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Credit union leaders, panelists, presenters, and League staff at the 2024 Advocacy Workshop in Anaheim, CA.
Credit union leaders, panelists, presenters, and League staff at the 2024 Advocacy Workshop in Anaheim, CA.

Advocacy Supporters Collaborate at Workshop to Prepare for 2024

More than 80 credit union professionals attended the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ Advocacy Workshop this week for a comprehensive learning experience in how to elevate their advocacy game through fighting for the movement at the state and federal levels in 2024.

Held at the Wescom Community Center office in Anaheim, CA, the workshop included a presentation on how to succeed with elected officials, build credit union “champions” over time, the ins-and-outs of the legislative process, and how to get politically involved in the local community from a credit union standpoint.

One of many ways is through Connect For The Cause campaigns, the Leagues’ grassroots alert sent to advocacy supporters as needed. Today’s campaign is asking credit union leaders and professionals to contact members of Congress to address the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) proposed rule on overdraft protection, which could significantly impact more than 610 million checking account holders nationwide.

“We were honored to equip attendees with actionable steps to elevate and strengthen credit unions’ advocacy programs,” said Stephanie Cuevas, senior vice president of federal government affairs for the Leagues. “Local advocacy efforts lead not only to important victories in Sacramento, Carson City and in Washington D.C., but also to an enhanced overall community presence for credit unions. We are thankful to our panelists for offering their words of wisdom on best practices. Their advice comes at a crucial time as we prepare for lobby-day visits in both the national and state capitals, which are fast approaching in March and April.”

During the workshop, an overview on state-versus-federal Political Action Committee (PAC) structure and activity was provided, as well as a picture of open seats in the California State Assembly, California State Senate, and U.S. Congress. Increasing advocacy engagement through local grassroots and PAC involvement remains paramount through initiatives such as Project Zip Code, in-district events, meet-and-greets, and a variety of fundraising and other annual advocacy efforts.

“We were thankful to have so many advocates join us this year, building bridges between experienced and emerging champions in the advocacy realm,” said Madison Lee, advocacy specialist for the Leagues. “As the newest member of the Leagues’ advocacy team, it was inspiring to see so many advocates showcase the impactful work they are accomplishing in their communities and for their members.”

The day also offered a handful of panels that gave insight into regulatory advocacy, grassroots involvement, PAC activity, and the “Do’s and Don’ts of a Lobbying Meeting.” The following credit union leaders participated as panelists:

  • Regulatory Advocacy Panel: Alexander Monterrubio, deputy chief advocacy office and managing counsel for America’s Credit Unions; and Madison Rose, senior director of advocacy and counsel for payments and technology for America’s Credit Unions.
  • Grassroots Advocacy Panel: Pascual Garrido, director of legislative and community affairs for SCE FCU; Brent Tercero, executive director of credit union advocacy for SchoolsFirst FCU; and Alejandro Hernandez, senior community development manager for Orange County’s CU.
  • PAC Panel: Marsha Mathias, director of government relations for Kinecta FCU; Flora Nafei, executive director of credit union affairs for Patelco CU; Josh Haldeman, chief lending officer for Clark County CU; and Rob Graeff, CEO of Delta Schools FCU.
  • Lobby Meetings Panel: Marvel Ford, senior vice president and community/legislative advocacy officer for California CU; Erica Taylor, vice president of communications and community relations for Golden 1 CU; Sara Klein, CEO of Organized Labor CU; Carina Hollis, senior vice president and general counsel for Wescom CU; and Jason Mertz, CEO of Upward CU.

Mark Gonzalez — Assembly District 54 candidate and chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party since 2017 — also presented to attendees, discussing his campaign and the work he has accomplished in his community. He emphasized the importance of financial literacy, especially for younger generations, and thanked credit union professionals and leaders for the work they do in providing financial literacy to their members and communities. Gonzalez said he also looks forward to working with credit unions more often in the future.

Robert Wilson, senior vice president of state government affairs for the Leagues, led a “mock” lobby-visit breakout session to give participants a realistic practice run at a meeting with any lawmaker, whether in-district or in the state and federal capitols. Simulated lobby meeting discussions prompted valuable engagement with participants, who had several questions during a relevant debrief session.

Besides the handful of 2024 election updates at the state and federal levels, League staff also gave a presentation on state initiatives and measures that the California Credit Union League supports in the Golden State’s capitol. One is a high school finance graduation course that will be on the November ballot soon. It would mandate a personal finance course as a requirement to graduate high school, possibly launching in the 2029-2030 academic graduation year (offered by the 2026-2027 academic year).

Above all, participants learned how to increase their advocacy engagement through PAC events and initiatives, attend or host a fundraiser and check presentation event, sign up for Connect For The Cause, subscribe to the Leagues’ Advocacy Blog and Advocacy Update, visit the Quarterly Advocacy Update site, update Project Zip Code numbers, attend upcoming League Networks advocacy events, meet with mentors, and expanding on anything related to credit union advocacy.

“We were thrilled that so many advocacy professionals from credit unions across California and Nevada were able to participate in the Leagues’ Advocacy Workshop,” Wilson said. “Developing credit union advocacy leaders who are committed to fighting on behalf of our movement and their members in Sacramento, Carson City, Washington D.C., and locally within their district remains paramount to our cause going into this year.”

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