Northwest GAC Crashers Are Ready to Advance the Credit Union Movement

Earlier this month, five Northwest credit union professionals had the opportunity to “crash” one of the biggest and most anticipated credit union advocacy events of the year — the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference.

The Filene Research Institute’s Cooperative Trust “Crash” Program is a highly competitive contest that selects young professionals from every state to attend the GAC, where they can engage in exclusive networking opportunities, grow their leadership development, and participate in mentoring sessions with industry leaders.

This year’s event looked a little different, as the conference was entirely virtual, but the impact it had on the Crashers was nothing short of incredible.

Here’s what they had to say about their experiences:

Anjolyna Guerrero
Member Solutions Specialist III, Rivermark Community Credit Union

This was the first virtual GAC, yet the connections were still strong, if not stronger, than the in-person sessions. Crashing the GAC is typically referred to as a “life-changing experience” for most and I can tell you, it 100% was for me. You will learn how to connect the dots — from our members to the lawmakers; you’ll learn a lot about the credit union industry, but you also learn about yourself. 

The connections — the people you meet become your #CrashFam and really, it goes beyond “just work;” it comes down to People Helping People, which is what our industry is founded on. There is SO MUCH the credit union industry can offer to us — not just as employees, but as humans to better help each other.

Arnessa Belin
Contact Center Supervisor, BECU

There is power in being different. I’ve been with BECU for 10 years, and I knew about the Credit Union Movement from a logical viewpoint. But I learned at the GAC the history of how credit unions got their start, and it was based on a community need and a desire to be different than the traditional bank. If those CU pioneers had not chosen to be different, we wouldn’t be a movement now. That’s a powerful thing to grasp! 

I now know my purpose, and I see purpose in everything I do in my current job and within my organization. Credit unions are changing the financial lives of our communities, which means we are essentially changing lives. And by changing lives, we are impacting not just our current communities, but future generations. When I get caught up in the routine of work, I will always remind myself of that.

Kylie Rogers
Member Lending Advocate, Clackamas Federal Credit Union

I was super excited to have the opportunity to be a Crasher at the GAC, but a little bummed that it was going to be virtual. I was worried that I wouldn’t have the same takeaway in a virtual setting that I would have had it been in person. Safe to say, I was wrong. The virtual Crash experience was more than I could have expected! It gave me the opportunity to find my “why” for working in credit unions, connected me to a large network of credit union professionals with incredible experience, and brought me confirmation that credit union people genuinely want to help and make a difference in the lives of others.

Matthew FitzGerald
Call Center Representative III/Lending Specialist, Verity Credit Union

Young Professionals are important parts of the present, and critical for the future of the Credit Union Movement. Our voices are very valuable to have at the table. I believe this experience brought tremendous value to my career, specifically for future growth. 

It was very enjoyable and valuable to hear directly from top Credit Union Movement leaders, and the keynotes were phenomenal. For example, CUNA CEO, Jim Nussle, spoke with us briefly on Friday, March 5, and one thing I recall vividly is that he spoke about how even just showing up can be helpful. If there isn’t a seat at the table now for our voices, then we can work to create one!

Sarah Buck
Member Experience Manager, Cutting Edge Federal Credit Union

Connecting and collaborating with other credit union professionals locally and across the country is one of my favorite aspects of this industry. These experiences and connections add value and new insight into what I am here to do, and fuel my passion for this Movement. There is nothing as special when you get a huge group of passionate and like-minded credit union advocates together for the greater good. It creates this energy that is just so infectious and helps us open our minds and hearts. 

Crashing the GAC was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am so thankful to have been able to experience and it left me feeling even more energized and in love with this Movement than ever before. 

FitzGerald and Buck are also former YP Leads — learn more about NWCUA’s Young Professionals Network online.

While CUNA GAC is over, credit union advocates still have plenty of other opportunities to further the Credit Union Movement. Contact Jordan Beyer, NWCUA Grassroots Advocacy Manager, to learn more about upcoming events and how you can bring advocacy training to your credit union.  

Posted in Professional Development.