Nearly 50 young credit union professionals got a wide-ranging education on every aspect of advocacy this week in Washington, D.C. CUNA, in conjunction with the New York Credit Union Association, hosted the professionals, an idea that first came out of a conversation at this year’s CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference.
“We wanted to make we had a wide variety of presentations by CUNA staff, league personnel, outside consultants and even a panel of congressional staffers,” said Adam Engelman, CUNA’s grassroots manager, who helped coordinate the training. “The Congressional staffer panel was especially popular, as they’re similar age as the credit union professionals, and they went in-depth about the processes and best practices that are essential to making an impression on Capitol Hill."
In addition to the panelists, CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle, Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan and Chief Political Officer Richard Gose talked the finer points of advocacy and political activity in the credit union world.
"This was a pilot in what will be the first of many advocacy training events that CUNA plans to roll out," said Gose. "Now that we have the base curriculum, we'll continue to adapt and update to build our Advocacy Army."
The group was also addressed by Mark Cummins, president of the Minnesota Credit Union Network and chair of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. Cummins highlighted the benefits of the CUNA/league system and how it accomplishes its advocacy goals.
One part of the agenda allowed the participants to practice their “elevator pitches” as they would in a member of Congress’s office, and get tips from a professional.
In addition, D.C./Maryland Credit Union Association President/CEO John Bratsakis and National Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Gigi Hyland discussed how advocacy and philanthropy intersect, particularly through the Foundation’s work and the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run.
The young professionals quickly got a chance to put their skills in actions after Tuesday’s sessions.
“Everyone who was able to stay Wednesday went to Capitol Hill and made use of the things they learned here,” Engelman said. “The feedback we’ve gotten so far has been very positive.”
Other activities included a reception at Credit Union House and a bus tour of Washington, D.C. monuments.