The President's Perspective
by Jeff Olson

Greetings and Happy Holidays! I wanted to share a few thoughts with you in my year-end message as we close out 2020.


These next two weeks will mark the end of a year that has challenged us all. While we will continue to face many of those same hurdles in the new year ahead, we will also be presented with several opportunities. Credit unions did amazing things in 2020, as you know firsthand, and in 2021 we can use those opportunities to shape the future of the credit union movement.


We all have been through a lot since we last met in person, and we are certainly navigating through unprecedented circumstances. Fortunately, for one out of every three Dakotans, credit unions have been there, helping them navigate through the COVID crisis while meeting their financial needs. We could say that Dakota credit unions were built for times like these by doing what we always do: Putting members first at a time when they desperately need our services. And yet, we still seek betterment. People still want to connect with their industry peers.


People join associations for many reasons. They want to be part of a community that speaks their language, cares about what they care about, and shows them a path toward becoming better leaders, better partners, better stewards, and better supporters of their industry. Even through these challenges, we see this as a huge opportunity for our association as we step up to help you navigate through some rough terrain. As we continually discover, there is power in association and the more we stay united, the stronger and more powerful our movement becomes. “Together is better” as we build on our relevancy to our credit union affiliates and our credit union members. 


Advocacy has never played a more important role in assisting credit unions in our efforts to serve our members. The Dakota Credit Union Association (DakCU) has worked hard to support and expand policy that directly helped our Dakota credit unions navigate through the pandemic this year. We supported the NCUA and the courts to protect our Field of Membership. We stayed abreast and weighed in on countless legislative and regulatory policies such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and PPP forgiveness, and Remote and Electronic Notarization Act (SECURE). None of these advocacy wins could have happened without the strong grassroots and political support from lawmakers and community leaders.


As you know, we have always promoted our credit union and league partnership as a three-tier system – made up of your credit union, DakCU, and the Credit Union National Association. This continues to be the best model that provides 360-degree support on all levels and fronts. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) continues to have a strong brand at the national level. For the fifth year in a row, the CUNA/League system is the leading financial services association in the beltway, representing the interests of its members by creating the credit union narrative and sharing their story among Washington policymakers. CUNA ranks first among all financial service associations and is one of the most effective trade associations across ALL industries. What does that mean to you? It means CUNA and the league system are getting the job done, both at the state and national levels.


In addition, innovative new approaches to credit union messaging like the CUNA/League’s Advancing Communities initiative have been launched to help attack these issues and provide a platform that can be sustained beyond 2021. This exciting outreach plan is designed to better promote the credit union difference through the lens of community impact and the financial wellbeing of credit union members.


Meeting the evolving needs of our credit unions and our credit union members continues to be our primary focus moving forward. With your continued partnership, we can successfully promote credit unions as the best financial choice for families and communities across the Dakotas. Looking ahead, the Dakota Credit Union Association is preparing our legislative and regulatory advocacy agenda to match the recent election outcomes in our two states, as well as nationally. We are ensuring we are prepared to resist any taxation threats or pressure from local municipalities and state legislatures coping with budget shortfalls.


I sincerely hope you remain engaged and involved with us in 2021. Thank you for your continued support.


2021 GAC Planning Well Underway


More than 130 League Presidents, Communicators, and GAPS all participated in a virtual Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) planning discussion on Friday, December 18th led by CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle. This will be the first time that the GAC will be held virtually, but then this has been a year of many “firsts” for our industry. A coordinated effort between CUNA and the Leagues is underway to ensure that the 2021 GAC remains the premier advocacy event. A series of seven meetings with advocacy teams are on the calendar to plan overall strategy and messaging, with a focus on reaching many of the newly elected representatives. Virtual Hike the Hill meetings will be planned on a league-by-league basis, and a virtual exhibit hall for vendors is in the works. Many more details are being refined, including the list of keynote speakers and we will have those details in the Memo for you as they become available. If you already know you will be attending the virtual event, be sure to register early.


Reminder – Memo on Holiday Hiatus


As a reminder, the Memo will be on “holiday break” from December 24th through January 1st with the first issue of 2021 published on January 4th. We still encourage you to continue to share your news and announcements by emailing them to Shawn Brummer.


"To add value to others, one must first value others." ~ John Maxwell


It truly is an honor and privilege to lead the Dakota Credit Union Association and I am thankful for the opportunity to be your partner in advancing the credit union movement here in the Dakotas. It is our objective each year to work hard and provide value to our members. I want to wish you all Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas! May this holiday season bring you peace and happiness all year long.






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