ALBANY, N.Y. (7/25/14)--Seven members of the Credit Union Association of New York's (CUANY) Young Professionals Commission (YPC) demonstrated their leadership skills this week and furthered the advocacy efforts of the state's credit unions during the league's Hike the Hill event in Washington, D.C.
From left: Mike Lanotte, Credit Union Association of New York; Cristina Morrissiey, AmeriCU CU, Roma; Meghan McGee-Pelkey, UFirst FCU, Plattsburgh; David Roy, Buffalo Metropolitan FCU; Jennifer Preston, Reliant Community FCU, Sodus; Rep. Dan Maffei (D); Kayla Barber, Dannemora FCU, Plattsburgh; Angela Hitchcock, Sidney FCU; and Brittney Wensley, Sunmark FCU, Latham (Credit Union Association of New York Photo).
For the second straight year, members of the under-35 group joined the league in visits with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. But the young professionals weren't there as observers. When possible the league arranged visits with lawmakers from the districts where the commission members' credit unions were located. Each young professional then took the lead in presenting the credit union advocacy case before his or her district's lawmaker.
"The YPC member would introduce the group and present the topics on our agenda," Cristina Morrissiey, financial center manager at AmeriCU CU, Rome, with $1.2 billion in assets, told
. "When we completed our presentation, and everyone had contributed, we asked the lawmaker or staff member for their support and thanked them. We took a very active role in this, with a lot of support from the assocation and CUNA."
On Monday, the group convened at the Credit Union House for a legislative briefing led by Mike Lanotte, CUANY senior vice president/general counsel, and staff from the Credit Union National Association. Following the briefing, the advocates then met with representatives from the offices of Sens. Charles Schumer (D) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D), both of New York. For several of the young professionals, it was their first time lobbying at the federal level.
The advocacy efforts continued Tuesday, when the group met with nine House members and staffers. Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle encouraged the group to continue advocating on behalf of their members (
July 24). Some representatives, including Rep. Dan Maffei (D), praised the YPC and acknowledged the important role that credit unions play in low-income and rural communities.
In total, the group was able to meet with representatives or staff from one-third of the New York congressional delegation, including: Reps. Tom Reed (R), Chris Collins (R), Chris Gibson (R), Richard Hanna (R), Bill Owens (D), Brian Higgins (D), Louise Slaughter (D), Paul Tonko (D) and Maffei.
Meghan McGee-Pelkey, marketing specialist, UFirst FCU, Plattsburgh, with $57 million in assets, told
, participating in the hikes helps her gain a more complete perspective of working within the credit union system.
"You know about your CEO and upper management going to CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference, but you don't understand exactly what's happening there," McGee-Pelkey said. "You don't understand that behind your job, there are all of these issues that are affecting your credit union. Having the association invite us to Washington to present these issues on behalf of our credit union is an amazing experience."
Other YPC members participating in the hikes included:
- Kayla Barber, Dannemora FCU, Plattsburgh, with $141 million in assets;
- Angela Hitchcock, Sidney FCU, with $385 million in assets;
- Jennifer Preston, Reliant Community FCU, Sodus, with $376 million in assets;
- David Roy, Buffalo Metropolitan FCU, with $90 million in assets; and
- Brittney Wensley, Sunmark FCU, Latham, with $404 million in assets.
McGee-Pelkey said the CUANY's YPC initiative has presented her and other members with leadership opportunities and responsibilities beyond this week's Washington visit. "There are several YPC members who are becoming more involved with their chapters and committees," she said.
"For example, we have a young professional commission member that is the president of her chapter. I myself am a CULAC/CUPAC trustee, and I sit on the council for my chapter. So being a part of the YPC has opened so many new opportunities for me that I never expected to have in my career as a credit union professional, and that includes hiking the hill."