WCLA Credit Union Announces the Retirement of CEO Brian Bahs: President Charles Thompson to succeed

WCLA CU, based out of Olympia, Washington, announced that CEO Brian Bahs retired on December 31st, 2023. Bahs served WCLA CU as President and CEO since 2004. Brian worked the length of his career in financial services, beginning with a tenure at Farm Credit Services of America, before occupying various roles at banks and credit unions in the Puget Sound area. Following his time with Farm Credit, Brian and his wife Deborah spent two years sailing their boat along the Pacific Seaboard, exploring everywhere from Sitka, AK to the Sea of Cortez, before anchoring in Olympia and calling it home.

During his tenure as CEO, Bahs grew the credit union from $8 million in total assets to over $120 million, providing needed financing for logging equipment in the PNW’s vital timber industry, working with companies primarily in Washington, but also Oregon, Idaho, and even Montana.

“We are incredibly grateful for Brian’s leadership and guidance over the years. His commitment to the credit union’s membership, knowledge of the industry, and sheer will of purpose over 20 years as CEO have provided a great service to our industry and grown the credit union into the success story it is today. WCLA CU has helped facilitate the growth and success of many local businesses, which is a legacy to be proud of and one we are committed to upholding. We are especially pleased that he was able to find and mentor an excellent successor and are excited for our next phase with Charles,” says Greg Horsley, Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Thompson has been acting in a transitional role since late 2021, serving as Executive Vice President and then President. Thompson’s career in financial services began as an active-duty US Marine, also completing an undergraduate degree in business through the University of Maryland during that time. He then transitioned to the civilian sector and worked in heavy equipment financing at Komatsu Financial, completing graduate degrees at Northern Illinois University and the University of Chicago. Charles then moved to the PNW and first encountered WCLA Credit Union working as a financial examiner for the WA State Dept. of Financial Institutions, Division of Credit Unions, before working at BECU.

“When I first learned of this opportunity, I was floored. I held Brian and WCLA CU in very high esteem, and my career aspirations were to put my experience and vision to use in leading a credit union that embodied the credit union mission, which I found. I’m very grateful for the time working with Brian during this transition, and to everyone who has played a role in preparing me for this opportunity. Working in this industry, with this community, is greatly rewarding and we’re very excited for the future here at WCLA CU,” says Charles.

Posted in Regional Member News, Washington.