Shining Stars in CU Advocacy

Political advocacy award winners and those accepting-on-behalf on stage during the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ annual convention—“REACH”.

During this year’s REACH convention, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues recognized just a few of the shining stars who work in close partnership with the Leagues and the entire movement all year to make sure credit unions achieve victories in Sacramento, Carson City, and Washington, D.C.

Brett Martinez
California experienced a very busy legislative session. One of the biggest achievements of the year was the passage of our State Charter Modernization Bill—an important effort, as the state charter hasn’t been updated in more than a decade. The Leagues’ “Advocate of the Year for California” is Brett Martinez, CEO of Redwood CU. He has been at the forefront of this effort from the beginning. As chairman of the State Charter Review Committee, Martinez worked with his peers to identify issues and tailor those into a single piece of legislation. He also supported our state lobbyists by providing insight and guidance throughout the entire process.

Christie Jordan
Nevada’s main focus this year has been politics, both fundraising and meeting the countless candidates running for office. The “Advocate of the Year for Nevada” is Christie Jordan of Clark County CU. She has been a constant supporter throughout the process. An instrumental member of the Nevada Political Action committee, Jordan has sit down with candidates and educated them on “the credit union difference.” She has also volunteered her time to reach out to other credit unions, making the PAC (Political Action Committee) fundraising calls. Since she understands the importance of ensuring credit union friendly candidates are elected to office, you can often find her donating her own time and money to the cause.

StarOne CU and Rick Heldebrant
In heavy election cycles, fundraisers are an important part of the political process. The Leagues want to ensure credit union-friendly candidates are supported and have the push they need to get across the finish line. The Leagues’ “Credit Union Advocate of the Year in California” is Star One CU and CEO Rick Heldebrant. Both the credit union and Heldebrant generously volunteered time and space to host an important event this year. In addition to building relationships with elected officials, it is important for representatives to see the footprint of credit unions in their districts. Project Zip Code is an online tool which groups a credit union’s membership by zip code into federal and state districts. Elected officials are always shocked by the large amount of credit union members in their area. Heldebrant not only makes sure the credit union’s numbers are up to date—he continually advocates for his peers to participate in this program.

Boulder Dam CU
In Nevada, where the legislature meets every other year, the off-session years become focused on politics and fundraising. The “Nevada Credit Union Advocate of the Year” is Boulder Dam CU. This credit union is one step ahead of the curve. Not only does it give to PAC every year, CEO Eric Estes generously lets his staff assist to help ensure the Nevada Credit Union League has a strong political presence. Sue Longson, chairman of the Nevada Political Action Committee, is the eyes and ears for political races in Nevada. In addition, Estes’ staff also helps host a nighttime golf event with the Southern Nevada Chapter. This year they raised $6,300.

Montrose Travel and Darlene Magno
Many credit union suppliers throughout both states step up over and over again throughout the year to help fill the Leagues’ PAC coffers. There is no way the Leagues could build strong PACs in California and Nevada without generous donations of time and dollars. The “Supplier of the Year” for 2016 is a great example: Montrose Travel and Darlene Magno. Montrose Travel is always ready to support advocacy efforts whenever the call goes out. Magno has been an instrumental part of the annual Multi-Chapter PAC Golf Tournament, which takes place in Valencia, CA. She volunteers her time to take part in conference calls, always donates coveted travel-themed prizes, and does whatever she can to be a great partner.

The ‘Travis Trio’
This year the Leagues have been busy organizing many district meetings at home with elected officials throughout California and Nevada. These local meetings are a crucial relationship-building tool. The “Political Professional of the Year” goes to a group of individuals called “the Travis Trio”: Sherry Cordonnier, Fred Zaragoza and Eric Maldonado. They have proven to be leaders in their community when it comes to relationship building. In addition, they have used their relationships to help further the credit union movement. Specifically, they wrote letters in opposition to a state bill that would have expanded the rights of successors-in-interest. They have been instrumental in ensuring a strong credit union voice in their region.

Ron McDaniel
A very special award was given to someone who has been a cornerstone for advocacy efforts over many decades. The “Outstanding Achievement in Advocacy” award goes to Ron McDaniel, CEO of California CU. He has given up thousands of hours of his time to attend every lobbying visit, both in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento—and has played host to countless state and federal candidate fundraisers at his credit union. He has developed strong personal relationships with his elected officials, something that is invaluable when the movement needs an urgent phone call made regarding pressing legislation. Ron is also a leader amongst his peers. He has served as chairman of the Government Relations Committee and as a member of the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Government Relations Committee for many years. In this capacity he’s helped shape the policy agenda for credit unions in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. He has also volunteered his time to serve on the California Department of Business Oversight’s (DBO) advisory committee. He also encourages his staff to get involved in the process.

Thank you to every award winner and everyone who made 2016 a success!

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