Above: CU advocates from Florida meet with Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. (far right), during a Hike the Hill visit last year.
Representatives from 10 state credit union leagues and member credit unions will travel to Washington, D.C., to take part in Hike the Hill, a grassroots program that provides credit unions an opportunity to meet with members of Congress, build relationships, discuss concerns, and share the credit union message.
“Direct, personal engagement by our credit union activists greatly increases the chances of having our voice heard above the din and the spin inside D.C.’s massive echo chamber,” says Tom Liebe, senior vice president of advocacy for the Wisconsin Credit Union League. “Our members enjoy significant benefits when they attend Hike the Hill because they can share powerful stories of service to members and communities.”
While Hike the Hill takes place year-round—an average of 25 to 30 state leagues participate each year, along with Capitol Hill visits during the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference—leagues regard September as a prime opportunity for a midyear check-in with legislators.
“Conducting Hike the Hill in the fall affords us the opportunity to follow up on any legislative and regulatory issues that may have been raised during our in-district visits over the summer work period,” says Keith Sias, senior vice president of governmental affairs for the Illinois Credit Union League.
Whether league delegations meet with members of Congress on Capitol Hill or at Credit Union House, they’ll address similar issues, such as cybersecurity, the credit union tax status, member business lending, risk-based capital, and fraud prevention. Credit unions also will tell legislators how they’re making an impact in their communities.
“We’ll talk about the issues of the day, but also about how credit unions really do make a difference in our communities,” says American Association of Credit Union Leagues Chair Tracie Kenyon, president/CEO of the Montana Credit Union Network. “We’ll bring stories from Montana about credit union development and outreach programs.”
While in D.C., many league and credit union representatives also will meet with CUNA, NCUA, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
League leaders view Hike the Hill as an opportunity to keep issues facing credit unions at the forefront of elected officials’ minds while spreading the credit union message.
“It’s important to have a constant presence in Washington, D.C.,” says Jared Ross, senior vice president of association services and governmental affairs for the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates. “We want to make sure our members are getting in front of Congress and their staff to ensure they’re hearing about the issues directly from credit unions.”