Tune in as CEO, Paul Kelly, talks about how Connect First Credit Union is changing the financial landscape in Alberta, and what’s ahead…
Tune in as Board Chair, Ron Gibson, talks about the important role the board of directors played in making Connect First Credit Union a reality…
Executive Leadership Team
Chief Executive Officer
Paul is the Chief Executive Officer of Connect First Credit Union, the second largest credit union in Alberta with more than $4 billion in assets under administration, serving over 100,000 members in 15 communities across southern Alberta. Paul leads the strategic visioning for Connect First Credit Union; ensuring the brands in the network, Chinook Financial and First Calgary Financial, are able to strengthen the communities they serve.
Paul has more than 30-years of experience in the financial service industry and is a visionary leader within the Canadian Credit Union landscape. Among his many credentials, Paul holds a Masters of Business Administration (York University), a HBA from the Ivey School of Business (University of Western Ontario) and the ICD.D designation.
Paul currently serves as a director for the Canadian Mental Health Association – Calgary Region, Credit Union Central of Alberta (Vice Chair), Safe Haven Foundation (Audit Committee Chair) and Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures (Board of Governors).
Senior Vice President of Shared Services
As Senior Vice President of Shared Services for Connect First Credit Union, Jackie provides leadership in the areas of Corporate Governance, Strategy Planning and Business Innovation, and oversees the credit union’s Human Resources and Talent Management teams, Communications, Corporate Citizenship, and Marketing.
Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts (honours) and post-graduate diploma. Jackie’s 30-year career in financial services has included senior roles focused on Retail Banking, Human Resources, and Governance.
Jackie is passionate about delivering value for members, creating outstanding employment experiences and strengthening the communities where Connect First Credit Union operates.
Senior Vice President of Credit Services
As Senior Vice President of Credit Services for Connect First Credit Union, Keith provides leadership in the areas of Retail Credit and Commercial and Agricultural Banking.
Keith has dedicated his entire career serving the members of credit union system, working for both credit unions and the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation. During his 20-year career in financial services, Keith has held senior roles in credit, collections, business development, adjudication, and risk management.
Keith’s professional designations include a Certified Credit Professional designation (Credit Institute of Canada) and a certificate in International Banking Risk and Regulation (Global Association of Risk Professionals).
Senior Vice President of Risk Management
Shelley Vandenberg is responsible for Risk Management at Connect First Credit Union. Shelley’s career in financial services has spanned 20-years. Her broad background in the industry includes expertise in Contact Centre Management, Enterprise Risk Management, Privacy and most recently, Retail Banking.
Shelley’s professional designations include being a certified Information and Privacy professional and a Certified Risk Manager.
Shelley joined First Calgary Financial in 2002 as manager of the Contact Centre, where she launched and set important foundations for the team’s long term success. In 2014, she was appointed Head of the Retail Banking division. Over the span of her career, Shelley has held a number of senior roles including portfolios in Enterprise Risk Management and Facility Services.
Born and raised on a farm in central Alberta, Shelley and her family are proud to call the foothills west of Calgary home.
Senior Vice President of Information Technology
As Senior Vice President of Information Technology for Connect First Credit Union, Catherine is an experienced Information Technology leader with expertise in aligning technology with business goals.
Catherine’s career in financial services spans 30-years, the majority of which has been dedicated to technology. Catherine’s passionate focus is leveraging technology to make banking something our members do, not somewhere they have to go.
Catherine enjoys volunteering her time with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area and believes in giving back to her community.
Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration
As Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration for Connect First Credit Union, Sandra provides leadership in the areas of Treasury, Corporate Accounting, Corporate Finance, Centralized Operations, and Corporate Services.
Among her many credentials, Sandra holds a Masters of Business Administration (Athabasca University) and a Post-Baccalaureate Degree in Management.
Sandra is passionate about the cooperative model, having spent her 20-plus year career dedicated to the robust management practices of the financial resources for cooperatives. Prior to joining First Calgary Financial, Sandra held a senior leadership role with a retail cooperative.
President, Chinook Financial
As President of Chinook Financial, a division of Connect First Credit Union, Scot provides leadership to all lines of business in the Chinook Financial region.
Scot has spent his 30-year career in financial services working at several credit unions, and is dedicated to strengthening Alberta communities through the financial cooperative model. His most recent roles include: Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer and Regional Manager.
In addition to his numerous industry credentials, Scot has completed an executive course through the CEO Institute of CUES.
Scot is passionate about bringing the vision of Connect First Credit Union to life, and strengthening Chinook Financial’s brand in the communities his team feels so privileged to serve.
Chinook Credit Union’s former President & CEO, Tom Mossing, retired in November 2014 after a 44-year career with the Alberta credit union system. Tom’s contributions to the credit unions he served during his career are too numerous to mention — he was truly one of the pioneers of the credit union system and will be missed!
Board of Directors
Board Chair and Director since 2006
Ron is the Founder and President of Gibson Capital Inc., a Calgary-based firm that provides research and consulting services relating to commodity markets and risk. Prior to forming his own company in 1998, Ron held senior positions with R.J. O’Brien, Sparks Companies Inc. (now called Informa Economics), and the Canadian Wheat Board. Ron has been an advocate for cooperatives and credit unions since he was a teenager, learning the credit union “difference” from his dad who was the manager of a local credit union in Saskatchewan.
Ron holds a Masters of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Bachelor of Commerce degree (with distinction) from the University of Saskatchewan.
In his spare time, Ron enjoys travelling, music, skiing, mountain biking, hiking and studying languages.
Board Vice Chair and Director since 2003
Born and raised on a mixed farm near Claresholm, Andrew and his family are proud to oversee the welfare of the largest Braunvieh cattle herd in Canada. A passionate credit union member for 39 years, Andrew credits the longevity and success of his family business from the support of his local credit union.
Andrew’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science Degree (with distinction) in Agriculture from the University of Alberta and numerous industry and credit union certifications.
In his spare time, Andrew enjoys spending time with his wife and adult daughters, working on the farm or hiking, and biking in K-Country.
Board Secretary and Director since 2011
Stella is a board director, sitting on the boards of Geome Alberta (Chair), WaterSmart Solutions Ltd. (Chair) and the International Women’s Forum of Canada (Chair and President). She brings more than 30-years of executive and governance experience to our boardroom, with the majority of her career spent with large energy companies and many corporate boards. In addition, as co-founder and principal of Governance West Inc. for 12-years, Stella worked with over 250 clients providing governance consulting services to a broad range of boards from cooperatives, corporate, not-for-profit, and crown organizations. This is where her passion for financial cooperatives began to blossom!
Stella holds a Masters of Arts (Economics) from the University of Alberta, a Bachelor of Arts (Economics) from the University of Calgary and the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors.
When not working or volunteering, Stella and her husband love many activities in the mountains and spending time with their family.
Director since 2007
Born and raised on a cattle/guest ranch in southern Alberta, Diana and her husband Norman along with their daughters and their families, maintain five generations of mixed grain and cattle operations near Nanton.
Diana’s community service includes being the founder and (Chair) of the Lower Mosquito Creek Water Association, (former Secretary) to Alberta Belgian Breeders Association, and for the past several years served as agricultural representative on a joint multi-stake holder/ Provincial Government group that attained a Provincially/Federally approved Water Management Plan and continues to sit as one of four representatives on the permanent Water Management Core Group.
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, promoting agricultural stability, preserving native grasslands, and maintaining the family’s heritage home site.
Director since 2009
Sarah’s professional portfolio includes supporting the development of new co-ops for the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative, enabling Calgary to have a thriving co-op sector by 2020. Sarah is, and has always been, passionate about the possibility of the cooperative model and movement. She is currently involved with prototyping the New Scoop YYC , a generative journalism news co-op in Calgary.
Sarah is a member and resident of the Prairie Sky Cohousing Cooperative. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Masters of Education degree (Counselling) from the University of Calgary. Sarah is also a registered psychologist.
In her spare time, Sarah enjoys walking Sam (a black Golden Doodle), zumba and spending time with her family (as much as teenagers will allow), and neighbours.
Director since 2010
Michel is a Business Development Manager for Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services. With over 15-years of experience in the pension and employee benefits fields, Michel has provided human resource solutions for a diverse group of clients in the private, public, not-for-profit, and government sector.
Michel’s educational background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Actuarial Science from Université Laval. His passion for credit unions began at a young age when his parents helped him open his first account, and blossomed through his involvement as a young man at Caisse Desjardins de Sillery in Quebec City.
Director since 2012
Barry is retired after serving the majority of his career with cooperatives across Canada. His community service includes Drumheller Co-op (President) and being a director of Community Futures Big Country.
Barry’s educational background includes Business Administration at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute in Toronto, as well as numerous industry and credit union accreditations. Barry obtained his Credit Union Director Accreditation in April 2013 and Advanced Director Development through Co-op.
In his spare time, Barry enjoys gardening, playing backgammon, working with numerous community groups, and various types of weaving.
Director since 2012
A resident of Calgary for 20-years, until recently, Judy was the Director of Community Investments for the United Way of Calgary and Area, the largest non-government source of funding for human care and community support programs in the greater Calgary area. Judy has been a credit union member since 1997, and became a member because she believed that cooperatives are member-oriented and place people first.
Judy’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts (with distinction) from the University of Calgary and the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. Judy obtained her Credit Union Director Accreditation in 2013.
In her spare time, Judy enjoys spending time with her two adult sons and takes full advantage of our beautiful and natural environment by hiking, backpacking, camping, cross country skiing, and kayaking.
Director since 2012
Born and raised in Hanna, Murray is the Owner and General Manager of Hanna Motor Products, a state of the art operation employing 20 area residents. Murray is also a partner in Super 8 Motels in Rocky Mountain House and Ponoka, as well as Rocky Canalta Inns and Suites in Rocky Mountain House. Murray attributes much of his business success to the support of credit unions.
Murray’s educational background includes an automotive technology degree from SAIT, as a licensed automotive and heavy-duty technician.
In his spare time, Murray enjoys hunting, curling, travelling, and time spent with his three adult children and four grandchildren.
Director since 2007
Sabine has been a credit union member since she was a child and is the Chief Administration Officer for the Town of Bassano, a post she has proudly held since 2008.
She has a Site Management/Leadership Certificate from Red Deer College and also graduated from Germany as an Occupational Health and Safety Technician. Her community involvement includes the Bassano Historical (Treasurer) Society, Friends of Bassano Society (Treasurer), and Bassano Community Enhancement Society (Director).
A proud credit union member for over 39-years, in her spare time, Sabine is an avid curler and enjoys flying airplanes with her husband.
Director since 2006
Bob is the Managing Director of Petwin Capital Group, a multi-million dollar investment trust doing business in Canada and the United States.
Bob has degrees in both Commerce and Law, as well as a Masters of Business Administration, all from the University of Calgary. He’s also participated in several credit union director-training courses. The University of Calgary Board of Governors and Senate, and an advisory board for the City of Calgary, have afforded Bob further board experience. Bob also currently serves on Alberta Central’s Board of Directors.
Bob and his wife enjoy spare time with their young family.
Director since 2013
Bob is the Managing Partner of Shearer Agencies Ltd. He has been a credit union member for over 30-years because credit unions are his financial institution of choice.
Robert’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, as well as numerous professional accreditations.
In his spare time, Robert enjoys curling, skiing, motorbiking, travel, and spending time with his grandchildren.
Director since 2006
Carey has a Chartered Accountant designation and operates an accounting practice out of her home, specializing in agriculture tax issues. Carey and her family operate a grain farm north of Hussar.
Carey received her Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Calgary and articled with Arthur Anderson. She’s had a long term relationship with Cremers & Elliott of Calgary, serving their retail auto and agricultural sectors.
In her spare time, Carey enjoys spending time with her teenage children, as well as curling, camping, being a hockey/ringette mom, and visiting with friends.
Kevin Van Koughnett
Director since 2011
Kevin is retired from TransAlta Corporation, a power generation and electric utility company where his last position was Director of Transmission. His nearly 40-year career in electric utility engineering and business development spanned the globe.
A credit union member for 30 years, Kevin has been passionate about the Alberta credit union system for many years, including service to Key Savings Credit Union as a director.
Kevin holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Calgary, as well as a Bachelor of Science (Electrical Engineering) from Queen’s University. In addition, he has a Certificate in Financial Planning from the Canadian Institute for Financial Planning.
Kevin and his family have resided in Calgary for over 35 years. In their spare time, Kevin and his wife enjoy spending time with their two adult children, and spoiling their grandchildren.
Doug van Spronsen
Director since 2014
Doug is the Managing Director and a founding partner of Versett, an award-winning strategic design and technology agency with offices in Calgary, Edmonton, Nice and Dubai. He’s also a director for MSI International, a group of privately held companies in the information technology, mobile, and media industries.
Doug opened his first credit union membership with a BC-based credit union during university and can’t imagine banking anywhere, but with his local credit union! Doug holds a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from Trinity Western University.
In their spare time, Doug and his wife, enjoy hiking, skiing, and exploring the Rocky Mountains.
Thank you to our retiring directors for their dedicated service to the Alberta credit union system.
Committees of the Board
November 2014 - March 2016
Andrew Eberl, Chair
Stella Thompson, Vice Chair
Kevin Van Koughnett
Human Resources (HRC)
Judy Martin, Chair
Murray Moench, Vice Chair
Doug van Spronsen
Michel Cantin, Chair
Robert Shearer, Vice Chair
Audit & Finance
Kevin Van Koughnett, Chair
Carey Taubert, Vice Chair
Barry Fullerton, Chair
Doug van Spronsen, Vice Chair