Stories of the people credit unions help every day matter to policymakers because that’s who they work for, CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan told the main hall Monday at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). Stories of people credit unions have helped resonate because Congressional staffers, and members of Congress themselves, can also likely identify with what a member is going through and how credit unions have helped.
“There is certainly a place for facts and figures — but everyone has numbers and Congress gets bogged down in them all of the time,” he said. “Credit unions are in a better position than other financial service providers to humanize the impact that decisions in Washington have because the interest of your members aligns with the interest of the credit union.”
Donovan shared his own credit union story, when after packing his car and heading to Washington, D.C. to work as a Congressional staffer, he was told to “go down and join the credit union so you can get paid.”
Donovan became a credit union member that day, he recalled, and he said credit unions have been with him ever since, helping him consolidate debt, buy a house, renovate a kitchen, and more.
He shared several videos on such impactful stories, including one featuring the story of Monica Belz, CEO of Kauai Government Employees FCU, who jet-skied, boated, and swam to get to credit union members after historic flooding in April 2018.
Another featuring Dupaco Community CU Consumer Lending Consultant Supervisor Cindy Hilkin told how the credit union served a member (after being referred by a bank) and helped him build his credit to work toward his dream of homeownership.
“Stories like these show that credit unions are advancing communities and empowering financial well-being. This matters to policymakers because they are interested in two things: their community and their constituents,” Donovan said. “Policymakers want what is best for their constituents and that includes the opportunity for them to be financially secure.”
He also outlined the CUNA/League 2020 advocacy agenda, an agenda that is “reflective of credit unions’ public policy interests and the political environment in which we operate.”
Donovan also urged credit union leaders, when meeting with members of Congress this week, to highlight that data security and data privacy is the “top issue for credit unions in 2020 and it is a top issue for Capitol Hill – it impacts everyone. And we need a national data security standard that applies to everyone. You can’t have data privacy without data security.”
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