DALLAS (8/18/08)--Southwest CUNA Management School (SCMS) opted to take a different tack with its advocacy class this year. With increasing political and legislative pressure on the credit union movement, the leadership at the SCMS wanted a class that would transform credit union leaders into credit union activists. Advocacy ROCKS! featured practical hands-on exercises for meeting with elected representatives, and hot issues facing credit unions, including the Treasury blueprint, proposed reforms to overdraft and interchange, and other bottom-line credit union issues. The class was developed and led by the Texas Credit Union League's grassroots director, Jim Phelps, and advocacy communications director, Winter Prosapio. "I think a number of my classmates who may not have grasped the importance of advocacy had their eyes opened by the session," said Ben Newcomb, vice president of Transtar FCU in Houston. He noted that this year's SCMS graduates "are both the current and future leaders in the movement, and we must take it upon ourselves to personally get involved politically if this industry is going to continue to thrive. "We can't leave it up to others to form our message. We are the ones living, breathing and working in credit unions every day; therefore, we know our story better than anyone else possibly could," Newcomb added. Instilling a passion for advocacy in the next generation of leaders is a focus for Janine McBee, director of SCMS. "The world credit unions operate in is in flux like never before," noted McBee. "We have to increase the level of engagement in activism of all our credit union leaders. This class is one step toward making that happen." Scott Slattery, assistant vice president for Texas Dow Employees CU, Lake Jackson, found the class hit the mark. "We all know that our credit unions can die due to financial reasons, but if we're not careful, our credit unions can die due to legislative issues as well," he said, adding "It helped me better understand our position on Capitol Hill and gave me a new desire to help our advocates succeed." SCMS is a three-year course study focused on enhancing credit union leadership skills. Students compete to enroll in one of only 50 available slots in each class year. They develop a real-world strategic business plan for their own credit union. For more information, use the resource link.