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May 1 | Heritage Hall at the Capitol, Lansing

This event is filled with panels and featured speakers who will provide invaluable insight on all aspects of the legislative and regulatory landscape of 2024. Attendees have the opportunity to advocate for credit unions with members of the Michigan State House and Senate including members in leadership and on key committees.

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2024 MCUL GAC: Advocacy at the Capitol

On May 1, approximately 200 people came to the Lansing Capitol for the 2024 Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) Government Affairs Conference (GAC). MCUL President/CEO Patty Corkery kicked off the event with some opening remarks, thanking everyone who attended the previous night’s popular PAC the Pub event, as well as the movement’s board members for their volunteer work.

ceoAfter asking for a show of hands for first-time attendees, Corkery talked about the importance of bringing other credit union professionals into the fold of advocacy. Engaging fellow team members is how this movement will continue to grow, she said.

“We always talk about telling the credit union story, but what does that look like?” Corkery asked, before suggesting the need to invite local lawmakers to more events, such as branch openings and chapter meetings. “It’s very important to have state lawmakers there to see what we do. You are the credit union champions telling our story.”

Corkery also spoke to the need to inform board members in a way that they are also able to advocate for credit unions, as well as how leaders can express the why of advocacy to team members throughout the credit union.

“You all get it, but we need to expand our umbrella,” said Corkery.

Advocacy Award Winners

MCUL Director of State Advocacy DaeSean Ashby introduced the PAC and A Stronger Financial Michigan Award winners.

“In 2023, Michigan credit unions raised more than $476,828 to support our advocacy agenda,” said Ashby. “Because of all of you, we are able to represent our collective interests, and support our mission to the fullest.”

Also given was the annual Lon Bone Grassroots Professional Activist Award and the Howard Spencer Grassroots Volunteer Activist Award.

The first award recognizes one credit union professional and is awarded annually to recognize a credit union employee that goes above and beyond to advocate on the League’s behalf and mentor others on the role the credit union movement plays in Michigan.

hankThe 2023 recipient of the Lone Bone Grassroots Professional Activist Award is One Detroit Credit Union CEO Hank Hubbard.

“Hank Hubbard's unwavering dedication to credit union advocacy is truly commendable,” said Corkery while presenting the award. “He consistently demonstrates his commitment by actively participating in advocacy events not only in Lansing and Washington, D.C. but also locally in Detroit. With a passion for advocating on behalf of credit unions and their members, Hank ensures that their voices are heard at the local, state and federal levels. His tireless efforts have made a significant impact on the credit union industry, helping shape policies that benefit both the institutions and the communities they serve.”

The MCUL Board and Advocacy team created the Howard Spencer Grassroots Volunteer Activist Award to honor exceptional grassroots activism by a credit union volunteer.  It recognizes one volunteer and is awarded semi-annually to recognize those that go above and beyond to advocate on our behalf and mentor others on the role we play in this great state.

paulThe 2023 recipient of the Howard Spencer Volunteer Activist Award is Paul Messimer, Vice Chairperson of the Board, Zeal Credit Union.

“Paul Messimer’s involvement and activism on behalf of Michigan credit unions and especially Zeal Credit Union symbolizes what it means to be a pillar of grassroots advocacy for the entire credit union movement,” said Corkery. “Over the years, Paul has met with key lawmakers on countless occasions in Washington, D.C. He constantly encourages credit union executives and volunteers to attend and actively participate in political functions. Paul not only activates credit union executives and volunteers to engage in the political process, but he also has the respect of many lawmakers.”

Lastly for awards, EVP of Advocacy Kieran Marion introduced an award new this year, the Young Professional Advocate of the Year, which recognizes a young professional for their tireless commitment to the industry and their mission, while presenting a blueprint for other up and coming young professionals.

This year, the Young Professional Advocate of the Year is One Detroit Credit Union’s Kyle Zagunis.

Lawmaker Panel

panelKyle Melinn, editor and VP of MIRS, took the stage for this year’s lawmaker panel, which features a group of legislators to discuss and debate relevant political issues.

The lawmakers on this year’s panel were Reps. Abraham Aiyash, Joseph Aragona, Stephanie Young and Tom Kunse.

This format gives GAC attendees a chance to see first-hand how legislators are thinking and discussing key issues. Among the topics discussed were payday lending, cyber security and financial access.

Lt. Gov. Gilchrist II

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II spoke to the attendees about his vision for Michigan and how he sees credit unions fitting within it.

“Everyone who has a relationship with a credit union is better for it,” he said.

ltggGilchrist discussed the many unique communities across Michigan, stressing the need to make sure those distinct communities’ needs are met. Credit unions meet those communities where they are, he continued.

Also touched on in Gilchrist’s message was the recently adopted bill signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer requires students take a half-credit personal finance class to graduate high school.

“It raises awareness and sets a new foundation for what it means to be financially literate,” the Lieutenant Governor said before thanking the room for the advocacy that helped that legislation cross the line.

If he could sum up what he wants to see in Michigan’s future, Gilchrist said it’s contained in the word “more,” referring to more affordable houses, more resources, more jobs and more choices for residents.

“Your presence helps facilitate that,” he said.

Gilchrist’s parting message to credit unions was an acknowledgement of and thank you for what the movement does to “help people deliver more” and “help communities be more productive.”

DIFS Director Anita Fox

In the afternoon, DIFS Director Anita Fox presented an outlook on pressing regulatory issues.

On cyber security, DIFS is always looking for “the human element” during regulated technological events, she said. And concerning fraud, Fox talked about the evolving complexity of criminals, “We used to talk about getting out ahead of the criminals. Now we’re just trying to keep up!”

Fox also touched on overdraft fees and a need to advocate against broad-brush legislation. Instead, she stressed the importance of tailoring to the needs of individual members. 

“MCUL can be that collective voice in the ongoing conversation,” she said.

The DIFS Director also echoed Corkery’s thoughts from earlier in the day when she brought up board members. Fox said credit unions need to empower board members to have the right conversations with credit union leaders, and talked about the potential for having standardized material on educating what the role of a board member is and how board members can get further involved.

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