CUNA’s Jim Nussle, Former Secretary of State John Kerry Address Credit Union Advocates During GAC Kick-Off

WASHINGTON – CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle and former Secretary of State John Kerry were the highlights of a busy, first full day of general sessions Monday at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). Nussle made a surprise announcement about a guest speaker Tuesday (see related story below).

Vice President Mike Pence will address CUNA GAC Tuesday morning. Pence’s visit follows up last year’s successful GAC in which Nussle and a group of credit unions met with President Donald Trump to discuss their support for the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, which was later signed into law.

Kerry said in his remarks he has a long history with credit unions, but his home state of Massachusetts has a longer one, as it enacted its first state law establishing credit unions in 1909.

“The philosophy of the credit union movement is as fundamental today as it was 110 years ago… ‘Not for profit, not for charity, but for service,’” he said. “It’s based on the bedrock belief that everyone ought to be able to achieve a better standard of living by pooling their saving and making loans to co-workers, to neighbors, to people who don’t have access to credit…I thank you for making those words more than just a slogan.”

Kerry estimated he’s been a credit union member for at least 40 years, and said he was glad to support the Credit Union Membership Access Act in 1998.

“One of the things that sets credit unions apart is the accessibility of the diversity. You walk into a branch and you see the whole neighborhood. Teachers, policemen, nurses, city workers. Every walk of life working together to invest in the community and improve the quality of life for every single person,” he said. “I think it gives meaning to the notion that when you join a credit union, you’re not just an account number. You’re a friend.”

He also said he opposed credit unions being lumped in to one-size-fits-all regulation saying credit unions are being treated unfairly by rules that limit flexibility and add burdens. He urged those in attendance to push back against these rules during their Capitol Hill visits later this week.

Other highlights of Monday at CUNA GAC include:

  • A look at the successes of 360-degree advocacy from CUNA Chief Advocacy Officer Ryan Donovan and a discussion of how credit unions can mobilize their members from Chief Political Officer Richard Gose;
  • CUNA’s Annual General Meeting, featuring the remarks of Maurice Smith, outgoing board chair;
  • An address from National Federation of the Blind President Mark Riccobono on how credit unions and the NFB can team up to ensure accessibility; and
  • lively day of conversations between Credit Union Magazine and credit union leaders, vendors and other stakeholders.

In addition to Pence, Tuesday’s agenda is jam-packed with speakers, including author Malcolm Gladwell, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), NCUA Chairman J. Mark McWatters and board member Rick Metsger.

Other items scheduled for Tuesday include:

  • A panel discussion on CUNA’s Awareness initiative;
  • A panel discussion on grassroots advocacy led by CUNA Deputy Chief Advocacy Officer for Political Action Trey Hawkins; and
  • Breakout sessions on the state of the economy, regulatory and litigation threats to credit unions, one’s role in credit union advocacy, cybersecurity in 2019 and beyond, flood insurance and a credit union CEO roundtable.