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Kathy Stewart

Treasurer, representing Frontline Credit Union

Tell us a bit about yourself (i.e., your background (where you grew up, education, children, which co-operative you work for, your position, etc.)

I grew up in Almonte and now live in Ottawa.  I graduated from the University of Waterloo with a BMath - Accounting option. I have been self-employed for over 30 years providing accounting and bookkeeping services to many charities, national sport and not-for-profit organizations. I have been on the board of Frontline Credit Union since 1996 serving as chair of the Audit Committee and over the years as chair, vice-chair and corporate secretary. I currently am the Treasurer for the newly created Directors’ Forum Co-operative Inc., which is currently working on joining OCA.

How long have you been involved in the co-operative movement, and what do you love most about it?

In 1982 when I needed a car loan and was looking for a financial institution that would grant a loan to a young single female, my boss said I should join Ottawa Fire Fighters Credit Union (now Frontline Credit Union). The credit union system is a great example of a co-operative supporting its members to gain their individual financial success, as well as the community of the membership. 

If there is one thing you would want people to know about co-ops, what would it be?

By being a member of a co-operative, you are an OWNER. You have a voice within the organization by exercising your right to vote at meetings of the members.

Why is your co-operative a member of OCA?

We believe in co-operation among co-operatives, so being a member of OCA helps fulfill this co-operative principle by providing an opportunity to be a part of the larger co-operative family and to learn how our services can help support other co-operatives. We can all learn from each other no matter the type of co-operative.

What do you think are some of the benefits of being a member of OCA?

We can all learn from each other no matter the type of co-operative, so education is key. As credit unions do, it can provide another source of education and advocacy for the system with the government and other regulators. 

Why did you decide to join the OCA board as a Director?

I believe in the co-operative business model. It needs to be brought to the attention of more Ontarians what the co-operative movement is all about. My background in accounting services coupled with the experience I have gained by being a director for the credit union and a volunteer board member for various organizations, lends me to be of assistance to the rest of the board members and the OCA staff, to fulfil the mandate of the OCA Board.

How has your past experience helped you in this role?

As a credit union board director, I have gained insight into the operations of the credit union through the audit committee, which is the liaison between the Board, Management and the various auditors. Recently I was the lead on re-developing our Corporate Governance Board Policy and assisted with ensuring all of our policies are in line with our provincial regulator. My accounting background will allow me to assist with the oversight of the finances for the members of OCA.

What do you think are some of the opportunities and challenges facing OCA in the next 3 - 5 years?

I believe there is an opportunity to recruit credit unions into the OCA membership through education of how co-operatives need financial services that might best be served by a credit union.

What is your vision for OCA?

To continue to be the leader:

  • To educate communities/businesses that are needing an alternative business model about the co-operative model that is available to them in Ontario.
  • To be the liaison for co-operatives and government in reflecting the needs of co-operatives in Ontario.
  • To raise the profile of co-operatives to the general public through various forms of media.

Share a fun/silly thing that not many people know about you!

The little town of Almonte where I grew up is the birthplace of Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball!

Contact Kathy Stewart at