Madison, WI – World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU) announced the 2005 Distinguished Service Award (DSA) winners: Gerry Foley, former WOCCU board chairman, and the Roman Catholic Church. Both Foley and the Roman Catholic Church will receive this prestigious award at World Council's World Credit Union Conference in Rome, Italy held July 24-27.
The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor paid to individuals and institutions by the worldwide credit union movement. The award was first established in 1986 to recognize outstanding contributions to international credit union development. To date, WOCCU has presented this award to 43 individuals and 10 organizations.
Foley, a former WOCCU board chairman and Irish League of Credit Unions delegate, was nominated for the DSA because of his extensive work in the international credit union movement. Throughout his career Foley has represented the international credit union systems in 55 countries. He has represented both the Irish and world credit union positions in key meetings at the European Union on Consumer Credit and Banking Directives. Foley also played a vital role in the development of credit union legislation in Ireland, which culminated in the Credit Union Act of 1997, setting precedence for credit union legislation in Europe. As board chairman Foley also worked with governments and regulators on credit union law and governance.
Foley supported ongoing institutional development by playing a leading role in building World Council. Throughout his career Foley has possessed the ability to locate and mobilize credit union resources for WOCCU and its affiliates during times of crisis that enabled the continuation and establishment of strong credit union systems around the world. Two of his major accomplishments while chairing the WOCCU board were his role in the development of the WOCCU Supporter Program and significantly increasing WOCCU membership with project "Opening Up."
World Council also recognizes the Roman Catholic Church with a DSA Award for the role it has played in the development of credit unions in many countries around the world. Many credit unions were initially formed in associated with the Roman Catholic Church and led by Roman Catholic clergy and laity. The church's interest was a natural continuation of its deepening concern with social justice issues evident since the late 19th century. Pope John XXIII wrote and spoke passionately about the plight of the poor, urging support for self-help organizations like credit unions and argued for permissive legislation.
Some credit unions were organized on the basis of parish; however, over time most churches began to acknowledge their common bond. Many of the original credit union pioneers were representatives from the Church. This award pays tribute to the countless Catholic Church pioneers who dedicated their lives to providing affordable financial services where there were none.
Editor's Note: [DSA nominated individuals must have given exemplary service to the international credit union movement and its practice; they may be WOCCU and member organization officers, directors or representatives, international pioneers, long- serving field technicians or persons who have acted on behalf of credit union development. Nominated organizations must have provided financial and technical assistance over an extended period of time to developing international credit union movements and their service infrastructure.]
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.