Oregon Advocates Fired Up to See Each Other in Person

For the first time in two years, Oregon credit union advocates came together in person in Salem for Credit Union Day at the Capitol on Feb. 17. While masked and socially distanced, they were excited to see each other, ready to pump fists and pump the adrenaline to message the Credit Union Difference.

The legislature was in session voting on bills during the event; however, a number of key lawmakers made time to visit with advocates and to share insight. Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner (D-District 19) was a highlighted speaker.

“Credit unions are an amazing asset to communities across the state,” Wagner posted later to his Instagram account. “Thank you for all that you do to help Oregonians thrive.”

In keeping with a longstanding tradition in the Oregon Credit Union Movement, two legislative champions – one from the House and another from the Senate — received community impact awards.

Senator Bill Kennemer (R-District 20) received the award for his years-long help guiding credit union priority legislation through committees he led. Kennemer is a trained clinical psychologist who understands the importance of obtaining consensus amid conflict, a talent he brings to the legislature.

“It’s been great to work with credit unions over the years,” Kennemer said. “I appreciate this award.”

Rep Paul Holvey, (D-District 8) was also honored. Holvey has served his district for 15 years and has steered credit union bills through the House Business and Labor Committee which he chairs.

“It is really an honor to get this award, Holvey said. “I’ve gotten to understand the financial industry much better talking with credit unions.”

Holvey noted that even if there is disagreement over an issue, credit unions come to the table to discuss what a compromise might look like.

Pam Leavitt, the Northwest Credit Union Association’s Policy & Grassroots Advisor for Oregon, noted that Rep. Holvey frequently seeks credit union input on other pending legislation.

A High Energy Day

Leavitt commended the advocates for the relationships they have established with legislators and noted that with several leadership changes already this session, and changes expected following the elections later this year, the need to keep up the good work, is critical.

“It’s so great you’re here today, and that you will remain as highly engaged after the session as you are right now,” Leavitt said.

It was clear seeing advocates from different credit unions having lunch together and taking selfies, that they will continue their tradition of collaboration, not competition, to advance the Movement.

“Hey, that’s me and my friends,” tweeted advocate Sara Buck about one of those photos. “Great day for all things advocacy at the #CUDayAtTheCapitol for #ORCreditUnions.” Buck is Director of Experiences at Forrit Credit Union in Portland.

Demonstrating Credit Unions’ Impact

Oregon advocates will be sharing community impact information with their elected officials throughout the spring. The data was collected through the NWCUA’s Community Impact Reporting Tool (CIRT) and revealed at the luncheon by Jennifer Wagner, NWCUA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy Officer. Highlights include:

  • A $246 million community giveback measured by direct financial benefits to members, charity, volunteerism, and scholarships
  • 42,000 hours contributed by credit union employees to volunteerism
  • Support for 1,265 non-profits
  • Financial education provided to 78,000 Oregonians
  • $726 million in loans to first-time homebuyers

In his remarks, NWCUA President and CEO Troy Stang reflected on membership growth in the state. Just over a decade ago, Oregon credit unions were serving over 30% of the population. Today they serve 2.25 million Oregonians – 53% of the population.

“Credit unions today are the cutting-edge partner of trust for Oregon,” Stang said. “You are the personal family wallet for families and Main Street.”

Northwest advocates from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington will next join forces with the national Credit Union Movement at the CUNA GAC in Washington, D.C., Feb. 27- March 3.

Editor’s note: Special thanks to the Credit Union Movement’s business solutions partners that sponsored this event, CUNA Mutual Group, Elan, and Origence, who share credit unions’ vision to provide a brighter financial future for all.

Posted in Advocacy News, Day at the Capitol Recaps.