MADISON, Wis. (10/24/14)--For his ground-breaking leadership, innovating contributions, personal commitment and unfaltering dedication to the advancement of credit unions, Mike Mercer, president/CEO of the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA), has been named by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) as the recipient of a 2015 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Mercer will receive the award alongside three other honorees at a special dinner hosted by the NCUF March 9 during the Credit Union National Association's 2015 Governmental Affairs Conference.
"Anyone who knows Mike knows he's an innovator and status quo challenger who has always pushed leaders to rethink old habits and consider new ways of doing things," said John Gregoire, chair of the NCUF Wegner Awards selection committee and president of The ProCon Group. "From his role at the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, time as CUNA chairman, his work with the Polish credit union system and more, Mike always has displayed tremendous insight and innovation."
Among his accomplishments in serving members in the state of Georgia, Mercer was the creator of the Helping People Afford Life outreach campaign that positions members to make good decisions and to thrive financially.
It's also a program that played a part in helping Georgia credit unions save members more than $130 million last year.
"Throughout his career, Mike has preached the power of financial cooperatives, and their ability to empower individuals with the knowledge to succeed," said Doug Fecher, president/CEO, Wright Patt CU, Beaver Creek, Ohio, with $2.8 billion in assets. "He has directly impacted countless individuals across his state, nation and around the world."
No place internationally has felt the effects of Mercer's hard work more than Poland, where Mercer played a key role in creating and implementing a partnership between Georgia and the European country.
The partnership has allowed Polish citizens to improve their financial lives through credit union membership, with more than 62 credit unions now serving more than 1.8 million members.
In 2007, Mercer was awarded the "Order of the Knights Cross," the highest governmental award given to non-Polish citizens.
Additional highlights in Mercer's career:
- Helping obtain critical support from then-Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, for the Credit Union Membership Access Act in 1998;
- Working his way up at a credit union to second in command in his 20s, up to a leadership role in the corporate credit union network, and finally to president of the Georgia league in 1985;
- Serving on the board of the National Cooperative Bank, where he remains the only credit union professional to ever hold the position of chairman;
- Acting as a mentor for instructional and collaborative training seminars within the GCUA Learning Journey program and the GCUA Idea Institute; and
- Being recognized for his work on behalf of Georgia's credit unions with a Georgia Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.
"Mike's career with credit unions is totally and fully associated with creative an innovative approaches for credit unions to grow and prosper," said Dan Mica, principal of The DMA Group and former president/CEO of CUNA. "To use Mike's own words, his personal vision and creativity make him a 'center of gravity' for all those interested in unique ways to preserve the best of the past and move forward to the cutting edge of the future."