It's that time of year again...
Credit Union National Association’s signature Governmental Affairs Conference drew some 5,000 credit union advocates from all 50 states, according to the national trade group.
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Kat Cole
Today, Kat Cole is group president of FOCUS Brands, which owns Cinnabon, Schlotsky's, Auntie Anne's, Seattle's Best Coffee and other food service companies. But it all started with a pair of orange hot pants, when a 19-year-old Hooters girl, having worked every job at the infamous restaurant, was asked to go open the very first Hooters franchise in Australia. Cole served as one of the keynote speakers at CUNA's GAC.

When she was asked by a leader of the National Organization for Women--in the midst of a radio interview with NPR, no less--how she could call herself a women's advocate an yet work Hooters, Cole took a second to think before she responded. When she did, she talked about her pride in everything the restaurant chain has built, including one of the strongest reimbursement programs in the hospitality industry, and her gratitude for the opportunities she received, far outweighed any concerns she might have had about working for a restaurant more well known for its beautiful, buxom waitresses than the food.

While credit unions don't generally have to contend with such negative perceptions, Cole noted a number of lessons she learned first at Hooters and then throughout her career since can just as easily be applied to the movement. "We have to remember, if we don't, the competition will," Cole said. "But the other side of that is, just because we can doesn't mean we should. These have been my guardrails."

Another gem she said CUs should keep in mind as they head to hike the Hill to lobby their lawmakers this Wednesday, "if you don't have a seat at the table, you're on the menu," she said, quoting her mother. "But don't confuse having a seat with having a voice."
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Jim Nussle
CUNA President and CEO Jim Nussle reports to the board and GAC attendees on the state of the trade association as part of the organization's annual business meeting. Nussle stressed the importance and success of the partnership between the national group and the state and regional leagues.
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CUNA Board
CUNA's new chairman, Rod Staatz of State Employees CU of Maryland, Iowa CU League President Pat Jury, Local Government CU CEO Maurice Smith, Redwood CU CEO Brett Martinez and Northwest CU Association President Troy Stang host the national trade association's annual business meeting.
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Berry's back
Award-winning journalist Paul Berry was back as emcee of CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference.
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Gigi Hyland
National Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Gigi Hyland revealed a little known fun fact: the thing that initially bonded her with her husband was their shared love of Canadian rock band Rush. The music played during Hyland's introduction was the group's song "Ceiling Unlimited." The lyrics, Hyland said, capture what credit unions and the foundation can accomplish when they work together for the betterment of members and their communities.
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Fazio and Thor address examination expectations
National Credit Union Administration Director of Examination and Insurance Larry Fazio outlines for credit unions how the agency intends to roll out its Examination Flexibility Initiative that will include longer exam cycles for qualifying credit unions, better coordination between state and federal regulators, enhanced off-site, pre-exam preparation aimed at reducing the amount of time examiners are on site and streamlining call reports. With various aspects of this initiative rolling out as soon as this year, Fazio noted that in the longer term--perhaps five or more years down the road--NCUA could be looking at a virtual examination process for eligible credit unions.

NCUA Risk Management Officer Mary Thor detailed how the regulator's approach to modernizing the call report process and data collection. Thor told the audience NCUA is about midway through the four-phase process of call report modernization, but there is still time for stakeholders to share their insights.
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Metsger looks back on his time as chairman
In prepared remarks, NCUA Board Member (and former chairman) Rick Metsger looked back on his brief run as chairman, noting that while he could have merely acted as a placeholder following Debbie Matz's retirement, he elected to "roll up my sleeves and press the accelerator to make changes that were in the best interests of American consumers and the agency."

Those efforts included finalizing the recently released FOM rule changes, new MBL rules (and successfully defending those rules against a legal challenge from bankers) and restoring public budget briefings, among other things.

But there is more work to be done, he said, calling on Congress to repeal the MBL cap and praising the credit union business model for its potential to create change.

"What truly makes America great is its people embracing, in both word and deed, the essence of the cooperative spirit," he said.
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McWatters' first GAC as NCUA chairman
In his first GAC address as acting chairman of NCUA, Mark McWatters said credit unions can expect “thoughtful loosening” of regulations, noting that nearly a decade has passed since the financial crisis.

“We must focus on today’s challenges and risks while preparing for the future,” he said in prepared remarks. “Absent safety and soundness concerns, NCUA must not stand in the way of your efforts to develop and execute your business plan, meet the expectations of your members, and build a robust and dynamic credit union community.”

McWatters also said that he would support bringing the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Stabilization Fund into the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund this year “if our research determines the agency can properly and prudently satisfy” the requirements of sufficient reserves to absorb downward trends in the equity ratio and potential declines in the value of legacy assets.