Kitsap Credit Union’s Victoria Gingrey Shares her CUNA GAC Crasher Experience

Gingrey was one of 100 young credit union professionals who attended as a 2019 GAC Crasher

3/19/2019

Victoria Gingrey, Social Media Specialist at Kitsap Credit Union, was one of 100 GAC Crashers who met with legislators and credit union leaders in Washington, D.C., last week during CUNA’s GAC.

If you told me two weeks ago I would have 106 new best friends today, I would’ve told you that’s impossible. If you told me two weeks ago that I would happily endure an average of three hours of sleep a night and 20,000 steps a day for six days, I would’ve sighed in anguish. If you told me two weeks ago that I would’ve found hope and positivity through a weeklong conference, I would’ve laughed.

But here I sit, a few sleeps less, a lot of friends more, just a little emotional, and filled with the power of people and credit unions.

In November 2018, my manager encouraged me to apply for something called “Crash the GAC”. I’d never heard of it before, but I enthusiastically made my application video in the days ahead of the deadline as I’d seen the impact and importance of credit unions through the “Leveraging the Credit Union Difference” workshop, our Olympia advocacy days, and the daily work I see being done by my fellow credit union colleagues.

Soon after that, I found out I was one of 100 credit union professionals selected to represent all 50 states as a Crasher and that I’d have the opportunity to attend the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington D.C March 10-14.

The Crasher program, put on by The Cooperative Trust, and a component of Filene Research Institute, gives young professionals the opportunity not just to “crash” credit union events but have a seat at the table with CEOs, legislators, the C-Suite, and board members.

While it’s hard to fully encapsulate in just a few paragraphs what happened after I landed in D.C., I want to share some of the transformational insights I walked away with:

  1. Thieves and Allies
    In one of our early sessions, Antonio Neves, a nationally recognized speaker and the master of ceremonies throughout the GAC, shared the idea of thieves and allies. Everyone you choose to surround yourself with is a thief or an ally of you, your goals, and your time. Be intentional with those you spend your time with. As cooperatives, are we a thief or an ally of our members and communities’ time? We’re stronger together, and together we can be an ally for every .
  2. Success Grows in the Valley
    Andy Janning was another great speaker and author we had the privilege to hear from in a Crasher session. He talked with us about success. Success doesn’t grow on the mountain peaks. Your success comes from what you experience as you work toward your goals. As people and as credit unions, we all have goals. Our strength and passion comes from the path we walk together in the valleys while working toward the mountain top.
  3. Focus on the People
    What struck me the most about this experience was the humbling, emotional reminder that everyone we come in contact with – whether they are friends, family, members, or strangers; they all have had hardships. We’ve all had to endure trials and tribulations. Have patience, kindness, and empathy – always. It will make you a better person and credit union advocate.

The opportunities to dive into the work being done within the Credit Union Movement, specifically by the Herb Wegner Award winners Diana R. Dykstra, Crystal Long, the Nusenda Credit Union Foundation, and Brett Martinez, is invaluable. To meet Jim Nussle, President and CEO of CUNA, hike the hill and advocate for members alongside fellow credit unions to Representatives Derek Kilmer and Denny Heck, Senator Maria Cantwell and the aides of Senator Patty Murray, to hear from various keynote and session speakers, including former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, and to bond with people from all walks of life who share the same passion for the co-operative principles is truly inspiring and life-altering.

CUNA GAC Crashers meet on the last day of the conference in Washington, D.C.

If you have the opportunity to crash or attend this conference – do it. It’s hard to understand the full effect of this program until you’re in it and on the other side. If you’re interested, learn more about the Crash Program here. In the Northwest, young professionals can get involved by participating in the YP Leads program.

Thank you to The Cooperative Trust, Filene, and CUNA for putting this conference and program together, as well as Kitsap Credit Union for supporting my trip and the Northwest Credit Union Association for my Grassroots Advocacy Grant as well as all the work they did behind the scenes to make our advocacy work on Capitol Hill successful.

Victoria Gingrey is the Social Media Specialist at Kitsap Credit Union headquartered in Bremerton, Washington. She is a passionate young credit union professional with just over two years in the movement.