Northwest Credit Union Execs in D.C. to ‘Hike the Hill’

Northwest credit union advocates meet with NCUA board Chair Debbie Matz on Tuesday during this week’s Hike the Hill.

Northwest credit union executives are in Washington, D.C., this week to meet with U.S. representatives, senators and federal regulators as part of the Northwest Credit Union Association’s Hike the Hill program.

Held in collaboration with the Credit Union National Association, Hike the Hill is a unique chance for member credit unions to dive deeper into issues and have honest discussions with federal officials in face-to-face meetings. This week’s sessions will take place in the offices of all four Northwest senators and eight of the region’s representatives.

Meetings also are scheduled with NCUA Board Chair Debbie Matz, Board Member Rick Metsger and representatives of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“Hike the Hill trips in the spring and fall complement the meetings we have in February during GAC and the work we do with the congressional delegation when they’re back home,” says Jennifer Wagner, the NWCUA’s senior vice president for advocacy, who organizes the visits. “On this trip, we’ll be following up on issues we focused on in February, like housing finance reform and merchant data breaches, as well as educating officials about the NCUA’s Risk-Based Capital proposal and the role Congress can play there.”

Wagner leads two trips to the nation’s capital every year — one in the fall and another in the spring. That’s in addition to CUNA’s big Governmental Affairs Conference in February, when more than 200 Northwest credit union executives join delegates from across the country in Washington, D.C., for meetings, workshops and seminars.

NWCUA’s Hike the Hill trips are smaller and more focused, allowing CEOs and executive-team members to meet personally with Congressional offices over the course of two very busy days. NWCUA is one of only a few associations that hike the hill twice a year, a testament to its commitment to being a leader in credit union advocacy on the national stage.

“Advocacy is at the very heart of what we do as an Association, and advocacy is all about relationships,” says Troy Stang, the NWCUA’s president and CEO. “These trips are another opportunity to nurture our relationships with our Congressional delegation, and to remind them about the needs and challenges of the credit unions in their districts and of our members, who are their constituents.”

NCUA board member Rick Metsger meets with Northwest advocates Tuesday during this week’s Hike the Hill.

Every meeting with legislators includes a reminder of the credit union difference, of course, but the smaller trips also present an opportunity to tailor specific messages for each meeting and address time-sensitive concerns.

“With Senator Wyden, we’ll focus more on tax reform and his plans as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee,” Wagner says. “With Senator Merkley and Congressman Heck, who serve on the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee respectively, we’ll dive deeper into housing finance reform, which passed the Senate committee last week, and regulatory relief, which has been a big focus in the House.”

And with the deadline for credit unions to comment on the NCUA’s Risk-Based Capital proposal only a week away, the chance to meet with Matz and Metsger – and to thank members of Congress for signing on to a letter from Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) that calls for “changes and clarifications” to the rule — will be especially important.

“The volume and scope of the current regulatory issues facing credit unions is staggering. While Risk-Based Capital is top of mind for everyone, there are a number of other regulatory issues that need to be addressed, including proposed changes that could impact field of membership,” says John Trull, the NWCUA’s director of regulatory advocacy. “In addition, the NCUA is considering changes governing the way credit unions securitize and sell loans, and the CFPB is taking a look at indirect lending. Credit union leaders on the Hill this week are having substantive conversations that will help shape the direction of these proposals, and positively impact the future of the credit union movement.”

Trull, Wagner and Stang are accompanying 10 Northwest credit union leaders to the capital. Hiking the Hill in Washington, D.C., this week:

  • Christopher Bradberry, president/COO of Fibre Federal;
  • Kevin Cole, CFO of Maps Credit Union;
  • Tom Griffith, CEO of Pacific NW Federal Credit Union;
  • Phyllis Kaczmarski, loan administration manager for TwinStar Credit Union;
  • Deidra Minor, vice president of enterprise risk for First Tech Federal Credit Union;
  • Jim Morrell, president/CEO of Peninsula Credit Union;
  • Patricia Neighbors, COO of Solarity Credit Union;
  • Rachel Pross, director of compliance and legislative affairs at Northwest Community Credit Union;
  • Alan Ralson, a lobbyist for BECU; and
  • Brooke Van Vleet, president/CEO of St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union;

Questions about this story? Contact Gary M. Stein: 503.350.2216, gstein@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News, CUNA, Events, Federal, NCUA, NWCUA.