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Reflections on “Crashing the GAC”

This year was the 10th anniversary of Crash the GAC with the Cooperative Trust, and two young credit union professionals from Corporate One, Nate Hicks and Aaron Shaner, were selected to attend the 2019 Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference (CUNA GAC) as part of a record-breaking group of 100 “crashers.” GAC crashers received unique opportunities to network and participate in the credit union industry’s largest advocacy conference. Below are brief reflections from Nate and Aaron on their experiences.

Nate Hicks (third from left) at Corporate One’s booth along with fellow Corporate One colleagues (right to left) Jeremy Hall, Perry Jones, and Mercedes Rodriguez.

Nate Hicks, Member Relationship Executive

Crashing the GAC this year along with 100 young credit union professionals was a “once in a lifetime” experience that has motivated me to thrive in the credit union industry. Busy from morning until late into the evening, our conference agenda included listening to speakers on topics such as communication, leadership, sales, diversity, and creative thinking; attending breakout sessions where we formed small groups and discussed ideas and ways that we can make a difference within our company and industry; and visiting late-night receptions hosted by CUNA, CUNA Mutual, Filene, and DCUC.

I personally gained more than I could ever imagine from this experience. It allowed me to not only network with other young professionals involved in their communities and gather information on their experiences of helping their own members but also engage with more than 90 credit union employees who were not familiar with the purpose of corporate credit unions. Each speaker I listened to offered encouragement and motivation that we have power to be the best we can be and help our companies in many ways. I now see what a great movement this is and what a privilege it is to be involved.


Aaron Shaner, Data Scientist and UX Analyst

Joining the group of 100 young professionals and seven mentors for Crash the GAC has been eye-opening and empowering. Our days were packed with great speakers and breakout sessions, focusing on developing us professionally and personally. We were invited to multiple receptions that gave us the opportunity to network with our fellow crashers and industry leaders from across the country. On Wednesday of that week, we were invited to join our state leagues and credit union leaders to Hike the Hill and put our voice forward as we advocated for credit unions.

It is hard to fit all that I learned from this experience in a short article or presentation, but one of the top highlights was being able to make connections with so many innovative and talented young credit union professionals from across the country. My fellow crashers and mentors showed so much passion for the credit union movement, and I left feeling fired up for what the future holds. I’m so grateful for this experience and excited to be back at Corporate One to continue to grow professionally.

(Right to left) Katlyn Lents, Alaska USA; Alvaro Esquen Roca, Andrews Federal CU; Aaron Shaner, Corporate One; Kyle Christopher, CFCU Community CU; Jeremy Wascak, Towpath CU; Sam Hughey, KEMBA Financial CU.