2020 Awards of Excellence-Michael Sullivan



Michael Sullivan's Nomination Letter reads:

"On June 1, 1967, Michael (Mike) Sullivan became one of 20 founding members of the University of Massachusetts Employees Federal Credit Union, which evolved over time to be UMassFive College FCU, the 3rd largest credit union in Western Mass.

Mike served on the Loan Committee from the time of chartering until 1972 when he became a Selectman for the Town of Amherst, MA. For 10 years, Mike was 'just' a member, but in 1982, he was nominated for and voted in as a Director of the Credit Union. Over time, Mike became the Treasurer, Vice Chair, and Chair. Mike continues to serve as a Director 39 years later.

However, that’s not the whole story.

Mike served as Board Chair (originally called 'President') from 1986-1993. Those were instrumental years not just for UMassFive, but for all Massachusetts credit unions. In 1986, there were two credit union leagues in Massachusetts – Mass CUNA and the Credit Union League of MA. Mike served as a Director on the Julius Stone Chapter of Mass CUNA from 1986-1998, its Vice Chair from 1990-1994, and Chair from 1994-1998. While Chair of the Chapter, Mike served as Director and Chair of Mass CUNA.

As Chair of Mass CUNA, Mike was instrumental in the merger of the two state leagues into what eventually became the CCUA. In fact, Mike was the last reigning volunteer Chair of Mass CUNA. After hearing from Mass State Senator, John Olver, it was Mike who began the conversation about a merger with the Credit Union League of MA. Mike likes to tell the story of his initial conversation with Senator Olver (a former colleague at UMass) about a merger. Senator Olver called Mike and complained about having these two different credit union leagues 'bugging him about the same issues.' He asked Mike to look into a merger, and the rest is history, though Mike recalls that the merger was very contentious.

Mike was also active at the national level. In 1992, Mike was elected to the CUNA National Board and served until 1998. He was the Northeast representative, covering 5 New England States (MA, RI, NH, VT, and ME), and sat on the NCUA Advisory Board.  During his 6 years at CUNA, he fought for several key field of membership issues along with regulatory reform. In fact, as an outspoken national director, he called out the American Bankers Association in a lead story in Bankers & Tradesmen. (Interesting aside: Mike got into a bit of trouble with his employer because the title of the B&T article was University Controller takes on Bankers!)

While serving at the national level, Mike again got a call from John Olver, who had ascended to the U.S House of Representatives. This time, Congressman Olver told Mike that he is now 'getting bugged' by two national credit union organizations, and asked Mike to look into merging CUNA and NAFCU. Alas, Mike was not up to that task, however, so far, neither has anyone else been.

Today, Mike has settled into retirement from the University but kept his UMassFive directorship. He also serves as Vice Chair of the credit union’s Credit Risk Management Committee, the current version of the Loan Committee on which he served 53 years ago. His leadership is evident and his sage advice appreciated by his fellow Board members and management, alike. Mike had planned on retiring from the Board 3 years ago, but with the pending retirement of the CEO (42-year employee Kathy Hutchinson), decided to re-up for another term in order to see to an orderly transition of executive management.

Mike has recently announced his intentions to truly retire from the Board when his term expires in March, 2021. His wisdom and leadership will be sorely missed, but he has certainly earned his place in the collective history of our industry."