General Sessions Set the Pace for Convention

In NASCAR, the pace car is sent to the track to start the race and then to help drivers regroup and restart the race after major events or delays. The general sessions at the Washington Credit Union League Convention and Annual Business Meeting perform a very similar function. They set the pace and tone for attendees’ daily activities and then help those attendees regroup at the end of the day. One major difference (other than comparing cars and credit unions) is that a NASCAR driver’s only choice is to follow the pace car but convention-goers do not have to attend the general sessions. In order to get your attention, general sessions have to be the highest quality possible.

This year’s general sessions will not disappoint.

Five in all, the opening keynote general session will feature the soon-to-be-former President and CEO of the Credit Union National Association Dan Mica in what is likely to be one of the most talked about programs of convention. Considering the vast number of issues that the national credit union system has faced over the past two years, Mica has much to cover.

The former five-term Democratic Congressman from Florida, has been at the helm of CUNA since July 1996. His political and business perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing credit unions will likely be unabridged and unequaled on a national level as he traces his steps over the past 14 years.

Wednesday General Sessions

The opening general session on Wednesday from 9 – 10:30 a.m. features James Kwak, co-author of 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown, a New York Times nonfiction bestseller. His presentation, Ending “Too Big to Fail” and Building a Healthy Financial System, will outline the close yet dysfunctional relationship between Wall Street and Washington and the disproportionate influence of an “oligarchy” of too-big-to-fail banks over the government and the economy.

He will also delve into efforts to re-regulate the financial services industry, as it relates to banks and credit unions, to ensure both that the mistakes of the past do not repeat themselves and that the financial system is focused on meeting the needs of consumers going forward.

The second general session on Wednesday will see a panel of experts who will discuss the question: Who’s in Charge of the Financial System?  Facilitator Frank Diekmann, Editor and Publisher of Credit Union Journal, the nation’s leading newsweekly for growth-oriented credit unions, will lead a panel featuring Kwak and Research Director Ben Rogers of the Filene Research Institute. Rogers also penned the recent book Consumer Financial Protection: U.S. Proposal and International Experience.

The panel will expand on the thought-provoking ideas that emerged from the morning general session, presented by Kwak. Attendees will have an opportunity to talk openly about consumer protection, the pros and cons of greater financial regulation, and what is needed to break the hold of too-big-to-fail institutions on politicians and consumers.

Thursday General Sessions

Are you a risk taker or do you play it safe? Today’s business environment is like perpetual white-water. Navigating rapids of change requires risk oriented management skills. Thursday’s opening general session begins at 8:45 a.m. and stars David Miln Smith, Ph.D., speaking on the Joy of Risk—The Thrill of Reward

Often compared to a real-life Indiana Jones, Smith speaks from a lifetime of adventure to entertain, teach, motivate, and inspire. He regularly leaves his audiences revved up and prepared with tactics for handling risk – and excited to meet their challenges with courage and confidence. Risk taking is invaluable as an everyday tactic, not just an occasional strategy. Smith teaches how to convert the fear of change from an enemy to an ally, and reframes risk from aversion to excitement.

The last, but certainly not the least of the general sessions begins at 3:30 p.m. and introduces former NCUA Chairman and credit union president Dennis Dollar as he provides a stirring reminder of the noble calling accepted by credit union staff, executives and volunteers.

Dollar’s presentation, titled Standing for Success: Why the American Credit Union Movement is Worth Standing for, is laced with humor and personal experience from his unique background as a credit union insider.  Dollar will challenge and move credit union leaders into re-focusing on what makes the credit union movement so important to those who are involved in it and the American people who benefit from it.

None of the General Session are to be missed because without them convention attendees will miss the varying perspectives and opinions that set the pace for all other events.

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Posted in MAXX Annual Convention.