GAC: 2020 conference recap

GAC: 2020 conference recap

Memorable sessions, speakers, and ideas from this year's event.

February 27, 2020

CUNA's 2020 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) brought together more than 5,500 credit union advocates—a record-breaking number of attendees.

Revisit some of the sessions, speakers, and ideas from this year's conference:


  • CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle welcomed a record 895 first-time attendees to the conference. He encouraged the group to share unique stories of how their credit unions change members' lives and advance the communities they serve.
  • Photographer Platon shared stories of being in the same room as some of the most recognizable people who have ever lived during his ED (Filene) Talk. "I've seen power up close and personal, but I haven't seen the magic ingredient to being a good person or a good leader in most of these people," he said. "I think that a great member of society has to think of themselves as a servant of people in order to make things better."


  • Nussle addressed advocates during his keynote speech. He particularly highlighted the important role credit unions play in empowering financial well-being for millions of Americans.
  • Author and consultant Marcus Buckingham delivered a keynote address that looked at how a free-thinking approach could be used to attract and retain talent in the workplace. "Excellence has its own pattern," Buckingham said. "Study success. It's different."
  • CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan told the main hall that stories of people credit unions have helped resonate with members of Congress and staffers because they care about their communities and constituents.
  • Outgoing CUNA Board Chairman Brett Martinez urged credit union advocates to utilize leadership and teamwork to continue advancing credit unions, members, and communities. He also said not to underestimate the three-tiered CUNA, league, and credit union system.


  • Nussle joined former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley for a "fireside chat." "What I love about credit unions is they're more about families and community and they truly get the customer service side of things," Haley said.
  • Chris Lorence, executive director of Credit Union Awareness, updated attendees on the Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union® campaign. "We have a tremendous opportunity to grow as an industry," Lorence said. "Each of us, regardless of asset size, location, and membership type can shift our mindset to one of growth and potential."
  • Newly elected CUNA Board Chairman Troy Stang detailed his credit union journey and laid out goals for his term. Stang said credit unions need to continue to evolve and remain relevant. "Let's stand proud knowing that our financial model, credit unions, is the only model that is directly accountable to those it serves," he said.
  • Political adviser David Plouffe shared his thoughts on communication, attention, and the 2020 election. "All of you, in your organizations and communities, are trying to find the best way to reach people," Plouffe said. "If you want to reach tough-to-reach people today, particularly anyone under the age of 40, you've got to think visual first."


  • Legislators from both sides of the aisle addressed attendees before an afternoon of credit union visits on Capitol Hill. As if to underscore the importance of those visits, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) announced during her remarks that she would introduce a bill with important credit union governance modernizations.
  • Credit unions should take advantage of the fact that they serve many people in legislators’ districts, political strategists Stephanie Cutter and Nicolle Wallace told attendees. Troy Stang, CUNA Board chair, moderated the discussion, which addressed the presidential election, today’s contentious political environment, the importance of social media, and more.
  • More than 5,500 credit union advocates could be seen in every Congressional office building in Washington, D.C., Wednesday as credit unions concluded the GAC with meetings with nearly every House and Senate office.

While attendees explored the Exhibit Hall, Credit Union Magazine staff collected stories for the CUNA News Podcast about how credit unions make a difference in members’ lives, providers’ cutting-edge products and services, and more. A big thank you to Symitar for sponsoring our booth.

We also operated a photo booth that put attendees' pictures on the cover of Credit Union Magazine, sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group. Visit our photo gallery of cover models here.

►Visit CUNA News for more conference coverage and catch up on Twitter via @CUNA_News, @cumagazine, @CUNA, and #CUNAGAC. See highlights from the conference on Facebook and Instagram and visit for more information.