The Foundation’s Wegner Awards Dinner from the point of view of a Crasher – Christian Hartley!
It was day two of #CRASHtheGAC2018. After our final breakout session of the day, we had, according to our handy schedules, fifty whole minutes to get back to our hotels, change from business professional to black tie, to be on time for the National Credit Union Foundation reception and Wegner Awards Dinner. No pressure, folks.
I was one of the blessed Crashers to be invited to both, so I was extremely happy about that. One thing about being a freshman and a Crasher at GAC, I wasn’t quite sure what most of the events were about, but I was determined to get every single thing out of this opportunity that I could!
Earlier in the day, there was a speaker named Gigi Hyland who came out during the general session with a young man named Moziah (of Mo’s Bows,) speaking about Biz Kid$. She spoke about credit union advocacy and the importance on the credit union movement, and how Biz Kid$ impacted and influenced kids like Moziah.
You know how you encounter someone and instantly think ‘they must love what they do. [Their] passion just shines through.’ That was my first impression of Gigi. When I learned she was with the Foundation and would be at the dinner that night, my goal was to meet her. She was #GirlBoss goals.
The reception was massive. There were people everywhere, dressed to the nines. There was a red carpet and a step-and-repeat line, and at the end of the long red carpet, there was Mike Lawson from CUBroadcast doing interviews.
I began to work my way through the room, stopping and speaking with some contacts that I’d made throughout the day, taking pictures, exchanging contact information with new connections. PRO TIP: This event is networking on steroids. Have a smile, an elevator speech and LOTS of business cards.
Suddenly, the doors opened to the dining area, and people began to make their way inside. It was a beautiful ball room with blue and purple up-lighting. Since some of the Crasher’s (including me) were special guests of the presenting sponsor VISA, Emily Leach (of VISA) directed us to one of the reserved tables.
Our table was at the very front and to the right of the room, in perfect view of the stage. I set my purse down at a chair and began to make my way back through the room (network, network, network.) By the time I got to the back of the room, I was out of business cards (again) but I ran into Moziah from earlier in the day. After chatting with him (so engaging, so sweet) we took a quick picture and the awards show was about to begin.
Andy Janning came onstage as the evening’s emcee, and did a tremendous job keeping us all entertained. Then the lights dimmed, and slideshows began to play.
Based on my research, this awards dinner was for the credit union movement’s best of the best. These recipients have truly made their mark on the industry through “tireless dedication, innovative ideas and deeds” for their credit union communities.
The program began, and the takeaway from the stories of the winners- ALL. OF. THEM- was passion. Most did not start out at credit union, but once they were involved, they were determined to make a difference. Some served on a Board of Directors, some established credit unions in different countries, some had national foundations for empowering women in the credit union industry and more. ALL of them were inspiring, and to see them recognized, some with their family and friends present, was humbling to experience.
After the Awards Dinner, while the rest of my Crasher group took off for our next event (oh, yes, we had more to do that evening!) I hung back to patiently wait for an opportunity to meet Mrs. Gigi Hyland.
Finally, my moment came and I approached her. Genuine, friendly, warm, engaging are all words that come to mind when I think of this meeting. You never would have guessed that she just hosted over 900 people as she took time to speak with me and honestly, make me feel like I was the only person in the world. I was so thankful for that opportunity.
For me, the theme of the evening was “why we do what we do.” There were stories that made me cry, yes, there were stories that made me laugh, and there were stories that made me think.
Finally, there were stories that made me take a moment to thank Jesus that I had the opportunity to be sitting at that table. If you have the opportunity to go, please don’t hesitate. Do not miss the opportunity to be inspired by these amazing credit union leaders.
As I reflect on that moment, I realized what a tremendous blessing was given to me- a homeschooled kid from Mississippi. I was there by the grace of God, and I realized that I now have a duty to bring that same passion and influence back to my state, my credit union, and those who directly report to me. What we do every day matters. Credit unions make a difference in people’s lives every day. We get to make an impact on people every single day.
Thanks for reading. Be Excellent in everything you do! –Christian
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