GoWest’s Pam Leavitt, Oregon Credit Unions, Honored at National GAC for Advocacy Leadership

It takes a village to move the advocacy needle. This is something that Pam Leavitt realized when she joined the Credit Union Movement in 1994, tasked with leading advocacy efforts for Oregon credit unions. Over time she built an advocacy model that has been admired and copied throughout the league system and continues to build on it for sustainable success into the future. The model is successful due to partnership and deep engagement of credit unions.

For her leadership, Leavitt, GoWest Credit Union Association’s SVP of Regional Grassroots/Political Programming and Legislative Affairs for Oregon, received the Eugene Farley Award this week, during the America’s Credit Unions National Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. This national recognition celebrates league system visionaries who create and promote effective advocacy programs.

An Oregon Legacy

Leavitt worked with Oregon’s credit unions to create an inclusive engagement platform, starting the first in-person, Credit Union Day at the Capitol events and launching CULAC Month, encouraging fun and competitive events to drive credit union employees to contribute to fundraising that helps to elect candidates who support credit unions. Year after year, the Oregon credit unions exceeded their goals. Credit unions long supported the state Governmental Affairs Committee in helping to determine the policy advancement agendas, but Leavitt realized that a separate group of credit union leaders and practitioners was needed to “dream big” and take a longer-term approach. As a result, the State Issues Working Group concept became reality. Today, the model including State GACs, State Issues Working Groups, and CULAC priorities, is established in all six GoWest states, and in other regions nationally.

“I am humbled to receive this award.,” Leavitt said. “We worked one credit union at a time to make the case for advocacy engagement, and quickly, the Oregon credit union family leaned in and engaged in the process at every step – every in-person event, every call to action, candidate fundraising, and committee service that helped define credit union priorities. It’s exciting to know Oregon credit unions worked with us to develop an advocacy model that is being used across the nation!”

With the support of credit union advocates, the Oregon Legislature has passed updates to the state Credit Union Act nearly every two years for the past two decades. Many bills that help credit unions better serve their members have also been signed into law, including the landmark legislation in 2023 requiring high school students to pass two, half-credit courses teaching career life and personal budgeting skills. The Oregon advocacy force also defeated harmful legislation over the years, including three bank-instigated bills last decade that would have imposed taxation for larger credit unions, unnecessary CRA-like reporting requirements, and additional limits on loans to Main Street businesses. The package was dead on arrival; because of successful advocacy strategy, it never even received a hearing.

“Pam joined the Oregon Credit Union Movement directly from her service in the U.S. Senate, with a vision for successful credit union advocacy,” said GoWest’s President and CEO Troy Stang. “It as dependent on the engagement of the credit unions at every level. She worked with our members to sustain it and expand on it. Today, the grassroots program Pam’s team created, defines a role for any credit union employee to participate in advocacy. It’s exciting to see the deep engagement model she established, used by leagues throughout the country, helping to raise credit union awareness, stave off threats, and pass legislation that supports world-class service to members.”

The Farley Award was presented Saturday evening by the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL). The organization’s President, Brad Miller noted that Leavitt is happy to serve as an advisor to other credit union organizations working to expand their advocacy success.

“Pam leads by example in galvanizing collaboration among credit unions to advance priorities that help all credit unions better serve their members and communities. Whether it be starting Credit Union Day at the Capitol, development of CULAC month, commitment to the cooperative structure, or building avenues to encourage credit unions to share best practices, Pam’s strong ethics, respect for others, and true love for the credit union system shine through.”

Also receiving Farley Awards this year were Diana Dykstra, President/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, and Scott Sullivan, President/CEO of the Nebraska Credit Union League.

Photo caption:  From left to right: AACUL Chair and CrossState Credit Union Association President/CEO Patrick Conway; GoWest Credit Union Association President/CEO Troy Stang; Senior Vice President of Regional Grassroots/Political Programs and Legislative Affairs Pam Leavitt; AACUL President Brad Miller.

Posted in Advocacy News, Oregon, Top Headlines.