In the days between learning that I was selected to crash the Defense Credit Union Conference and touching down in San Antonio, my emotions switched seemingly daily between nervous about not knowing what to expect and excitement about getting the opportunity to connect not only with other credit union professionals, but to connect specifically with other people who are working towards the same goal of supporting active duty, veteran, and family members of our U.S. Armed Forces. While I didn’t know what to expect, what I would hear or who I would meet, I arrived at the DCUC Conference ready to meet everyone there, challenge myself and learn as much as I could.
On my first day at the DCUC Conference, I did something totally outside of my comfort zone. I had arrived a day early to the conference and didn’t have anything scheduled until next morning. A major part of me wanted to dive right back into the work I knew would be waiting for me when I got back to Hanscom. But, knowing that I was here to grow professionally, I opened the conference “ice breakers” app and I was surprised and excited to see another crasher had put her information out there. I reached out to her and made plans to meet up that day. This small action ended up creating a professional relationship that continued to grow throughout the week and one that I will continue to foster throughout my career.
Along with the other crashers, I had the opportunity to hear from speakers from across the industry on a wide range of topics. We heard from leaders like Tony Hernandez, President & CEO of the DCUC, who talked to us about some of his leadership strategies, and Maggie Sayer, CEO at Keys Federal Credit Union, who told us about her efforts to engage local high school students with their financial wellbeing. We got to listen to a panel that included Dan Berger, President & CEO at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU), Renee Sattiewhite, the President & CEO of the African-American Credit Union Council (AACUC), and Caroline Willard, President & CEO at the Cornerstone League.
As excited as I was to hear from all of the distinguished attendees, I was even more excited to learn that they wanted to hear from me. I started to understand the two-way nature of the crasher program; we were there to listen, but we were also there to represent the voices of the next generation of the credit union movement. We got to know these national leaders as people, we got to share our thoughts on issues that were important to us and we even got to sit on a panel where we were the experts that the rest of the attendees wanted to hear from.
Through the experience, I and the other crashers never felt like we didn’t belong there. We were brought into every conversation; people wanted to engage with us and they wanted us involved.
Our mission at Hanscom FCU is to be the trusted advisor that people turn to for unbiased financial guidance, and my crashing experience at the DCUC Conference showed me that this mission resonates with leaders across the credit union industry. This experience broadened my lens to see how important the work that the entire credit union network does actually is; and how connected the executives, employees, and volunteers within this network are.
Every day crashing DCUC Annuals' Conference, I felt more and more star-struck. Every person I met had a story about how they had impacted their organization, their community, and the credit union industry at large in one way or another. This experience has shown me the power of networking with others across the credit union space and working together towards a greater goal.
I’m excited to bring back so much of what I learned to Hanscom FCU. I will be looking to make local connections with people and organizations to aid in Hanscom FCU’s active involvement in our community as well as keep us connected to organizations supporting our Armed Forces as we look to attract, retain, and develop best-in-class talent for Hanscom FCU.