Grassroots Input Essential to Advancing Policy


The voices of credit union advocates help to ensure that legislative and regulatory advocacy promotes access for all consumers to the not-for-profit, cooperative financial services model, to advocate for the continued evolution of the charter, and for regulatory advancements that keep credit unions competitive and relevant.

The process starts long before the first bills are drafted, and well before advocates meet with their legislators at annual lobby days.

Every two years, the Northwest Credit Union Association convenes State Issues Working Groups (SIWGs) in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, to review Credit Union Acts, and other state statutes. SIWG concepts are then reviewed by the Governmental Affairs Committees in each state, and by the NWCUA Board of Directors. Often, the working groups’ recommendations make their way into laws and rules, allowing credit unions to better serve their members. SIWG participants typically serve in leadership roles in all aspects of credit unions, from the CEO’s office, to Executive Vice Presidents, Chief Marketers, Risk Managers, and Legal Counsel.

This summer, SIWGs came together in Oregon and Washington. While Idaho’s SIWG met last year, this year a smaller advisory group worked to recommend model bylaws.

Oregon’s SIWG met three times this summer to discuss concepts for advocacy and regulatory efforts for 2021-2023.

“Oregon credit unions’ advocacy is admired nationally for its 20-plus years-long track record of modernizing the Credit Union Act at least every two years,” said Pamela Leavitt, NWCUA Policy Advisor, Oregon State Advocacy and Grassroots. “Our work group members’ input is a critical part of this process.”

Oregon SIWG participants this year included:
  • Veronica Ervin, Chair, SVP, Chief Risk Officer, OnPoint Community Credit Union
  • Carol Cromwell, CEO, Linn Co Federal Credit Union
  • Jim McCarthy, President and CEO, Trailhead Credit Union
  • Cloudette Heichel, Senior Director, Contract Management Attorney, First Tech Federal Credit Union
  • Heather Billings, Vice President, Communications, Oregon Community Credit Union
  • Laurie Wilson, SVP, CFO, Advantis Credit Union
  • Chad Heese, Chief Lending Officer, Rogue Credit Union
  • Jenna Nichols, Internal Auditor/ Compliance Officer Central Willamette Credit Union
  • Eric Kiley, Associate General Counsel, SELCO Community Credit Union

Washington’s State Issues Working Group met several times to review 15 concepts, many of which may be on the advocacy agenda from 2021-2024.

“Some were updates directly inside the Credit Union Act, with other broader policy issues addressed as well,” said Joe Adamack, Vice President, Legislative Affairs for Washington. “There was certainly a focus on some of the things we learned from COVID-19 as far as digital efficiencies and modernization.”

The Washington SIWG was chaired by Lynn Ciani, Chief Risk Officer and General Counsel for Numerica Credit Union.

Other participants were:
  • Katie Clark, Compliance Manager, iQ Credit Union
  • Jeff Dykstra, Executive Vice President, WECU
  • Barney Herrera, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, Seattle Credit Union
  • Paul Kirkbride, Chief Operating Officer, WSECU
  • Justin Martin, Chief Operating Officer, Verity Credit Union
  • Alison Phelan, Vice President, Government Relations, BECU
  • John Stewart, Executive Vice President, Chief Risk Officer, BECU
  • Richard Waddle, Executive Vice President, Finance and Risk, Gesa Credit Union
  • Sarah Welch, Vice President, Loan Servicing, Solarity Credit Union
  • Jay Williamson, President and CEO, Progressions Credit Union

Idaho’s Model Bylaws Working Group is in the final stages of preparing its recommendations.

“We want to make it as convenient as possible for Idaho state-chartered credit unions to update their internal bylaws once legislative updates to the Credit Union Act have passed,” said Ryan Fitzgerald, NWCUA Vice President, Legislative Affairs for Idaho. “The goal of the Idaho Model Bylaws working group is to have an up to date and modernized set of bylaws that can be pre-approved by the Idaho Department of Finance, which then allows credit unions to utilize the pre-approved sections to update their internal bylaws with relative ease.” 

Members of the Idaho Model Bylaws Working Group include:
  • Brad Swartzentruber, CEO, Northwest Christian Credit Union
  • Brenda Worrell, COO, Idaho Central Credit Union
  • Amanda Nixon, VP of Operations, Lewis Clark Credit Union
  • Jamie Simmons, EVP, Connections Credit Union
  • Rod Robbins, Risk & Insurance Administrator, Icon Credit Union

The NWCUA Board of Directors has approved the 2021 advocacy plan put forth by the NWCUA advocacy team and each state’s Governmental Affairs Committee. Details will be shared with credit unions in the coming weeks.

Editor’s note: Credit union professionals have the opportunity to shape the Movement’s future by serving on NWCUA’s 2021 committees or task forces. Nominations are open now, and more information can be found online.

Posted in Advocacy News, Around the NW.