Beloved and effective leader will leave local credit union in good hands; Board leadership activates succession plan, unanimously appoints Chief Financial Officer as successor
SAN DIEGO, Nov. 7, 2023 – After nearly 17 years of leadership with Mission Federal Credit Union (Mission Fed), President & Chief Executive Officer Debra Schwartz has elected to officially retire March 1, 2024.
Schwartz joined Mission Fed in 2007 as the credit union’s executive vice president. After serving as interim CEO in 2008, she was officially named president and CEO that year and has since grown Mission Fed from $1.8 billion to $6 billion in assets. The credit union’s membership has expanded from 127,000 to more than 300,000 members in the same timeframe.
“My decision to retire did not come lightly, but I believe true leadership is about knowing when it’s time to pass the torch,” said Schwartz. “Success is doing a job you love with people you enjoy, and by any measure, I’ve achieved that. It’s been an honor and privilege to work with our team and the San Diego community – and our shared values at Mission Fed will continue to drive success for our members and the community at large.”
Schwartz added that Mission Fed, “is strong, resilient, safe and supportive of our members – and we will keep the momentum going.”
Under Schwartz’s leadership, Mission Fed has contributed over $1 million annually to the community for several years. While the list of community support is long, Mission Fed’s support during the pandemic was a highlight for Schwartz. Mission Fed focused on supporting employees, as well as San Diegans who were most in need during that time. With the generosity of its members and the San Diego community, and in less than 60 days, Mission Fed raised and donated a total of $680,342 for local nonprofit organizations caring for the most vulnerable community members in 2020. Schwartz coined this endeavor as the proudest moment of her career.
As a not-for-profit company, prioritizing people over profits was something Schwartz often championed. Under her leadership, Mission Fed has been named a Top Workplace in both San Diego and nationwide for several years running. Other honors have included the Forbes Best-in-State Credit Unions list, listed as a top U.S. credit union by Consumer Reports, a five-star rating with Bauer Financial, and honors from the local Better Business Bureau. Last year Mission Fed also became the first San Diego-based credit union to receive the “Juntos Avanzamos” designation, honoring its commitment to serving and empowering Hispanic/Latinx consumers.
The credit union is highly regarded as a local community partner of choice, which Schwartz has modeled throughout her career. Outside of her work, Schwartz volunteered her time and talent to a variety of nonprofit organizations over the years, and currently serves as board chair for Junior Achievement of San Diego County. Previously, she served on the board of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU) from 2012-2021 completing her tenure as Board Chair, as vice chair for the San Diego American Heart Association (AHA) and has served on several executive committees. Schwartz has also been key in fostering partnerships with organizations like Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, Girl Scouts San Diego, San Diego Padres, Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego Humane Society and the San Diego Symphony for Mission Fed.
“Our members are more than customers – and we invest our earnings into serving them and our community,” added Schwartz. “These are among the things I will miss most, but I look forward to watching Mission Fed continue to support the many organizations that make San Diego a great place to live and work.”
The Mission Fed Board of Directors unanimously appointed Chief Financial Officer Doug Wright as Schwartz’s successor, with her full support. Wright will officially take the reins of CEO on March 1, 2024, and the leadership team continues to work in tandem to ensure a smooth transition for both employees and members. Wright has served as CFO since 2016 and brings more than 25 years of experience in commercial and community banking.
“We applaud Debra on her retirement and have immense gratitude for her dedication and service to Mission Fed and to our community,” said Don Shelton, Ph.D, chairman of the board at Mission Fed. “The legacy she is leaving and the culture she has built is unmatched in the industry. We have full confidence that Doug is the right person to lead Mission Fed into this next chapter and we know members, employees and the community will continue to be supported by Mission Fed for generations to come.”
About Mission Fed Credit Union
Mission Federal Credit Union (Mission Fed) is the largest member-owned, not-for-profit, full-service financial institution exclusively serving San Diego County. Mission Fed enhances the lives of its members through financial education and services, providing stability and strength to help San Diegans with financial wellness and success. Banking at Mission Fed means doing good for San Diego. Mission Fed gives money back to our local communities, has helped hundreds of nonprofits and important causes, and builds deep relationships with community partners. Mission Fed has served the financial needs of San Diegans for over 60 years through checking, savings, loans, credit cards, and other financial offerings. Mission Fed has more than $6.0 billion in assets, over 300,000 members, 34 convenient local branches, 30,000 fee-free CO-OP ATMs nationwide and free mobile and online banking services. The credit union is regularly named a Top Workplaces USA winner, and has placed in the top five California credit unions on Forbes’ Best-In-State Credit Unions list. Mission Fed is also the first San Diego-based credit union to receive the “Juntos Avanzamos” designation, honoring its commitment to serving and empowering Hispanic/Latinx consumers. Federally insured by NCUA and Equal Housing Lender.