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Emily Hacker - Staying Engaged

Updated: Oct 24, 2019

In this industry it is easy to take a back seat and disengage a bit after you have been a leader in the industry for so many years. The difficult part is staying engaged, challenging yourself, staying motivated, and continually shaping the industry so that others can learn and grow their leadership skills and their own careers. Emily Hacker not only remains engaged in the movement, putting in the time to advocate for the credit union purpose, and volunteer in her community but she also is passionate about the future of the workforce. Emily’s accolades include being a CRASHER, a CRASH Mentor, a Young Professional of the Year Winner, a tireless volunteer, and she isn’t slowing down. It was a privilege to sit down and talk to Emily about her journey, the world of credit union advocacy, and what is next for her.

We are kind of the old school millennial in the CU movement. What keeps you so driven? How do we break the stigma of how YP’s are perceived and ultimately just become a professional?

I love that description of us, Chris! We really are at the start of the millennial generation and I think that can be highly advantageous because it allows us to connect with both older and younger generations. We’re currently in a precarious position in which the words we choose and the things we’re passionate about are impactful to other generations. It’s important that we hold ourselves accountable to do better and be better; and, that is really what drives me. Knowing that what I do today can create a massive ripple that impacts many people or it can be a tiny ripple that has a massive impact on one or two people. I think the stigma related to “young” professionals comes from a fear that we may rock the boat. That we’re too impulsive, too passionate. Due to this, it’s important for young people entering the workforce to develop strong human relations skills and ensure their EQ is high. When you’re able to read those you’re working with and approach each situation differently based on your audience, you’ll earn respect and move from a “young” professional to simply a professional regardless of age.

Legislation was something you wanted to improve at and let me first compliment all that you have done for the movement with your interactions with legislators and the movement as a whole. What led to your success? How did you break through and what keeps you going day to day?

I wholly believe in the mission and purpose of Credit Unions and when you believe in something, it’s easier to keep fighting for it. In all honesty, educating myself so I could feel confident in the conversations I have has helped me to find success. Once I had the knowledge, I built the confidence by speaking with the legislators in my district. From there, I started having more and more conversations with legislators. I often start by asking questions about their stance and what they know about Credit Unions. The banks have done a fantastic job of spreading false information that has, understandably, led some legislators astray. Consistency in those conversations is key. Ask questions and lead with facts. We’re so lucky to have an amazing Credit Union League in Iowa that provides us with data, facts, and information we can share. Knowing that I’m fighting for Iowans’ financial choice and my passion for our mission is what keeps me in the fight year after year.

Larger CU’s have a target on their back, especially in Iowa. What are some of the struggles you go through and what can others do to help the movement?

Banks have painted a target on larger CU’s; however, it’s our values, mission, and structure that make us a Credit Union, not our size. We often run into struggles with legislators in more rural areas of Iowa that feel larger Credit Unions are encroaching on community banks. What often isn’t taken into consideration is that consumers now have the ability to put their money virtually anywhere thanks to technology. They could, and often try to, find rates that beat their local financial institution and the money could leave Iowa. With an Iowa Credit Union, the member and the state both win. One of the things I do is work to educate my friends, family, and co-workers about the importance of financial choice. I encourage them to write to their legislators and share their stories. The great thing about this - it’s something anyone can do!

I know you spend a ton of time volunteering in your community. What have been the most rewarding opportunities you have taken part in?

I whole-heartedly believe that volunteering is vital to the success of the communities we serve and live in. I currently serve on the board for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa and as the Vice President for the Black Hawk County Chapter of Credit Unions. I think every experience is rewarding, just in different ways. The experience that has always stuck with me and that ignited my passion for volunteering was helping to build homes for people living in Tennessee and Kentucky. Seeing how a few people can make a massive impact will always remain with me.

What’s next for Emily?

I recently began teaching a Human Relations course at Hawkeye Community College and love the new challenge and perspective it brings. It helps to ensure I keep my own human relations skills sharp; and, it gives me an opportunity to impact people as they enter the workforce or begin a new career.

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