This October, Chesney Garnos joined the Dakota Credit Union Association (DakCU) as the Director of Political & Grassroots Affairs. Today, we get to know a bit more about her in this special question-and-answer series!
Chesney, tell us a little about your background.
I’m from a small, rural town in South Dakota called Presho. Growing up, I had the opportunity to be very involved in my community, from extracurriculars to sports. After high school, I attended the University of South Dakota (Go Yotes!), where I received my bachelor’s degree in political science and social media marketing. From there, I had the opportunity to move to our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., to get involved in government right out of college. During that time, I also obtained my master’s degree in communications from the University of South Dakota.
How do you spend your free time?
You can catch me spending time with my family and friends. Whether trying a new coffee shop or traveling to a new state, we always find time for adventure and appreciate the little things (like an amazing cup of coffee). Sports are also a BIG deal in my family, so you will find me cheering on the Minnesota Vikings, USD Coyotes, and the Lyman Raiders (my dad coaches, and my youngest brother plays for the high school team). When I’m not catching flights or at sporting event, you’ll probably find me cycling at spin class or hitting the trails with my boyfriend and our sweet golden retriever, Boomer.
What are you looking forward to most in your new role at DakCU?
Serving our members and representing them on a state and federal level is truly what I’m looking forward to the most! With my experience working in the South Dakota State Legislature as an intern and having spent time in Washington, DC, working for both Senator Thune and Senator Rounds, I am excited to continue the connections I have built to help further the support and advocacy of our credit unions and our members! I also look forward to getting involved with our local credit unions in South Dakota through events.
What have you been up to the first few weeks on the job?
Since my first day at the Dakota Credit Union Association, I’ve been fortunate enough to hit the ground running (which is how I prefer things).
New Ideas Conference
My first week started at the New Ideas Conference in Deadwood. This allowed me to get to know our credit unions and credit union partners and learn more about the credit union industry. This conference focused on member engagement, industry innovation, and how to be leaders, ways to improve marketing, and other trends or disruptors we should watch out for in the credit union industry!
Pints & Politics Event
Following the New Ideas Conference, Jeff Olson and I left for the east side of the state for a Pints and Politics event in Sioux Falls with our Southeast 605 Chapter. A rain tsunami hit the state that day as we traveled across South Dakota, but despite the crazy rain and wind gusts, we made it in time for the meeting that evening. The event was a blast! I had the chance to meet many of our Sioux Falls area credit union members and start conversations with our local legislators from the region. Though the rain prohibited some legislators from attending the event in person, I could still have great discussions via email with the legislators who could not attend from the area.
My second week was nothing short of busy as well! Amy Kleinschmit and I traveled to Fargo to meet with Jeff Olson, John Alexander, and George McDonald for staff advocacy training. John (the other new guy) and I learned a lot during our two-day training, and we still have so much to learn! We discussed the credit union movement and the state of credit unions today, which entailed current trends, issues, goals, and strategies for credit unions. Additionally, we went into depth about our fundraising programs, advocacy resources, and credit union partners. When our meetings concluded, Amy and I returned to Sioux Falls and resumed business as usual.
Save the Date: South Dakota Credit Union Legislative Day
South Dakota credit union professionals – please mark your calendars now for January 24th, 2024, for our South Dakota Legislative Day in Pierre, SD! We will be back at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center with a full day of credit union advocacy, paired with our annual Legislative Social. Room blocks are available for you as well! So, let’s make 2024 the biggest year yet as we welcome 70+ legislators from across the state. More details will be coming soon for the legislative day, so stay tuned!
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Memo is DakCU's newsletter that keeps
Want the Memo delivered straight to your inbox?