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Board of Directors

Michael Hoffort, P.Ag.
Director since July 1, 2014

With 30 years of agriculture finance experience, Michael Hoffort has witnessed the Canadian agriculture and agri-food industry grow from challenges to prosperity. As a Relationship Manager, he directly served FCC customers for almost a decade. As Vice-President, Partners and Channels, he engineered the growth and modernization of FCC's Customer Service Centre. As Vice-President, Prairie Operations, he led significant portfolio growth across multiple business lines, while maintaining a strong focus on both the customer and employee experience. As Chief Risk Officer, Michael led the Enhanced Risk Management Program to align FCC risk management practices with those of federally regulated Canadian financial institutions. In 2014, Michael was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer.

Michael holds a B. Sc. in agriculture economics from the University of Saskatchewan, is a Professional Agrologist, and has his ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. He is an active community volunteer and sits on the board of STARS Air Ambulance.

Rita Achrekar
Director since May 21, 2021

Ms. Achrekar is an accomplished financial services leader with over 25 years of experience in global capital markets, risk management, governance and innovation. Ms. Achrekar currently serves as an Executive in Residence at the Global Risk Institute. Prior to that, she held various Senior Vice-President positions at a leading Canadian bank in market risk management, corporate credit, and compliance transformation.

Ms. Achrekar’s Board experience includes being a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund’s (CIPF) Board of Directors since 2018 and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada’s (IIROC) Board of Directors from 2015 to 2019.

Ms. Achrekar holds the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. She has completed Advanced Management Program at Wharton Business School, has a Master’s of Business Administration from Mumbai University’s Jamnalal Bajaj Institute and a Bachelor of Technology (Electrical Engineering) from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. She was awarded the Financial Risk Manager (FRM) designation by the Global Association of Risk Professionals.

Bertha Campbell
Director since November 17, 2017

Bertha Campbell is a graduate of Dalhousie University’s Bachelor of Nursing degree program, with additional designations in nursing unit administration from the Canadian Nurses Association and the former Canadian Hospital Association. Throughout a rewarding career as a Public Health Nursing Supervisor, Bertha was always involved in farming — having established and expanded Mull Na Beinne Farms Ltd. with her husband over the past 40 years. Bertha has a strong background in many areas of agriculture, and she and her husband own and operate a 2,000-acre dairy, beef and potato operation in Prince Edward Island.

Bertha serves on the University of Prince Edward Island Board of Governors and Senate, and is the Chair of the Prince Edward Island Food Island Partnership’s Board of Directors. She is a member of the executive and board of ADL — a provincial, farmer-owned, co-operative dairy. She has previously served on the boards of Co-op Atlantic and the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture, and later became President of both organizations. She has served with various other agricultural and co-operative organizations and was the eastern women’s representative for the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

Bertha has been involved with numerous community organizations and volunteer boards, including minor hockey, figure skating, school council, Red Cross and Sunday school. She is an avid gardener and has hosted numerous garden tours as well as farm tours for industry groups and the Open Farm Day initiative. She is a runner, marathoner and a member of the P.E.I. Road Runners.

Sylvie Chagnon
Director since May 21, 2021

Ms. Chagnon possesses extensive experience in the financial, environmental, and agricultural sectors. During her successful career, she was President and CEO of the Quebec government’s Green Fund management board, Vice President Credit and Financial Products at Investissement Québec, Regional Vice President at National Bank of Canada, and General Manager – Operations at CIBC.

Ms. Chagnon is currently an external member of the Audit Committee of the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec. She chaired La Financière Agricole du Québec’s board of directors and the Risk Management Association – Montreal Chapter. She also was director of Quebec government’s Green Fund management board, Quebec Association of MBAs, Société Innovatech du Grand Montréal, Société Innovatech du Sud du Québec and Société Innovatech Régions ressources.

Ms. Chagnon holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Ottawa and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Moncton.

The engaging leadership and vision for which Ms. Chagnon’s contribution of the financial sector is well known have been recognized by the Association des femmes en finance du Québec, Réseau des Femmes d’affaires du Québec, Premières en affaires, and Quebec’s Collège des administrateurs de sociétés.

Sylvie Cloutier
Director since April 5, 2012

Sylvie Cloutier from Bromont, Quebec, is a front-line player in Quebec's agri-food sector. She has been working in strategic roles in the sector for nearly 20 years and has developed expertise in issues management, food industry negotiations, stakeholder relations, and public affairs. She has been with the Quebec Food Processing Council since 2003, first as Vice-President, Communications and Public Affairs and then as President and CEO, a position she has held since 2010. Between 1999 and 2003, Sylvie served as Vice-President of Communications and Executive Director of the Canadian Grand Prix New Products Awards at the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors.

Sylvie has served on several boards over the years, including, Aliments du Québec, Éco Entreprises Québec, and the Council for Food Progress Initiatives. In addition to FCC, she currently sits on the boards of the Quebec Industrial Research Center, the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, the Conseil du Patronat du Québec, Provision Coalition, and the Food Processing Development Fund. She also sits on the Steering Committee of the federal Food Processing Industry Round Table and is a founding member of Food and Beverage Canada.

Prior to being involved in the food industry, Sylvie worked for the global public relations firm Hill + Knowlton Strategies Canada as a strategic advisor, and in different positions for the federal government.

Sylvie is actively involved with the Tablée des chefs' funding committee, which is dedicated to helping people in need and developing culinary education with young people.

Sylvie holds a Bachelor degree in Communications from the University of Ottawa.

Laura Donaldson
Director since November 17, 2017

After completing her law degree at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, Laura Donaldson has enjoyed a career spanning three decades as a respected commercial litigation and insolvency lawyer in Vancouver and Toronto, with particular expertise advising financial institutions and governments on risk management.

Laura is active in her community, including having served as a member of the Federal Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee for the Province of British Columbia, the Ethics and Credentials committees of the Law Society of British Columbia and as a director on numerous governing bodies for amateur sport.

Sharilee Fossum
Director since June 2, 2019

Sharilee Fossum is an organization builder, change leader, and passionate life-long learner. A versatile executive, Sharilee is the Vice-President, Finance & Administration and CFO at MacEwan University in Edmonton.

She is drawn to building new organizations, organizations in transition, and leading teams through change to create a performance culture. Prior to joining MacEwan University, she was the Chief Financial and Corporate Officer at the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta. Sharilee has experience in the capital markets, manufacturing, post-secondary education, Crown corporations and non-profit organizations. She also has experience with family business enterprises and is married to a farmer, now retired, operating a third generation mixed farming operation.

Sharilee is an active board director and currently sits on the boards of Alberta Enterprise Corporation and Alberta Jubilee Auditoria Society, and is Chair of Telus World of Science Edmonton.

Sharilee has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta, a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Regina, is a Chartered Professional Accountant, and is also a graduate of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD.D).

Jane Halford
Director since December 15, 2014; appointed Board Chair in April 2020

Jane Halford has held various leadership and advisory positions over her career.

From 2003 to 2005, she worked for the Institute of Chartered Accounts of Alberta as the Director of Practice Review. She served as the Chief Executive Officer for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta and as Executive Director of the Chartered Accountants' Education Foundation from 2005 to 2013. Most recently, Ms. Halford has been supporting boards and executives with leadership transitions and governance through her company Halford Consulting Inc. and has been an active FCC board member since December 2014. She has also served on multiple agriculture-related boards including the Canadian Angus Foundation, Delta Genomics, and Alpha Phenomics where she is currently the chair.

Ms. Halford received her Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta in 1994, became a Chartered Accountant in 1997, and became a Fellow of the Chartered Accountants in 2012.

Michele Hengen
Director since November 17, 2017

With over 25 years of experience within the insurance, investment and pension consulting environments, Ms. Hengen has built a strong career as an actuarial professional. She has assumed roles with increasing professional responsibilities over the years, culminating in her role of Chief Risk Officer for a national multi-line insurance and investment group of companies.

Ms. Hengen is a seasoned consultant with proven success across multiple disciplines. She successfully ran an independent risk consulting and executive coaching practice where she served a variety of clients for five years before joining the team at People First to support an expanded clientele base. Ms. Hengen has also been serving on Farm Credit Canada’s Board of Directors since 2017.

Ms. Hengen received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Regina and attained the designations of Fellow and Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst from the Society of Actuaries. She has also achieved the Associate Certified Coach designation through the International Coaching Federation.

James Laws, P.Ag.
Director since November 17, 2017

Mr. James Laws has an extensive background in agriculture with over 40 years of work experience. He has worked across Canada in a variety of senior agribusiness-related roles and has lived and worked overseas on international development projects as well as private-sector farm operations. His current employment as an Agricultural Consultant has led him to work overseas including in Suriname, Senegal, and Tanzania.

Prior to starting his consultation business, he served as the Executive Director of the Canadian Meat Council from 2004 to 2016 and was the Executive Director of the Canadian Farm Business Management Council from 1999 to 2003. He has also been serving on Farm Credit Canada’s Board of Directors since 2017.

Mr. Laws holds an Honours B.Sc. in Agriculture from the University of Guelph and a Professional Agrologist designation from the Ontario Institute of Agrologists. He is fluent in English and French and has a working knowledge of Spanish.

Michael Tees
Director since May 21, 2021

Michael Tees is an experienced financial services professional with over 25 years of experience in corporate banking and risk management. His strengths include deal origination, relationship management, risk identification and mitigation, credit structuring, financial analysis, and underwriting the financing of complex public corporations and larger mid-market private company loan portfolios across a diverse set of industries, including primary agriculture and value-added agribusinesses.

He has held several senior management and executive positions for major banks across Canada. This career path has led him to his current position serving as a Vice-President in Western Canada for Marsh & McLennan Companies.

Michael holds a BA from the University of Toronto and an MBA from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Govert Verstralen
Director since November 17, 2017

Govert Verstralen is a former Principal Officer and past President and CEO of Rabobank Canada. He has over 45 years of experience and knowledge of the banking and financial industry and broad knowledge of the agribusiness sector. Govert was a member of the North American Compliance Committee and the Operational Risk Management Committee. Govert was also a Business Developer at Rabobank in the food and agri-business sector.

Govert is an 11-year member of the board of Food Processors of Canada and was a member of the Canadian Agri-Food Marketing Council for five years where he advised the ministers of Agriculture and International Trade to help grow the Canadian food industry.

Govert is active in his community. He participated in a garden and house tour fundraising event at his home for the Scarborough Centenary Hospital. Currently, Govert is assisting his partner in running a small business that imports, exports and distributes architectural business products such as columns, domes and mouldings.