Kindred Credit Union names new CEO

Organization undertook an extensive search before picking Ian Thomas to replace retired CEO

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Kindred Credit Union’s ongoing search for a CEO is over, the position having been awarded to Ian Thomas, who is coming all the way from Langley, British Columbia to take on the role.

He is set to replace Brent Zorgdrager, who announced last spring he’d be stepping down from the position he’s held since 2010. The transition is set for January.

“We ended up getting more than 100 résumés from across the country,” noted Susan Taves, chair of Kindred’s board of directors. “There are some exceptional Canadians from the financial institution world. So it was a long process to even get down to the shortlisted candidates.”

The decision was made by a five-member committee that evaluated potential candidates for months.

“A big part of the search committee’s function was really just finding that person that was the right fit,” said the director of brand and marketing Frank Chrisholm. “And we certainly believe Ian is that person for us. Someone that can lead us into a sustainable future over the next five, ten, and further years is key for us.”

Another element that set Thomas apart was his experience in other credit unions as well as his educational background. He is currently serving as vice-president, strategic partnerships and development, at Coastal Capital Savings. According to Taves, credit union use is significantly higher among British Columbia residents than in Ontario.

“A good 25 to 30 per cent of all B.C. residents bank with a credit union,” said Taves. “In Ontario, it’s more like five per cent. So he’s got some great perspective and knowledge about credit unions in a more dominant space. He was really drawn to Kindred’s particular social purpose and value statement.”

Coastal Capital Savings where Ian works at is the second largest credit union in Canada regarding assets and members. The largest Canadian credit union is Vancity, also based in British Columbia. Kindred has many locations across the region, including one in downtown Elmira.

While members do not need to be part of the church necessarily, much of Kindred Credit Union’s mandates and values align with its previous name, Mennonite Savings and Credit Union, which was changed in 2016.

“We are member-driven, and we have a strong faith statement as well that we want to hold our faith close to our purpose,” said Taves. “While people don’t have to be a member of a church, we ask them to recognize that Kindred’s motto and activities are going to be based on a faith statement of caring for your community, being fair and honest, and acting with integrity.”

Taves noted the company has had great leadership in previous years, so implementing substantial changes is something the new CEO should not be overly concerned with. However, the new CEO should look to grow Kindred and credit unions in general.

“It’s highly regulated,” explained Taves. “We have a lot of rules and requirements of what we can and can’t do, so a CEO needs to be very in tune to that. So looking at it from a membership basis, and what we can do for our communities, then looking at it from how we’re regulated – the CEO has a pretty full plate.”

Before Ian’s time at Coast Capital, he also worked at RBC Financial and Deloitte. He holds his masters of business administration from the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business as well as his ICD.D from the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Coming with him to Ontario will be his wife of 23 years, Sherrilyn, and their two children.

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