Bettendorf, Iowa – Ascentra Credit Union is honoring former CEO Paul Lensmeyer by establishing the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation, a fund within the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend. Paul Lensmeyer was more than the President & CEO; he was a charismatic leader, a friend to many and an astute businessman who spent his life giving to others. He was the heart of the organization for over 20 years and created a culture dedicated to giving back and community service.
As any great leader does, Lensmeyer had a plan in place for a worst-case scenario. Long ago, he and the Board of Directors had put in place a key person life insurance policy that would protect the credit union in case tragedy struck. As Lensmeyer was preparing for retirement he had already initiated a succession plan and had selected and trained Dale Owen to assume his CEO responsibilities. When Paul passed away unexpectedly, a policy that would normally be used to search for a successor did not need to be used in that fashion.
The board and senior management team were faced with a difficult decision on what to do with the policy proceeds. It did not take long to determine that Ascentra would like to utilize the funds to start the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation continuing the service and generosity Lensmeyer taught and lived. “Listening, caring, doing what’s right” are words that were genuinely spoken by Paul, who lived and breathed this mantra in his professional and personal life. He instilled these beliefs into Ascentra’s organization which has made a difference in the lives of its members, staff, and the communities it serves. Now, through the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation, Ascentra is ensuring his legacy lives on and that these beliefs will have a positive ripple effect for generations to come. “Ascentra, by its nature as a credit union, and even more so under the leadership of Paul, already contributed to the community in many ways,” said Linda Andry, Chief Financial Officer. “But Paul’s legacy was a catalyst for the credit union to partner with the Community Foundation to expand its philanthropic work.”
The credit union established an endowment and a charitable giving fund, and is in the process of working with the Community Foundation to enhance its giving and further their philanthropic outreach in the communities they serve. This collaboration represents the largest corporate partnership with the Community Foundation to date by establishing a $1.75 million endowment to support their corporate philanthropy, and a non-endowed fund of $250,000 for additional grants.
“What better way to not only honor Paul, but to do what is right for our community and our members?” said Dale Owen, President & CEO of Ascentra, who had been in the process of transitioning into his position when Paul passed away.
In honor of Paul, the credit union provided donations in the past year totaling more than $150,000 to several local organizations, including the Pleasant Valley Schools Educational Foundation, the Bettendorf/Quad City Rotary, Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Iowa Credit Union Foundation and the Children’s Miracle Network at the University of Iowa Hospitals. Dale said they approached the Community Foundation to be more strategic about future giving because of the foundation’s strong reputation.
“The Community Foundation has a long track record of doing many great things,” he said. “It is an organization we’ve admired and I’m glad we’re partnering with them.”
Barb Melbourne, JD, vice president of development at CFGRB, said the sentiment is shared. “Ascentra is committed to the community in which we all live and work, and we are humbled to have an opportunity to sit alongside them to shape their mission, and identify ways to be more impactful with their philanthropic dollars,” she said. “They are an incredible example of the ways local businesses can influence and support their community for the greater good.”
It is a move that Paul would have been proud of, Andry said, as Paul also led by example at work and in his personal life. “He encouraged staff to volunteer and give back to their community,” she said. “That was—and is today—the environment in our workplace. Paul wanted staff engaged in giving back to the community. We miss him dearly.”
About the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend:
For the past 50 years, the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend has been dedicated to bettering the communities we serve by connecting people who care with causes that matter. We are the lead foundation for 14 Affiliate Foundations throughout eastern Iowa and western Illinois. They are part of our 17 county service area, which allows our grant and scholarship work to create impact across our region. Learn more about the Community Foundation at CFGRB.org. Follow us on Facebook andLinkedIn.
About Ascentra Credit Union:
Founded in 1950, Ascentra Credit Union, is Iowa’s premier credit union with more than $340 million in assets and 10 branches serving the communities of Bettendorf, Clinton, Davenport, Le Claire, Muscatine, Iowa and Moline, Ill. Learn more about Ascentra Credit Union at ascentra.org. Follow Ascentra on Facebook and on Twitter @ascentra.