Mike Phipps, President of Evansville Teachers FCU, is the 2011 recipient of the Buck Levins Award. He was recognized on the main stage of the CUNA GAC for his exceptional commitment to political action on behalf of credit unions.
The award was established in 2001 to recognize a league, credit union or individual whose efforts in the political arena have contributed to elevating the political presence of credit unions at the state or national level. A single recipient is selected each year.
Phipps quoted author Edward Everett Hale as he accepted his crystal award in front of thousands of credit union peers, “I am only one, but I am still one; I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
For 12 years, the congressional district that is home to Evansville Teachers FCU was served by one of only a handful of representatives who voted against HR 1151, the Credit Union Membership Access Act. Following the vote, Phipps was active in League and credit union efforts to support opponents. During the 2006 election, he forged an early partnership with Brad Ellsworth who went on to win the election. Phipps’ support of Ellsworth’s campaign included opening his home for fundraisers for Ellsworth’s Congressional and Senate campaigns, including one of the largest dollar congressional campaign fundraisers ever held by a credit union CEO. Evansville Teachers FCU has also been the site of several in-district meetings for incumbent congressmen to meet with credit union constituents. In December 2010, Phipps hosted the first credit union representative meeting with incoming Congressman Larry Buschon, who now represents the district.
Phipps, who is a member of the Indiana Credit Union Hall of Fame, is a longtime member of the League’s Governmental Affairs Committee and his staff is a charter member of the League’s ICUPAC Leadership Circle, which recognizes credit unions whose full management teams contribute to the state PAC.
“Mike’s comments in accepting the award are an inspiration to other credit union CEOs to be politically active,” said League President John McKenzie. “His efforts with Congressman Brad Ellsworth before and Congressman Larry Buschon now, provide a tremendous example of political involvement to further credit union interests. His involvement, along with that of his board and leadership team, has also been instrumental in helping provide visibility to key credit union issues. This national recognition is well deserved.”
The award is named for Buck Levins who was CUNA chairman during the push to pass HR 1151. In its eleven-year history, the award has been presented to two representatives from Indiana. Former League VP Governmental Affairs Millie Cox received the award in 2004.