A GAC Survival Kit
For those registered for the upcoming CUNA GAC (February 26 – March 2), you may be wondering, “What should I bring to Washington, DC?” Therefore, here at Dakota Credit Union Association, we turned to our seasoned staff members to get their best advice to the question: “What’s in your GAC survival kit?”
Here’s what they had to say.
Amy Kleinschmit, DakCU’s Chief Compliance Officer, will be attending her sixth GAC this year. Her first suggestion was this: Wear comfortable shoes that you can walk in for miles! She also noted that for those staying at the Courtyard Marriott, there is a CVS conveniently located around the corner for any “last minute” items or snacks you might need. Beyond that, Amy suggested sitting next to someone new each day for breakfast. “You never know who you will meet, or where they will be from,” she says. In addition, she said to be sure to leave some extra space in your suitcase – for all the freebies you will get, and to be sure and speak up at the Hike the Hill visits and to share your credit union’s story. “No one tells it better than you – and that is what our congressional delegation wants to hear.”
Jay Kruse, our Chief Advocacy Officer, focused on our Capitol Hill visits to prepare first-time attendees (and to remind all you “Hike the Hill” veterans) what to expect.
Long lines. Don’t be surprised by long lines outside the Capitol or other office buildings on the Hill, where our Hike the Hill meetings will take place. Remember, there will be thousands of credit union advocates from all across the nation also visiting their elected officials that day.
Security Scanners. Entering each building on Capitol Hill requires passing through airport level security scanners and metal detectors. Because of this, try to limit, if possible, the amount of metal or electronics you carry with you that day or be prepared to remove and send these items through the scanner when you enter each building. Belts, shoes, and even lapel pins containing enough metal can (and will) set off the scanners, possibly resulting in additional security screening measures. Nothing to be afraid of; but be prepared for long lines to move slower than usual due to these safety precautions.
Rainy weather. Our Hike the Hill meetings will all take place Wednesday, March 1st. Gloomy and rainy days in Washington D.C. are nothing new of this time of the year, and this wouldn’t be the first time it rained the entire day during our Hike. My advice: plan ahead and be sure to pack an umbrella! Rainy weather also means cabs will be harder to catch, so leave yourself plenty of extra time to hail a cab or Uber to get to your destination!
Finally, have no fear, your DakCU staff will guide you step by step along the way for your GAC experience. We will coordinate group transportation for our Hike visits to help ensure no one is left behind, and we are there to assist you.
Last but not least – we have some advice from one of our most seasoned and dedicated GAC attendees: DakCU President/CEO Jeff Olson. Olson says the CUNA GAC is one of his favorite credit union events to attend each year. “For me personally, I get an adrenaline feeling being in Washington, D.C. and among all the historic landmarks this time of year. No doubt, I have an extra bounce in my step at this conference,” he stated.
Olson has made a dozen trips to the GAC, but he is quick to add that each one is unique, and every year, he leaves with many new ideas, new friends, and wonderful memories. Here’s his sage advice.
What to wear. “For me, the GAC is a professional conference, and I generally am dressed in business or professional attire. I bring three to four suits as I typically have pre-conference meetings and events. For attendees, however, it’s really your preference and your comfort zone. You will see attendees wearing everything from business, business casual, to credit union logo wear. For the Hike the Hill visits, business or professional attire is encouraged.”
Shoes. “I know others have mentioned this, but please, please bring at least one pair of good, comfortable shoes. You’re not on your feet a lot at the Convention Center, but walking to the hotel and during the Hike the Hill, there can be quite a few steps. You will certainly want tennis shoes if you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing or trapesing around the monuments.
Hand sanitizer. “There are Purell dispensers all around the convention center, but given the flu and other virus concerns of the day, I plan to have my own supply of hand sanitizer with me at all times this year.”
Watch the weather. “In DC, you can experience everything from snow, sleet, rain and sunshine all in the same week. I always pack an umbrella, as Jay mentioned, and there is a good chance you’ll need some sort of weather protection kind of coat.”
Download the CUNA GAC APP. “This app has everything from schedules to items you may need to navigate the conference. When you get it loaded on your smart phone, you can customize your profile with a picture and link it
to your LinkedIn Account if you have one.”
Business cards for the Exhibit Hall. “Here you will find business partners and operational resources in the largest vendor showcase in the financial service industry. Exchanging business cards is a real time saver.”
CULAC Sweepstakes. “If you want to participate, be sure to bring a credit card for CULAC Sweepstake tickets. There are some major great prizes and drawings every day, and all proceeds go to our federal Political Action Committee and help us meet our annual CULAC fundraising goals.”
Get ready for some fun and adventure in our nation’s capital, and be sure to reach out to any of our DakCU staff
if you have questions about #CUNAGAC.
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