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Cornerstone Young CU Professionals Report Positive Experience in 'Crashing' the GAC
Thursday, March 6, 2014 6:55 AM

GAC Crashers

Noel Sanger, market vice president with United FCU in Fort Smith, Ark., was one of three young credit union professionals chosen by the Cornerstone Credit Union League to “crash” the 2014 Credit Union National Association’s Conference in D.C. Feb. 23-27, and says it was an amazing experience.

“I gained exposure to the political engagement and advocacy with increased buy-in to explain the credit union story,” he tells the Leaguer. “I now also understand we are the future of the movement, and I am privileged to part of this young professional networking group that will be lifelong friends and potentially colleagues.”

Josh Atkinson, CUCE, BSACS, risk specialist with United Community CU in Houston, Texas couldn’t agree more. He received a $500 scholarship from the Houston Chapter of Credit Unions to go towards cost to attend the GAC.

“I gained so much from crashing the GAC. I was able to interact with likeminded young professionals in the movement that are also passionate about making a difference in a positive way. Also, being around experienced credit union professionals with years of experience hiking the hill was so beneficial and rewarding,” Atkinson says.

Talking to members of congress and having the opportunity to express concerns for the movement, Atkinson shares with Leaguer readers, was eye-opening and invaluable as an educational tool for his personal growth, and subsequently, the growth of the future of the movement.

“Getting to express my experiences with other young professionals in the crash program also helped me gain many different perspectives and provided me with a strong network of passionate young individuals in the movement that will only strengthen the future of credit unions, for all involved, going forward,” he adds.

Joey Griffith, compliance officer with Communication FCU in Oklahoma City, Okla., confesses that he is a “reformed banker.” What attracts him most to the movement is the idea of people helping people.

“In traditional banking the majority of the business if profit driven, often to the detriment of the customers. Being a part of the credit union movement allows me to use my skills and abilities to positively impact the lives of our members,” Griffith says. “Crashing GAC reinforced understanding of what this great movement is all about. It was an awesome opportunity to see chiseled business minds come together for the greater good, with the genuine desire to positively impact others.”

Having now experienced a GAC, Griffith says he feels his best opportunity to contribute to the credit union movement will be through advocacy.

Sanger, who just learned yesterday that the Fort Smith’s Jaycees (the United States Junior Chamber) has named him “Boss of the Year” for his outstanding and dedicated service to the city of Fort Smith, says he will be a vocal advocate for the movement.

“Crashing the GAC has definitely given me an increased buy-in and motivation to be an advocate of the movement,” says Sanger. “We are here for the members benefit and every account or service we provide keeps the membership in mind.”

Crashing the GAC has also affected Atkinson’s perception of the movement.

“Young professionals are not always as prevalent as some of the older, more experienced CEOs and upper-management professionals that are typically seen at conferences and other events,” he notes. “It was comforting knowing that there are others who are young and passionate like me, and being around generationally similar and passionate individuals really helped me realize that we have a bright future ahead of us.”