President and CEO Diana Dykstra applauded credit union leaders during the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ opening general session at REACH 2023 on Tuesday for thriving and innovating their way through 2023 as interest rates continued rising, digital innovations brought new challenges, and legislative and regulatory battles were supported through the industry’s cooperative spirit.
(View and download event photos from the REACH 2023 Photo Galleries)
In her presidential report on 2023, Dykstra mentioned the success of 20 local League Networks, which replaced chapters and focus on strength through professional development and collaboration. They also continue finding ways to foster better relationships in today’s ever-changing economy and financial services marketplace.
She spotlighted Credit Unions for Kids (CUs for Kids) and the annual Credit Union Sactown Run. Credit unions are the fifth-largest sponsor of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN) in the nation, with CUs for Kids raising more than $165 million for local hospitals since 1996 (including the Leagues’ annual Credit Union for Kids Wine Auction, raising $1.7 million this year and more than $14 million since 2006). When it comes to the Credit Union Sactown Run, $211,000 was raised in 2023, making for a total of $2.5 million since credit unions joined this yearly Sacramento race in 2012.
Dykstra also welcomed special guests to this year’s REACH, including Gigi Hyland, executive director for the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF); Todd Harper, chair of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA); and Jim Nussle, president and CEO of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).
During his brief remarks, Nussle noted how CUNA “deeply values the ongoing collaboration and insightful dialogues that take place between our credit union leaders from California, Nevada, and Chair Harper.” He said that working hand in hand with the NCUA is not just important — it’s essential. “It’s the foundation upon which we build stronger, more resilient credit unions,” Nussle said, “and ultimately the financial wellbeing of our communities we serve.”
Geri LaChance, chair of the California Credit Union League (CEO of SESLOC FCU), and Jennifer Denoo, chair of the Nevada Credit Union League (CEO of Great Basin FCU), welcomed attendees and recognized their respective California and Nevada league boards of directors. “I’d like to recognize and thank the California board of directors for their vision and leadership over the past year,” LaChance said. “I also want to thank each outgoing and incoming board member for their service. Thank you for all you do.”
LaChance discussed the Leagues’ advocacy frontlines, saying credit unions have many “wins” to celebrate, including the month of April being designated as Financial Capability Month throughout the State of California. Other victories this year include the ability for state-chartered credit unions to hold virtual board meetings, as well as several additional state legislative successes in Sacramento.
“Thank you for your continued support of the California Political Action Committee through various events and state and federal district meetings,” LaChance added. “It’s through these actions that we are able to educate our lawmakers and build a strong advocacy program.”
Denoo’s comments echoed her colleague on stage for Nevada credit union leaders. “We understand our role to represent all credit unions,” she said.
Denoo said the Nevada League’s position in amplifying the voice of credit unions throughout Carson City using advocacy strength and successes, including passage of a bill that gives more tools to help combat elder financial abuse. Another bill was defeated that would have prohibited the use of arbitration clauses in credit life and GAP insurance contracts. Even better: the Nevada State Legislature proclaimed April as Financial Literacy Month. “Our voice and impact locally and nationally is tremendous,” Denoo said. “We want to thank you all for being here for your part in strengthening our industry within the communities we serve.”
When Harper spoke, he took note of credit unions’ efforts in staying true to their mission. He also touched on important topics, including cybersecurity, overdraft/non-sufficient fund fees, fintech partnerships, system liquidity, interest rate risk, financial inclusion, and consumer financial wellbeing. “All the points I raise today will require your credit union to apply creativity and ingenuity,” Harper said. “By working together, regulators and our industry can make sure we remain true to our mission and our commitment to serve all members. That mission is good for credit union members, good for consumers, and good for our economy.”
Dykstra ended the session by mentioning some of the Leagues’ newest events — including CU Impact and the Mid-Sized CU Forum — as well as notable League-supported (or opposed) California and Nevada legislative advocacy bills this past year (elder abuse liability, defeating “junk fees,” remote notarization, and financial literacy in schools). Also, the Political Action Committee (PAC) raised $730,000 in 2023 between both states.
“Over the next three days, we will network, educate and celebrate,” Dykstra said. “We’ll hear from world-class keynote speakers, participating in dynamic educational and strategic sessions. We’ll make new connections while we catch up with old friends.”
REACH is one of the credit union industry’s premier annual events, attracting leaders and system partners from across California, Nevada and the United States. This year it’s held from October 22 – 26 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, NV!