The Herb Wegner Awards Dinner… More than a dinner, it’s a celebration!

2/6/19 | | Comments (0)


By Susan Mitchell, 2018 Wegner Award Winner for Outstanding Individual Achievement

For as long as I can remember, the Herb Wegner Awards Dinner was a highlight for me when attending the GAC. Sitting in the audience, sometimes in front when I shared the moment with a few colleagues who were recognized and sometimes in the back of the room admiring the impact credit union leaders have on everyday people around the world. I am always glad to be in the room, feeling emotional about what it must mean to receive the award for a lifetime of achievement, but even more impressed by what is accomplished by people who care. Families hugging each other, colleagues thrilled to share the moment and an extraordinary opportunity to give back to the industry we all love.

Then in October of 2017, I received a surprise call from John Gregoire, Chair of the Awards Committee, to congratulate me as one of the recipients of the 2018 Herb Wegner  Outstanding Individual Achievement Award.  I was stunned, then tearful and immediately overwhelmed with gratitude. In my wildest dreams, I never thought about winning an award for my labor of love. To me, this was an honor that goes beyond the award, it reflects the passion and core belief we can make a difference.

Fast forward… to the night of the dinner. I was overwhelmed with pride and scared to death about giving my short acceptance speech in front of my beautiful family, closest friends and the most special collection of colleagues one can imagine. A little frantic until my 5 year old granddaughter was excited to see my picture on posters in the lobby of the hotel and said, “Grandma, you are famous.”  To which my 7 year old grandson replied, “Only in credit unions.”  We all laughed and my fear dissipated. I realized that this isn’t about me, it’s about being given a chance when you grow up poor, having people who believe in you and the journey that gets us to a moment like this, on the ballroom stage.

They announced my name and I walked forward thinking about what my parents encouraged me to do many years ago: stand up for what is right! So I stood up for the future, for diversity, for those who need help.  I stood up against violence, hate and destructive rhetoric. And I stood up with my credit union colleagues who come together once a year to celebrate the work, the impact and our shared love for credit unions.

The Herb Wegner Dinner reignites the passion and the founding principle of what it means for people, to help people. It is not about a lifetime achievement, it is about a renewed challenge for all of us to stand up for the credit union purpose and be there to celebrate when another dear colleague takes the stage…  An unbelievable experience!


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