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Crash the GAC 2017!

Your 2017 Crashers!

We’re back once again! We have FIFTY young professionals from all over the U.S.A. heading to Washington D.C. for Crash the GAC! We’re so thankful once more to Credit Union National Association (CUNA) for being our partner and primary supporter to make these magical events happen, all of our Crashers are receiving full attendance scholarships from CUNA. Speaking of Crashers… Come and meet them!

Something new!

In addition, for the CUNA GAC – we are bringing even more political advocacy to our Crash event, including a ‘town hall’ style meeting with Rep. Swalwell and more events for our crashers, to be announced!

Thunderpunch!

Oh… and guess what… THUNDERPUNCH IS BACK! Come and join us on Monday, 2/27 for the best time and one of the ‘go to’ evening events of the CUNA GAC hosted by your Crashers & supported once more by our friends at Larky and SavvyMoneyCheck out the details now!

Herb Wegner Award

This year we have been lucky enough to be the recipients of the National Credit Union Foundation‘s Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Program! This is a huge honour and the highest in the credit union system. We’re very humbled by the recognition of The Foundation and can’t wait to celebrate with everyone at the awards dinner at GAC! Read more about why we are being recognised…

Thanks to… 

Crash the GAC wouldn’t be able to happen without an army at our disposal. First, we would thank the talented colleagues we have at Filene Research Institute, Credit Union National Association for being our partner and the Crash the GAC team made up of Ariel Bilskey, Lindsey Hodson, Matt Vance, Andy Janning and James Marshall.

A shout out must be given to the credit union leagues and associations who have helped us promote and recruit for this event, as well as being strong proponents of our program.

Finally, we would like to thank Larky & SavvyMoney for partnering on Thunderpunch once more; we’d like to thank CUNA Mutual Group for their ongoing support; and lastly but certainly not least – Visa, Bethpage FCU, and Alogent for helping to get all our Crashers to the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards Dinner at GAC 2017!

Follow Along.

Make sure you follow along on social, on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Our hashtag is #crashthegac17 and you can see our social wall here!

Careers·Change·Collaboration·Conferences·Crash·Crash Event·Crash the GAC·Creativity·CUNA·Filene·Gen Y·Governmental Affairs·Ideas·Leadership·Meetups·Mentorship·News Release·Perception·Professional Development

Say Yes.

Let’s get up around 6am daily and potentially stay up until 2am nightly.  On a daily average let’s do 13,000 steps and burn 3,500 calories without hitting the gym.  But it doesn’t stop there, let’s push through the joint pain, muscle aches and any other bodily issue that may fall to fatigue or soreness because trust me, places that you didn’t know could ache will show themselves during this timeframe.

High-fiving Crash Facilitator, CUNA’s Ariel Bilskey!

However, let’s not forget conditions that require emotional and mental preparation.  Although these conditions may vary, they could include but aren’t limited to: being alert every waking hour, managing hunger or the feeling of being hangry (hungry +angry), dehydration or over hydration, seeing every moment to make an impression for future follow ups, photo opts, converting strangers to friends or family, massive social media updates, patience of a grade school teacher, stamina of long distance runner, and smiles and handshakes, oh yes many many smiles and handshakes for everyone.  Lastly, let’s make sure we are equipped with two very important skills, the electric slide and a new or current dance.  For this example let’s say the Whip and Nae Nae but, it’s ok to only prepare for one or the other, this is a judgment free zone.  Who fills this role and what calls for this type of conditions?  Is it a professional athlete, a politician, or movie star?  Is it a sporting event, campaign, or an awards show?

No, it’s a Crasher at the CUNA GAC (Government Affairs Conference) 2016 and I’m proud to be one.

I can still remember the stages of excitement vividly as the days changed throughout the week.  Although originally nervous, I was at ease entering into this conference thanks to the preparation, structure and leadership of James Marshall, the Crasher team captains, and The Cooperative Trust.  It didn’t take long before the nerves fell by the waste side and were replaced with adrenalin.  Looking back, I am thankful for memories that will last a lifetime.

Carrying my flag at the opening ceremony, in front of almost 5000 people.

I can recall how exciting it was to meet my fellow crashers after many weeks of discussions and online activities.  I’ll never forget my heart pounding as I walked with my association president carrying our state flag surrounded by the claps, shouts and positive energy to kick off the conference.  I’ll recall the unity while everyone bowed their heads in prayer for a divine blessing for the conference and each attendee.

Although 5000 people were estimated to participate, it was the consistent message and unity that I felt throughout the conference.  I remember other defining moments such as the feeling of honor and admiration to meet some of the current leaders of the movement from NCUA, CUNA, and NAFCU, to mention a few.  Knowing that individuals such as Jim Nussle, Rich Meade, Gigi Hyland, Ryan Donovan, and Monica Davy would take their time to invest in us was unbelievable.  To be able to hear their personal stories was a highlight of the conference.  It’s not every day that anyone can get personal time with so many leaders of the movement.  All of this can transpire in one day at the GAC and its worth every moment.  It seems overwhelming, and it is.  Yet in this environment I found the culture had a way of keeping me energized and wanting more.

My experience at the GAC made me even more proud to be a credit union professional.  The feeling that I can effectively create change through advocacy or community reinvestments, to increase financial wellness is incredible. But it was at the GAC where I saw the credit union culture at its best.  The GAC served as a platform to hear the stories across the nation of kindness and courage to fight for what’s right.  From conversations with representatives in congress to random conversations at social events, it was easy to see how the culture of people helping people was contagious.  Information sharing wasn’t frowned upon, in fact it was the norm.  The culture of every individual I came into contact with broadened my understanding of the impact our not for profit cooperative has on the nation.  Every moment was invaluable at the GAC.

For future crashers, it’s important to know that a crasher isn’t one person who is selected to get shipped to Washington DC to meet 51 other strangers from across the nation.  We aren’t just gung-ho credit union advocates under the age of 35 with time on their hands to travel.  A crasher is a person who has said yes and believes in it. That’s it!

But this yes has probably been said a millions times in the mind of a crasher even after several no’s.  This yes is also a readiness.  The GAC is the

Saying YES to singing our National Anthem on day 1.

largest credit union advocacy event of the year with a duration of 5 days, but what about the other 360 days.  That yes is a consistent drive in the movement of a crasher from day to day.  That yes makes them get up early to tend to the needs of members and coworkers a like that isn’t in their job description.  That yes enables the mind of a crasher to innovate, create and establish new ideas that may disrupt the way we used to do things to be relevant to the new needs of a changing society.  That yes understands the social and economic needs of tomorrow and works to get them in place today.  That yes transfers the mind of a crasher to seek out mentors while being a mentor. That yes says I understand the call to action and I am available.  That yes represents the credit union difference.

That, is the heart of a crasher.

Future crashers of the world are the successors that will join hands with the current leaders now.  That is why the GAC is so important.  That is why you are so important.  It is at the GAC where that transfer can begin to take place.  Crashers go through an incubation process in a safe environment and it has the potential to change both your professional and personal lives forever.  Crashing the GAC was a defining moment in my life and it can be the same for you.  All it takes is a yes in your spirit and the rest can make history.

Careers·Community Development·Conferences·Crash·Crash Event·Crash the GAC·Creativity·CUNA·CUNA Mutual Group·Filene·Gen Y·Governmental Affairs·Innovation·Leadership·Meetups·Mentorship·News Release·Professional Development

Crash Course in Crashing

(1) Selfie with Jim Nussle. (2) Meeting with my representatives. (3) Group shot with my fellow crashers!

When you sign up to be a crasher, you create these expectations in your head. You might think “Oh, I’m just going to meet a few credit union people, learn some cooperative stuff and not embarrass my CEO at Thunderpunch.” Ok, we did all these things (maybe not that last one), but it’s just hitting the surface of this amazing experience.

Crashing personifies our feelings as young professionals. We are the future of the industry, and it gives us the opportunity to learn how to be ambassadors of our cooperative brand. When you Crash, you can expect to:

LEARN.

Being a lifetime learner is the cornerstone principle of the “Young Professional.” I think we pride ourselves on this quality because it’s admitting that we don’t know everything but we WANT to know more.  Crashing is like an extreme professional apprenticeship. You take in volumes of information in a short amount of time, but you leave with a new appreciation for your job. Yes credit unions help people, but crashing teaches us that we actually help each other too.

CONNECT.

This experience was full of starstruck moments. It is totally intimidating to rub shoulders with people like Jim Nussle, Gigi Hyland and Stan Hollen. But any insecurities you may have had wash away because you are surrounded by bright like-minded individuals ready to hold you up and make you feel included. I compare this feeling to going away to college for the first time: everyone is a stranger at first, but the bonds you create are life-long.

GROW.

I left DC with a spark *queue “this girl is on fire” by Alicia Keys*. I didn’t just come home with knowledge, I brought ideas. Crashing will do that. Blame it on the group dynamics, but I am motivated to share my experiences, encourage others to Crash and build an advocacy program at my credit union. Crashing has opened doors that maybe didn’t even exist, but now I feel empowered to create them.

As I sit here reflecting on these experiences, my phone continues to blow up with messages from fellow crashers. It reminds me to hold on to that excitement, stay motivated to learn more and continue to share the #CUdifference! Thank you for this amazing opportunity. The energy is real, and together we are going to do amazing things.

Change·Collaboration·Community Development·Conferences·Crash Event·Crash the GAC·CUNA·Filene·Gen Y·Ideas·Innovation·Leadership·Meetups·Mentorship·Professional Development

Dear Future Crashers…

Me outside the exhibit hall for the CUNA GAC!

It is just hours after my final event of Crash the GAC 2016 and I am already thinking about the next group of Crashers for the 2017 session. I have gone from being surrounded by inspiring and motivated peers to being alone in a hotel room, unable to stop replaying the extraordinary events from the past 5 days. I’m definitely feeling all the feels. Yes, the schedule was packed, and yes, I’m super tired, but it has been an experience like none other and I can’t help feeling grateful to have been part of it.

Let me start by addressing a few of your potential questions:

  1. Did you get much sleep? Nope, but neither did anyone else, and it is easier to be awake and happy when you have 51 friends who are going through it with you. (Plus, as James aptly reminded us, you can sleep next week.)
  2. Did you like your roommate? Yes! In fact, connecting with my roommate Tara Efird (South Carolina) was one of the top highlights of the entire experience.
  3. Is James Marshall as British as he seems? Even more so.
  4. What happened at Thunderpunch 2016? Not telling. (Yes, this party is that awesome.)
  5. Who makes this Crash happen? So many people! I’d like to send a huge THANK YOU to CUNA and Filene, who support Crash the GAC and the Crashers. We couldn’t attend without CUNA’s generosity, and wouldn’t have our extra sessions without Filene putting together an awesome schedule. (Note: An extra shoutout to CUNA CEO Jim Nussle who has been incredibly supportive!) Everywhere you go you will meet people that shape your experience – take a minute to thank each and every one of them.
  6. Why should I apply to be a Crasher? Because the experience will change your life, if you let it. You will walk away with close friends, valuable connections, and enthusiasm about the credit union movement.

I would like to call out an important topic: engagement. The old saying “you get out of it what you put into it” is so true. While you can’t help but be inspired by the excellent speakers and in awe of Capital Hill, it is your Crasher duty to engage fully and deeply with the people around you. I know there is often aversion to it, but “networking” is not a dirty word – it is simply the term for connecting with others and exchanging information. How could that be bad? If you put yourself out there, be genuinely interested in others, and keep a smile on your face during the late nights and early mornings, you will reap the rewards.

With my roommate, Tara!

I am privileged to have had conversations with amazing people in the credit union movement and they were all so generous with their time and advice. I took copious notes (often on my iPhone in the corner of a bar so I didn’t miss capturing the wisdom of new friends) and I have a handful of business cards that I will definitely be putting to use when I have a question or need guidance in the future. There are so many great photos and quotes on Twitter under #CrashTheGAC16 and #CUNAGAC that will give you a good idea about what to expect from the sessions, and I already know that I will be revisiting those threads regularly.

As I prepare to head back into the real world, motivated and focused, I leave you with this: Credit unions need you to Crash the GAC. This movement, founded on the idea of people helping people, wants and needs talented young professionals that can carry the torch into the future. If we step up and take these development opportunities seriously, we put ourselves in the position to be credit union leaders that protect members and serve communities. The Crashers have the fire – bring on the torch.

big. bright. minds.·Conferences·Crash·CUNA·Filene·Innovation·Technology

Bigger, Brighter, Mind…ier?

I just spent the past two days at Harvard for the ‪#‎bigbrightminds‬ conference, and 24 hours later my mind is still recuperating from being totally blown. I’m back in the office today reflecting on the experience and content, and it’s starting to sink in that I was just exposed to the ideas and leaders who will not only define the credit union movement in the coming years, but in some cases actually shake the broader financial industry to its core, drastically change how millions of Americans will view personal finance and put a spotlight on the interconnectedness of economics, culture and social movements.

Society of Grownups

Nondini Naqui, president and CEO of the Society of Grownups, and Brian Rich, marketing coordinator at Icon Credit Union

We heard from Nondini Naqui from the Society of Grownups in Boston who is less than two years into their Millennial-focused financial literacy campaign and has already helped thousands of young people better understand finances, all while growing their staff to 40 full-time employees (in 22 months) and securing an additional $100 million in funding to expand their much needed services to 10 of the nation’s biggest cities. Like their page and get ready for Naqui’s TED Talk in February because once the world hears her message (delivered with eloquence most presidents would envy), everything is going to change.

We heard Hope Jensen Schau, professor of marketing at the University of Arizona, discuss research showing how Millennials view large institutions with deep skepticism, but place enormous value in peer-to-peer institutions making a social impact. While Millennials are still poorly informed on the subject, her studies have so far shown an enormous interest in credit unions and how they can weave into the “pro-social” mindset of Millennials, who are largely uninterested in supporting institutions that don’t provide a clear social benefit along with their business model.

Jonathan Morduch, professor of public policy and economics at New York University, explained that household incomes today are as volatile as they’ve ever been, fluctuating more than 20% above/below their annualized monthly median income at least five months each year. These extreme spikes and dips highlight the importance of short-term savings – a product and habit that still today eludes consumers and financial institutions alike.

Crashers and Jim Nussle

Some of the Big. Bright. Minds. crashers with Jim Nussle, president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association.

Dennis Campbell, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, spoke about the importance of freedom within organizational culture and how to design a framework or “boundary systems” that respects hierarchical integrity while empowering employees to make and own critical decisions. Campbell showed research that proved an organization’s culture is not defined by words, but tacitly by the decisions made by leadership and the prioritization of constituents in short term trade-off situations (e.g. when priorities conflict at Amazon or Southwest Airlines, Amazon puts the customer/price first and Southwest puts the organization’s culture first – and the decisions are made openly and in plain sight).

Campbell also discussed an incredible business/case-study in Turkey, where a collections business called TurkAsset is in the process of flipping a toxic industry on its head by simply choosing to view humans as its customers instead of the banks offloading subprime loans.

We were briefed on the latest products and services being developed internally by Filene Research Institute, including some incredible ideas around short-term loan options to neutralize the disastrous payday lending industry and a new credit monitoring app called SavvyMoney that will weave seamlessly into online banking systems for thousands of credit unions nationwide. This amazing program could finally and permanently end the elusive nature of credit scores, help millions of consumers put an end to identity theft, save members thousands by easing the process of debt consolidation and encourage healthier financial habits by providing instant feedback on the consequences of your good and bad financial decisions.

The depth and breadth of topics discussed in such a short window of time is a perfect metaphor for the very business model of Filene, which uses a small staff and enormous levels of talent to research and implement industry-changing ideas to benefit millions of credit union members – and consumers in general – across the country. And what better location but to host the entire event at Harvard, which established the expectation that we were in for a world-class schooling on economic innovations. An enormous thank you to Filene, CUNA, our hosts at the Harvard University Employees Credit Union, our crash host James Marshall, to all of the guest speakers and to everyone else who helped make this such a tremendous learning experience!

Careers·Collaboration·Community Development·Conferences·Crash·Crash Event·CUNA·CUNA Mutual Group·Filene·Gen Y·Ideas·Innovation·Leadership·Meetups·Professional Development

It’s time for Crash Louisiana 2015

Follow us here!

Conferences·Crash·Crash Event·Crash the ACUC·CUNA·Filene·Finance·Gen Y·Ideas·Innovation·Leadership·Meetups·News Release·Professional Development·Updates

Denver, we’re coming for you!

In just under 6 weeks we’ll be in Denver, CO. where we will join credit union professionals from all over the world at the co-chosted World Credit Union Conference and America’s Credit Union Conference by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

Remember, everything we do is made possible thanks to CUNA! Crash Denver is happening thanks to Fiserv.

We’ll be calling our little excursion; Crash Denver. At Crash Denver, our Crashers will be put through their paces to help build a new credit union business model aimed at the next generation of consumers! This is an exciting opportunity for our group to really put something together which can have real impact in our industry.

We have also been warmly invited to join WOCCU’s World Young Credit Union People program for their events – so our Crashers are certainly going to be working hard!

We will have a reception on Tuesday night of the conference too, which all are welcome to attend. Watch this space!

In the mean time, why don’t you look below to meet our Crashers:

Abram Rodriguez, Border Federal Credit Union, Texas

Alycia Kaiser, Limestone Federal Credit Union, Michigan

Amanda Carrozza, Eagle One Federal Credit Union, Pennsylvania

Amberlee Payne, High Plains Federal Credit Union, New Mexico

Chad Maheux, Seasons Federal Credit Union, Connecticut

Dainelle Riley, USF Federal Credit Union, Florida

Denice Saucedo, North Side Community Federal Credit Union, Illinois

Ryan Manis, Kohler Credit Union, Wisconsin

Shelley, Ennis, New Castle County School Employees FCU, Pennsylvania

Spence LaCroix, Jefferson Financial Credit Union, Louisiana

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