You already know who we are.
Maybe not by name, but through our shared experience as Albertans.
Our kids play hockey together. We watch the sun set behind the Rockies together. We support each others’ local businesses. We watch the price of oil rise and fall, and rise again, together. We push each others’ cars out of snowbanks.
connectFirst is a force for good. Through good times and bad, helping Albertans is our purpose, our history, our DNA. We’re a true credit union, born out of the collective legacies of four others that came before: First Calgary Financial, Chinook Financial, Mountain View Financial, Legacy Financial and SPARK the Energy Credit Union.
We're your full-service banking partner, our local history and integrity now shining through state-of-the-art digital banking solutions.
Our members belong here—we believe we all belong here.
And that working each day to make Albertans more secure and prosperous is a purpose worth fighting for.
We’re here for you. We’re here with you. We are you. And we pledge to support your financial health with expertise, know-how and passion.Connect with us
Think big, act local, take charge, and make it easy.
These are the Albertans who lead our commitment to our members’ well-being.
1st Vice Chair
2nd Vice Chair
Charlie Van Arnam
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.
1st Vice Chair
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 as a young man at Caisse Desjardins de Sillery in Quebec City.
2nd Vice Chair
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.
Matthew is the Canadian Compliance Director for Mistras Group Inc (NYSE:MG), providing strategic direction involving safety and environment, quality assurance, HR, system integration and government compliance. He also owns and operates a successful real estate development company for residential, agricultural, and commercial properties.
Matt holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Associate License from the Real Estate Council of Alberta.
Matt lives in the Mountain view region with his family and enjoys playing hockey and golf.
Darlene has been a credit union member for an impressive 30+ years. Previously, she was a director at SPARK Credit Union which recently amalgamated with connectFirst.
"During the search for an amalgamation partner, it became clear connectFirst was where we belonged," said Darlene. "Working with the connectFirst board, doing right for the members was embodied in everything we worked on. You could see the professionalism, honesty and integrity of management and the board which fit perfectly with our values at SPARK."
Currently, Darlene is a board member of Topaz Energy, (market capitalization $2.5 billion) where she's chair of the Reserves Committee and a member of the Audit Committee. Previously, Darlene was also co-chairman of the Shell Pension Committee (assets $5.7 billion). She recently retired from Shell Canada after 32 years where she held a variety of positions with experience in financial markets, banking, strategic acquisitions/divestments, pension management, governance, and talent management. Darlene is also a Chartered Professional Accountant (CMA) and she's completed Level A of the Credit Union Director Achievement Program.
With her background, Darlene will serve the members of connectFirst well, helping to create and protect value for members. "With each of the companies I've worked with, financial expertise, strategic planning, risk oversight, and governance have been key skills to succeed."
Anne is a small business owner and entrepreneur with over 20 years experience in both the publishing and agricultural industries. Through this experience, she brings a keen understanding of business development and entrepreneurship to the boardroom. She understands that being flexible and keeping pace with change in any industry, while retaining the bedrocks of good customer service and community involvement, are key to growing and maintaining a businesses.
As a community leader, Anne has seven years of volunteer board experience, six of which is in Executive roles, including four as President and Chair. Anne believes in clear communication, strong planning, and positive collaborations that benefit all parties involved.
William is a Chartered Professional Accountant with a Master of Business Administration and 30 years of financial leadership experience from Shell Canada Limited. He became a credit union member when he started his first full-time job and continues to be a proud member.
As a recent retire, he volunteers on the University of Calgary Alumni Association Board and is a selected mentor for young Canadian leaders in the U.S. Department of State’s Youth Ambassador Program.
William spends his leisure time playing badminton, volunteering at Escape with STEM, a non-profit organization which he co-founded, and watching movies and hiking with his wife.
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 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.
"I’m passionate about cooperatives and have honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to the credit union’s exciting future. I like to bank where I belong — which is why I’ve been a member of connectFirst (or a predecessor) for over 40 years," says Paul.
Paul worked at Credit Union Central Alberta (“Central”) for over 18 years (1996-2013), most recently as Vice President, Strategy & Corporate Development. Central is the statutory liquidity manager and industry association for the Alberta credit union system, and also provides payments, technology and other back-office services.
"I am proud of the tremendous growth and success of Alberta credit unions, and also proud to have personally been part of it in my past career," he says.
Paul currently work as Vice-President, University Advancement at Mount Royal University, where he's led the alumni relations, fundraising, government relations, marketing and communications functions since 2017. He also has Master of Management Studies and Bachelor of Commerce degrees, and an ICD.D designation.
Past board experiences for Paul include service on the Mount Royal University Board of Governors, CUSource, Credit Union Payment Services, Coop EFT Development Association, Coop Network Services Committee, and Credit Union Organizational Support.
Cindy is founder and president of Strategy House, an Alberta-based strategy consultancy that helps organizations develop and implement transformative, customer-focused, competitive strategies. Her financial services consulting experience ranges from working with global Fortune 500 financial institutions to smaller, local credit unions. Joining Connect First’s board arose from Cindy’s keen interest in the financial sector and a desire to help everyday Canadians achieve greater financial success, as did the writing of “She Laughed all The Way to the Bank,” a book she wrote to share financial learning stories among Canadian women.
Along the way, Cindy has earned an MBA from the Ivey School of Business where she graduated as Gold Medalist, a Bachelor of Commerce with distinction from the University of Alberta, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting) with distinction from the Alberta University of the Arts. She also recently completed the ICD-Rotman Directors Education Program.
Cindy enjoys painting, running, volunteering on the Organizing Committee of Child Haven International’s annual fundraising dinner, and spending time with family (particularly her teenage son and their wonder dog – Milo).
Karim is the co-founder of RTB LLP, a firm providing executive-level financial, operational, strategic and regulatory consulting services to some of the fastest growing companies in Alberta. In 2006, Karim was also one of the winners of the coveted Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for his work in rapidly commercializing and globally distributing a new health-tech product.
Karim has been a member of the First Calgary division for over 20 years and is an ardent supporter of the credit union system and cooperative organizations in general.
Karim has been married to his wife for 30 years and have 3 children who he is very proud of. He also has a 6 year old Labradoodle, named Moglee who makes him smile every day.
Charlie Van Arnam
Charlie brings a wealth of governance experience, including 22 total years on the Mountain View Credit Union Board, 14 of which as Chair. Charlie has extensive Board experience at the local, provincial and national level, and has served as an elected municipal official. He was a Councilor for Mountain View County from October 2001 to August 2004. He also served on the Egg Producers Board, both on a provincial and national level. Charlie’s background is in farming, and he owned and operated an egg laying operation for over 20 years.
Chief Risk and Administration Officer & Interim Chief Executive Officer.
Chief Technology Officer
SVP Brand & Reputation
Chief Audit Officer & Interim Chief Financial Officer.
EVP, Consumer & Wealth
SVP Product & Experience
Chief People & Culture Officer
EVP, Business, Commercial & Agriculture
Chief Risk and Administration Officer
Kendra brings extensive financial services experience to her role as Chief Credit and Risk Officer for Connect First Credit Union, including positions in a chartered bank, credit union and a federal crown corporation where she held leadership roles in commercial and agriculture business development and credit, operational controls and compliance, and strategy. In addition to her numerous industry credentials, Kendra holds a Certified Chief Executive (CCE) designation through the CEO Institute of CUES, is Chair and Implementation Co-Lead of the BOC subcommittee for online account opening and online lending, and is the Alberta Credit Union representative on the National FCC/CU Liaison Committee and Canadian Credit Union Association Agriculture Sub-Committee.
At Connect First, Kendra provides strategic leadership in the areas of Retail Credit, Commercial Credit, and Risk Management, ensuring that member, employee and credit union assets are protected, while operating efficiently and at acceptable risk levels.
Kendra is known for challenging existing processes and translating leading-edge conceptual thinking into practical strategic actions. She implements innovative solutions that yield long-term benefits, enhanced competitive advantages, and organizational value through empowered, proactive, and results-oriented teams.
Chief Technology Officer
As Chief Technology Officer 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 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.
Chief People & Culture Officer
As Chief People and Culture Officer at Connect First Credit Union, Bob provides leadership to the Human Resources and Talent Management teams in their work supporting and developing an engaged, knowledgeable and productive workforce of over 700 employees. He also champions the preservation and growth of Connect First’s organizational culture.
Bob’s career includes over 20 years in the credit union sector, with most of that time spent in various human resources related roles. His educational background includes a Bachelor Commerce degree from the University of Alberta, as well as a Communications Diploma from Mount Royal College. Bob holds the designation of Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR).
He enjoys contributing to his community with a special interest and passion for facilitating various Junior Achievement programs in local schools.
EVP, Business, Commercial & Agriculture
Ed has a passion and a sense of ownership and accountability to help Alberta companies grow and become globally competitive to ensure the future success of our province.
People might be surprised to learn that Ed wasn't always a banker. He spent 13 years as a Naval Officer before changing career paths. Then, his banking career began at CIBC in commercial banking before moving to BDC where he held a number of senior management roles including VP, Corporate Financing and VP, Enterprise Risk Management. As the VP, Corporate Financing he created BDC’s syndication desk and led the national corporate finance team that originated, structured, and managed the portfolio of its largest complex relationships.
Policies, bylaws and financial results.
Trust is built through decades of communication and transparency.
Here's how we do it: