MAXXimum Impact: 2016 MAXX Convention Brings Together Best of NW CU Movement

Connections Credit Union President & CEO Scott Prior sharing his story, “Paid in Potatoes” during the Opening Session, with help from Dear World.

The Northwest Credit Union Association’s 2016 MAXX Convention brought together more than 150 credit unions, 500 Movement leaders and 100 of their business partners in SeaTac, Washington this week.

The three-day conference began with a small credit union round table discussion on Tuesday, and ended with a flourish at the MAXX Awards Dinner and Gala on Thursday evening. In between was an action-packed schedule where attendees were encouraged to deeply connect with each other on changing issues of the day, and expand their influence in financial services and beyond.

And let’s not forget the record amount raised during the Credit Unions for Kids Auction. Here is a full rundown of the conference, with links to individual stories and photos throughout.

Let’s hit it!

Tuesday Highlights

MAXX opened with a unique and interactive keynote by Dear World, a forum capturing stories of hope, struggle, and a brighter future. Through a live demonstration, MAXX attendees took away unforgettable storytelling opportunities and participated in their own individual photoshoot during a separate Welcome Reception.

Check out some of the photos from the Opening Session and Welcome Reception that followed.

Wednesday Highlights

Wednesday kicked off with two concurrent breakfast events—one bringing together the Northwest Credit Union Foundation universe for “bacon, bagels and booze.” Attendees strategized on the direction of the Foundation, while highlighting recent successes and discussing the upcoming International Credit Union Day on October 20.

At the same time, a separate breakfast for the Emerging Leaders program brought together the brightest credit union management stars of tomorrow to celebrate this year’s crop of program participants.

Following breakfast, attendees were plunged head-first into a deep-dive of electoral politics.

Strategic Link Trade Show floor on the opening day of MAXX 2016. Click here for the full photo album on Facebook.

In an election season where campaigns and candidates defied polls and prognosticators, Sean Trende, the Senior Elections Analyst for RealClearPolitics, shared keen insight and analysis of the latest polls and political headlines, using humor as a way to ease credit union advocates weary of recent polls.

The Strategic Link Trade Show officially opened following the morning session. Described as “the shopping mall for credit unions seeking operational solutions and the next-great-technology-thing for their members,” the trade show featured cybersecurity experts, mobile apps offering shop-local deals and consumer spending tracking, and vendors from across the spectrum.

The trade show also included representatives speaking on the recently-announced FIS and CO-OP Cardless Cash mobile solution coming to credit unions early next year.

The day continued with Impact Sessions on a wide range of topics, from employee benefit trends and mobile solutions to cybersecurity, and how fintech is both partnering with, and disrupting the Credit Union Movement.

Separate Educational Breakout Sessions also brought targeted presentations to attendees, with topics running the gamut from a CUNA Mutual Group talk on their recent millennial study, What Matters Now, to a session on preparing for the oft-discussed Cascadia earthquake.

The day ended with a bit of Hollywood glitz at the Credit Unions for Kids Dinner and Auction. The evening, featuring a Hollywood Glamour theme, raised $301,266 for the “charity of choice” that this year celebrated three decades since starting in the Northwest.

Thursday Highlights


Kicking off the day with Your Associations operations during the Annual Business Meeting, Board Chair Jack Fallis, Global Credit Union President and CEO, thanked attendees and NWCUA staff for the steadfast support during his time as Board Chair.

Fallis touched on many organizational points of pride during his time as Board Chair, before announcing the two-year strategic alliance management agreement with the Idaho Credit Union League.

Parker Cann (center), of BECU, receiving a proclamation in recognition for his service on the NWCUA Board of Directors, with President & CEO Troy Stang, and outgoing Board Chair Jack Fallis.

The alliance will allow NWCUA to provide executive leadership, professional development, compliance, regulatory, and advocacy support starting in January.

NWCUA President and CEO Troy Stang came next, sharing additional details on the partnership before turning the stage to Mike Schenk, VP of Economics and Statistics for CUNA, who provided a snapshot of economic trends and what they mean for credit unions, specifically coming through recent economic recovery.

“The financial benefit delivered to your members has grown since the recovery,” Schenk said. “Northwest credit unions have delivered $500 million in direct financial benefit, post-recovery.”

Schenk expects the postive news to continue into 2017 and beyond, too.

“We will be in an even better place during this meeting next year,” he said.

To round out the session, Stang was welcomed back to the stage to deliver his vision for 2017 and beyond, which included the debut of Your Association’s three-year strategic plan, and more details on the Idaho alliance.

Closing MAXX 2016

Rep. Denny Heck gesturing to his Congressional pin, and its reminder of who he serves in Congress.

MAXX closed with a session that began with a heartfelt, humorous and, in the end, passionate plea from Rep. Denny Heck, for everyone in the room to be advocates, regardless of political party.

Heck, who spent significant time in the Credit Union Movement as an executive before going on to serve in Congress, recounted his own fierce devotion to the Movement, and reflected on bringing those principles to Washington.

“I always remind myself that I’m one of only about 10,000 people to wear this pin,” he said, pointing to the Congressional pin on his lapel.

Heck went on to chronicle the current state of the general election, reminding attendees that regardless of their viewpoint, the American democratic process is a 240 year experiment that requires democratic participation, urging all in the room to vote.

“If you throw your hands up and say ‘a pox on all their houses’ and don’t vote in 26 days, frankly, shame on you,” he said.

Improv veteran and President of Shift, Yes, Galen Emanuel, took the stage next and warmed the crowd up with a roller coaster session that started by pairing attendees up for mini-improv sessions, and ended with them building on the skills they learned by “accepting their partner’s challenge (saying “yes”) and building on it (“and”).

“Obviously, we can’t say yes to each and every thing,” Emanuel said. “But the perspective of what it feels like to see your own idea accepted is huge.”

Incoming Board Chair Brooke Van Vleet of St. Helens Community Credit Union (St. Helens, OR), addressed attendees during the Thursday Closing Session, recognizing outgoing Board Chair Jack Fallis, in addition to John Zmolek, President and CEO of Verity Credit Union (Vice Chair), and Bert Fisher, President and CEO, Our Community Credit Union (Secretary/Treasurer).

Incoming Board Chair Brooke Van Vleet (St. Helens Community CU) addresses the Closing Session following the Board re-organization earlier that day.

Recalling her beginnings with Your Association, Van Vleet prompted knowing laughter from the audience when talking about her involvement with committees with the Oregon Credit Union League.

“We met in a lavish conference room in the basement of a Meier and Frank in Salem. Countless GACs, Hike the Hills, conventions and committees later, I am proud to be deeply involved in our Northwest Credit Union Association,” she said.

The convention officially closed with a slideshow from Dear World of photos gathered on the opening day of MAXX, of dozens of attendees, each sharing personal messages of hope, pain, struggle, happiness and humanity, written on themselves.

The evening, and convention, concluded with the MAXX Awards Dinner and Gala on Thursday evening, where the Northwest Movement’s top advocates, innovators and lifetime achievement thought leaders were recognized.

Looking for MAXX 2016 photos?

Photos from the trade show floor

Photos from Breakout and Impact Sessions

Photos from Opening Day

Photos from Thursday’s Closing Session

Photos from the Annual Business Meeting

Photos from the Hollywood Glamour Credit Unions for Kids Auction

Photos from the MAXX Awards Dinner and Gala

Questions about this story? Contact Eric Horvath: 503.350.2222,

Posted in Advocacy News, Around the NW, Awards, Events, Marketing & Communications, MAXX Annual Convention, NWCUA.