PODCAST: Building cooperation and community
Founder of 'Crash the GAC' continues to connect people with opportunity.
Since founding The Cooperative Trust and creating the Crasher movement, Brent Dixon has tackled several interesting projects outside the credit union space.
Dixon introduced an interactive vibe to TEDxAustin presentations. He worked for the big data and health startup Walkmore. He contributed to Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive, a group that empowers college students to create ethical, cooperatively run food enterprises.
Most recently, Dixon spent 18 months at the United Nations, where he focused on creating a technology innovation unit.
What's the common tie between these experiences and his credit union pursuits?
“I really believe in cooperation and the power of community,” Dixon tells CUNA News Podcast. “At the core, learning how to mobilize people and create access where access might not have been granted is important to bringing new ideas into systems that need them.”
The Crasher program has evolved into a partnership between CUNA and The Cooperative Trust that allows young professionals to attend major credit union events, where they meet with industry leaders, make important connections, and draw inspiration from the broader credit union ecosystem.
That’s a far cry from the program's humble beginnings as a rogue event called Crash the GAC, which in its first year exposed a couple dozen ambitious attendees to credit unions’ largest and most venerable gathering, CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.
CUNA has expanded the Crasher program to America's Credit Union Conference, CUNA Councils Conferences, and other industry events. CUNA and The Cooperative Trust provide a sponsorship to all Crash the GAC attendees—who represent all 50 states and the District of Columbia—to defray GAC registration costs. CUNA oversees the effort from start to finish, which includes coordinating the onsite experience.
Later this month at the GAC, the National Credit Union Foundation will honor The Cooperative Trust with the 2017 Herb Wegner Memorial Outstanding Program Award.
Reflecting on the concept's growth since he moved on, Dixon says the Crasher program isn’t “a project that can be looked at as sort of a concrete thing; it's more like a chemical reaction. It's the result of lots and lots of research, and energy, and many, many amazing people and organizations that have sort of led to it becoming what it is. It's exciting to watch the cascade of where it's gone and where the credit union community has taken it.”