Shining Stars in CU Advocacy at ‘REACH’

PAC award winners on stage during the second day of the "REACH 2017" annual convention.
PAC award winners on stage during the second day of the "REACH 2017" annual convention.

During this year’s REACH convention, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues recognized just a few of the shining stars who work in close partnership with the Leagues and the entire movement all year to make sure credit unions achieve victories in Sacramento, Carson City, and Washington, D.C.

Click here to see photos from "REACH"!

This past year the Leagues stayed busy organizing many district meetings at home with elected officials throughout California and Nevada—a crucial relationship-building tool. The Leagues also worked with each of the following leaders, as well as several other credit unions across both states, to achieve one goal: Securing the powers needed to successfully serve credit union members.

‘Political Professional of the Year’: Flora Nafei (Patelco CU)
While new to her role in advocacy, Flora Nafei has hit the ground running accomplishing in just a few months what often takes years to achieve. She excels at relationship building and has already forged close ties with elected officials in her region. She also makes a point to participate at their events—even when they fall on the weekend. In addition, she has been a key player in helping get the new Bay Area Advocacy Group up and running.

‘Credit Union Advocate of the Year in California’ (organizational): California Coast CU (Todd Lane)
California Coast CU has generously volunteer its time and space to host these types of events for elected officials throughout San Diego County. Leaders at Cal Coast have made it a priority to build relationships in their region focusing on all levels of government: local, state and federal. They also play a key role in helping ensure their PAC remains healthy and robust.

‘Credit Union Advocate of the Year in Nevada’ (organizational): Clark County CU (Matt Kershaw)
CEO Matt Kershaw, chairman of the Nevada Credit Union League’s Government Relations Committee, has spent many hours reviewing the potential impact legislation could have on Nevada credit unions. He has been instrumental in rallying the membership in Nevada to compile their regulatory compliance horror stories into a single database that has been fundamental in lobbying for regulatory relief. He and his credit union are also strong supporters of the leagues’ Political Action Committees.

‘Advocate of the Year in California’ (individual): Bill Birnie (Pacific Marine CU)
CEO Bill Birnie has been at the forefront of this effort. He provided specific member impacts, which were used as California League talking points. By using these examples, the League was able to garner the support of Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA). Additionally, Bill has been a big advocate of the leagues’ Political Action Committees and is one of the most recent additions to the payroll deduction program.

‘Advocate of the Year in Nevada’ (individual): Nick Serrano (Greater Nevada Mortgage)
Nick Serrano has been an active member of the Nevada League’s Government Relations Committee. He provided extensive feedback on the Foreclosure Mediation Program and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) legislation. Additionally, he attended stakeholder meetings for the Mediation Program and
shared insights that led to improvements to the bill. During state lobbying day (the Government Relations Rally), he was the go-to person for challenging meetings.

‘Supplier of the Year’: American Share Insurance (Dennis Adams)
ASI is always ready to support credit union advocacy efforts whenever the call goes out. It has always stepped up to be the lead sponsors for Nevada’s exciting “Nighttime PAC Golf Tournament.” Additionally,
CEO Dennis Adams works closely with the Leagues’ advocacy team to sponsor such events as the Nevada and California Government Relations Rallys, as well as the Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.

‘Volunteer Advocate of the Year’: Eric Day (Credit Union of Southern California)
Board Member Eric Day makes it a point to attend every meet-and-greet, fundraiser and advocacy event that he can. He is a great voice for credit unions during the Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. and the California Government Relations Rally in Sacramento—and he’s also an active participant in the Orange County Legislative Network. He is one of the founding members of the Leagues’ Volunteer Leadership group and has brought the group concept to the national level.

‘Outstanding Achievement in Advocacy’: Dennis Flannigan (Great Basin FCU)
CEO Dennis Flannigan has given up thousands of hours of his time to attend every lobbying visit both in Washington, D.C. and Carson City, and has played host to countless state and federal candidate fundraisers at his credit union. A longtime member of the Political Action Committee, Dennis has interviewed hundreds of candidates, making the interviews a little bit more fun. He developed strong personal relationships with his elected officials that are invaluable when an urgent phone call is needed regarding pressing legislation. He and his wife Mary have graciously opened up their home on several occasions to host candidates. He has also served on the Nevada League’s Government Relations Committee and has shape the policy agenda for credit unions in Carson City.

“Thank you all so much for all of your political leadership in 2017,” said Andrea Svoboda, manager of political advocacy for the Leagues. “There is no way California and Nevada could possibly ‘reach’ its full potential in state and national credit union advocacy without each and every one of you. We are grateful for your ongoing support!”

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