Catching up with the Northwest GAC Crashers


The 2020 Northwest Crashers pose with NWCUA President and CEO, Troy Stang, at the CUNA GAC Welcome Reception, Feb. 24.

Last month, 65 credit union young professionals from across the country “crashed” the 2020 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., gaining valuable industry insight straight from the source.  

Filene Research Institute’s Cooperative Trust “Crash” Program is a highly competitive contest that selects young professionals from every state to receive free attendance to CUNA GAC, where they can engage in exclusive networking opportunities, discover leadership development tools, and participate in mentoring sessions with industry leaders. Crashers build lasting relationships with peers and return to their credit unions with fresh perspectives and renewed drive.  

Anthem caught up with this year’s Northwest Crashers to hear more about their experiences. 

Esperanza Poblano 
Training and Development Specialist, CapEd Credit Union

“Being a Crasher was life-changing! I had the privilege of meeting young professionals that all shared the same passion for the Credit Union Movement as I did, and that was surreal. One of the key takeaways is the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). DEI is definitely something I think all organizations need to focus on. It is not about checking off a box; it’s more than that. It is about making sure that organizations welcome everyone and value everyone. I have a voice, and I need to use it to help us get to where we need to be.  

Coming back to work, I have realized that there is so much work to do, but crashing the GAC gave me that fire and strength to get to it. I came back with more confidence, more knowledge, and more willpower to continue advocating for those that don’t feel they have a voice – to help them find their voice and show them that they all matter.” 

Shawn Ohki 
Consumer Loan Underwriter, Unitus Community Credit Union 

“Crashing the GAC was an invaluable experience, both from a professional and personal growth standpoint. I had the opportunity to network with the trailblazers of the Credit Union Movement and learn how their careers started and what life lessons shaped their vision. It was great to see how invested they were in the younger generation. 
I’m eager to be more involved with advocacy efforts here in Oregon. As someone who can now say they’ve crashed the GAC, I want to pay it forward by spreading the word to other young professionals about this fantastic opportunity. We win when we support and empower each other, and I’m excited to further that message and the Credit Union Difference alongside my peers.” 

Angel Ibarra  
Business Services Manager, BECU

“It is safe to say my eyes are now fully open, and I am looking at everything through a credit union lens. When I left Bank of America to join BECU five months ago, I knew it was because I wanted to be part of this culture and this movement. However, until this trip, I had no gauge as to just how big this Movement really is.  

During the last week, I was exposed to speakers, presenters, CEOs, politicians, and other credit union staff, and there were a few recurring themes. The top theme for me was diversity, equity, and inclusion and the positive and lasting effects it has on a company and the communities which the company serves. My favorite quote from the conference: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’” 

Hazelmae Overturf 
Sr. Manager, Learning and Development, BECU 

My biggest takeaway was the opportunity to learn, observe, and be inspired by my fellow Crashers. One of my favorite moments was hearing from CUNA President and CEO, Jim Nussle. He talked about climbing the ladder and leaving it down, while building others.  

This really resonated with me as I experienced and witnessed personal and professional growth of the Crashers — the literal future of the Credit Union Movement. Our time is not only coming; it’s here now! Personally, I’m so thankful to continue building ladders in my current role and future roles I aspire even more to reach now. 

CUNA GAC may be over, but credit union advocates still have other opportunities here at home to further the Credit Union Movement. Contact Jordan BeyerNWCUA Grassroots Advocacy Manager, to learn more about upcoming events and how you can bring advocacy training to your credit union.  

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Posted in Professional Development.