WASHINGTON — The African-American Credit Union Hall of Fame introduced its charter class of four members Tuesday.

The African-American CU Coalition honored the inaugural group during a reception at the Renaissance Hotel, here. The honorees are: William "Bill" Bynum, CEO of Hope FCU, Jackson, Miss., Michael Hale, EVP and chief strategy officer for Arizona FCU, Phoenix, Clarence Hall, Jr., CEO of Issaquena County FCU, Mayersville, Miss., and, Sheilah Montgomery, retired CEO of Credit Union of Atlanta and the person credited with being the founder/visionary of the African-American Credit Union Coalition.

Organizers of the new AACU Hall of Fame said it ties in with the history exhibit that has been displayed in America's Credit Union Museum titled, "African-Americans in Credit Unions…the First 100 Years."

"The African-American Credit Union Hall of Fame Website is the vision of founding AACUC board member Helen Godfrey Smith," said Lynette Smith, chairwoman of the AACUC, in a statement. "The men and women represented in this Hall of Fame have provided expertise in leadership, governance, strategic thinking, bridge building and finance, among other attributes. The AACUC would not be the organization it is today without the influence of the Hall of Famers — we stand on the shoulders of giants."

Godfrey Smith, now funding development chairwoman for the AACUC, said the project is "way overdue."

"African-Americans have made contributions to the movement that has provided financial options in communities across our country," she said. "This is our effort to call attention to the valuable contributions and to honor the African-American trailblazers for their commitment and sacrifice. We are hopeful that all credit unions will find this an opportunity to identify the trailblazers in their credit unions who have served so faithfully throughout the years."

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