The Alabama Advocacy Conference launched on March 19 with the Political Action Committee Awards and State Lawmaker of the Year Luncheon, followed by powerful sessions. After an introduction by Jason Cochran, senior director, governmental affairs, Alabama announced Alabama lawmaker of the year award winner Sen. Arthur Orr, who has been a strong supporter of Alabama Credit Unions.

Blake Westbrook, political action and grassroots manager for Alabama, introduced award winners for PAC fundraising, which Jason described as “where the rubber meets the road with regard to politics,” congratulating Blake on his hard work.

Honor Roll awards were presented to credit unions. Honorees were: Alabama Credit Union, Alabama Teachers Credit Union, Avadian Credit Union, Family Security Credit Union, Five Star Credit Union, Guardian Credit Union, Listerhill Credit Union, Legacy Community Federal Credit Union, and Winsouth Credit Union.

Winner of this year’s President’s Award for fundraising was Five Star Credit Union. The Chapter Award for fundraising went to the Birmingham Chapter. The Chairman’s Award for over $500 million ACULAC Award went to Avadian Credit Union. The FEDPAC Award in that category was presented to Family Security Credit Union.

The Chairman’s Award for $100 million to $500 million ACULAC Award and the FEDPAC Award both were presented to Five Star Credit Union. The Chairman’s Award for $100 million to $500 million in assets ACULAC Award went to North Alabama Educators Credit Union. The FEDPAC Award was presented to Mobile Educators Credit Union.

The Chairman’s Award for $50 million to $100 million in assets ACULAC Award went to North Alabama Educators Credit Union. The FEDPAC Award went to Mobile Educators Credit Union. The Chairman’s Award for under $50 million in assets ACULAC Award went to Rocket City Federal Credit Union, and the FEDPAC Award went to Alabama River Credit Union.

As the conference sessions began, Patrick addressed attendees, sharing LSCU priorities and providing an update on the potential consolidation with Georgia Credit Union Association. The introduction was followed by an informative Credit Union Power Panel, mediated by Blake, as credit union leaders shared best practices on PAC, grassroots and other political involvement. Panel participants Tyler Beck, senior vice president and COO of Five Star Credit Union, Ola Anise, president/CEO of Azalea City Credit Union, and Steve Swofford, president/CEO of Alabama Credit Union, each shared their experiences on the importance of PAC fundraising and working with Alabama legislators.

Tyler spoke specifically of the work Five Star put in to build a relationship with lawmaker Martha Roby and offered ways to encourage donations from employees, such as a blue jeans day for those who donate.

Ola discussed the importance of building relationships and mentioned that finding connections can often be the best way, saying, “It’s imperative for credit unions to get in front of legislators.”

Steve spoke of the building process to in establishing connections, mentioning Alabama Credit Union’s early work with a young lawyer running for state legislature in the 1980s, who later became a prominent credit union friend. He was referencing longtime House member Spencer Bachus to point out the importance of building connections early and often with political representatives friendly to credit unions.

“You have to stay in front of these people,” Steve said.

Next on the agenda was Trey Hawkins, CUNA vice president of political affairs, who spoke on the ways credit unions could become more involved in grassroots advocacy programs, such as CUNA’s MAP program.

After a southern high tea break sponsored by CU MEMBERS Mortgage, Jason¬† provided an update on LSCU’s state legislative priorities, as well as other issues facing lawmakers as they begin the 2019 legislative session.

Day one of the conference closed with a regulatory roundup, including a presentation and panel discussion with acting ACUA administrator Lloyd Moore and NCUA Associate Regional Director of Operations Joe Ostrowidzki.

Following the conference meetings, credit union leaders attended a highly successful lawmaker reception, sponsored by Print Resources and held at ASE Credit Union’s downtown branch.

The conference continues March 2o with a keynote speech by Gov. Kay Ivey.