TORONTO, April 27, 2023 – At the 2023 Central 1 Member Forum & AGM, community leaders Thelma Rodriguez Cantu and Miriam Wohl were awarded the 2023 Gary Gillam Award, presented in partnership by Alterna Savings and Central 1. 

Miriam (left) and Thelma (right)

“The Gary Gillam award honours those individuals advocating for social responsibility within the credit union system,” said Sheila Vokey, Central 1 President & CEO. “Congratulations to these impressive individuals whose enduring community leadership demonstrate co-operative values and social impact, key tenets of the credit union proposition.”  

Thelma Rodriguez Cantu is a Senior Member Services Representative at Community Savings Credit Union in Vancouver. She spends countless hours providing support to immigrant farm workers in Canada, including transportation to work, workwear and nutritious food. Not only has Ms. Rodriguez Cantu personally delivered toiletries, blankets, food and bicycles for transportation, she has also built a community of supporters raising funds and providing volunteers to the cause. 

Miriam Wohl is a Promotions Coordinator at the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto, a group of non-profit housing co-operatives, where her advocacy efforts have benefited countless families. Miriam led the creation and development of the Cost Cutters program, a group buying initiative which provides cost savings on a wide range of products and services used by co-ops and their members. Miriam also advocates for the Cooperative Housing Investment Pool, a collective banking strategy designed to strengthen the financial resilience of the affordable housing sector. 

“Congratulations to both Thelma and Miriam for the extraordinary contributions they have made to their communities, and to the cooperative movement,” said Rob Paterson, President and CEO of Alterna Savings. “We are proud to recognize their longstanding leadership and stand with them in promoting and advocating social sustainability and responsibility in the credit union and cooperative space.”  

Jointly sponsored by Alterna Savings and Central 1, the Gary Gillam Award for exemplary leadership in social and environmental sustainability is presented annually to individuals who advocate for social responsibility within the credit union system. Alterna Savings and Central 1 contributed a total of $5,000 to be donated on behalf of the honorees to their charities of choice.  

About the Gary Gillam Award
The Gary Gillam Award was established to honour the memory and work of Gary H. Gillam.  

Gary was the Director, Legal, Governmental Affairs and Administration, at Credit Union Central of Ontario (CUCO; now Central 1) from 1982 to 1988. In 1988,  

Gary became CEO of Unicoll Credit Union (now Alterna Savings), where he worked until illness forced his resignation in 1993.  

Gary was one of the leading advocates for social responsibility in the credit union system, long before it became popular within organizations. He vigorously promoted the concept of social investment, calling on credit unions and their centrals to use social as well as financial criteria for their investment portfolios. He supported the development of community loan funds to provide assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. At CUCO and his own credit union, he initiated social audits to measure the social performance of the organization, as a complementary process to the financial audit. 

The Gary Gillam Award was established in 1996 and is awarded annually. 

About Alterna Savings 
Alterna Savings and Credit Union Limited (Alterna) has been the good in banking® for over 110 years. Alterna is made up of Alterna Savings and Credit Union Limited and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Alterna Bank.  

As the first full-service, member-owned cooperative financial institution outside Quebec, Alterna Savings shares its expertise with 217,000 members through a network of 46 branches across Ontario, as well as call centre and digital channels. Members and customers also benefit from an industry-leading online brokerage, investment management services, and have access to over 43,000 surcharge-free ATMs in North America with THE EXCHANGE Network in Canada and the Allpoint Network in the US. 

About Central 1 
Central 1 cooperatively empowers credit unions and other financial institutions who deliver banking choice to Canadians. With assets of $11.9 billion as of December 31, 2022, Central 1 provides critical services at scale to enable a thriving credit union system. We do this by collaborating with our clients, developing strategies, products, and services to support the financial well-being of their more than 5 million diverse customers in communities across Canada. For more information, visit 


Media Contacts 

LeeAnn Acton, Director of Communications
Alterna Savings | Alterna Bank

Tricia Weagant, Vice President, Communications and Marketing
Central 1


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