“I would have to say that the most standout moment is when you are there, in the Capitol, and what seems so far off and untouchable becomes so tangible and relevant,” says Rachel Costello of First National Bank and Trust Co. of Clinton, Ill., of her first ICBA Capital Summit.
“It was truly mesmerizing,” she said, admitting that the trek to Washington may have never happened if it had not been for ICBA’s Leadership Academy, which requires enrollees to attend the ICBA Capital Summit in order to experience how advocacy positively effects change within the banking industry.
The vice president of personal banking at the $172 million-asset bank said she was surprised by the unity of the attendees, but what really surprised her was the “level of attention” and “how open and willing to listen” lawmakers like Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) were to her concerns.
Heidi Wurm, a learning and development specialist at $290 million-asset Star Bank in Maple Lakes, Minn., also noted the “receptive and friendly” greeting from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and said Rep. Tom Emmer’s (R-Minn.) legislative director, Landon Zinda, requested a follow-up meeting for a deeper dive on agricultural lending issues.
| Community bankers visit with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
“Of course, we all threw out our cards to him,” Heidi noted, adding that she followed up with an email “thanking him and inviting him to our branch in Maple Lake.”
As the winner of the Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota’s future community bank leaders essay contest, entitled “What Being a Community Banker Means to Me,” Heidi earned her trip to Washington.
Watching the “efforts, endurance and passion” exhibited by fellow bankers during this year’s fly-in gave Heidi a new perspective of “what community banks really fight for” and has inspired her to continue those advocacy efforts back home, she said.
McKinzie Hopkins, a vice president at $872 million-asset CorTrust Bank’s Brooklyn Park, Minn., office, admits she was “very nervous” walking into her first meeting with Sen. Klobuchar, but said the ICBA’s “know before you go” materials and “high level overview” in advance of her meeting helped her prepare. “The lawyer in me loved to see where the magic happens and be a part of the process,” she said.
“We all know what ICBA is doing in Washington to further the needs of community banks, and what they are doing by themselves is amazing, but this experience showed me that ICBA needs the help of community bankers to get as many policymakers on board as possible,” she said. “Our voice matters, and we need to support and help ICBA advocate for change.”
“There is power in numbers,” Heidi added. “I want to encourage others to remember why they chose a community bank to work [for] and to dig into that choice, fan the flames of their beliefs and then start a fire with it!”
ICBA thanks all community bankers who attended this year’s Capital Summit—first timers and seasoned veterans—for stoking the fires and helping to keep the community banking agenda at the forefront of important policy discussions.