Dear Members:

CUNA’s annual Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) is our industry’s biggest advocacy event of the year and brings together advocates on behalf of America’s credit unions and its 113 million members. Held in Washington, D.C., the GAC is truly an inspirational experience for those who attend, especially me. Credit unions nationwide work collectively on a common goal of people helping people achieve financial success. Corporate One attended the GAC once again this year, and I’d like to share a few highlights that demonstrate why this event is so inspirational for me.

Learning how well America’s credit unions continue to serve. It’s no surprise that even a global pandemic wasn’t able to hinder the exceptional financial service that is our industry’s trademark. In fact, credit unions took financial and member service to a whole new level last year as demonstrated by some of the statistics in CUNA’s 2022 Credit Union Advocacy Agenda:

  • 95% of credit unions modified loans and/ or waived fees for members experiencing income disruptions.
  • 376,000 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans were made to local businesses during the pandemic with an average loan amount of $41,000.
  • 365,000+ jobs were supported through credit union business loans last year.

It was also exciting to learn about credit union success from a global perspective:

  • Worldwide, more than 86,400 credit unions serve 375 million members in 118 countries.
  • Credit unions return $13.3 billion in annual savings to members and $5.2 billion in annual benefits to non-members through local market presence.
  • Credit unions account for more than $226 billion in economic impact every year.
  • Short-term loans from credit unions typically have a 400% lower APR than payday loan companies.

Personal connections and motivating insights. The GAC is truly an inspirational experience. Credit unions come together from across the U.S. to work collectively toward one common goal of people helping people achieve financial success. Spending time with credit unions and sharing our professional successes or struggles is certainly one of the best parts of attending the GAC. I attended the Herb Wegner awards dinner and was inspired by the stories of the award recipients. I sat in breakout sessions to hear about how credit unions are re-thinking their business models to meet members where they are. I was able to visit with credit unions on the exhibit floor, during networking events and out to dinner. I was personally able to connect with people I haven’t seen for several years and some who I have only met online. The conversations were rich, informative, and further fueled my passion for serving credit unions.

Additionally, there were many important issues and topics on CUNA’s advocacy agenda that credit union members discussed with legislators during the GAC. I urge you to work with your state’s league to stay informed and be a proactive advocate for our industry. If you’d like to do more, visit CUNA’s "Actions We Can Take” webpage for current grassroots campaigns and how to contact federal regulators.

I left GAC inspired and engaged about the year ahead.


Melissa Ashley

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