Learn about the elected leaders who act on behalf of First West’s members

As a co-operative financial services institution, First West is overseen by a democratically elected, 12-person board of directors, responsible for stewarding the credit union’s operations on behalf of members and overseeing the management of the credit union's business and affairs.

Shawn Neumann, ICD.D

Board Chair

Shawn Neumann, ICD.D

Board Chair

Elected to First West’s Board in 1998, Shawn has been First West’s Board Chair since 2011. Shawn’s current responsibilities include serving on the Governance and Nominations, Government Relations and Partnership, and Human Resources committees. As Board Chair, Shawn is also an ex-officio member of all other committees.

Shawn holds an Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD.D) designation and a Bachelor of Arts in economics and history.

Shawn is currently president of Versett, a global team of strategic designers, technical specialists and change architects. Versett has teams in North and South America, as well as in Europe. Shawn previously founded and was CEO of Domain7, a global digital product and platform agency. At Versett, Shawn works with a diverse group of organizations and companies to design their futures and build digital products and services. This allows him to bring his perspective on the rapidly changing, technology-driven marketplace to the Board and its discussions.

As president of Versett, Shawn is leading the rapid growth of the new global strategic design team. Previously at Domain7, Shawn led the acquisition of U.S.-based Joint Venture Inc. (2010), a digital firm that serves U.S. corporate and government clients. Shawn founded Domain7 Studios, a documentary film production business focused on discovering and telling stories of positive social and organizational change. He also established Domain7 UK, a subsidiary serving clients in southern England.

Shawn has extensive experience in credit union mergers and acquisitions, including:

  • Member of the credit union board that negotiated the merger of First Heritage Savings Credit Union and Delta Credit Union to form Envision Credit Union in 2001
  • Member of the credit union board that negotiated the merger of Envision Credit Union and Valley First Credit Union to form First West Credit Union in 2010
  • Chair of the credit union board that led negotiations for First West to acquire Enderby and District Credit Union in 2013
  • Chair of the credit union board that led negotiations for First West to acquire Island Savings Credit Union in 2015

Shawn’s key board competencies include business growth and transformation, entrepreneurial leadership and board governance.

In addition to his work at Versett, Shawn remains keenly interested in volunteering, both locally and internationally.

Deborah Buszard, PhD, ICD.D

Director

Deborah Buszard, PhD, ICD.D

Director

Elected to First West’s Board in 2021, Deborah Buszard served as Principal of UBC Okanagan from 2012 to 2020. During her tenure, she was responsible for long-term strategy for the campus, leading change and growth, and cultivating community partnerships. Prior to this, Deborah held executive roles at McGill and Dalhousie University. Deborah’s current committee responsibilities include Audit and Conduct Review, Governance and Nominations, Human Resources, and serving as a member of the Nominations Task Force.

Deborah chaired the Council of Canadian Academies Expert Panel on Plant Health Risks in Canada from 2020-2022 and serves as vice-chair of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council Pacific Region. She is also an executive member of the Okanagan chapter for the Institute of Corporate Directors, a position she has held since 2018.

Deborah brings experience in enterprise strategy, risk management, financial administration and social accountability. A leader in stakeholder engagement, she brings to First West experience in leading complex organizations through periods of rapid change and growth.

Deborah’s key board competencies include business growth and transformation, entrepreneurial leadership, and people and culture.

Paul Challinor, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D

Director

Paul Challinor, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D

Director

Paul has been a director of First West Credit Union since 2019. He currently chairs the Risk, Investment and Loan Committee and is a member of the Audit and Conduct Review and Risk Committee.

Paul is a Chartered Professional Accountant and FCPA, FCA with 40 years’ experience in public practice. He recently retired as a Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Vancouver, having led PwC’s Financial Services practice in B.C. from 2000 to 2015. Throughout his PwC career he served large public, private, and member-owned financial services organizations, providing audit and advisory services to many of B.C.’s large credit unions, alternative lenders (including fintechs), wealth managers and insurance companies. Paul has worked with a broad range of regulators including the British Columbia Financial Services Authority (the regulator of B.C. credit unions) and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (the regulator of federal credit unions).

Paul currently serves on the board of Central 1 Credit Union, where he Chairs the Audit and Finance Committee and is a member of the Risk Review, Investment & Loan Committee. He also serves on the board of the Delta Hospital and Community Health Foundation, where he is the Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair, and is a member of the Investigation Committee of Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia. In previous years, Paul served on the board of the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia, the Audit Advisory Committee of the Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia, and the board of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

Paul’s key board competencies include financial services, financial accounting and audit, and risk management. He holds an Honours Degree in Industrial Economics and is an ICD.D certified corporate director.

Paul has been an active member of the Tsawwassen community for the past 25 years

Meryle Corbett, FCPA, FCMA, C.Dir

Director

Meryle Corbett, FCPA, FCMA, C.Dir

Director

Elected to First West’s board in 2019, Meryle is a chartered director and FCPA with 40 years of business experience across several industries. She currently chairs the Board’s Audit and Conduct Review committee and serves on the Government Relations and Risk, Investment and Loan committees.

As a finance leader, Meryle has implemented large IT systems, developed business models in many organizations, prepared strategic plans, designed Bill 198 COSO internal controls, liaised with auditors/bankers and negotiated mergers, acquisitions and international contracts. Her board experience includes over 40 years on community non-profits, more than 10 years on private corporate and family boards and more than 20 years on provincial and national professional association boards, including the complex merger of CA/CMA/CGA designations into CPA (Chartered Professional Accountants).

Meryle is the founder of the Okanagan Women’s Leadership Network and a local finance leaders cohort emphasizing leadership, business and networking skills. Meryle has been recognized as “Woman of the Year” by City of Kelowna and “Most Influential Women in BC” by BC Business.

Meryle’s key board competencies include financial accounting and audit, risk management and board governance.

Jeff Dyck, ICD.D

Director

Jeff Dyck, ICD.D

Director

Jeff was elected to First West’s Board in 2017 and serves on the Audit and Conduct Review, Human Resources, and Governance and Nominations committees.

Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD.D) designation.

Jeff is the owner of Terravista Tech and Wild Frog Systems, two Lower Mainland IT services companies. Prior to starting his own IT company in 2012, Jeff acquired, grew and eventually sold TSC Software, the creator of atrieveERP, Western Canada’s leading HR, payroll and finance solution for school districts. He then spent 10 years as a senior manager at SRB Education Solutions in various roles, including general manager, product manager and IT director. In those capacities he was deeply involved in strategic planning, operations management, mergers and acquisitions, and launching new products and brands. He also experienced first-hand the operations of mid-size enterprise, developing policies and procedures, and reporting to a board of directors. These skills have brought great depth and diversity of thought to the First West Board.

Jeff’s key board competencies include entrepreneurial leadership, business growth and transformation, and technology.

Richard Hill, ICD.D

Director

Richard Hill, ICD.D

Director

Richard has served on the boards of Island Savings Credit Union and First West Credit Union since 2006. He currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Governance and Nominations Committee and as a member of the Human Resources Committee. Richard is also Chair of the First West Foundation.

Richard holds an Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD.D) designation.

As president and owner of Yellow Point Lodge Ltd., Richard has many years of experience in the hospitality industry. He also has extensive expertise in the operation of a medium-sized business on Vancouver Island.

Richard was a member of the Island Savings Credit Union board until Island Savings became part of First West in 2015.

Richard’s key board competencies include entrepreneurial leadership, board governance, and people and culture.

Richard is a strong community supporter and is the founder of the Kick One In program that helps Vancouver Island food banks feed families. An advocate of supporting communities, Richard and his family have designated nearly 70 acres of the Yellow Point Lodge property to remain undeveloped in perpetuity for the enjoyment of current and future generations.

Waheed Hirji, CPA

Director

Waheed Hirji, CPA

Director

Elected to the Board in 2022, Waheed is a member of First West Credit Union’s Risk, Investment and Loan, and Audit and Conduct Review committees. He brings over 20 years’ experience working with Canadian financial institutions, steadily and successfully growing provincially and federally regulated financial institutions.

Waheed grew up in the lower mainland, attending the University of British Columbia and graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in accounting. During his time with a global, professional accounting firm in audit and risk management where several credit unions were his clients, Waheed also obtained the Certified Professional Accountant (CPA) designation and the IT risk (CISA) accreditation.

Having held executive positions in provincial and federal financial institutions as the head of finance, Waheed’s responsibilities included strategy, reporting, treasury, tax, procurement and project management preparing him well to make meaningful contributions to First West’s Board.

Waheed’s motivation as a director is to serve others using his knowledge and vast industry experience. Serving others is what he admires about credit unions – that we are here to serve: our members, communities and employees ensuring not to forsake one for the other, always working to create win/win/win solutions. Waheed will continue to leverage his experience to assist First West in achieving its goal to become a federally regulated credit union providing a strong, financial alternative for Canadians.

Waheed and his wife live in West Vancouver with their two daughters. His interests and pursuits include cycling, ice hockey, kayaking, traveling and hiking.

Tom Knoepfel

Director

Tom Knoepfel

Director

Appointed to First West Credit Union’s board in 2022 to fill a one-year term, Tom Knoepfel is a commercial real estate industry executive with more than 35 years’ experience. Tom currently sits on the board’s Audit and Conduct Review Committee and Risk, Investment and Loan Committee.

Tom is the Senior Vice-President, Retail, for The Cadillac Fairview Corporation where he oversees a real estate portfolio of eighteen regional shopping centres across Canada.

Throughout his career, Tom has provided leadership primarily in commercial real estate and has enabled organizations like Cadillac Fairview to successfully navigate dramatic changes in consumer behaviour and shopping experiences. Tom’s depth of experience and keen understanding of market trends has enabled him to adapt and position large real estate assets to achieve maximum success.

Tom holds a diploma in building technology from the British Columbia Institute of Technology and a diploma in urban land economics from the University of British Columbia. He was born and raised in Metro Vancouver and is married with three adult children and one grandchild. Tom is actively involved in a variety of charitable and community endeavors including Mackie’s Place in Surrey, an organization that supports at-risk youth.

Darryl Kropp

Director

Darryl Kropp

Director

Darryl was elected to First West’s Board in 2018. He led the 2022 Nominations Task Force and currently serves on the Risk, Investment and Loan and Governance and Nominations committees.

Darryl has a Bachelor of Business Administration, a Lean Blackbelt and previously completed a Project Management Professional (PMP) designation.

Darryl has more than 25 years of technology leadership experience in utilities, aerospace, government and human services, and is a leader at RedMane Technology. He provides leadership for RedMane’s work with Government of Canada and is the Global Practice Lead across RedMane’s North American delivery.

Darryl has a knack for finding efficiency and creating a positive member experience, which he brings to discussions at the First West board table. He also brings relevant experience to discussion on First West’s digital transformation and application of Agile methodology. His key board competencies include business growth and transformation, risk management and entrepreneurial leadership.

Darryl has lived in Abbotsford with his family for 20 years and gives back to his community through his service as board chair for Northview Community Church.

David Letkemann, ICD.D

Vice-Chair

David Letkemann, ICD.D

Vice-Chair

David was elected to First West’s Board in 2006 and currently serves as Vice-Chair. David’s current committee responsibilities include serving as Chair of the Governance and Nominations Committee, as Vice-Chair of the Risk, Investment and Loan Committee and as a member of the Government Relations and Partnership Committee.

David graduated from law school and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a double concentration in marketing and finance.

David is a lawyer and partner at Linley Welwood LLP, a law firm specializing in business law, located in Abbotsford, B.C. He leads Linley Welwood’s litigation department and regularly oversees all aspects of the litigation process. In 2010, David played a key role in a merger that led to the creation of Linley Welwood LLP. David approaches all board meetings and discussions with his strong legal sense and leans on his 26 years of experience to provide meaningful insight and guidance.

In addition to his service on various board committees, David has been involved in numerous credit union mergers and acquisitions, including:

  • Member of the credit union board that negotiated the merger of Envision Credit Union and Valley First Credit Union to form First West Credit Union in 2010
  • Member of the credit union board that led negotiations for First West to acquire Enderby and District Credit Union in 2013
  • Member of the credit union board that led negotiations for First West to acquire Island Savings Credit Union in 2015

David’s key board competencies include law, board governance, and business growth and transformation.

In addition to his work at Linley Welwood LLP and First West, David is a founding director of the Run for Water Society and the Run for Water Foundation. He currently serves on boards for both organizations.

Balraj Mann, AScT, P. L. Eng, ICD.D

Director

Balraj Mann, AScT, P. L. Eng, ICD.D

Director

Balraj Mann is the Chair and CEO of BM Group of Companies (BMG), comprised of complimentary specialty construction, materials supply and real estate-related business. His current First West Board committee responsibilities include serving on the Human Resources and Risk, Investment and Loan committees, and as a director of the First West Foundation.

Based in the British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, BMG has expanded its operations throughout Canada, the United States and South Asia. Prior to founding his own business, Balraj managed several large multi-national engineering companies. He brings to First West’s Board a deep understanding of expansion and entering new markets.

Balraj attained his civil engineering technology diploma from Kwantlen College in 1986. He is a member of Engineers and Geologists of BC (EGBC) and Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC). Today, Balraj serves as director of the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Foundation, director of the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation, and is a past director of the Surrey Board of Trade.

A proud First West member since 2004, Balraj lives in Langley with his wife, two daughters, son and mother.

Balraj’s key board competencies include business growth and transformation, real estate lending and development, and risk management.

Cathy McIntyre, C.Dir

Director

Cathy McIntyre, C.Dir

Director

Elected to the board in 2017, Cathy currently serves as Chair of the Human Resources committee and as a member of the Audit and Conduct Review committee. She is also a director of the First West Foundation, where she is Vice-Chair of the foundation board.

Cathy holds numerous board certifications including chartered director (C. Dir.), audit committee certification (A.C.C) and human resources and compensation committee certification (H.R.C.C.C). She also holds a post-degree diploma in accounting, a master’s in business administration, a bachelor of arts in psychology and the Canadian Risk Management (CRM) designation. She earned the Corporate Director Certificate at Harvard Business School in 2020.

Cathy is a senior executive with more than 30 years of business experience and 20 years of board experience. Known for corporate strategy, all aspects of marketing, branding, communications, consumer research and stakeholder engagement, Cathy began her career as a marketing and communications professional in a number of multi-national corporations. In 1997 she founded Strategic Initiatives, a nationally recognized marketing research firm with clients among many leading businesses in Western Canada.

Cathy’s key board competencies include board governance, entrepreneurial leadership, and business growth and transformation.

Beyond First West, Cathy sits on the boards of Peninsula Co-op, Consumer Protection BC and CADTH. She is a former chair of the board of governors of the University of Victoria and has also previously served on the boards of the United Way of Canada, United Way of Greater Victoria and the CMA Society of BC, among others. Her board roles have included board chair, governance chair and nominations chair.

First West's board of directors works relentlessly to ensure the strength and security of the credit union. We're helping build a more adaptive business that responds to an ever-changing marketplace and our members' needs, now and in the future.
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Shawn Neumann, Board Chair

Our board members make a difference to our credit union and our community

We look for critical thinkers with business and financial acumen, who are willing to devote their time to advancing our credit union for our members.