Friday, May 30, 2008

A tribute from the MD/DC Credit Union League


The MD/DC Credit Union League is an organization that supports the several hundred credit unions in the MD and DC region. They hold an annual convention each year in Ocean City. I've been to many of them with Chris and her COMSTAR family.

In 2005 Chris was awarded the Judith A. Burgin Professional of the Year Award. A very prestigious award that she was so deserving of and nominated for by her CEO Lisa. At that convention they would also hold a special awards breakfast for just the marketing awards. There are quite a few categories and each category is broken up by credit union size. That way tiny one's aren't competing with the huge ones. Each year Chris would represent COMSTAR and would win anywhere from 4 to 8 individual awards. Of all the jobs that she had she really enjoyed the marketing the most and it showed.

The 2008 convention is coming up but now the marketing awards are done at a separate luncheon in order that more people can attend. Wednesday I attended this year's luncheon with Alex, Lisa (COMSTAR) and Chris's Mom and Dad. At that luncheon the awards were given out as usual but this year the audience was in for a surprise. A new award has been created by the League and they have named the award in Chris's memory. The award is called

The Christine DeWitt Memorial Award for Excellence in Marketing, Best of Show

I was told about this a few weeks back and was very much looking forward to being there to present the award for the 1st time. After arriving MikeBeall (CEO of the League) let me know that he was going to ask me to say a few words. Never a problem for me. After hearing Chris's name and all of her accomplishments, we were introduced. I will have to admit that addressing the audience of Chris's peers was the most difficult thing that I have ever had to do. I was very choked up, but was able to say a few words.

I am so grateful to everyone involved in this award. This is the most thoughtful thing that could have been done to honor Chris. Her name will be on that award for every year from this year on. One day the winner will say "Who is Chris DeWitt"? Once they look it up they'll be just as amazed then as the current winners are now.

Excerpts of the Speech delivered by Michael Beall, CEO, Maryland & District of Columbia Credit Union Association, at the Trailblazer Awards luncheon, Wednesday, June 28, 2008.

“Because this award recognizes significant achievement, it deserves a name
that also represents success and recognizes results. In that spirit, one individual’s name was suggested and it was agreed upon immediately.

The individual whose name will become synonymous with the “Best of Show” special award is … Christine DeWitt.

Many of you had the pleasure of knowing and working with our deceased friend and colleague, Christine DeWitt. Christine was the vice President of Operations of COMSTAR FCU before her untimely passing. I’d like to give you a brief biography of this special person.

Chris settled into her first career job as a credit union teller She progressed to positions of increasing responsibility while raising three children. The last position Chris held was Vice President of Operations of COMSTAR Federal Credit Union. Some of Chris’ accomplishments included: leading her credit union’s operational efforts through two credit union mergers; directing aggressive branch expansion from 2 branches to 7 branches, and more than 10 ATM machines; serving on a number of Board Committees including Asset Liability Management; winning the 2004 CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council’s Diamond Award of Merit for radio advertising, a 2005 award for COMSTAR’s “Rooted in Service” campaign and MDDCCUA’s 2005 Judith A. Burgin Professional of the Year Award.

In July 2004, Chris was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy – while only missing less than 7 days of work. When Chris was too ill to travel to the office, she worked via e-mail and phone – all part of her typical work ethic and commitment to the credit union. Sadly, Chris succumbed to breast cancer and passed away on September 11, 2007.

Chris’ dedication and commitment to excellence exemplifies the qualities of the best. So it is only fitting that the new “Best of Show” award be honored with the name of Christine DeWitt.

The MDDCCUA’s special award will be called the Christine DeWitt Memorial Award for Excellence in Marketing, Best of Show.

And, now, I would like to introduce some of Chris’ family members who have joined the celebration today - Chris’ husband, Charlie DeWitt; her daughter, Alex DeWitt; and her parents, John and Pat Barr. I’d also like to welcome Lisa Whitaker, President/ CEO of COMSTAR FCU. Please join me in a round of applause to celebrate this special recognition of Christine DeWitt.

(It’s at this point that Charlie says a few words…)

And now with great pleasure, I would like to announce that the winner of the first Christine DeWitt Memorial Award for Excellence in Marketing, Best of Show is . . . NIH Federal Credit Union.”

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