Greetings from our nation’s capital! We are finally back in D.C. for the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) live and in person. It has been a long 735 days since I last set foot in Washington, due to the pandemic. Prior to that, I made the trek to D.C. at least once a year since 1995 to advocate for something – or someone. Some years, I would make the trip multiple times. I would estimate that I have been here more than 60 times in the past 25 years. I have to admit, not having the opportunity to visit here has been difficult and I have experienced “D.C. withdrawals.” There is something very special about coming here, and it’s good to be back.
This trip, I am joined by 27 other Dakota credit union advocates and DakCU staff who are also here for the live event. Even though vaccine and mask restrictions have been lifted here, our in-person numbers from our Dakota credit unions are much lower than previous years. Overall, the GAC has had a surprisingly good turnout, with just under 4,000 attendees participating in person and another 1,000 or so tuning in on a digital platform.
The CUNA GAC is the largest and most impactful credit union conference and the one event that all credit union advocates and leaders should consider attending at least once. Many of you have heard me say, repeatedly, that “effective advocacy is about changing the conversation and defining the debate on our terms.” Therefore, the CUNA GAC is the most significant, most exciting, and most consequential event in the credit union movement. Here, credit union leaders can network and share with their credit union peers, engage with regulators and our elected officials in Congress on issues that impacting their credit unions and members back home, engage with innovative vendors at the largest exhibition hall of any financial services event, and most importantly, learn how to be a part of the fierce CUNA/League 360-advocacy approach all year round.
For those not attending, there are several options to follow along. Access the virtual GAC experience here. Visit CUNA’s Facebook page at 9 a.m. (CT) today to watch Jim Nussle’s opening speech. You can also see what attendees are saying by searching the hashtag #CUNAGAC on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Busy weekend for Dakota credit union professionals prior to GAC.
Several Dakota credit union leaders arrived in D.C. early and were busy with committee meetings and pre-conference activities over the weekend. We are privileged to have several credit union leaders form our region actively engaged on a national level. Jerry Schmidt (President/CEO Black Hills FCU) participated in his first CUNA Powers Sub Committee meeting; Melanie Stillwell (President/CEO Western Cooperative CU) serves on the Examination & Supervision sub-committee; Jeremiah Kossen (President/CEO Town & Country CU) serves on the consumer protection sub-committee; as does Amy Kleinschmit (DakCU Chief Compliance Officer). In addition, Pat Tollefson (Board Chair at Area FCU) serves on the CUNA Volunteer Committee; and Chad Moeller (Chief Growth Officer at Dakotaland FCU) attended the CULAC Trustee meeting as the SD CULAC Trustee.
I was also busy this weekend chairing the AACUL Executive Board meeting on Friday, attending the CUNA Executive Committee and Board meetings on Saturday, as well participating in the CUNA Advocacy Committee meeting. Sunday was also busy with the Credit Union House annual meeting, CUNA Strategic Service Board Meeting, and the Awareness LLC Board meeting. Finally, on Sunday evening, our Dakota delegation all gathered at Ruth’s Chris Steak House for our annual Dakota GAC group dinner.
Floyd Rummel Honored with the “Hall of Leaders” Recognition.
One of the highlights over the weekend was the recognition of Floyd Rummel, President/CEO of Northern Hills FCU (Sturgis, SD) with the Credit Union House Hall of Leaders honor. The Hall of Leaders recognition honors credit union leaders who have made a significant impact on the credit union movement at the local, state, or national level. Be sure to check out the full story in today’s Memo.
Celebrating Roger Heacock: Herb Wegner Memorial Award Winner.
The highlight of our GAC visit this year will be the celebration of one or our own. Roger Heacock, retired Black Hills FCU President/CEO and former DakCU Hall of Fame winner, will be receiving the Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement, recognizing his decades-long support and leadership at a national level. Roger is the first Dakotan to be recognized with this prestigious honor. Watch for the story in The Memo this week as well.
With a career spanning decades and having real, measurable impact on the financial lives and well-being of millions, it is impossible to do justice to the life and work of Roger Heacock. But Maurice Smith, a Herb Wegner Award winner and CEO of Local Government Federal Credit Union, put it into some perspective and said it so eloquently:
“We credit union leaders are often faced with making policy decisions that have ethical ramifications for communities. Sometimes these choices turn on doing right by society. This can seem nebulous for an industry that trades in products and services. Mr. Heacock recognizes our business can affect a community in positive or negative ways and reminds us to consider the downstream impact of our verdicts. This requires a deep examination of what values we hold most dear.”
I could not have said it better myself. Again, I say congratulations, Roger.
$ave with Summit Early Bird Registration.
Just a reminder about our next big credit union gathering! Now through March 25th you can register for our 2022 DakCU Summit for just $349! That’s a savings of $30 per attendee. As of March 26th, the price will be $379 – so if you know you will be attending our signature event, we strongly encourage you to register now. I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the Holiday Inn Rushmore Plaza in Rapid City, SD on May 10 – 11 as we unite to gain insights on all things credit union!
Levo Credit Union shines with the CU Difference!
Finally, I would like to send a shout out to Joey Rotert, VP of Marketing & Business Development with Levo Credit Union. He was a recent guest on Keloland Living, where the topic was all about serving the community. Joey, along with other guests, explained their Night of Hope and Caring where money is raised to benefit local students. “Banking with a credit union makes a significant difference in your financial life,” the report said. Wonderful job representing Levo and explaining the #CUDifference! You can watch the interview here.
Have a great week!
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