Executive Leadership

Meet our Leadership Team

Barbara Dirks, President and Chief Executive Officer 

Barbara joined PCU in April 2020 as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Barbara is a respected, pace-setting senior leader, bringing the experience of successful multiple industry-shaping business launches and large, complex transformations that have redefined the employee and client experience in some of Canada’s largest companies.

Barbara was previously Head of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) in Canada, launching the Canadian arm and responsible for all of SVB’s activities, including strategy, business development, sales, risk management and operations. She has also served in various leadership roles including Senior Vice President of Network and Advisor Strategy in Personal and Commercial Banking at the Royal Bank of Canada, and Chief Operating Officer of the North American Commercial Banking Group at Bank of Montreal.

Known for being innovative, entrepreneurial, and a top talent magnet, Barbara believes in accountability and community relationships. She has been featured as one of the most influential Torontonians in Toronto Life magazine and remains an active advisor in Toronto’s growing and vibrant technology ecosystem.

In addition to her law degree and MBA from the University of Western Ontario, Barbara holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Economy and Economics from the University of Toronto and is a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and the Institute of Corporate Directors’ Director Education Program.

Currently on the Board of Governors for the Royal Military College of Canada and a Member of University of Western Ontario’s Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, Barbara and her husband make sure their hockey and dance parent duties for their two talented teens also keep their family active and connected.

Terri O’Brien, Chief Risk Officer 

Terri O'Brien

Terri joined PCU in April 2020 as Chief Risk Officer.

Terri brings over 24 years of experience in all facets of risk management, treasury, and capital markets to the Chief Risk Officer role at PCU. Prior to PCU, Terri was Chief Risk Officer at Interac Corp., and held senior executive roles at TD Bank, and tenured at the Bank of Nova Scotia earlier in her career.

Terri is an astute and innovative leader, integrating risk practices into strategic planning and governance, in addition to identifying and mitigating strategic and complex risks. Adept at both business management and technology delivery methodologies, Terri believes that people are the third foundational support for success. Her leadership focuses on communication, transparency and coaching, supporting both institutional and personal growth within her teams.

With a double major in Finance & Systems Architecture, B.Comm from the Ted Rogers School of Business Management, Terri also has a history of serving her community. She is past board member of Centennial Infant & Child Centre, founding member of Women Vote, and testified in the House of Commons on Cybersecurity in the “Financial Sector as a National Economic Security Issue” in 2019.

Terri lives in Toronto with her husband and four children who ensure she gets to ski with them in the winter and enjoy sunshine in the summer all together.

Benjamin Choi, Chief Financial Officer 

Benjamin Choi

Ben joined PCU in April 2020 as Chief Financial Officer. He brings a range of international executive expertise to his role.

Having held progressively senior roles at The Bank of Montreal and Standard Chartered Bank, working globally across Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom and other countries, Ben brings a diversity of experience plus a strong understanding of varied financial regimes to PCU. His expertise in strategic planning, transformation, financial controllership and treasury will be valuable to PCU to successfully develop, lead and deliver a strong finance team over the coming years.

Ben enjoys promoting leadership through coaching and collaborating within teams to drive and impact the financial management agenda of organizations.

Ben is a CPA, a CA as well as a CPA (Australia) and lives in Toronto with his wife and two daughters, enjoying hacking around a golf course in his free time.

 

Angie Marra, Director, Operations 

Angie Marra

Angelina (Angie) joined PACE Credit Union (PCU) in September 2019 as Director, Operations.

Angie is a highly motivated and results oriented business professional with over 25 years of financial experience in Customer Service, Leadership and Management.  Angie held several leadership roles at institutions such as Wealth One Bank of Canada, and ING Direct. While at ING Direct, she reduced customer complaints by 60% as Head of Voice of the Customer.  

Passionate about driving operational efficiencies to improve the overall customer experience, she believes in the sharing of knowledge gained through social practices, customer interaction and a diversified workplace.

Angie pursues excellence, completing leadership courses such as The Executive Program in Leading Sustainable Strategic Change; Change Management – Seneca College; Situational Leadership II; Talent Management. Technology allows her to keep in touch with her extended family in Europe (Italy). Angie enjoys spending free time with family and friends and her dog Tobby.  From time to time she enjoys a friendly game of poker with family while at the same time enhancing her strategic skills.

 

Dennie Theodore, Vice President Communications & Engagement

Angie Marra

Dennie joined PCU July 1, 2020 as Vice President Communications & Engagement.

Dennie brings a rich history in banking services, technology, not-for-profit, and leadership. As a communicator and facilitator, she has contributed strategy and change skills to such organizations as TD Bank, Atlantis Systems, Nortel, and AT&T, specializing in employee experience and workplace strategy.

An effective collaborator and entrepreneurial thinker, Dennie believes that communities are the heart of all we do. Named Women in Communications & Technology 2014 Leader of the Year, and a Cherie Blair Foundation Pan Asian Mentor, Dennie has provided leadership and brand for groups large and small.

She holds degrees from McGill and University of Alberta, and is certified in PROSCI change management and Positive Psychology. A welcome speaker at many events, she claims pie is a breakfast food and is very proud of her son who blows stuff up for a living.

Devin Corey, AVP Technology, Infrastructure and Analytics

Devin Corey

Devin joined PACE Credit Union (PCU) March 26, 2019 as Director Analytics & Infrastructure and was promoted to AVP in August 2019.

Devin is a seasoned risk governance and data science professional with 15 years of experience in data, systems, modelling, and machine learning combined with extensive governance, oversight, and enterprise risk experience. His journey has included notable institutions such as Mogo Finance Technology; President’s Choice Bank, HSBC and JPMorgan Chase.

Preferring to lead by example, Devin builds teams where accountability and collaboration take centre stage. He speaks multiple languages – from Risk to SQL to Python – his proficiency has enabled PCU to update and stabilize its IT platform while also creating capacity for a workforce operating across the province.

Devin holds a Bachelor of Science: Neuroscience & Mathematics from Bishop’s University.

He enjoys several hobbies which give him a view into other cultures and builds a global view into his chosen career.

Fred Kreutlein, Director, Retail Lending 

Fred Kreutlein

Fred joined PACE Credit Union (PCU) in December 2019 as Director of Retail Lending.

Fred brings both banking as well as not-for-profit leadership experience for such companies as: ING Direct, helping to build a $30bn mortgage portfolio; leading Lending operations for ING Direct Broker channel launch; and as VP Tangerine Bank Client Interactions, where he transformed the Contact Centre function. Fred has also worked as a senior consultant for in the Health, Homelessness and Childcare sectors.

Whether leading teams of 4 or 400, Fred believes that communication is key and, beyond telling the “what,” leadership means explaining the “why.” Known as an effective change agent, his drive and enthusiasm prove to be infectious when leading transformation.  He builds strong teams with an emphasis on excellence and instills a culture of accountability and strategic focus, while always keeping our members front and centre.

Fred is originally from Montreal and has lived and worked in several cities, both in Canada as well as in Germany. He is fluent in 3 languages, including German, and has a degree in Art History and French Studies.  An avid runner, when not at work he can either be found hiking a wild back-country trail somewhere in Canada or traveling to various locations across the world for snorkeling or downhill skiing.  He also enjoys having his professional chef daughter over for dinner; she is a much better cook than he is.

Heather Sarnecki, Senior Vice President Branch Sales 

Heather Sarnecki

Heather is a strong believer in, and committed to, the credit union philosophy. She joined Innisfil Credit Union in 1981 and,  through positive leadership and team building, eventually held the position of CEO of Peoples Credit Union for over 11 years.  Her current role is Senior Vice President (SVP) of Branch Sales for PACE Credit Union.

A believer in the power of community, over the years Heather has served as President of The Greater Innisfil Chamber of Commerce, Town of Innisfil Audit Committee Chair, member of the Planned Giving Committee of The Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, Nottawasaga Futures Credit Committee, and a member of many other local committees and fund-raising initiatives.  She also sat on Central 1’s Insurance Advisory Council and was on the Executive of the Credit Union Managers Association.

When not in the garden or spending time with family, you’ll find Heather watching any sport event she can.  Every baseball or NFL game, sliding in basketball, hockey, and golf whenever it fits,  Heather grew up actively playing in sports and keeps that love close. Heather and her husband have traveled to over 16 major league ball parks and her goal is to see them all.


Lauren Thompson, Vice President & Head of Commercial Banking 

Heather Sarnecki

Lauren joined PCU August 4, 2020 as Vice President & Head Commercial Banking.

Lauren brings over a decade of experience in financial services in both sales and risk roles. Prior to PCU, Lauren held progressively senior roles at GE Capital, TD Bank, and the Bank of Montreal.

Lauren’s broad exposure to various types of lending gives her the ability to effectively balance risk with the commercial objectives of the firm. A driven, industrious and highly collaborative leader, Lauren has proven her ability to identify markets, develop strategy that adheres to overall risk appetite and collaborate across the organization to achieve overall corporate objectives. She believes that success is achieved through thoughtful communication and purposeful action, which in turn drives the execution of strategy.

Lauren holds a B. Comm from McGill University and lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter. During her free time, you can find her skiing, golfing or running the boardwalk of Woodbine beach with her dog.


Tina Cassano, Director, Human Resources  

Tina Cassano

A big supporter of the Co-Operative movement and a member of the Ontario CUHR group,  Tina has been a part of the PACE Team since 2003 and currently is the HR Director.

Having worked through seven mergers in nine years, she experience integrating different business cultures across recruitment, performance management, benefits, pension and compensation platforms.

A versatile leader with comprehensive experience in the global retail industry and the credit union industry, Tina also advocates for equal opportunity in the organization. She is a proven driver of creating and streamlining SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and lead the team putting the PCU compensation platform in place.

Tina holds Hay certification in Human Resources(HR) and behavioural competencies and completed Queens University Executive Leadership training. Tina started out as a Private Pilot before grounding herself in HR. She facilitates fundraisers that support Heart and Stroke Foundation and Yellow Brick house. Along with her husband of almost 25 years, she is happy to support a son and daughter that are home based attending college and university.


 

 

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