AFSA goes inside Austin city limits at Independents Conference April 18, 2019 The American Financial Services Association (AFSA) held its 36th annual Independents Conference & Expo this week in Austin, Texas, at the brand new Fairmont Hotel. AFSA once again received tremendous support from its members in the traditional installment lending space, the independent auto lending space, and business partner companies as 500 people registered for the three-day conference and 51 booths of service providers and entrepreneurs were on display in the Expo. After a full day of board and committee meetings on Tuesday conducted by AFSA and the AFSA Education Foundation, Wednesday featured Main Stage presentations in the General Sessions and several afternoon education sessions. Brad Noel, Independents Section Chair, provided a state of the industry address and served as conference host and master of ceremonies. Bill Himpler, AFSA’s new President & CEO, gave a state of the association address in his first conference since succeeding Chris Stinebert, who is retiring at the end of the year. Noel and Himpler both emphasized the importance of advocacy and education of legislators and regulators as the 2020 election cycle looms on the horizon. Stinebert was recognized for his leadership of AFSA since 2006 in presentations Tuesday at the AFSA Board meeting and at an annual dinner Tuesday night. Chris Stirewalt, Politics Editor for Fox News Channel and a host of other FNC platforms headlined the Opening General Session with a mix of wit, philosophy, history and political commentary. He advocated for American History and Civics to be emphasized again in school curriculums; predicted President Trump would face a primary challenger; said the 2020 election may hinge on who wins Pennsylvania, followed by Michigan, and Ohio. He said Texas is becoming more of a swing state than Ohio. Gabrielle Bosche’ kicked off Thursday morning as the foremost subject matter expert on studying Millennials as a Millennial herself. She is a consultant to companies that want to better understand the goals and Bosche’ seeks to dispel what she calls Five Myths about Millennials, which is also the title of one of her three books. Closing out the conference at Thursday’s Champions Club luncheon was motivational speaker and retired U.S. Army Officer 1st Lt. Melissa Stockwell Lt. Stockwell, an Iraq war veteran, is a two-time Paralympian having competed in the 2008 summer Paralympics in three swimming events. She was the first Iraq veteran chosen for the Paralympics and competed in the 100 m butterfly, 110 m freestyle, and 400 m freestyle. She then became a triathlete, competing in world championships in 2010-2013. Lt. Stockwell returned to the 2016 Paralympic Games in 2016 and won a bronze medal in the first-ever Paratriathlon event She was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Today she works as a prosthetist and has served on the board of the Wounded Warrior Project.She is a triathlon coach and co-founder of Dare2Tri, a Chicago-based triathlon club for athletes with disabilities.