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.


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.


Senior Vice President/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 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.


Senior Vice President/General Counsel

Ms. Williams brings a breadth of in-depth experience as an attorney to Frontwave Credit Union, including in the fields of law, compliance, internal audit, enterprise risk management, complaint resolution and fraud.

After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice, History and Political Science, she went on to earn a Juris Doctorate degree from the Indiana University School of Law.

Prior to joining the credit union movement, Williams served as a director at UBS International in New York, NY. In 2011, she joined the credit union industry, where she served first as Chief Legal Counsel for Aventa Credit Union in Colorado Springs, CO, and most recently as Vice President of Risk Management at California Coast Credit Union in San Diego, CA.

Ms. Williams is an active speaker on the credit union conference circuit, and volunteers on the board of directors for Cinderella’s Attic, a local San Diego non-profit.



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