MADISON, Wis. (2/10/10)--The Credit Union System is getting a little younger. A group of about 20 credit union professionals from the under-30 set have received special scholarships from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) to attend its 2010 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), long the Credit Union System's largest get-together. The group called itself "Crash the GAC," but had hoped all along to work cooperatively with CUNA to accommodate the interest the younger professionals had in attending major credit union movement meetings such as the GAC. The group was organized by Brent Dixon, a young adult advisor at the Filene Research Institute and a consultant with REAL Solutions. "When Brent first approached us with this concept, we wanted to figure out a way to work with this young and enthusiastic group. Our Center for Professional Development stepped up to offer registration scholarships and other assistance. We are excited about connecting these first timers with their state leagues so they can get the full GAC experience, from league briefings to Capitol Hill visits to networking on-site," said Jill Tomalin, CUNA senior vice president, association services. "We keep talking about getting young people back, but too often they’re not on the ground at places like the GAC where tremendous opportunities to network and make connections occur,” Dixon added. "We appreciate the courtesy and assistance that CUNA extended to us.” To keep the group’s expenses for the event down, its members are paying their own travel costs and will lodge at nearby youth hostels courtesy of Palmetto Cooperative Services. The 20 in Dixon's group received scholarships from CUNA’s Center for Professional Development to attend the entire event. In addition to attending regular GAC sessions, the group has organized sessions of its own, led by influential credit union movement representatives who were drawn to the group’s passion for credit unions and desire to be involved. These and the session leaders include:
* Growth through good, Lois Kitsch, National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF); * Credit union differentiation, George Hofheimer, Filene Research Institute; * International perspectives, Pete Crear, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU); * Grassroots activism, Larry Blanchard, CUNA Mutual Group, retired; * Acting on the Crash, Tom Decker, NCUF; * Welcome to the GAC, Tom Gannon, CUNA; and * A Conversation with the Regulators, Gigi Hyland and Gary Kohn, National Credit Union Administration.
Dixon is also talking with CUNA and WOCCU about replicating the same youth program for The 1 Credit Union Conference in Las Vegas, July 11-14.