Executive Team

Executive Team

Our leaders are focused on doing right by you.

Our Executive Team members offer an impressive mix of experience and expertise. The bottom line is that they really do know how to run a credit union that offers maximum benefits to its members. But they're not about to rest on past success. At Frontwave, everyone from our top managers to our tellers is committed to building a better tomorrow.



Mr. Birnie assumed the position of President and Chief Executive Officer at Frontwave Credit Union on August 31, 2015. Prior to this time, he served eight years as the President and Chief Executive Officer at Eagle Community Credit Union, three years as the Vice President Finance & Risk Management and seven years as the Internal Auditor at Pacific Marine Credit Union. Prior to his more than 25 years as a credit union professional, Mr. Birnie served eight years as a volunteer on Pacific Marine Credit Union’s Supervisory Committee and one year on its Board of Directors. 

Mr. Birnie is a 25 year veteran of the US Marine Corps, retiring in 1997 at the rank of Sergeant Major with combat service in Operations Desert Storm in Kuwait and United Shield in Somalia. He is also a Highest Honors graduate of Western CUNA Management School and recipient of the Charles M. Clark Memorial Award for leadership.

In addition to his role at Frontwave Credit Union, Mr. Birnie serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Defense Credit Union Council, and was the former Chair and now current Director on the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He also serves as a Director on the Camp Pendleton Historical Society Board of Directors, the Moonlight Cultural Foundation Board of Directors, and the Armed Forces Financial Network Board of Directors. A committed advocate for the credit union movement, Mr. Birnie serves on the Advisory Board to Corelation, as a member of the California Credit Union League and San Diego Credit Union Political Action Committees, and has served as a faculty member at Western CUNA Management School since 2008.


Chief Experience Officer

Mr. Kern is a marketing and brand management veteran whose career includes work in the entertainment industry as well as in financial services.

After graduating from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in Humanities & Theater, Mr. Kern began his career as a professional musician and entrepreneur, composing music and managing his own record company in Nashville, Tenn.

He later served as the general manager for San Diego-based record-label PC Music and as Marketing Director for BMG Music Publishing, a subsidiary of BMG Entertainment. Mr. Kern’s creativity and ability to build brands has helped reshape and turn around several companies focused on the Next Generation market.

He began his financial services career with USA Federal Credit Union as Vice President of Marketing. He went on to work at Elevations Credit Union in Boulder, Col., where he helped Elevations become the first credit union to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for Performance Excellence. Mr. Kern and his teams have also received numerous industry awards from CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council, Credit Union Executive Society (CUES), Marketing Association of Credit Unions (MAC), and the American Marketing Association.

He is an active speaker on the credit union industry conference circuit and has taught courses at the CUES School of Strategic Marketing.


Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Kingery has over 25 years of financial and accounting experience, strengthening operational resiliency and developing strong teams by creating a culture of continuous improvement.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business finance from McPherson College, Mr. Kingery served as a volunteer teacher in Nigeria for two years. He then went on to obtain a master’s degree in international development from the University of Denver Josef Korbel School of International Studies, as well as his certification as a Certified Public Accountant.

A 20-year veteran of the credit union industry, Mr. Kingery started his credit union career as the Director of Credit Union Operations for Church of the Brethren Credit Union. He then served as Senior Director of Finance at Westerra Credit Union, followed by Executive Vice President, Operations and Chief Sales & Services Officer at San Diego County Credit Union.

Immediately prior to joining Frontwave, Mr. Kingery served as VP of Finance at San Diego Workforce Partnership. He has also served as a trustee at McPherson College and as a board member and committee chair for Eder Financial.


Chief Lending Officer

Mr. Leonhardt has been a leader in the credit union lending space since 2005.

After graduating from Saint Louis University with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics, Mr. Leonhardt spent 10 years working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, where he was promoted rapidly through a series of leadership positions of increasing responsibility.

Mr. Leonhardt joined the credit union industry in 2005, as the Director of Consumer Lending for SchoolsFirst Credit Union in Tustin, CA. After graduating from the Western CUNA Management School in 2008, he went on to serve as Vice President of Lending for several credit unions in Central and Northern California, before being named SVP/Chief Lending Officer for Credit Union ONE in Ferndale, MI, in 2014. He returned to California in 2017, signing on as SVP/Chief Lending Officer for Financial Partners Credit Union in Downey, CA. Immediately prior to joining Frontwave in March 2020, Mr. Leonhardt served as Vice President of Consumer & Student Lending for USC Credit Union.

Mr. Leonhardt brings broad experience in lending operations to Frontwave, with a proven track record of driving excellence, efficiencies, and growth in consumer lending, mortgage lending, commercial lending, and collections.


Chief Human Resources Officer

Ms. Rodgers brings a wide variety of experience and expertise to Frontwave Credit Union.

Her background includes leadership positions with several companies in a variety of industries. Specifically, she has served as Human Resources Director at Netscape Communications; Director of Organization Effectiveness at AOL Time Warner; Vice President of Human Resources at Modern Post Card; and Director of Human Resources and member of the senior management team at West Development.

Before joining Frontwave, she served as Vice President of Talent Resources and a member of the senior management team at ARS National Services Inc.


Chief Information Officer

Mr. Wells has worked in the credit union industry for more than 30 years and has been a senior executive at Frontwave Credit Union since 2011.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Mr. Wells obtained an MBA from California State University, San Bernardino.  He’s also a graduate of the Western CUNA Management School (WCMS).

He launched his credit union career as the Assistant Vice President Information Systems for American First Credit Union. He then spent three years as Assistant Vice President Information Systems at First Financial Credit Union. His next move was to Arrowhead Credit Union, where as Vice President Information Technology for 11 years, he managed 32 staff members and oversaw an annual technology budget of $4 million.

Mr. Wells’ technical expertise includes advanced knowledge of the Spectrum, Symitar, XP2 and Corelation core systems, data security, business intelligence, project management, application programming and web development technologies.

Additionally, he has served on the Supervisory Committee at Raincross Credit Union, and on the board of directors for the California Credit Union League Tri-County Chapter.


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