Learn more about the leaders who are inspiring First West’s strategic direction

First West’s executive management group brings together a top team of experienced and capable leaders who are unified in their passion to simplify lives and help members and communities thrive.

Launi Skinner

Chief Executive Officer

Launi Skinner

Chief Executive Officer

Launi Skinner is chief executive officer of First West Credit Union, one of Canada’s leading credit unions with nearly $15.5 billion in assets and assets under administration, approximately 250,000 members and roughly 1,250 employees. Launi leads First West’s vision and strategic direction, ensuring the organization’s local brand network—Envision Financial, Valley First, Island Savings, and Enderby & District Financial—remains committed to simplifying lives and helping members and communities thrive.

Launi has more than 25 years of experience managing large and complex businesses in both the U.S. and Canada. Before her current position with First West, Launi spent 15 years with Starbucks where her last role as president gave her oversight of 11,300 stores, management of revenues in excess of $7 billion and leadership of a geographically dispersed management team overseeing 130,000 employees. She also had responsibility for U.S. store development, annually managing $400 million in new store builds, $300 million in renovations and global store design.

Launi has been recognized for her leadership and business acumen numerous times throughout her career. She has been named one of “Four Women to Watch” in Fortune Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women feature, awarded an honorary doctorate by the British Columbia Institute of Technology and named as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women four times culminating in a Woman’s Executive Network hall of fame entry. Additionally, she received the 2011 Stevie Award for Best Canadian Executive and was named one of Business in Vancouver’s Most Influential Women in Business for 2012.

Launi holds a diploma in business from Okanagan College, received her CGA designation and has completed the Institute of Corporate Directors program. She is currently a board member for the Business Council of British Columbia and Rocky Mountaineer, and previously served as chair of the board of directors for Science World. In the community she serves as a community leader for the Minerva Foundation for B.C. Women as well as past event chair for the Vancouver YWCA Women of Distinction Awards.

Mark Moreland

Chief Financial Officer

Mark Moreland

Chief Financial Officer

As chief financial officer at First West, Mark Moreland provides leadership and direction to the credit union’s financial strategy and operations. This includes the ongoing development and monitoring of control systems to preserve company assets and ensure accurate financial reporting. He leads a skilled team of finance and accounting professionals and takes part in shaping First West’s strategic plan and long-term vision.

Mark is regarded as a thoughtful leader and strategic thinker who is committed to inclusive leadership—qualities he has developed over two decades working in senior executive finance, facilities, technology and business leadership roles.

Prior to joining First West in 2015 as part of the Island Savings merger—for which he led financial integration activities—Mark held senior roles at WCG Services, a federal and provincial government service provider. Originally from Ireland, Mark has also served in senior leadership positions at The Exeter, one of the United Kingdom’s largest and oldest mutual medical, life and protection insurers, and at Brittany Ferries, one of Europe’s premier travel and vacation providers.

Mark holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Plymouth. He has also earned CPA CMA professional accountancy designation and has a long-held Chartered IT Professional designation from the British Computer Society. Most recently Mark completed the CFO Leadership Beyond Finance Program through FEI Canada.

Mark represented First West on the CU Trust board of directors from 2018-2020, and has held several volunteer and professional board positions, including with Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

Liz Bailey-Connor

Chief People & Culture Officer

Liz Bailey-Connor

Chief People & Culture Officer

Liz is a dynamic human resources strategist and accomplished people leader with a reputation for maximizing the potential of talent, inspiring positive transformational culture change and championing equity, inclusion and diversity. She achieves results by empowering people to build their competencies, enhance their self-awareness and grow into higher-performing, more confident professionals and leaders.

At First West, Liz oversees all facets of human resources from strategic planning through to execution. Her portfolio includes talent attraction, talent management, HR operations, employee and labour relations, compensation, benefits, rewards, learning, organizational culture and leadership development. Through the rigorous application of insight from data and analytics, Liz has transformed the credit union’s human resources strategies to align with First West’s vision and solve business problems while ensuring employees are optimally engaged.

Prior to joining First West in 2008, Liz led talent management at Canada’s largest cooperative financial institution. She also has previous leadership experience in various roles at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). An analytical thinker with a passion for enabling people to thrive, Liz was also a chartered psychologist in the United Kingdom and even has experience as a secondary school science teacher. Her diverse background gives Liz a uniquely creative perspective for identifying opportunities, using data and solving challenges in business across many industries. Liz is a graduate of the Institute of Corporate Directors and hold her ICD.D designation.

Liz holds a Bachelor of Science in human psychology and a Master of Science in educational psychology, as well as her Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) designation. She is also part of the B.C. and Yukon Human Resources Management Association and has been honoured with a Distinguished Communication in Business award from the International Association of Business Communicators British Columbia (IABC BC).

Away from the office, Liz is an active member in her community, having volunteered for several non-profit organizations. Currently, she is a director on the board of the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation. She currently resides in White Rock, B.C.

Shelley Besse

Chief Credit Officer

Shelley Besse

Chief Credit Officer

As First West Credit Union’s chief credit officer, Shelley Besse is responsible for credit policy, adjudication and recovery. She provides senior leadership oversight to all lines of business, including retail and commercial lending, loan syndication and securitization, joint ventures, junior debt as well as mezzanine and equity investments.

Shelley is a highly respected leader with extensive knowledge and experience in the financial services industry. Since joining Envision Financial in 1984, Shelley has held a number of increasingly senior leadership roles including branch manager, assistant vice-president of marketing and communications, vice-president of branch operations, vice-president of sales and service and vice-president of risk management and operations. She was appointed to lead First West’s merger transition in 2009 and successfully delivered against a three-year strategy to create a high-performing operations team within First West’s new operating model.

Following this role, Shelley was appointed senior vice-president of operations, sales and member experience and focused on providing employees with operations support and for developing and implementing an enterprise-wide continuous improvement strategy known as Lean. In 2012, Shelley became president of Envision Financial. Four years later in 2016, Shelley was appointed chief operating officer of First West where she was responsible for leading First West’s regional operations, encompassing retail, business and commercial banking, wealth management, general insurance, and operations for all of First West’s local market brands.

In 2012, Shelley received international recognition for her leadership and business acumen when she was awarded a Silver Stevie Award in the category of Female Executive of the Year – Consumer Services and a Bronze Stevie Award in the category of Female Executive of the Year in Canada.

Shelley holds an MBA from Royal Roads University, a certificate in financial planning, is a graduate of the Stanford Executive Program, specializing in strategy and organizational design and has a Masters Certificate in Enterprise Risk Management from Schulich School of Business. Shelley is the past chair for the Surrey Board of Trade and is currently chair of the Canadian Credit Union Association’s board of directors.

Paul Brodeur

Chief Strategy & Market Growth Officer

Paul Brodeur

Chief Strategy & Market Growth Officer

Paul leads the design, execution and ongoing evolution of First West Credit Union’s strategy. While his role encompasses all areas of the organization, he directly oversees functions relating to brand engagement, product and pricing, operations and first line business compliance. Drawing on an extensive background in wealth management and strategic leadership, he uses a collaborative approach to define, plan and marshal the credit union’s resources and teams to implement enterprise-level priorities that align to First West’s vision and its foundational “why”—to help its members and communities thrive.

Since joining First West in 2015 as the Vice-President of Wealth Management and Commercial Banking in the Valley First division, Paul has played a key role in leading First West’s cultural shift towards becoming an industry leader in wealth management services and providing comprehensive financial advice for members and clients across all stages of their lives. He was appointed to oversee wealth management across the entire organization in 2019, leading the team to develop and implement a five-year wealth growth strategy that has already significantly improved the credit union’s members’ access to expert financial advice.

Before joining First West, Paul held positions with Alterna Savings Credit Union (Qtrade Financial Group) and CIBC where he successfully increased employee retention and oversaw improvements in internal resources and training.

Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics from McMaster University and a Bachelor of Arts in political science at Wilfrid Laurier University. He also holds Certified Financial Planner® (CFP) and Responsible Investment Specialist (RIS) designations, and has earned a Certificate in Advanced Leadership from the UBC Sauder School of Business.

An active member of his local community, Paul currently works with the Central Okanagan Bursary & Scholarship Society in addition to his position on the Aviso Member Experience Advisory Board.

Leslie Castellani

Chief Governance & Corporate Affairs Officer

Leslie Castellani

Chief Governance & Corporate Affairs Officer

Leslie Castellani leads First West Credit Union’s corporate governance, enterprise strategic planning, government relations, legal services and federal continuance initiative. Leslie is focused on advancing First West’s corporate priorities by creating a dynamic, collaborative and engaging team environment that encourages diverse thinking, fosters enterprise alignment and inspires the achievement of First West’s Why: To simplify lives, helping members and communities thrive.

Leslie’s leadership career spans the technology, telecom and financial services industries. She joined First West in 2011 as vice-president, communications and public relations with responsibility for building the First West brand and strengthening media and public relations in the communities served by First West’s regional brands. Her team was instrumental during the journey that led to Island Savings members voting to join First West in January 2015.

Before joining First West, Leslie led CEO communications at TELUS and inspired an internationally award-winning creative and digital services team for nearly five years. She also led communications and industry analyst relations for six years at Pivotal Corporation, a customer relationship management software company.

A graduate of the University of British Columbia, Leslie holds a bachelor of commerce. Her executive education includes training in Blue Ocean Strategy at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France and advanced management at the University of Southern California.

As a champion of First West’s Lead Well social vision, Leslie has managed youth sports teams and is a past director and president of Semiahmoo Family Place and a former member of the University of the Fraser Valley’s board of governors. After gaining national awareness in 2015 for helping her son overcome a rare syndrome, Leslie is sought for guidance and support by families across Canada facing the same medical condition.

Susan Ewanick

Chief Member Officer

Susan Ewanick

Chief Member Officer

Susan Ewanick is a community leader and business executive with more than 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry. As chief member officer, Susan is responsible for leading retail, business and commercial banking, wealth management as well as providing oversight for First West Capital. Susan is a true champion of First West’s member-first philosophy, leading advisory teams as they create remarkable experiences for members.

Before rejoining First West in 2016 as president of the Valley First division, Susan was vice-president and head of commercial banking for HSBC in Western Canada. In this role, she was responsible for growing market share by providing differentiated advisory services to domestically and internationally focussed small and medium enterprises.

During a 20-plus year career with CIBC, Susan gained extensive experience in retail, business and commercial banking, structured credit for large private and public companies and led the affluent wealth management offer. Susan assumed progressively senior leadership roles including market vice-president, retail distribution, which encompassed 1,200 employees in 100 branches throughout B.C. and northern Canada, with assets under administration of $21 billion.

Susan holds a bachelor of arts in economics from Simon Fraser University and a master of business administration in executive management from Royal Roads University, which included international business studies at the University of Grenoble in France. Susan is also Lean Greenbelt certified by Lean Sensei International and a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors.

A champion of First West’s social vision to “lead well”, Susan is proud of her past volunteer contributions as board chair of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, board member with the Canadian Cancer Society, and board of governor for Vancouver Community College.

Darrell Jaggers

Chief Transformation Officer

Darrell Jaggers

Chief Transformation Officer

Darrell Jaggers leads First West Credit Union’s information technology department, operations team and digital transformation practice. A talented executive with 30 years of IT and financial services experience, Darrell has built a strong reputation of accelerating change through an innate understanding of technology and people. He has a track record of successful enterprise system conversions and technology implementations and is constantly looking for the next wave of technology enablement.

Darrell’s reputation as an IT leader and innovator has drawn significant interest from suppliers and the fintech community. This has enabled First West to rapidly build its technology and digital expertise and move to the forefront of digital transformation initiatives.

Darrell ensures his IT experience is used to drive member experience and ensure the security of the credit union’s systems and digital assets. He is passionate about enabling business transformation through technology by providing a comprehensive suite of IT services to First West’s brands and members.

Darrell brings board experience, serves as a leader on credit union system committees, is well known as a strong collaborator and solution facilitator in the industry, and has helped shape credit union information and payment systems across Canada.

Recognized as a member of Vancouver Island’s “Top Forty under Forty” in the financial services category, he has earned distinction among his peers and provides mentorship to many within and beyond the financial co-operative and technology industries.

Carl Lamoureux

Chief Risk Officer

Carl Lamoureux

Chief Risk Officer

Carl oversees the advancement of risk management practices at First West Credit Union. This involves leading First West’s enterprise-wide risk management framework and strategy, monitoring for and identifying current and emerging risks, and fostering a strong risk culture across the organization. His extensive background in credit risk and regulatory compliance with prominent financial institutions across Canada, coupled with experience leading multi-faceted initiatives, informs his leadership on risk issues at First West.

While Carl influences and collaborates with all areas of the business, he leads a team of skilled professionals that is responsible for the independent and objective oversight of all risks at First West. Regarded as a calm and pragmatic communicator, he expertly pilots his team in their focus on managing the long-term health and sustainability of the credit union for the prosperity of its members.

Prior to joining First West, Carl led at Manulife Bank as Chief Risk Officer for four years following a tenure as Head of Retail Credit Risk Management at National Bank. In both positions, Carl played an integral role in leading risk transformation and change management initiatives, acting as a key decision-maker in OSFI compliance matters.

Carl holds an MBA in Finance & Strategy from HEC Montréal. He also earned a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from École Polytechnique in Montréal—which he put to good use at Bombardier, where he worked as an aerospace engineer and a Six Sigma Black Belt before transitioning into the banking industry.

Since 2013 Carl has been a board member of the Credit Scoring & Risk Strategy Association, a not-for-profit devoted to the advancement of consumer and small business lending.

Meet the leaders who are at the forefront of our divisional brands

Our regional presidents direct leadership teams with local market knowledge at each of our divisional brands: Envision Financial, Valley First, Island Savings and Enderby & District Financial.

Paulo Araujo

President, Valley First and Enderby & District Financial; Acting President, Envision Financial

Paulo Araujo

President, Valley First and Enderby & District Financial; Acting President, Envision Financial

As president of Valley First and Enderby & District Financial, Paulo is responsible for leading and growing First West’s retail, business and commercial banking teams as well as wealth management services in British Columbia’s southwest Interior.

During the last 20 years, Paulo has worked in various roles within Valley First, including Vice President of Retail and Business Banking, Director of Retail Banking, Regional Manager South Okanagan Region, Senior Manager of Retail Credit and Branch Manager. In addition to his current role as president, Paulo also runs his family’s orchard in the South Okanagan. He is Lean Green Belt Certified and has taken leadership courses through The Banff Centre.

Dedicated to community leadership, Paulo is active in Valley First’s signature cause, Feed the Valley and is a director on the board of the Okanagan College Foundation. Also, Paulo is an avid supporter of the South Okanagan Youth Soccer Association, where he is a coach and has led three different teams to a gold medal in the provincial championships, and chief cheerleader to his three sons.

Kendall Gross

President, Island Savings

Kendall Gross

President, Island Savings

As president of Island Savings, Kendall leads First West’s retail banking, business banking and wealth management team serving Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands.

Kendall has more than 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry and has spent 25 of those years in senior leadership roles. After several years with a large Canadian bank where he led major projects and district teams, he joined the credit union system in 2015 as a member of First West’s Valley First division. Kendall is a graduate of the University of British Columbia and holds multiple Canadian securities certifications as well as his Green Belt in Lean methodologies.

Kendall is a dedicated leader in the community, having previously earned honours from the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and BDO’s Top 40 Over 40. He has been involved in youth football for more than a decade, serving as a provincial championship-winning coach and a director at the board level. His leadership and passion have garnered him several coaching awards, including Kelowna’s Bob Giordano Memorial Award for Coach of the Year, the B.C. Community Football Coach of the Year (twice), and three B.C. Lions Orange Helmet Awards. He also enjoys supporting other local causes including programs provided by community food banks.

Kendall and his wife and family live in Victoria.