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First Federal Community Foundation’s inaugural director retires

Karen McCormick is honored at a retirement ceremony at the First Federal branch in east Port Angeles. McCormick started as a teller at the branch in 1977 and later became First Federal CEO and First Federal Community Foundation executive director. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)Karen McCormick is honored at a retirement ceremony at the First Federal branch in east Port Angeles. McCormick started as a teller at the branch in 1977 and later became First Federal CEO and First Federal Community Foundation executive director. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

Karen McCormick, who went from teller to CEO at bank, is honored at reception

PORT ANGELES — Karen McCormick had two cats and $600 to her name when she drove an old truck from the San Francisco Bay Area to Port Angeles in 1977.

McCormick took a job as a teller at First Federal’s eastside branch and embarked on what would become a nationally recognized banking career.

McCormick had become the bank’s CEO by 1997. In 2015, she became the first executive director of the First Federal Community Foundation.

“This is really a full cycle for you,” First Federal Community Foundation Board Chairman Norman J. Tonina told McCormick in a retirement reception at the eastside branch Monday evening.

“You came here on your first day, and we’re sending you off from here.”

McCormick said she was “overwhelmed” by the expressions of thanks and well wishes.

She recalled writing a book on the history of First Federal, the largest locally owned bank on the North Olympic Peninsula, after retiring as the bank’s CEO in 2009.

“During that whole process, I came to see this bank is all about community, and has been since 1923,” McCormick told about 50 attendees.

“Since it first started, it was all about community. And what a wonderful legacy this bank continues to leave.”

McCormick, who turns 65 this year, became the first executive director of the First Federal Community Foundation when First Federal was converted to a public company in 2015.

The foundation is a private 501(c)(3) charitable corporation funded with a gift of cash and stock from First Northwest Bancorp, the parent company of First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Port Angeles.

It provides funding for community support, affordable housing, economic development and community development in communities where First Federal operates a full-service branch.

First Federal, a subsidiary of First Northwest Bancorp, is a Washington-chartered, community-based savings bank headquartered in Port Angeles.

It serves Western Washington through 13 banking centers located within Clallam, Jefferson, King, Kitsap and Whatcom counties.

The First Federal Community Foundation has provided $3.2 million in grants since 2015, officials said. It had $11.2 million in assets heading into 2018, according to an annual report.

“Karen is the person who really laid the groundwork to get to this point,” Tonina said.

“The good news is she sits on the board for at least one more year.”

Steve Oliver, chairman of the First Federal Board of Directors, said his colleague of nearly 40 years has been recognized nationally for her talents.

McCormick served as the chair of the Federal Reserve Board’s Thrift Industry Advisory Council.

“She sat across the table from Alan Greenspan in Washington, D.C., on a regular basis in the late ’90s and into the 2000s,” Oliver said.

In 2003, McCormick was named one of the “25 Most Powerful Women in Banking” by U.S. Banker Magazine.

“We hear a lot about a glass ceiling, and it’s certainly reality,” Oliver said.

“I don’t know what it was made of back in the mid ’90s, but whatever it was, she blasted through it.”

In addition to McCormick’s banking acumen and operational expertise, Oliver and other speakers highlighted McCormick’s philanthropic efforts, humility and “personal touch.”

“Karen has been a role model, not just to me but to many others in the baking industry,” said Dawnya Scarano, First Federal director of retail banking.

“She’s a living legend in our bank.

“She’s been dedicated to not only the bank but to our community, and our foundation, and she’s helped us through times of growth and change,” Scarano added before making a toast to McCormick’s future adventures in her RV.

Scarano recalled the handwritten Christmas cards that she received from McCormick and her two daughters.

“I thought ‘How does she have the time to do that? She’s such a busy woman,’ ” Scarano said. “That’s the personal touch.”

Bruce Skinner, executive director of the Olympic Medical Center Foundation, said First Federal and its foundation have been strong supporters of the local nonprofit community.

“The bank and the foundation don’t get the recognition that I think they deserve because they are significant donors to almost every nonprofit on the North Olympic Peninsula,” Skinner said.

“And I think to a large degree that’s because of Karen.”

First Federal made a major donation to Olympic Medical Center to bring digital mammography to the region about 20 years ago, Skinner said.

More recently, the First Federal foundation made a significant investment in the expansion of OMC’s Sequim Cancer Center, Skinner said.

“When I say First Federal is a leader amongst local companies, they definitely put their money where their mouth is,” Skinner said.

John Moon, executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County, described a housing project in Bellingham that was spearheaded by a First Federal Community Foundation grant.

“We are just so appreciative of your vision and leadership to get this project stated,” Moon told McCormick.

Said First Federal President and CEO Larry Hueth: “Karen is one of the finest human beings I have ever known in my life, and certainly one of the finest people I’ve every worked for and with.”

David Flodstrom, past chairman of the foundation, presented McCormick with a carved topographic map of the Salish Sea.

McCormick said she was inspired by the work of community nonprofits.

“I’ve never heard passion the way you are so committed to what you’re doing, and the passion that you bring to it,” McCormick told the nonprofit officials.

“It’s amazing.”

Jan Simon has succeeded McCormick as executive director of the First Federal Community Foundation.

Simon, who has more than 20 years of experience leading nonprofit organizations, joined the foundation in late April and has been learning from McCormick during a transition.

Simon said she had “big shoes to fill” as McCormick”s successor.

“It’s really an honor to take the helm of this foundation and continue to make a difference in all the communities that we serve,” Simon said.

Simon worked for more than 15 years as president and CEO of the Washington Lodging Association.

More recently, she served as executive director of Seattle’s Center for Spiritual Living.

“This foundation is in really good hands,” McCormick said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Karen McCormick is honored at a retirement ceremony at the First Federal branch in east Port Angeles. Pictured with McCormick is First Federal President and CEO Larry Hueth. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)Karen McCormick is honored at a retirement ceremony at the First Federal branch in east Port Angeles. Pictured with McCormick is First Federal President and CEO Larry Hueth. (Rob Ollikainen/Peninsula Daily News)

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Jan Simon at 360-417-3112 or email jan.simon@firstfedcf.org.

Celebrating Spring 2019 Grant Award Recipient: Scarlet Road

Staff of Scarlet Road, with staff of First Federal Community Foundation and First Federal Bank: Awarded $10,000 Community Support grant to purchase security equipment and make property improvements to enhance safety of clients and staff.  Scarlet Road was born out of the commitment to see a way out for women and children in the sex industry.  Scarlet Road set out to change social perspectives, help the community understand and serve victims of sexual exploitation, providing long-term support for women and children throughout the Kitsap and North Mason area.

Celebrating Spring 2019 Grant Award Recipient: Bainbridge Island Senior Center

Staff and board members of First Federal Community Foundation and First Federal Bank, with staff and board of the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center: Awarded $10,000 Community Support grant for new Resource Navigator program.  The navigator program helps identify the needs of seniors and connect them to resources to address them, including transportation, home repairs, in-home and memory care, affordable housing and support groups.

First Federal Community Foundation Releases 2018 Annual Report

First Federal Community Foundation was funded in January 2015 with a generous gift of stock and cash valued at nearly $12 million from the parent company of First Federal Bank, when the bank was converted to a publicly traded company. With this gift, First Federal Bank made clear its commitment to continue its long tradition of supporting the communities it serves.

In that spirit, First Federal Community Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life in the communities in which First Federal Bank maintains full service branches. We are committed to creating broad impact in our communities through gifts that benefit charitable services, affordable housing, economic development and community development projects.

Since our inception, First Federal Community Foundation has awarded $2,861,500 in grants to nonprofit, government and tribal agencies in Clallam, Jefferson, Kitsap and Whatcom Counties. Of that total amount, $785,000 was invested in our communities during the year 2018.

Click here to view the 2018 Annual Report.

First Federal Community Foundation Recognized with Corporate Citizenship Award

PORT ANGELES, Wash., May 29, 2019 –(BUSINESS WIRE)– First Northwest Bancorp (NASDAQ: FNWB) (“Company”), the holding company of First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Port Angeles (“Bank”), and First Federal Community Foundation are proud to announce that they were recently recognized by the Puget Sound Business Journal as one of the top corporate philanthropists in Washington State. Of the 25 midsize companies that made the Journal’s list, First Federal Bank and Foundation collectively contributed $1.01 million, and was ranked #3.  Together, these 25 midsized companies contributed $12 million to Washington nonprofits.

The combined contributions of the Bank and its Foundation to Washington non-profit organizations was acknowledged at the annual Corporate Citizenship and Healthy Community Champion Awards luncheon hosted by the Puget Sound Business Journal on May 23rd at the Seattle Sheraton.

About the Awards: The Puget Sound Business Journal annually recognizes the top 75 corporate philanthropists and ranks these in the categories of small, medium and large companies.  Puget Sound Business Journal has calculated that the 75 companies on this year’s list had a combined cash giving in Washington State of $168.3 million in 2018.

About the First Federal Community Foundation:  First Federal Community Foundation is a private 501(c)3 charitable corporation funded with a gift of cash and stock from First Northwest Bancorp, the parent company of First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Port Angeles. The Foundation provides funding for community support, affordable housing, economic development and community development in communities where First Federal operates a full-service branch.

About First Federal:  First Federal is a subsidiary of First Northwest Bancorp (FNWB). First Federal is a Washington-chartered, community-based savings bank headquartered in Port Angeles, WA. First Federal is currently serving Western Washington through 12 banking centers; located within Clallam, Jefferson, King, Kitsap and Whatcom counties. Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. www.ourfirstfed.com / (360)417.3204 / (800)800.1577

 

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Jan Simon at 360-417-3112 or email jan.simon@firstfedcf.org.