Jones and Streifel Honored for Uniting Credit Unions in Advocacy

In an era when big banks are attacking the legal framework for credit unions, there might be nothing more important to protect the credit union difference than strong advocacy.

The most important advocacy voice is the collective voice. When Susan Streifel and Mandy Jones were honored at Amplify as Washington and Oregon Advocates of the Year, respectively, it was a testament not only to their personal energies and sacrifices in service of credit union advocacy, but also to their ability to rally others to the cause.

Susan Streifel, Washington Advocate of the Year

Streifel, president and CEO of Woodstone Credit Union, serves as vice chair of CUNA’s board and chair of CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Committee. And those titles only represent much deeper engagement in credit union advocacy.

She said that her predecessor at Woodstone first introduced her to the importance of advocacy. “He was the first to take me back to D.C. in 1996,” said Streifel. “Once I learned the power of advocacy I began to actively build relationships with local elected officials here at home and in D.C. to affect changes to our system.”

Streifel said that what she’s after is the freedom for credit unions to serve their members. “Credit unions have been held back from serving their members since the day we were created, through onerous regulations that first begin in Congress. I am a firm believer in freedom of choice in how we serve our members — for all credit unions.”

She said that advocacy takes many forms and encouraged other credit union leaders to find their ways to contribute.

“This can include letter writing, meeting with local elected officials that are working for the good of their communities and educating them about the contributions that we make as credit unions, in addition to inspiring their employees, board and business associates to get involved,” Streifel said. “Going to our state capitals and our nation’s capital is a powerful way to have your voice heard and can give us hope for a greater future for those who are so inclined.” 

“We are definitely most effective when we unite for good!” she concluded.

Mandy Jones, Oregon Advocate of the Year

Oregon Community Credit Union CEO Jones was honored for her collaborative approach to advocacy. During the Oregon Bankers attack she united with other credit union CEOs to create a messaging campaign about the importance of credit unions in Oregon communities. She also emerged as the top donor to the Oregon State Political Action Fund and was honored as a consistent supporter of CULAC Month.

“I’ve been part of the credit union movement for 30 years,” said Jones, “and advocacy on behalf of our members is part of the mission to me.”

She said that concern for the members is what drives her advocacy work. “It’s all about the member for me,” she said. “Credit unions’ whole purpose is to make a difference for our members. I believe it’s our responsibility to ensure that their interests are protected at all times, and that includes making sure their voice is heard in Salem and on Capitol Hill.”

She said that you don’t have to go all the way to Salem or Washington D.C. to make a difference. “Join a committee, attend a meeting,” Jones said, “even if it’s in your community. It’s okay to start small — just as long as you start.”

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org. 

Posted in Advocacy News, Awards, Events, NWCUA.