Four Dakota Credit Union Professionals Weigh In on the GAC
Last week, 50 credit union professionals from the Dakotas were in Washington DC, attending the GAC. A handful of those representatives were first time attendees of the Governmental Affairs Conference, and the Memo contacted some of them to get their impressions of the event.
Daryla Sandy, VP of Administration/Operations at Northern Hills FCU in Sturgis, SD, has been employed at the credit union for 28 years, but said this was her first visit to the GAC. In her own words, Daryla says “I can honestly say that it was THE most exciting CU function I have ever attended! The lineup of speakers was very impressive, and as I listened to them, it was very apparent to me who had the real passion for credit unions. They spoke from experience and from their hearts. We all deal with the same issues at our credit unions, whether it’s membership, regulations, or compliance, but to see these same issues being discussed on such a large scale was amazing, and by such important people!”
Daryla also said that the conference showed just how large the credit union movement really is, and what we can accomplish if we work together for the same goal: our members. “I encourage everyone to attend the GAC sometime in their CU career. It’s an exciting, insightful experience, not to mention it’s held in such an interesting city - although it was good to get back to the Dakotas” she concluded.
Jay Kruse, Controller at Service First FCU in Sioux Falls, SD, agreed. Jay says “Let me start off by saying I would highly encourage any credit union professionals to attend this event at least once! The GAC is a great indication of the power the credit union movement can have. It instills a passion and excitement at a national level”. Jay expressed that in his view, the meetings with our legislators went very well. “Our legislators made some encouraging and confidence building remarks that are very important to the future of the credit union movement. I believe the ‘best part’ of the trip (for me) was meeting with our SD Delegation, because it is critical for each state to talk about our passion to serve our members and tell our stories of people helping people” he added.
Melissa Fick, Executive Vice President at Air Guard FCU in Sioux Falls, SD, reported that she had a wonderful experience at the GAC. “The event was well organized with many great speakers like Jean Chatzky and Tom Brokaw. It’s awesome to see 4200 credit union advocates come together to get our stories told. Although the credit unions are separated by many miles across the nation, we face so many of the same challenges,” said Melissa. “CUAD did a wonderful job setting up our Capitol Hill visits with each of our congressmen. I hope that other local credit union professionals may experience this sometime; it’s truly an experience that I won’t forget”, she concluded.
Heidi J. Kruse, Multi-Media Specialist at Black Hills FCU of Rapid City, SD is a relative new-comer to the credit union industry; with just four years of experience. However, she says, “During that time we’ve been challenged by the shadow of a national economic recession, an unprecedented political climate, and an ever growing regulatory burden. Each of us, from our own desks, has worked to advocate for the credit union community on these issues. I am involved in facilitating a number of these efforts at Black Hills FCU. However, the GAC was my first opportunity to bring those causes directly to the door of Representative Noem and Senators Thune and Johnson”.
Heidi expressed that the demands of the “day-to-day” often isolate us from the larger picture, and the GAC was an important departure from that limited vantage. “Conceptually, I knew that the credit union community was a powerful force in national politics. However, I don’t think I realized the full scope of that influence until I witnessed the incredible number of Senate and House leaders from both parties who were willing to speak at our Convention, despite it being held during the bleak realities of ‘Sequester Week’, she stated. She concluded, “These are critical times in the trajectory of our industry. I don’t know if or when I’ll be in our nation’s capital again, but I’m privileged to have spent my time there advocating for Credit Unions and their members.”
While each GAC attendee is vital to CUAD’s legislative efforts, it is always beneficial to get a fresh point of view. CUAD would like to thank each Dakota credit union professional who made the trip to Washington.
“Every person that attends the GAC adds value to the credit union movement, but it is really exciting to see new people attend this conference and have them experience firsthand the amazing breadth and depth of the credit union movement” said CUAD President/CEO Robbie Thompson. “Every credit union employee and volunteer should attend the GAC at least one time to really gain a new appreciation for all that is being done on a national level to protect and enhance the credit union industry,” added Thompson.
If you would like information on attending the GAC next year, please contact CUAD’s VP of Advocacy and Awareness, Jeff Olson at email@example.com.