entertainment – it was quite possibly the best Gala yet!
“Last night was my favorite Gala yet. I don’t know if it was Denny, the socks, or the cars, but we really enjoyed it.” – Todd Skougor
Congratulations to our 2019 award recipients!
These award winners capture the true spirit of the credit union philosophy of people helping people. By pausing each year to recognize the outstanding efforts of those in the credit union movement, we are reminded of the importance of our founding principles and it reinvigorates our passion. The honorees make a difference in their communities, and in the lives of their members, every single day. It’s why we do what we do.
The Emerging Leader Award: Christine Eckhardt of Arapaho Credit Union
The 2019 Outstanding Young Professionals
The Credit Union of the Year Award: Pima Federal Credit Union
The Distinguished Leader Award: Mike Litzau of Sooper Credit Union
The Community Impact Award Runner-Up: Colorado Credit Union for their Commitment to Conquering Hunger in Their Community
Stay tuned for a feature piece on Colorado Credit Unions Commitment to Conquer Hunger in Their Community!
The Community Impact Award: Community Choice Credit Union for Project Hope
Stay tuned for a feature piece on Community Choice Credit Union’s Project Hope!