Family Focus Federal Credit Union’s Amy Brodersen discusses advocacy at the 2024 Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington D.C.

‘We can’t let up for a minute’

Family Focus Federal Credit Union CEO Amy Brodersen on being a voice for the movement.

March 8, 2024

Amy Brodersen believes deeply in credit unions large and small.

As president/CEO at Family Focus Federal Credit Union in Omaha, Neb., she does much of her work in the small realm, advocating for the movement while serving the gas and utility workers who make up the field of membership at the $44 million asset credit union.

“I’m passionate about advocating for small credit unions and the survival of small credit unions—not just surviving, but thriving,” says Brodersen, who was hired as a clerk in 1990 and is in her 18th year as CEO. “It’s about protecting something vital to the financial health of many Americans. I'm standing firmly alongside everybody else in credit union land for the purpose of preserving our rights as credit unions.”

Brodersen’s credit union involvement includes co-founding the Credit Union Women’s Leadership Alliance, an organization for women CEOs running credit unions with less than $300 million in assets; serving on the America’s Credit Unions’ Small Credit Union Committee and the Nebraska Credit Union League board; and more.

“Advocacy starts with the CEO. You have to be the voice that starts it,” Brodersen says, noting that advocacy should spread throughout the organization. “If you're breathing at a credit union, you’re responsible for advocacy. It takes all our voices. And when there's a call for voices and arms, send it to your members. They love you. Tell them that you need their voice, and they will give it.

“If you're not advocating on behalf of credit unions and you're not telling our stories, somebody else is going to.”

Credit unions can keep those other voices in the background with proactive advocacy, sharing their stories with legislators.

“I'm proud of our advocacy efforts,” Brodersen says. “We have such a strong advocacy arm, and we have to keep that up. We can't let up for a minute.”

She took that attitude to America’s Credit Unions’ Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. She often brings Family Focus Federal board members to the annual advocacy event, getting the volunteers in front of lawmakers to share their passion for the movement.

“It’s about showing up, having a voice, and telling our story,” Brodersen says. “When I'm there, I'm representing my members. I'm fighting to continue serving them. It's the one opportunity all year that you're really going to have a captive audience listening to you. Your voice counts.”

In 2024, Brodersen is using her voice to advocate for:

* The credit union tax exemption. “If the tax exemption goes away, it’s going to detriment small credit unions,” she says. “We’re operating on such thin margins as it is. It's important for us to have a voice and make sure our lawmakers understand why these things are important.

“Just because members choose to do business with a smaller institution doesn’t mean they don't deserve the same offerings as those provided by larger institutions. It's about protecting our financial status so we can afford to do those things.”

* So-called “junk fees.” Credit unions don’t charge junk fees. “We’re providing services, and our fees are low,” Brodersen says. “They barely cover the cost to provide services to our members. If you start taking away our interchange income, for example, we may not have a choice but to start adding fees. We don't want to do that.”

While GAC takes place once a year, advocacy is year-round. Family Focus Federal is positioning itself to better tell its story, undergoing a full rebrand this year and expanding its field of membership.

“I see such a strong need for credit unions small and large,” Brodersen says. “We all have the same mission. We're all serving members who a lot of times don't have anywhere else to go. We're trying hard every day to reach more of those underserved individuals.”