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At historic Grove Park Inn, Annual Meeting attendees open their eyes to advocacy

Thursday, June 13, 2019   (0 Comments)
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scenic view of Grove Park Inn

Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama—these are just a few of the U.S. Presidents that have walked the halls of the Grove Park Inn. The rich political history and importance of political advocacy was evident as credit unions gathered on Monday, June 3 for day two of the Carolinas Credit Union League’s 2019 Annual Meeting in Asheville, NC.

Keynote political speaker U.S. Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC10) began the day, sharing a political update and engaging in Q&A with the assembly of 480-plus.

Congressman Patrick McHenry at Annual MeetingMcHenry, who serves as the ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee in the 116th Congress, touched on the importance of working across the aisle, the satisfaction he finds in identifying key issues that both parties can work on together, and some of the pressing topics he sees with potential impact on credit unions.

During Q&A, McHenry addressed data security, fintech charters, CECL compliance, postal banking, and lack of guidance surrounding cannabis banking. Read more on his remarks in the latest edition of The Advocate (NC Edition).

The Carolinas Credit Union League’s Billy Boylston and Evelyn Hawthorne followed McHenry, emphasizing the necessity of engaged credit union advocates on a local and national scale.

“It’s only by opening your eyes to advocacy that we can open lawmakers’ eyes to credit unions and the important role credit unions play in communities across the country,” said Hawthorne. “Our efforts – Billy’s and mine --  are about creating opportunities to convey the credit union difference. You are the experts – all of you in this room -- you are the best advocates. Thank you for all that you do and know that we’re excited about the prospects of engaging you even more in the future.”

They also reflected back on accomplishments made possible through credit union support, lawmaker relationships, and strength of the Carolinas Capital Cluba source of energy for advocacy efforts and of support for credit-union-friendly candidates.

A video flashback concluded their session with advocacy highlights of the last five years, noting what credit union in the Carolinas can accomplish together.

Former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, the closing speaker of the day, captivated attendees with the retelling of his political career and behind-the-scenes moments, and his perspective on the state of politics today.

Card was appointed Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush in 2000. Prior to serving that administration, he also served under former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

Former WH Chief of Staff Andrew Card

One of his most engaging stories was of his careful consideration in informing President George W. Bush that America was under attack as the World Trade Centers were hit September 11, 2001.

The President was making a planned appearance for a book reading in a Florida classroom when they first got word of initial reports that a two-engine prop plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. Seated in a holding room outside the classroom when they heard the report, Card remembered: “The President, [school] principal and I all had the same reaction, ‘What a horrible accident! The pilot must have had a heart attack or something.’” As they waited to learn more, the President proceeded in the classroom where second graders, teachers and reporters waited.

Still in the holding room, Card recalled how the news got worse as national security soon realized the crash was no accident, and America was under attack. The delicate issue in the moment was how to carefully inform the president without raising alarm.

“I made a decision to pass on two facts [to the president] and to do nothing to invite a comment or question,” Card recalled. “I have to do everything by the book. Be cool, calm and collected.”

As he leaned in behind the president, he whispered into his right ear: “A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack.”

Rather than make a sudden exit fr­­om the event and trigger unhelpful speculation, the President and his team wrapped the event up quickly and calmly. The rest of the events of that day go down in history as a time America will never forget.

As his session concluded, the evening featured the last day of the exhibit hall, Carolinas Credit Union Foundation fundraiser, and a Private PAC Reception where top contributors spent more time with Andrew Card.

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