Dear Mr. Filene:
You would’ve been proud of them, sir.
46 fresh faces from nearly every corner of the country, brought together by their love of the credit unions you helped carve out of the fragmented, stagnated financial landscape of a century ago.
They came to Washington DC for our industry’s biggest event – the Governmental Affairs Conference – eager to learn from the leaders who’ve honored your legacy, to find their own voice, to leave their corner of the world a bit brighter for the members and co-workers and communities they serve.
These young professionals who “crashed” the GAC learned how to speak truth to the power on Capitol Hill and understand the complex forces at work inside and outside of it. They sat shoulder to shoulder with CU experts, evangelists, and executives in the hopes of becoming one someday.
I know all this because I had the privilege of being among them, not as a speaker or mentor, but instead as their photographer/videographer.
I was there to serve them as a (mostly) quiet observer, capturing their story in pictures both still and moving…and was moved as a result. Their perspectives challenged me. Their admiration for what this movement can and should be inspired me.
They carried with them infectious optimism about the future and humility about their place in it, two forces too easily dulled and drowned by my own cynicism and fear. They were there to learn but I was the one who found himself taken to school most days.
They have much to learn and practice and lose and win, to be sure. They will need our strongest and most humble voices to lead and guide them in the years and decades ahead. But their hands are open and steady, ready sooner than we think to bear the weight of what you first called forth.
They have you to thank for helping change their lives.
I have them to thank for changing mine.