CarterBaldwin Completes Two Top Searches for Christian Organizations

March 12, 2020 – CarterBaldwin Executive Search recently placed Vicki VannBerstein as the new chief executive officer of America’s Christian Credit Union (ACCU) and Debra A. Schwinn as the ninth president of Palm Beach Atlantic University. Founding partner Price Harding led both assignments and Chris Hornsby assisted in the Palm Beach Atlantic University search.

Calling” is a word that is often-used in the faith-based world, but when passions and competencies intersect in any industry, a sense of calling develops,” said Mr. Harding. “In the work that we did for both America’s Christian Credit Union and for Palm Beach Atlantic University, our presidential appointments brought secular careers that fully qualified them for these roles, with a deep passion for the mission of our client.”

 Located in Glendora, CA, America’s Christian Credit Union provides financial solutions to individuals and ministries that empower them to reach their financial goals while expanding God’s Kingdom. Every dollar entrusted to the organization gets reinvested to build churches, fund ministry and serve members.

Ms. VannBerstein will succeed retiring CEO Mendell Thompson, who has served for 34 years and been employed at ACCU for 43 years. “I am honored by the selection of Vicki to succeed me as ACCU’s president/CEO,” said Mr. Thompson. “Her strong educational background, wide range of business experience, and her demonstrated leadership skills in the CU industry make her an ideal selection. I’m confident she will advance ACCU’s mission and sustain our financial strength and high standards of member service.”

“Vicki will bring not only her professional expertise and lived faith in Christ to ACCU but as an adoptive parent she already has demonstrated that to whom much is given, much is expected,” said Barbara Dickerson, board vice chair. “She and her late husband provided a forever family to her two wonderful children. She is a living example of one of ACCU’s commitments to providing forever families for children.”

Ms. VannBerstein comes to ACCU from her role as executive vice president and chief financial officer of FirstLight Federal Credit Union in El Paso, TX. Prior to that, she served as EVP and CFO at ServiceLink, the mortgage lending service for Fidelity National. She also directed a financial turnaround at PSCU Financial Services as SVP and CFO, and subsequently as executive vice president for shared services at PSCU. Ms. VannBerstein also has deep experience in the corporate sector having served as controller of Tropicana with responsibility for the U.S. and Latin America.

Christian Liberal Arts University

Palm Beach Atlantic University is a private Christian university in West Palm Beach, FL. The university’s nine colleges focus on the liberal arts with a select collection of professional studies. Founded in 1968, the university grew out of a local Baptist church.

Dr. Schwinn takes over from William M. B. Fleming Jr. who recently retired after an eight-year tenure. “Palm Beach Atlantic University conducted a nationwide search,” said Timothy S. Sotos, chair of the search committee and new chair of the board of trustees. “Dr. Schwinn impressed the search committee and the board with her understanding and appreciation of PBA’s deep Christian commitment, highly regarded academic reputation, and legacy of growth and innovation. She is an exceptional leader with great interpersonal skills. Creative, energetic and a person with a deep and passionate faith, she enjoys music and ballet and plays the violin,” he said.

An accomplished higher education academic leader, innovator, scientist and physician, Dr. Schwinn served as associate vice president for medical affairs, dean of the Carver College of Medicine, and professor of anesthesiology, pharmacology, and biochemistry at the University of Iowa. She also served in senior leadership roles at the University of Washington and Duke University, where she was director of cardiovascular genomics in the Center for Genomic Medicine.

Proven Search Consultants

Headquartered in Atlanta, CarterBaldwin provides executive search services in the healthcare, technology, non-profit, consumer services, industrial and media/telecom sectors. Its clients include a number of name-brand institutions, such as KPMG, ADP, Teradata, First Data, Duke University, Pepperdine University, New York Life, Fleet Pride and Berkshire Hathaway.


CarterBaldwin Places 16th President at Oklahoma Baptist University

CarterBaldwin recruited Heath Thomas as the 16th president of Oklahoma Baptist University. Dr. Thomas was selected following a nine-month process. Oklahoma Baptist University is a private Baptist liberal arts university in Shawnee, OK. It was established in 1910 and is owned by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. 


Mr. Harding has been principal consultant on nearly 1,000 recruiting engagements for C-level leadership, officers and directors for privately held and publicly traded companies. He also co-leads CarterBaldwin’s university and non-profit search practice.

CarterBaldwin is eager to serve any client that is committed to pursuing its organizational mission,” said Mr. Harding. “While many of our clients are faith-based, we are also often partnering with non-profit organizations whose mission is to find a cure for the diseases that affect our communities and associations whose mission is to unite people of a similar mindset to collaboratively accomplish a mission.”

“Even our corporate clients, which account for more than 70 percent of our searches, are driven toward missions that we take seriously when identifying leadership candidates,” he said.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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