A Message From Krista Simonis: Building Relationships

Krista Simonis

Two weeks ago, I traveled to Washington, DC, to attend CUNA’s Government Affairs Conference. I began working for the League in November, and being a part of this annual event for the first time was truly an amazing opportunity. I got to witness firsthand how credit union values impact us as individuals and as a movement.  

When it comes to credit union advocacy, our strength is in our relationships. Being in DC, with so many credit union professionals from Maine and across the country, what I valued most was building relationships with each attendee. The conversations we had over meals, on the way to meetings, and waiting in hallways, were what made the week truly memorable for me. That is the same relationship-building we do with our legislators, both in Augusta and in Washington.

At last week’s Legislative Meet & Greet in Bangor, I saw that moment happen when our credit union CEOs shared stories of caring for their members and employees during the pandemic and the staffing challenges they face today. As a small business owner herself, Senator Stacey Guerin heard how credit unions put people first — and operate just like her.

Because of conversations like this, we’ve built strong relationships, so when a new piece of legislation comes before the legislature, we can approach our elected officials for their support. They can remember being in a room with people who are just like them, sharing similar concerns and their hopes for the future.  

I grew up in California and my family was politically active. When I was in elementary school, we drove the two hours to the Capitol to deliver petitions containing thousands of signatures to the Governor. I remember being turned away at the door to the Governor’s office because we didn’t have an appointment.

I’m grateful it’s not like that here. In Maine, we make time for each other. We listen to each other. As credit union staff, you listen to your members. As your advocates, the League listens to you. And together, we build relationships so our legislators listen to us.