Chief Executive Officer
strong leaders follow a clear path
Executive Leadership Team
The Connect First Credit Union leadership team is committed to shaping the financial landscape of this province, providing Albertans with the opportunity for meaningful growth.
Chief Executive Officer
Paul is the Chief Executive Officer of Connect First Credit Union, Canada’s ninth largest credit union, with more than $5 billion in assets under administration, serving over 100,000 members in 14 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, serve our members and strengthen the communities we live, work and play in.
Paul has more than 30-years experience in the financial service industry and is a recognized leader in the Canadian Credit Union system. An advocate for lifelong learning, 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 on a number of boards, including the Canadian Credit Union Association, Credit Union Central of Alberta (Vice Chair), Canadian Mental Health Association – Calgary Region, Safe Haven Foundation (Audit Committee Chair) and Board of Governors of Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures.
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, oversees the credit union’s Human Resources and Talent Management teams, as well as, the Brand and Stakeholder Engagement team.
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.
Chief Risk Officer
As Chief Risk Officer for Connect First Credit Union, Keith provides strategic leadership in the areas of Retail Credit, Commercial Credit, and Risk Management.
Keith has dedicated his entire career to serving the Canadian 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 portfolios in: credit, collections, business development, adjudication, and risk management.
Keith’s professional designations include: Certified Credit Professional (Credit Institute of Canada) and a certificate in International Banking Risk and Regulation (Global Association of Risk Professionals).
Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration
As Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration of Connect First Credit Union, Sandra provides leadership in the areas of Treasury, Corporate Accounting, Corporate Analytics, Centralized Operations, and Facilities.
Among her many credentials, she 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 25-plus year career dedicated to the robust management practices of the financial resources for cooperatives.
Sandra currently is a proud member of the Resolve Campaign, and is a devoted advocate of ending Homelessness in Calgary.
Senior Vice President of Information Technology
As Senior Vice President of Information Technology of 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. Her passionate focus is leveraging technology to making banking something our members do, not somewhere they have to go.
Catherine is a volunteer advocate in her community and devoted to giving back to those in need.
President, First Calgary Financial
As the President of First Calgary Financial, Shelley Vandenberg leads a team of more than 350 employees dedicated to making financial lives better for members. She provides strategic leadership to the major lines of business: retail banking, commercial & real estate banking, small business banking, wealth management, and indirect lending. Her career in financial services has spanned 25-years and she has held a variety of progressive, senior level roles.
Shelley has a reputation of contributing to business success through strategic alignment and relationship development. Her proven experience in logical, efficient problem solving, and the development of high caliber, enthusiastic teams, makes her an energetic and dynamic member of Connect First Credit Union’s Executive Leadership team.
As a current Director of Momentum Community Economic Development Society, she has actively led a Payday Loan initiative, a partnership between First Calgary Financial and Momentum, in helping educate Calgarians on how to avoid an endless cycle of debt caused by payday loans.
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 33-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 VP Business Banking.
In addition to his numerous industry credentials, Scot has completed the Certified Chief Executive program 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.
Board of Directors
We’ve assembled an impressive team of uniquely successful individuals, each with the goal of creating value for customers and shareholders alike.
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 a number of companies in the North American agri-business sector. Ron has been an advocate for cooperatives and credit unions since he was a teenager and has served as Board Chair for the past six years.
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, 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 board director, recently retiring from her role as Chair of the boards of Genome Alberta, WaterSmart Solutions Ltd. 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 2009
Sarah is passionate about the possibility of the cooperative model and movement. She is currently working with the startup co-op, New Scoop YYC, a generative journalism news co-op. She is a member and resident of the Prairie Sky Co Housing Cooperative.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Masters of Education degree (Counselling) from the University of Calgary and is a registered psychologist. She obtained her Credit Union Director Accreditation in April 2015.
In her spare time, Sarah enjoys networking (a bit of an addiction), 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 sectors.
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 in his early 20s as a director of Caisse Desjardins de Sillery in Quebec City.
Michel met his wife in Calgary after moving to the city in 2005 and is now a proud father of three energetic girls who keep him busy every minute while not at work.
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 various 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 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 Commerce and Law degrees from the University of Calgary and an MBA from the University of Western Ontario. 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, motor biking, 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 credit unions for many years, including service to Key Savings Credit Union as a director for 21 years.
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.
Committees of the Board
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