WASHINGTON – C. Alan Peppers, former president and CEO of Denver-based Westerra Credit Union, was the recipient of a 2016 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement from the National Credit Union Foundation.
The Foundation said Peppers was recognized for his "remarkable accomplishments as a leader in the credit union movement, his tireless advocacy for the movement and its issues, and his vigorous charitable efforts."
Peppers served in a number of key leadership roles during a credit union career that spanned more than four decades. He was president and CEO of Westerra CU for 22 years, leading the credit union through a period of rapid growth – quadrupling membership and growing assets from $165 million to more than $1.3 billion.
Peppers' success has been attributed to his members-first mentality, consistently striving to provide service that puts the convenience, peace of mind and satisfaction of members before all else. Under his leadership, Westerra was transformed into a full-service credit union and continually improved its offering to members by introducing innovative new features, such as cash services and electronic mobile banking. Peppers also ensured Westerra was able to meet the needs of Denver's diverse community, expanding its loan program and adding HARP mortgages for first-time home buyers.
Under Peppers, Westerra initiated a comprehensive membership expansion campaign, extending membership eligibility to all residents in the Denver-Metro area. He encouraged growth by implementing a program that rewards current members for referring new members. By facilitating key mergers with four other credit unions between 2005 and 2009, Peppers further expanded Westerra's reach and greatly improved the quality of products, services and convenience it was able to offer.
"I had the opportunity to work with C. Alan Peppers during my tenure at CUNA, and he was always viewed as a visionary leader," John Gregoire, chair of the Foundation's Wegner Awards Selection Committee and president of The ProCon Group, said in a statement. "Alan is someone who always took the responsibility of providing for his community seriously. Also, he has given a lot of himself to the credit union movement and been a very successful mentor to many."
'United We Stand'
A firm believer in the value of cooperative principles, Peppers has belonged to and supported a number of credit union associations. He has served as chairman of both CUNA Mutual Group and the National Credit Union Foundation, and been a member of numerous CUNA task forces and committees.
When he was chairman of the Colorado CU League, Peppers achieved 100% affiliation for the first time in its history by demonstrating the importance of cooperation between fellow credit unions. In addition, he also drafted "United We Stand," a comprehensive statement-of-purpose outlining the mission and ideals that credit unions strive for. This document, which drew support from credit unions throughout the state, included standards of leadership for credit union volunteers, staff and members, creating a unified model for credit union action.
Peppers played an instrumental role in the formation and implementation of several cooperative initiatives for Colorado's credit unions, including CU Link, a credit union-owned ATM network that freed credit unions from bank-owned ATM systems. He also led the creation of Credit Union Service Centers, a chain of shared facilities for credit union members throughout Colorado.
Throughout his professional life, Peppers has fought tirelessly to build awareness for credit unions and advocate for their issues. He regularly facilitates fundraisers for candidates who support the credit union movement, including leading the World Council of Credit Union's People-to-People program, hosting annual receptions at various embassies in support of international credit union development.
When legislation was introduced last year to tax credit unions, Peppers mobilized a campaign for credit union members to contact their representatives in opposition to the proposal and wrote a well-received article in The Denver Post to raise awareness of the taxation threat. He also supported The Credit Union Campaign for Consumer Choice and Operation Grassroots and is an active leader in CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference's Hill Hikes.
Peppers also champions the credit union movement through financial education. At Westerra, Peppers directed staff members to visit schools and host engaging presentations on important topics such as savings, budgeting, credit and identity theft, and also offered financial literacy resources to schools for free. He established college scholarship programs at the Colorado CU League and Westerra CU, and created a college internship program to help students gain experience in the credit union industry.
Peppers has led and participated in a number of key fundraising efforts for schools and non-profit organizations. He serves in several community organizations, including the Aurora Chamber of Commerce, Colorado Concern, the Daniels Foundation, the Denver Teachers Club and countless others. He also volunteers his time and money for charitable causes including Children's Hospital and Center for Women's Health Research.
"Alan's leadership comes from a place of real caring and his heart is rooted in service," said Scott Earl, president and CEO of the Mountain West Credit Union Association. "He has made a lasting impact on our entire credit union community – and the people we serve."