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 has been active in credit union leadership for more than 30 years and has served as president and CEO of what is now Frontwave Credit Union since 2015.

In college, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance and Banking. He went on to acquire an MBA from National University and to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps, rising to the rank of sergeant major.

In 1988, Mr. Birnie volunteered to serve on the Supervisory Committee of Pacific Marine Credit Union (now Frontwave). He spent eight years on the committee, six as chairman. In addition, he served one year on the credit union’s Board of Directors.

In 1997, Mr. Birnie became the credit union’s internal auditor. In 2004, he was promoted to Vice President of Finance and Risk Management. In 2007, he became president and CEO of the Orange County-based Eagle Community Credit Union. He led that institution for eight years, before returning to Frontwave as president and CEO in August 2015.

Mr. Birnie has devoted significant time to public service. He’s chaired the Credit Union Executive Society (CUES) Council Board for Southern California and Nevada and the CU4K Advisory Board of the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. He also served on the Steering Committee of the Southern California Credit Union Alliance and on the Board of Directors of the California Credit Union League.

Since 2008, Mr. Birnie has served on the faculty of the Western Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Management School. He’s currently a member of the Political Action Committee at the California Credit Union League, treasurer for the Camp Pendleton Historical Society, and a board member for both the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce and Defense Credit Union Council.


Executive Vice President/Chief Strategy Officer

Mr. Smith has worked at financial institutions for more than 25 years, and he has served as one of Frontwave Credit Union’s leaders since 1996.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from San Diego State University, Mr. Smith earned an MBA with an emphasis in Management & Strategy from Western Governors University. He is also a graduate of the Western Credit Union National Administration Management School and Credit Union Executive Society CEO Institute.

Before coming to Frontwave, Mr. Smith worked for Great American Bank, Wells Fargo, and Norwest Financial. He has widespread experience in financial institution operations, lending, marketing, compliance, political action, business development, investment services, electronic commerce, and strategic planning.

In addition to his job responsibilities, Mr. Smith served on the Board of Directors of the Marketing Association of Credit Unions for more than seven years, spending two years as its Chairman. He’s been a speaker on marketing and research-related topics for the California Credit Union League, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Marketing Council, and Marketing Association of Credit Unions


Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer

Carrie Foster is a certified public accountant who has been working in the financial services industry since 1997.

Ms. Foster earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Louisiana and an MBA from the University of Houston. Earlier in her professional career, she worked for the “Big 4” accounting firm of Ernst & Young.

She’s also held positions at the National Bank of Detroit, Landmark National Bank, Silvergate Bank, Chase, Main Street Bank, First Community Credit Union, and Patriot Bank. During her financial services career, she’s acquired experience in branch operations, accounting, internal auditing and compliance.

Ms. Foster has been in her current position since January 2015.


Senior Vice President/Chief Operating Officer

Ms. Brooke has worn many different hats since she got her start in the financial services industry in 1977.

She began her career at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) Federal Credit Union in San Diego, which later merged with what is now Frontwave Credit Union. At MCRD, at various times, she held the positions of loan officer, office supervisor, and managers of the Vista and Camp Pendleton branches. She also served as Assistant Vice President Operations and Vice President Operations.

In 1996, Ms. Brooke took over the MCRD’s new recruit program and was instrumental in putting together, implementing and presenting the lesson plan used by the Marine Instruction Unit aboard MCRD. Thanks in part to her efforts, the credit union received a Hammer Award for effectiveness and efficiency from former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

In July 1998, Ms. Brooke graduated with honors from a three-year program at Western CUNA Management School. She completed the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES) Center for Applied Executive Management training in April 2009, and received CUES’s certification in Strategic Management of Financial Institutions in 2014.

That same year, she was promoted from Vice President Operations to her current Frontwave position. In addition to serving as a senior Executive Team member, she oversees the credit union’s 11 branches, Member Solution Center, and the employee training department.

In addition to her daily responsibilities, Ms. Brooke serves on the Operational Board for the Financial Service Center (FSCC) Network, which is part of the CO-OP Shared Branch network. She is also a member of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Operations Council.


Senior Vice President/Chief Information Officer

Mr. Wells has worked for credit unions for more than a quarter century 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 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 and XP2 core systems, data security, business process analysis, project management, application programming and web development technologies.

Additionally, he is a member of the Fiserv/XP2 CIO Advisory Council and has served on the board of directors for the California Credit Union Tri-County Chapter. He’s also a graduate of the Western Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Management School.


Chief Lending Officer

Mr. Dages began his career in financial services in 1984 and he held executive positions at several other institutions before joining Frontwave Credit Union.

After earning a bachelor’s in Business Administration and an MBA from the University of San Diego, he began his career with Security Pacific Bank. His career path would then take him to the Bank of America, Teradata, CUNA Mutual Group, and Financial Partners Credit Union.

At Security Pacific, Mr. Dages managed the San Diego Real Estate acquisition group. At Bank of America, he managed the California commercial lending group. Immediately before his arrival at Frontwave, he managed the Commercial Lending Division for Financial Partners Credit Union. There he developed one of the largest commercial loan participation programs and one of the largest Commercial Real Estate acquisition programs.

Mr. Dages’ experience includes all areas of branch operations and sales, with extensive work in consumer, real estate, credit card and commercial lending. He is a graduate of Security Pacific’s and Bank of America’s underwriting programs.

Mr. Dages was a speaker and presenter at the 2016 Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Lending Conference and the 2016 California Credit Union League Reach conference.


Chief Marketing 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 and the MAC.


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.


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