Jan O’BrienJan O’Brien

There are a number of reasons why coops will want to ensure that directors represent the diversity of the community they serve as well as the skills necessary to oversee a large complex businesses. In the highly regulated financial sector, regulators regularly remind credit unions about the need to include directors with financial and risk expertise on the Board. This can be challenging when directors must win an election to gain a seat. At Vancity, we elect three directors in rotation every year and endorse five candidates to give the membership some choice. Candidates who are not endorsed may also run but to date none have been successful without being endorsed by the Nominations and Election Committee (NEC). The NEC consists of two directors and four or five members at large.
Each year, the Governance Committee does a gap analysis and identifies the skills the Board is seeking. The NEC then keeps the gaps in mind when interviewing each candidate. But first of all the values of the endorsed candidates must align with the credit union. We’ve had a bit of success, electing a CA and digital expert but still seek the elusive director with complex business and risk experience. We’ve begun some discussion about whether we should seek a change to our rules to allow the Board to appoint directors with specific desired skills. What do other coops think of that?


“I thoroughly enjoyed the Good Governance Matters course offered by Co-operatives First. The course provided a solid background on governance generally and specific examples of good governance practices in co-operatives. It is uncommon to find governance training specific to co-operatives so this was refreshing.”

Janet Taylor (Corporate Secretary)

Libro Credit Union

“The Good Governance Matters Course was a valuable course. I shared it with the [Arctic Co-operatives Limited] Senior Leadership Team. If it ever comes up again, I highly recommend others to take it.”

Mary Nirlungayuk (Corporate Secretary and Vice-President, Corporate Services)

Arctic Co-operatives Limited

“The online course, Good Governance Matters was very informative, easy to navigate and discussed issues relevant to our needs as a Board of Directors. This course is a great tool for boards to build their knowledge to become strong, strategic boards.”

Lori Sanders (President)

Sherwood Co-op

“This course has greatly increased my understanding of what good governance could/should look like and how each part (boards, management, members) plays a vital role in the co-operative’s success.”


“This course was highly enjoyable, and relevant to working in not only the co-op space, but with any group that needs to make decisions.”