57 PJs of Credit Unions Learn “Advocacy Isn’t Just For Executives” | 2021-08-09
CUNA, League and Credit Union leaders explained the ins and outs of advocacy to young professionals this week at the CUNA Young Professionals Advocacy Workshop. The three-day virtual workshop featured discussions on all aspects of advocacy, including a mock meeting and a panel of Congress staff.
CUNA political director Richard Gose told those in attendance that despite occupying many roles and positions within the credit union movements, they should all be advocates as well.
“We are all lawyers, we were born lawyers. When a baby cries, he pleads for something, ”Gose said. “We can’t let barriers like ‘I don’t know enough’ or ‘I have no experience’ keep us from doing our important advocacy work. CUNA and the leagues are here to help you through workshops like this. Everyone matters and your opinion matters. Lawyer.”
Adam Engelman, director of base and federal programs at CUNA, led the workshop and said the young professionals
“Young professionals know their credit union and members, but according to our pre-workshop surveys, about 70% of those in attendance had never done advocacy,” Engelman said. “Someone even said that advocacy isn’t even in the top 10 things they do for the job, and that’s something we want to change. Advocacy is not just for C suite staff, we want to give tips and tools to involve more people, show them what advocacy is, how to improve, how the process works.
Participants learned how to best use data, social media in their advocacy work, and organizations like the State Leagues and the American Association of Credit Union Leagues can provide resources and information.
“We don’t need you to feel like an expert on all the ins and outs of a law, that’s what CUNA and League defense staff work on every day,” Engelman said. . “What we need from credit unions are stories, all the stories where you can talk about a member and maybe how a law can help you serve that member, that’s what makes an impact. . “
The young professionals in attendance had a wide variety of experiences, some having taken annual trips to the state capital, others excited and nervous about starting to advocate for the first time.
Jennifer Seber, head of consumer loan operations for USF FCU, said the training “has provided us with tools to become effective advocates, from understanding the inner workings of political offices to creating our own hard-hitting stories based on our daily interactions.
“I look forward to bringing these tools back to my different PJ groups and encouraging others to use this platform as a way to make the credit union difference in our communities thrive,” she added. .
Hannah Mahaffey, director of community engagement for Greenville FCU, said she was relatively new to her advocacy role and the workshop was a great experience.
“My biggest takeaway from the workshop was the importance of sharing stories with our legislators. As someone who is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the credit union and cannot debit data and statistics as quickly as others, I have found it very helpful and reassuring to learn that Lawmakers love to hear success stories from members, “she said.” It has also been extremely helpful to hear from staff members who have provided advice for successful meetings with representatives. “
Alex King, internal communications specialist at Wings Financial CU, is a new employee of the credit union and has found the training useful.
“This workshop was a great introduction to how anyone can be a credit union advocate. It doesn’t take years of experience or in-depth knowledge of how legislation is passed to get involved, ”King said. “You can be an advocate just by sharing stories about the difference your caisse has made in your community. With the guidance and tools provided throughout this workshop, I feel confident in championing the mission of the credit union.
Ashley Hook, Marketing Coordinator for Rogue CU, said she was happy to know that there are advocacy resources to help.
“My biggest takeaway was the number of people available to help you become an advocate for the credit union movement. There are so many more resources than I ever realized and I’m so happy to know them now, ”she said. “Also, I realized that there were many others, like me, who didn’t have as much experience with lawmakers and this was their first introduction to defending credit unions – the Break rooms really helped find that relationship. I have experienced the credit union movement, but never as much as this training has enabled me to do, for which I am very grateful. “
Gose told those in attendance the Advancing Communities website, designed by CUNA and the leagues as a tool for capturing stories about the credit union difference and for sharing those stories with decision makers.