In my previous blog post I shared about CUNA’s annual Governmental Affairs Conference, which I attended for the first time this year. What I didn’t mention was how I came to attend – I “crashed” it!
Filene Research Institute, credit union think-tank and research organization, has a division called The Cooperative Trust, which is targeted toward credit union enthusiasts aged 35 and under. Each year they hold an open call for applications to “Crash the GAC”, bringing a younger generation into the same room as leaders in the movement and building the next wave of credit union leaders. In spite of what the title implies, we’re actually invited guests with full entry into the conference (sponsored by CUNA). You can meet the Crashers from each state and check out our posts and photos on social media if you’re interested to learn more.
My amazing boss, Chief Human Resource Officer Gayle Evans, encouraged me to apply for the Crash back in November – the application process even included a video of myself explaining why I should be selected to represent Oregon. I learned in December that I had been selected and I’ve been running full-steam ahead ever since. I wasn’t exactly up on current political issues before the conference (not in any detail, anyway) and took this opportunity to educate myself and prepare for impending conversations with leaders and legislators on these issues.
The Crash schedule is packed! Yes, we attended the conference, but we also attended events before, during, and after as well. Most days started at 7 a.m. and ended around 10 p.m. (one night even ended at 2 a.m.!) We had some really cool mentor sessions with Larky, Filene, and Mindblown Labs, just to name a few. And we even have our very own party, Thunderpunch! (Yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds!)
As fun as it was to be a Crasher, it was also incredibly inspiring and educational. Here are some of my biggest takeaways:
- From Adam Schwartz at The Cooperative Way: Sometimes the only way to do something is through the collective power of the cooperative. If we are purposeful and intentional, we can make a big difference.
- From Elry Armaza at Filene: It’s hard to come up with something new when you are in the same conference room all the time. Consider how you can change your space, perhaps moving around the tables or even just going outside.
- From keynote speaker and futurethink CEO Lisa Bodell: Simplification is a competitive advantage. How can we ensure that we are keeping things minimal, understandable, and accessible?
Coming out of the Crash, I am motivated to share what I’ve learned and help strengthen the credit union advocacy efforts at Unitus. People need credit unions, and credit unions need us to fight for them. The Crashers are on the job!
Posted by: Amanda Otto:
About the author: Amanda is the Senior Training & Development Specialist at Unitus and oversees New Employee Orientation and the corporate Job Skills Training Program. She holds a Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership and Policy from Portland State University and is on the board of directors for a local non-profit organization. In her free time, she enjoys running on the Portland waterfront, having coffee with friends, and eating veggie burgers.