Irene Himmelberger.

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One of the first questions asked of German-born Irene Himmelberger when she applied for a job with the Department of Public Welfare Credit Union (DPWCU) in 1969 was, "Could she speak enough English to be understood?"

The DPWCU evolved into Beehive Credit Union where today, as president and CEO, Himmelberger is certainly heard -- and understood. She is a determined advocate for the rights of all Utah citizens to choose their banking institution, and is an admired spokesperson for the slow tide of women rising to executive ranks in Utah.

Himmelberger believes Utah's financial future has been threatened by events of the past 15 years. "Citizens of Utah were negatively impacted with passage in the 1998-99 legislature of SB Bill 237 restricting Utah's credit unions," she says.

Because of SB 237, credit unions can now only serve the citizenry (excluding special member business groups) of the county where they had a physical presence before 1983. "The people in 16 counties in Utah are being punished because they don't have credit unions," says Himmelberger. "This is wrong and the bill should be reversed, or the citizens of Utah should demand a new law. I've been in this business for 31 years and I'm about to become very...

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