Get your mentor on

The Mentor Relationship is Valuable for Both the Mentor and the Mentored.

Being a mentor is, of course, largely about giving back. But, it’s also one of the best ways to sharpen your skills and learn new things.

“If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it.”Yogi Bhajan

Acting as a mentor is also one of the most proactive things you can do to advance your own career goals. According to a Sun Microsystems study, mentors are 20% more likely to get a raise and SIX times more likely to get promoted.

Having a mentor helps you develop and advance your career in a way that you just can’t do on your own. Ask most any successful person and they will tell you that they would not have accomplished as much without the guidance and support of at least one mentor along the way.

But, finding a mentor can be challenging.

The Center for Credit Union Leadership can help.

If you are looking for a mentor that can help you build your leadership brand and get to the next level, click here to find out how the Center can help you find the right mentor.

If you are ready to share your skills and experience with emerging leaders who are eager to grow and make an impact, click here to apply to become one of the Center’s mentors.

Mountain West Credit Union Foundation Presents Annual Awards

DENVER, Co. (Oct. 2017) – The Mountain West Credit Union Foundation presented its annual credit union industry awards at the 10th Annual Star Gala held September 22 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver, Colorado. Proceeds from the event support the charitable work of the Foundation.


Each year, the Star Gala is held to honor outstanding credit unions and credit union professionals dedicated to the credit union movement and making a difference in their communities. This year, awards were presented to:


  • Pima Federal Credit Union (AZ) – Community Impact Award, winner
  • Reliant Federal Credit Union (WY) – Community Impact Award, runner-up
  • Vantage West (AZ) – Credit Union Of the Year ($500M and over Asset Category)
  • Angel Phillips, Reliant Federal Credit Union (WY) – Emerging Leader Award
  • Mike Williams, Colorado Credit Union – Distinguished Leader Award


“These award winners truly embody the credit union philosophy,” said Dr. Dan Santangelo, Executive Director of the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation. “Credit unions exist to enhance the lives of their members. The individuals and credit unions receiving these awards truly make a difference in their communities, and in the lives of their members. It’s why we do what we do.”


Money raised from the event goes to fund 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, the states served by the Mountain West Credit Union Association.


The 2018 Star Gala will be held in Phoenix AZ, on Friday, October 26, at the Chateaux Luxe.


About the awards/ winners:

The Pima Federal Credit Union team accepts the Community Impact Award

Pima Federal Credit Union (AZ), Community Impact Award winner. One of the founding principles of the credit union movement is the premise of “people helping people.” The Community Impact award honors a credit union for its commitment and dedication to the community it serves. Pima Federal Credit Union sees their Community Outreach Program

as a natural extension of its vision, mission, and common purpose. This program supports Southern Arizona communities through employee volunteerism, educational support, financial literacy, community giving, fundraising, and sponsorships. In its 6th year, the Community Outreach Program provided more than 2,800 hours of community service, taught financial literacy to over 660 students, and donated nearly $180,000 to organizations that directly benefit Southern Arizona communities. Pima encourages employees to volunteer with organizations that they are passionate about by providing each employee with four paid hours a quarter. Of their 186 employees, 154 (83%) volunteered with 75 different organizations, including a monthly service commitment to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona. Reliant Federal Credit Union (WY) received the runner-up award for its Good Corporate Citizen Campaign to incorporate three of the credit union’s activities – Random Acts of Kindness, Day of Caring, and the Employee Community Involvement policy. Through Random Acts of Kindness, Reliant has provided meals prepared for hospice patients, coloring books for children of modest means, picking up the tab on pizzas at a restaurant, or taking over a local coffee shop. Over the past year, the credit union contributed $18,000 to acts that touched over 5,600 community members.



L to R: Foundation Board Chair Todd Pearson, Vantage West CU President & CEO Robert D. Ramirez, MWCUA President & CEO Scott Earl

Vantage West Credit Union (AZ) – Credit Union of the Year Award (Over $500M Assets). This award recognizes a credit union for innovation and outstanding achievements in the various areas of day-to-day operations, financial prowess, and member service. Vantage West Credit Union has been serving the community for over 70 years. They have an expansive Hispanic initiative which gained the Juntos Avanzamos designation, and has become a leader in serving this market. Vantage West Credit Union joined with local law enforcement to fight skimming at gas pumps. Through their efforts, more than 80 skimming devices were removed with fraud claims declining from 54 a month to 3, preventing over half a million dollars in claims.


Todd Pearson, Angel Phillips, Scott Earl

Angel Phillips, Reliant Federal Credit Union (WY), Emerging Leader Award. The emerging leader award is presented to a credit union employee who demonstrates outstanding contributions to the credit union movement, community service and leadership qualities. Phillips has been a part of the movement for nearly a decade and is a graduate of the Mountain West Credit Union Leadership Institute, a Credit Union Development Educator, and a scholar of the Foundation’s Executive Leadership Program. She has established a financial literacy program for their credit union and local school district. Additionally, she created a service-oriented mentoring program for credit union staff and recently took on a new role as Manager of Member Service.

Todd Pearson, Mike Williams, Scott Earl

Mike Williams, Colorado Credit Union – Distinguished Leader Award. Williams has been dedicated to the credit union movement for 30 years. He is a credit union activist, spending more than 15 years attending the Government Affairs Conference and Hike the Hill initiatives while working to build relationships with state elected officials and communicating credit union issues. Williams has served by providing leadership on numerous Association, CUNA, and CUSO boards. This included being a part of the team that merged the Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming leagues into the Mountain West Credit Union Association.

About the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation

The Mountain West Credit Union Foundation is the charitable organization focused on the long-term success of credit unions in their community.  We accomplish our work through leadership development, professional development scholarships, academic scholarships, affordable financial services grants, credit union development grants and public financial education grants.

More information about the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation can be found at

Patti Hazlett,


Mountain West Credit Union Foundation Seeks Your Support for Hurricane Harvey Victims

The Chairman of Mountain West Credit Union Foundation, Todd Pearson, has authorized a donation to in the amount of $10,000 to assist the credit union victims who have experienced devastating loss caused by Hurricane Harvey.  We here at the Foundation know that the need is very high and hope that you might also consider giving, too. To donate now click here.

Gary Plank Scholars Selected

Meet the 2017 Gary Plank Scholars
Each year the Foundation awards four $5,000 scholarships. Three to credit union young professionals under age 35, and one to a deserving Development Educator to attend the World Council of Credit Union’s meeting.  Scholars are selected based on their overall contribution to their credit unions, their communities, and the credit union movement.  The scholarship was named after Mr. Gary Plank, a former Arizona League President and Chair of the World Council. This year the meeting will be held in Vienna Austria in late July.  Congratulations to the 2017 Gary Plank Scholars


Karen Nadal the Development Educator Scholarship recipient.   Karen, a branch manager at Pyramid Federal Credit Union, has been with the credit union for 15 years.  Karen is a project leader at her credit union and has coordinated a Reality Fair designed to help young students learn about managing personal finance, leading Children’s Miracle Network fundraisers, and spear-heading a “Be Safe Saturday” event designed to promote children’s safety and wellness.  Karen is also a champion of the cooperative business model, always striving to ensure her team knows how credit unions work and how they are different from just another financial institution.   In addition to her work as a credit union professional, Karen is a grandmother, a gardener and cook.

Alex Pinuelas, a credit union young professional, has been with Pyramid Federal Credit Union for more than 4 years.  Alex has progressed in rank and responsibility quickly at the credit union and now holds a key position in indirect lending.  He is a good relationship builder and works hard so that local car dealerships keep Pyramid credit union and their members top of mind.  Alex participates in community fundraisers and volunteers to teach personal finance at the local high school.


Tara Roether, a credit union young professional, has only been with Landings Credit Union for a short time, but she has made a big impression.  Since she started as a graphic designer and a digital marketer, she has increased the credit union’s social media followers by 75%, created new ways to reformat the credit union’s newsletter, and created video aids for sales and promotions.  Tara has coordinated the credit union’s International Credit Union Day activities and was a ‘crasher’ at the 2017 Government Affairs Conference in Washington D.C.   Tara is a local school volunteer and a Credit Union Young Professionals participant.


Tyler Valentine, a credit union young professional, is President/CEO of Laramie Plains Federal Credit Union and is responsible for day-to-day operations, strategic direction, board relations, and senior leadership development.  Tyler serves on several boards including the past chair of the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance, Treasurer of the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation, and committee chair of the Mountain West Credit Union Association’s Young Professionals Committee.  Tyler is also a champion of the cooperative business model and his commitment to the model, is demonstrated by ensuring that young credit union professionals are educated and immersed in the People helping People philosophy. Additionally, he has earned his Development Educator designation from the National Credit Union Foundation.





Colorado Sister Society of Global Women’s Leadership Network hosts Reality Fair

Recently, The Colorado Sister Society of the Global Women’s Leadership Network, a World Council of Credit Unions initiative, held a CU4 Reality Financial Education Program, developed by America’s Credit Union Museum, to provide financial education training to approximately 50 high school students.  These students are from low income families, immigrant households and some have special education needs. Several of these students will be the first in their families to attend college.  The CU4 Reality program turns learning into reality for these students, with classroom instruction followed by a hands-on financial reality fair, where students visit booths making lifestyle choices and developing a monthly spending plan.

The program was made possible with funding through a grant from the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation, as well as funding from Westerra Credit Union.

Student comments included:

  • I learned that reality is more realistic than what it seems. It is a huge eye opener to see how expensive stuff is.
  • I learned that there are way more expenses than I had imagined.
  • It gives me a better understanding of what is a need and a want.
  • It will definitely change the way I spend. I will be spending less and save more.

The program included students from South High School in Denver, Colorado.

Meet the 2017 Brayman-Beach Scholar


We are so pleased to introduce you to Max Martinez, a senior at Widefield High School and this year’s recipient of the Brayman-Beach Scholarship. The Brayman-Beach Scholarship was created to support our local communities through investing in young leaders. Named in honor of two visionary leaders in the credit union movement, Susan J. Brayman and Carroll D. Beach, one $5,000 scholarship is awarded annually to an up-and-coming credit union member who is interested in pursuing a business degree. The scholarship recipient is selected by the Foundation’s Board of Directors based on grades, financial need, community service, professional goals, extracurricular activities and an essay written by the applicant.  Max is a member of Ent Credit Union and will graduate this year with a GPA of 4.4. 

Max is already a highly accomplish sportsman and leader.  He serves as Secretary of his Senior Class at Widefield High School and has served as Vice President of both his Junior and Sophomore Class Council.  Max was nominated for the National Young Leadership Conference, Varsity Runner and Captain for the Cross Country and Track 4 years in a row.  A member of the National Honor Society, Max is also a track champion winning 1st place Regional Title Cross Country 2015, 2016 team and individual awards and nominated for Athlete of the week by KOAA channel 5.  Max also gives back to his community logging 57 community service hours, a volunteer at Harvest of Love delivering food baskets, a volunteer for the Community Parade, and Make a Wish Campaign.  Max plans on attending Colorado State University this fall.   



Congratulations to the 2017 Executive Leadership Scholars

 The Executive Leadership program is a five-year journey during which scholars are taught leadership skills, operational principles, and credit union philosophy while being mentored an experienced executive coach. Applicants are selected using a comprehensive process including application submission, letters of recommendation, leadership skills assessments, and panel interviews. Meet this year’s scholars [READ MORE]

Brayman-Beach Scholarship Applications Being Accepted

The Mountain West Credit Union Foundation is seeking applicants for the 2017 Brayman-Beach Scholarship. One $5,000 scholarship will be awarded to a student who is a member of a Colorado-based credit union seeking a business degree from a four-year accredited institution.

“There is no better way to convey the ‘people helping people’ philosophy and the generous nature of our credit union community than by helping your young members achieve their dream of higher education,” said Dr. Dan Santangelo, Executive Director of the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation.

The deadline for applications is Friday, March 31, 2017 at 1:00pm.

Named in honor of two visionaries of the credit union movement whose contributions have made a lasting mark, this unique scholarship opportunity celebrates their commitment by investing in our youth and in turn, the future of the credit union movement.

More information can be found here, or you can go directly to the application below.

Download the 2017 Application Now

Foundation Releases Full Leadership Study Results

The Mountain West Credit Union Foundation (MWCUF), in collaboration with the Center for Credit Union Leadership, has released the results of its most recent survey. Using strict criteria, data was collected from 20 of the top performing credit union CEOs in the Mountain West region.

Important findings of the study identified nine key leadership attributes and nine leadership traits. “These are tangible experiences, attitudes, behaviors and traits that current and future credit union leaders can emulate and build into their leadership personalities to help foster success,” Dr. Dan Santangelo, Executive Director of the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation, said. “We are constantly looking for ways to help innovate our training in order to provide the best possible outcomes for current and future credit union leaders.”

The nine key leadership attributes presented include: common behaviors; common experiences; top skills; top actions; top personality traits; influencers on beliefs, values and assumptions; top self-development skills; top attributes taught to emerging leaders; and leadership skills sought by boards. The nine key leadership traits are: high level of integrity; keen relationship builder; insightful skills builder; engaged employee developer; committed to goal setting and accomplishment; community-service minded; seeks out other leaders; steadfast creators of a well-communicated vision; and insists on the right skills/people in the right places.

The full study results can be found here and an e-book that outlines practical ways to use the research results is available here. Finally, findings gained from the study will filter into training aspects of the MWCUF’s Center for Credit Union Leadership, which trains upcoming credit union leaders in areas including: exemplifying organizational values, problem solving, empowering others, workplace prioritization, coaching, time management and setting and measuring goals. This comprehensive leadership training program has trained more than 125 new leaders from 44 credit unions in Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming.


2017 Brayman Beach Scholarship

In 2017 the Brayman-Beach Scholarship in the amount of $5,000 will once again be awarded to an undergraduate Colorado credit union member.

The Brayman-Beach College Scholarships is named in honor of two of Colorado’s credit union movement leaders (Susan J. Brayman and Carroll D. Beach).  In order to qualify for the scholarship applicants must:

  • be a U.S. citizen at least 16 years of age
  • member of a Colorado credit union
  • beginning freshmen, sophomore, junior, or senior year at a four-year accredited institution of higher learning conferring bachelor degrees and located in the U.S.
  • all scholarship funds must be used by January 31 of the following year awarded or funds will be forfeited
  • submit a complete application with required documents
  • application must be post-marked, emailed, or faxed by the deadline posted below

The deadline application is March 31, 2017 by 1:00 pm.

Download the 2017 Application Now