Last week, we concluded three consecutive weeks of advocacy conferences – CUNA GAC, the Alabama Advocacy Conference, and the Florida Advocacy Conference. Despite the intensity of having conferences back-to-back-to-back, this year, each event provided useful information and brought influential policymakers face-to-face with credit union leaders.
In my 10 years at the LSCU & Affiliates, this year was hands-down the best year for these three events, both individually and collectively. For the Alabama and Florida State Advocacy meetings, we substantially increased attendance with Florida nearly doubling overall attendance. Access to both state’s governors, key elected officials, and state and federal regulators was unparalleled.
The CUNA GAC included a speech from Vice President Mike Pence. Have a sitting President or Vice President address the CUNA GAC is unprecedented and is a rare honor for any group. A small group of Alabama and Florida credit union leaders met with NCUA Chairman Mark McWatters to discuss regulatory issues of concern and hear about the agency’s priorities. Both our Federal Lawmakers of the Year (Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and Florida Rep. Al Lawton) attended our Tuesday evening reception to receive their awards and make comments to the group. Wednesday was filled with many successful Hill visits.
In Alabama, we moved our annual legislative reception to ASE Credit Union’s branch location right across the street from the Capitol which produced great turnout with more than 60 elected officials including Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth attending the reception and mingling with our credit union leaders. On Wednesday morning about a dozen high-PAC donor credit union officials had a private breakfast with Senate and House Banking Committee Chairs Shay Shelnutt and Chris Blackshear where we discussed our legislative priorities for the session. The day continued with Alabama Governor Kay Ivey addressing our group talking about the state’s commitment to rebuilding Alabama’s infrastructure as well as expressing her support for credit unions.
In Florida, where attendance doubled this year, the morning schedule opened with about 30 high-PAC donor credit union officials gathering for coffee to hear an update from Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody. Topics covered the gamut from cannabis banking to fraud. Highlights included meetings with Senate President Bill Galvano, Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowls, Speaker Jose Oliva’s Chief of Staff, and continued as leaders met with Gov. Ron DeSantis to discuss credit unions and the role we play in our communities. The group also had the opportunity to hear from new Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Ron Rubin.
Going into this year, I challenged our team to not only increase overall attendance at these key grassroots advocacy events, but to also think outside the box on how to bring additional value through enhanced agendas. I am so proud of our team for raising the bar of these events and making them a huge success. See our photo galleries for Alabama Advocacy here and for Florida Advocacy here.
I hope to see you at SCUCE this year, scheduled for June 19-21 in Orlando, where we are working hard to have another impressive event.