Guest Blog: 5 Insights from a YP in DC

March 18, 2024

Categories: Company News

Representing The Summit in our Nation’s Capital: Kate Pavia, Leanne Magnusson, Thomas Quirk, Brian Andrews

By Kate Pavia, Marketing Manager

Last week I had the honor to join credit unions from across the country at America’s Credit Unions at the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, DC. After a recent merger between CUNA and NAFCU, America’s Credit Unions now represents and advocates for credit unions throughout the United States. That means over 6,000 Americans from Alaska to Alabama came together for one common good: to strengthen the credit union philosophy of people helping people. 

I have had the privilege of being a member of the New York Credit Union Association’s Young Professional Commission for the past two years and have proudly worked at The Summit for the last decade. This was my first time at GAC, and I have some thoughts I’d like to share. 

There is so much to learn about credit unions! 

Yes, we are financial institutions owned by our members, but it goes so much deeper than that. We are also cooperatives working together as a collective force for good. One of the ways we do this is through advocacy. This means that throughout the year, we are looking at legislation on a state and national level and talking to our lawmakers to convince them to fight for and make the best decisions for our members – their constituents. There are so many layers to advocacy and each time I have the opportunity to join fellow credit union advocates, I learn so much about how far we’ve come and new challenges we face. 

There is such a thing as credit union “Kool-Aid.”

Seriously – if you know, you know. There is a lot of passion in the credit union world. Many employees have worked for their credit unions for a long time – as is the case at The Summit. (36% of our workforce have been here for 10+ years. 1 in 5 of our employees has been here for 20 years or more.) Members have the same devotion – many have been with their credit unions for their entire lives. People love credit unions. Oftentimes at events like GAC, people will introduce themselves and say “I have been a part of the credit union movement for X years.” It’s truly inspiring to know that each generation continues to believe in the cause.  

People Helping People” is more than just a motto. 

Credit union people walk the walk. I had the opportunity to listen to stories throughout the week at awards ceremonies and around the lunch table about real member issues and the ways that credit unions were able to step up and help. There are good people in this world, and they work at credit unions and advocate for credit unions. Advocacy for credit unions is truly all about advocating for members – not the credit union bottom line. Credit unions epitomize relationship banking. 

Networking is fun! 

Events like this provide the opportunity to geek out over a common passion, learn more about what credit unions across the country are doing successfully, and catch up with current and new potential vendors in the exhibit hall. But, you don’t have to go to a conference to network. There are many opportunities to get to know people who share similar passions. Finding events or meet ups that bring together people with similar interests can really help in deepening the connection to a cause. 

Credit Unions aren’t going anywhere. 

In fact, they are just getting stronger. While credit unions have been around for a long time, there is a new generation of passion and excitement about the grassroots, cooperative mission of credit unions. There is just something about working toward common good with like-minded people. 

My experience in DC further strengthened my conviction that credit unions are unique and special – not only because of our mission, but because of the people who support the movement. I am certain that the passion of credit union advocates is proof that credit unions are here to stay.