LAS VEGAS (7/16/10)--Lech Kaczyñski, the recently deceased president of Poland who was central in helping establish the country’s credit union movement, and Harriet May, the newly named chair of Credit Union National Association (CUNA), were among honorees of the World Council of Credit Unions’ (WOCCU) Distinguished Service Award (DSA). Credit Union Executive Society (CUES), a Madison, Wis.-based professional development organization for credit union executives, also received the award, which is WOCCU’s highest honor. The awards were presented during The 1 Credit Union Conference this week in Las Vegas, which was jointly sponsored by CUNA and WOCCU. Kaczyñski’s relationship with credit unions began in 1989 when he was a direct report to Lech Walesa, the former leader of Poland’s Solidarity movement that helped secure the country’s freedom from Soviet rule. In 1991, WOCCU officials met with members of Solidarity, including Walesa and Kaczyñski, the Ministry of Finance and the Catholic Church to examine the role that credit unions could play in helping Poland’s financial services development. He served as supervisory board president of the Foundation for Polish Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions created by WOCCU at the request of the Solidarity movement. May is president/CEO of GECU of El Paso, Texas. In the 1990s, she helped WOCCU develop and launch IRnet, an international remittance program that helps U.S. workers send money through a network of credit unions. She also initiated the Texas Credit Union League’s formal Texas/Mexico CU Relationship Committee in 1999. CUES, the 2010 institutional honoree, has supported WOCCU’s development and relief initiatives for two decades. In 1990 it pledged $10,000 to support credit union development in Eastern Europe, became an inaugural WOCCU Supporter in 2000 and continues to support WOCCU’s goals and objectives on an annual basis. In 2005, CUES donated $100,000 to help rebuild credit unions in Sri Lanka that were devastated by the tsunami. It also donated $15,000 to WOCCU’s Haiti Relief Efforts. Other awards presented include Credit Union Magazine’s Hero of the Year Award, which was presented to Vic Thate, executive vice president of FAA CU, Oklahoma City, Okla. Thate earned the nickname of “godfather” of Oklahoma’s Credit Unions for Kids program. WOCCU also presented three Ambassador Awards, which given for outstanding service either to the global trade association or the global credit union movement. Recipients included Mark Sievewright, senior vice president of Fiserv; Sue Albrecht, vice president of CUNA Mutual Group; and Sue Mitchell, CEO of Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates. Also honored were 57 participants from 15 countries in the WOCCU Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) program. Of the honorees, the five received scholarships: Scott Daukas, Carol Karugu, Melia Keller, Orla O’Shea, and Christie-Anne Scott. Each recipient will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the WYCUP 2011 program and WOCCU’s World Credit Union Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, next July. In a special presentation, WOCCU also recognized the following donors to WOCCU’s Haiti Relief Fund: the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions; CUNA; CUNA Mutual Group; the Irish League of Credit Unions Foundation; Melrose CU, Briarwood, N.Y.; Municipal CU, New York City; the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF); and Schools First FCU, Santa Ana, Calif. Members of NCUF’s Development Educator program who had earned their International Credit Union Development Educator designation were also recognized during the ceremony. Recipients included: Carlos Calderone, Jaime Chase, Mike Delker, Ken Halkett, Nancy Johns, Bill Myers, Michael Ray, Helen Godfrey Smith, Joe Thomas, Joanne Todd, Donald Urquhart, Linda Webb-Manon and Debbie Wege.