Ascentra receives corporate philanthropy award

Ascentra Credit Union and its foundation have received the Outstanding Corporation/Corporate Foundation Philanthropy Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Quad Cities Chapter.

Ascentra said in a new release Monday that the Quad Cities-based credit union and the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation were presented the award during a Dec. 13 meeting at Ascentra’s home office in Bettendorf.

Ascentra was nominated by the Quad Cities Community Foundation (QCCF) for “its contributions to the Quad Cities and beyond in its day-to-day business, in its corporate giving, and in its philanthropic efforts through the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation,” according to the nomination summary.

“In total the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation has granted over $500,000 since it was created in 2013,” said Kelly Thompson, QCCF’s vice president of grantmaking and community initiatives. “Beyond all the numbers, the leaders of Ascentra have the biggest hearts we know. They seek the best grantmaking opportunities every year, thoughtfully and with deep respect for nonprofit organizations and community.”

Paul Lensmeyer

The AFP Outstanding Corporate Philanthropy Award honors a corporation or its corporate foundation which demonstrates outstanding commitment through financial support and through encouragement and motivation of others to take leadership roles toward philanthropy and community involvement. The company had been led by Paul Lensmeyer, president and CEO from 1993 to 2013, and Dale Owen, president and CEO from 2013 to 2020.

“It doesn’t go unnoticed the impact that both Paul and Dale have made on our organization and on all of us as we carry on today,” Linda Andry, Ascentra’s current president and CEO, said in a message to Ascentra staff. “I am very blessed to have been mentored by both of these fine men and will strive to honor their legacy in all that we do here at Ascentra and within the work of our foundation. Congratulations to all! This award is for everyone at Ascentra!”

Dale Owen

“The culture at Ascentra is unlike any other I’ve experienced,” added Jennifer Naeve, the credit union’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “Paul and Dale’s leadership as presidents and CEOs of this credit union changed our way of doing business and established an environment that encourages and enables our staff to live a “listening, caring, doing what’s right” and “be the light” belief and mindset at work, in our communities, and at home. They definitely left behind a legacy that will continue to have an impact for many years to come and has inspired me and others to someday leave a legacy of our own.”

The Quad Cities Community Foundation is the administrative partner for the Ascentra foundation, which was founded in 2013 following the unexpected passing of Mr. Lensmeyer. “Paul was a charismatic leader, a friend to many, and an astute businessman who spent his life giving to others,” Ascentra’s release said. “He was the heart of the credit union for 20 years and created a culture dedicated to giving back and community service. The foundation was started to continue the service and generosity Paul taught and lived.”

His successor, Mr. Owen, died in November 2020 and was a driving force in creating the Downtown Bettendorf Organization (DB0) and a downtown where all can thrive. He served as DBO’s vice chair. A new pocket park, led by DBO, has been built near Scuba Adventures and named Be the Light Park in Mr. Owen’s memory.  

The foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life for the members of Ascentra Credit Union and further the philanthropic outreach in the communities they serve, the organization said. Its focus is on funding work to enhance youth development, expanding credit education opportunities, fostering community development, supporting cultural activities, and investing in ways to enhance the financial viability of the underserved.

“‘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,” Ascentra said. “He instilled these beliefs into the Ascentra organization, which has made a difference in the lives of its members, staff, and the communities it serves.”

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