Dustin Haynes represents the Carolinas at CUNA Young Professionals Advocacy Workshop
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Posted by: Dustin Haynes, Heritage Trust FCU
|CUNA's Adam Engelman faciliated the CUNA Young Professionals Advocacy Workshop in Washington, DC. CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle snapped a selfie with Dustin Haynes from Heritage Trust FCU.
Earlier this year, I represented South Carolina as a Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) Crasher in Washington DC. The GAC, is the single largest gathering of credit union leadership in the country. This annual event provides credit union officials with an unprecedented opportunity to send a unified message to elected officials on legislative issues that impact our organizations and members. My Crasher experience inspired me to become more engaged in the advocacy work taking place within my credit union, as well as at the League level.
I recently attended the Credit Union National Association’s Young Professional Advocacy Workshop held in our nation’s capital. The workshop was a one-day course designed to provide future advocates with the fundamentals to engage elected officials on key legislative issues impacting our organizations. I was joined by 30 other young professionals from across the country who were all equally passionate about bringing awareness to the credit union movement.
The workshop began with words from CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle. Jim is a staunch credit union advocate who welcomed attendees and highlighted the recent legislative victory of S.2155 as a great example of credit union collaboration. CUNA Director of Federal Grassroots and Programs Adam Engelman facilitated the class and provided us with the tools and resources needed to become effective advocates.
Every day, thousands of credit unions across the United States work diligently to improve the quality of life in their communities. Whether it’s through outreach or by financially empowering our members through quality products and services, as employees we all work for the greater good of our members and typically do a great job of sharing these stories amongst our peers. However, as Adam pointed out during his session, we have to do a better job of sharing these stories outside of our industry. One of his key suggestions was to build a positive rapport with our elected officials. To begin, we need to maintain an awareness of who our elected officials are and ensure that we stay in touch by creating meaningful touchpoints outside of standard discussions about legislative issues. For example, inviting your representative to visit your branches or to participate in your local outreach initiatives. In doing so, we will be able to keep our organizations top-of-mind and illustrate our impact in the community.
Adam reiterated that as credit union employees, we represent thousands of members in our respective areas of service and we must remind elected officials of just how many of their constituents we actually serve. Programs like the CUNA Member Activation Program are in place to provide us with key data outlining how many of our members reside in specific political districts. This information was especially useful as we role-played scenarios in which we were meeting elected officials. This activity was useful in sharpening communication skills and improving the delivery of our messages.
Additional resources provided were the CU Social Good website, which is a platform created by the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas. This user-friendly resource allows credit unions to share outreach initiatives in a centralized dashboard. Not only can you print reports on your credit union's impact, you’re also able to view what initiatives peers in other parts of the country are pursuing to impact their areas of service.
Overall, this experience helped me sharpen my communication skills, while also providing insight about the tools and resources available to help me improve engagement with credit union members, elected officials, and my community. I highly recommend both the CUNA Young Professional Advocacy Workshop and the GAC Crasher program to anyone who wants to get involved in the credit union movement. The Cooperative Trust is now taking application's for the 2019 GAC Crasher program. If you are interested in representing the Carolinas Credit Union League at the 2019 GAC in March, I encourage you to apply today! More information about the CUNA Advocacy Workshop and other educational events will be available soon.