by Jeff Olson, President/CEO
Greetings and welcome to March! The calendar page has flipped to reveal a new month and if this were a “normal” year, many of us would be off this week to Washington, D.C. for the CUNA GAC. However, we’re still navigating in uncertain territory and like most everything else over the last year, the largest gathering of credit union advocates has gone to a virtual platform. It was one year ago that the pandemic took hold on our country, just as we returned from the CUNA GAC. So, it’s been a long 12 months of connecting on virtual and digital platforms. Generally, the week leading up to and attending the actual event is one of my favorite times each year. But we are in different times, and like many of you, I am experiencing virtual fatigue and am craving personal and peer connections.
Having said that, the CUNA GAC virtual conference platform is extraordinary, as are the headline speakers and the virtual exhibit hall. I’m anxious for our movement to start the conversation around “Financial Well-Being for All” – an initiative that will be launched this week to help better define the credit union difference. By the way, you can still register for the credit union industry’s premier advocacy event, even at the last minute. It really is shaping up to be an exciting GAC week, one that will help us set the stage for the future of the credit union movement. If you’re unable to tune in live, recordings will be available for a short time after the event to those who register!
As you know, one of the highlights of the GAC each year is our “Hike the Hill” visits to the Capitol. However, we’re operating under unusual circumstances and scheduling virtual visits with our six members of congress has been challenging, to say the least. The virtual platform does present some difficulties in our ability to share stores and have a meaningful dialogue. In addition, not all our Dakota congressional members like using the virtual platforms and prefer other connection methods that we’re trying to work around. We are finalizing all these details and meeting times and we expect to be sharing that information soon. It is very likely that our “Hike the Hill” visits will be scheduled later this month, and they will be open to all Dakota Credit Union Association members.
Meanwhile, Congress is back to its normal course of business, and CUNA and Leagues have been engaged. We hope to see credit union friendly bills introduced in the coming weeks.
Congratulations Jim Schaefbauer – CUNA GAC Scholarship Winner!
Jim Schaefbauer, President/CEO of United Savings Credit Union in Fargo was selected out of hundreds of applications from across the country to receive one of the CUNA GAC Small credit union scholarships this year. Congratulations to Jim who will be joining more than two thousand credit union advocates participating in this year’s virtual event.
Congratulations to Dakota’s GAC Crashers!
I also want to congratulate three young credit union professionals from the Dakotas who were selected as GAC Crashers and will be attending the virtual event this week. From University FCU (Grand Forks, ND) Nanci Wilson; from East River FCU (Madison, SD) Erica Clements; and from North Star Community CU (Maddock, ND) Elizabeth Colby. They will be attending many of the general sessions as well as special programming just for the Crasher group. The Crasher program will have an enormous impact on the careers, goals, and professional development of these emerging credit union leaders.
Summit Crasher Opportunity
Speaking of Crashers – later this week, we will open applications for our Summit Crasher program. We have had great success with this program, and it is a wonderful way to enhance the experience of young professionals. The Crashers’ registration fees are FREE for the Summit in Fargo May 3 – 4; the only expense you will incur is travel and lodging. This is a great opportunity to send your up-and-coming credit union leaders to an educational event sure to enhance their careers, so I encourage you to consider sending one (or more) of your staff. Contact George McDonald if you have any questions about the Crasher agenda.
Alloya Small CU Scholarships Available for 2021 Summit!
We are also very pleased to announce that we will again be offering the DakCU/Alloya Reconnect Scholarships for the 2021 Summit. There are ten $500 scholarships available – and these scholarships are offered exclusively to our small credit unions on a first come, first requested basis. Following your attendance at the Summit, the scholarship checks will be sent to those selected. To apply, first, register for the event here and once you have registered, contact Deb Kruckenberg and let her know you are interested in a DakCU/Alloya Reconnect scholarship. I’m really looking forward to seeing you there!
Join Us for Happy (Half) Hour
Whenever we travel to Washington, DC for the CUNA GAC, one of our favorite activities is the “after hours” socializing that takes place. That is why we are hosting a “Virtual Happy Half-Hour” on Wednesday, March 3rd from 5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Email invites were sent this morning but if you didn’t receive the invite and would like to attend, be sure to reach out to Jay Kruse for the link. I hope you will take just 30 minutes to reconnect with some of your Dakota peers. Grab your favorite beverage, invite your credit union friends, and join the fun!
Congratulations to Paul Brucker for 34 years at Railway Credit Union.
Finally, I would like to give Paul Brucker, President of Railway Credit Union in Mandan, North Dakota a “shout out” on his 34 years of service. Congratulations Paul, and thank you for all you do to promote the credit union difference and improve the financial well-being of your members.
Have a great week!
Dakota Credit Union Association
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