MADISON, Wis. (9/14/09)--Retired CUNA Mutual Group President/CEO Dick Heins will be the 22nd Wegner Award honoree for Lifetime Achievement, bestowed by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). The lasting impressions of Heins are those of being an innovative thinker, independent leader, tenacious motivator, life-long learner and model credit union movement executive, NCUF said. Heins’ award will be one of four awards presented at the 22nd Annual Wegner Awards Dinner hosted by the NCUF on Feb. 22. The dinner will take place on the Monday night of the Credit Union National Association’s 2010 Governmental Affairs Conference. Online registration will be available later this year on NCUF’s website. “Throughout his life, when teaching his students and challenging the credit union community, Dick Heins has pushed us all to see beyond what is there and explore new possibilities,” said NCUF Awards and Recognition Committee Chairman Bob Schumacher. “Dick is one of those unassuming gentleman who believes in ideas, then pushes himself and those around him to make the world a better place.” Among Heins’ achievements at CUNA Mutual:
* Conceived and developed a program so credit unions could write loans for families paying as little as 5% down. Heins’ risk management tool guaranteed lenders the other 15% in case of default. Today, Heins’ invention is known as Private Mortgage Insurance or PMI. * Led the development of a brokerage of insurance products for CUNA Mutual and CUNA Mutual Insurance Society (CUMIS) that broadened the offerings of CUNA Mutual Group and increased collateral protections for credit unions and their members. * Participated in the design and implementation of the original CUMIS Bond to replace the bond program of Employers Mutual. The CUMIS Bond became the fidelity bond coverage for nearly 100% of U.S. credit unions. * Led the development of CUNA Mutual Group’s expansion in delivery of direct response marketed products to credit union members. These products include life insurance, property and casualty insurance, and investment opportunities through joint ventures with large national providers including Capital Holding Group, Colonial Penn, and T. Rowe Price. * Initiated a marketplace internship program to give CUNA Mutual management employees experience working at credit unions.
Heins recognized that as a cooperative insurance provider for credit unions and their members, CUNA Mutual must be actively involved in dealing with challenges and opportunities facing the credit union movement. Practicing cooperative principles including concern for community and member education, Heins helped change credit union history, NCUF said. Some examples include:
* Preserving the independent regulator--When legislative proposals threatened credit unions’ independent regulator, Heins provided financial support that made possible the Operation Grassroots Campaign. Organized by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and 50 state credit union leagues, the year-long campaign culminated in more than 15,000 credit union supporters rallying in front of the U.S. Capitol to support preservation of an independent National Credit Union Administration. Had Operation Grassroots not succeeded, losing the independent regulator would likely have led to a merger of the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund into the now-defunct Savings Association Insurance Fund. * Advancing philanthropy--Heins recognized the need for the U.S. credit union movement to benefit from a philanthropic entity. He was instrumental in creating the National Credit Union Foundation. * Promoting education--Heins also recognized the importance of two educational initiatives that still exist today. He was a strong supporter of NCUF’s Credit Union Development Education program as well as the National Youth Involvement Board. He promoted these two programs because he believed in educating future leaders on credit union philosophy and pooling credit unions’ resources to improve financial literacy of our nation’s youth. * Providing thought leadership--Filene Research Institute’s i3 Group was inspired by a casual comment Heins made, according to Filene Executive Director Mark Meyer. Heins continues to serve on Filene’s Administrative Board as director emeritus. * Strengthening unity--Under Heins’ leadership, CUNA Mutual Group “forged a lasting partnership with the state credit union leagues around the country that continues to reap benefits for credit unions and their members today,” said Susan Newton, executive director of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. Heins was first to appoint a league research and advisory committee to build and maintain relationships between CUNA Mutual and the leagues. Twice a year, the committee held strategic discussions on credit union issues, which Heins used as a sounding board for new ideas and initiatives. * Rebuilding credit unions--After decades of Communist suppression of the credit union movement in Poland, Heins was involved in supporting the redevelopment of Polish credit unions. He personally donated $40,000 to the Polish credit union community, and worked directly with President Lech Walesa and the new Solidarity-led coalition government to establish a sound framework for Polish credit unions to thrive again.
Heins personally endowed the University of Wisconsin’s Richard Heins Chair of Risk Management and the Eugene Farley League Leadership Award, which is presented annually during CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference. This year, Heins contributed another $50,000 to keep the Farley Awards program alive for another 20 years, NCUF said.