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Chairman of Western Communities Foundation and Senator, Scott Tannas, is a proud Albertan who was born in High River, Alberta where he currently resides with his wife Taryn. Together, they have four children and two grandchildren.
Scott is Founder and Vice Chairman of Western Financial Group (“Western”), having served as CEO from 1996 to 2014 and became a member of the senate in 2013. Scott’s interest in public service was inspired by his father, Don Tannas, who served as MLA of Highwood for many years. After much consideration, Scott ventured into the world of politics himself as a Progressive Conservative candidate in 2012 and on March 22, 2013, he was elected to the senate by The Right Honourable Stephan Harper. Scott also serves as an honorary board member of SOS Children’s Villages – Canada.
A true community trailblazer, Scott’s passion for giving back has led his work as a donor and fundraiser for many years. That same desire to support the community that once supported him as a young businessman, is what drove him to launch the Western Communities Foundation in 2001. As a charitable arm of Western Financial Group, the Foundation was created to express appreciation and show support for the communities where Western’s employees live, work, and play. In 2018, the Foundation reached a milestone and celebrated contributing over $3 million supporting hundreds of community initiatives.
Since 2007, Nancy has been a volunteer, admirer and supporter of the Western Communities Foundation. In 2013, her son’s school was destroyed by the floods that impacted High River, Alberta. The Foundation made a significant contribution to restore the school’s playground bringing joy and excitement back to children who had been displaced for most of the year; an event that solidified Nancy’s commitment to the Foundation.
“Seeing the happiness, the Foundation brings to our community, and in this case children, makes the Foundation’s work so rewarding,” said Nancy. “I’m proud to be part of a community of passionate and dedicated individuals.”
In 2018, Nancy took her deep-rooted passion for giving back to the next step and joined the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Prior to joining the Foundation, Nancy has held many leadership roles with Western Financial Group, including her current role as their Chief Financial Officer; guiding the financial strategy and governance of the company. Her extensive financial background and inspired leadership contributes to the financial health of the Foundation.
Nancy holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Calgary and holds her CPA and CMA designations.
The Foundation has a long-standing history of creating strong and vibrant communities and as Western continues to expand its reach across Canada, Nancy looks forward to positively impacting many more communities.
Don Tannas, a loving husband, father, and passionate community leader, joined the Western Communities Foundation as Executive Director in 2004 following his retirement from his 15-year position as Highwood MLA.
When asked to share his favourite Western Communities Foundation memory, Don recalled a story about an active girl who was involved in many school sports until she developed cancer in her leg, which led to the leg having to be amputated. Despite this tragic set back, the girl didn’t give up. In fact, she took this as a challenge and worked hard to learn how to walk again. After enduring a lengthy recovery process, she went on to be a part of her school’s basketball and volleyball teams and was an active participant in many other school activities.
She volunteered at the rehabilitation hospital in Edmonton meeting with other young amputees, like herself, and encouraged them to always see a silver lining in every situation they are faced with and to become active in their community as part of their healing journey. As an active person herself, she overcame her limitations and became an inspiration to others.
Don is excited about the future of the Foundation and our continued support of community-focused programs.
Jennifer Huard joined the Western Communities Foundation as a Director in March 2016 after being anonymously nominated for the position by a Foundation’s senior executive. Jennifer began her career with Western Financial Group in 2006 as a receptionist. Her career trajectory has moved quickly and within a few years she was licensed to sell personal lines and continued to develop her talents to sell commercial and financial services. In 2011, Jennifer became manager of Western’s Bassano office, going on to lead our Bow Island and Brooks locations in 2015 and 2017.
On top of her growing career within Western Financial Group, Jennifer has been married for 21 years and is a loving mother of two sons who are both currently attending the University of Alberta.
She believes that our people are extremely lucky to have access to the Foundation, to give back to causes we care about and supporting the communities where we live, work, and play.
Her hope for the future of the Foundation is that it continues to grow and have a positive impact in our communities. Jennifer has made it her personal goal to rally as many Western employees as she can to support the Foundation’s efforts.
Joe is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Western Financial Group and became a Foundation board director in January 2018. He joined Western in 2012 as the Vice President of Business Development. From that year onward, he has held many roles within Western, including Executive Vice President of Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Central Alberta. He also led the financial services, marketing as well as learning and development groups. He became the COO in 2018.
Joe’s journey to Western and the Foundation began with a desire to work for a company which gave back to the local community. With that in mind, Western was a perfect fit — the Foundation was a built-in charity dedicated to local communities. For Joe, the generosity of corporate donors and the stories that come from the Foundation are what stand out for him. One story he recalled was a branch which helped their local curling rink raise money for a new ice-processing machine. The rink’s machine had broke, which meant curling slid to a halt. He was impressed by how the branch came together to fundraise, which they kicked off with a $5,000 Infrastructure Grant through the Foundation.
Joe’s hope for the Foundation is to increase the level of participation in every branch — it all goes back to supporting the community and continuing the spirit of giving back. Outside of Western, Joe enjoys spending time with his kids, Samantha and Matthew (who are currently in University), and his partner Diana.
Kenny Nicholls is the President and CEO of Western Financial Group. He became a Foundation board director in 2016 to support Western’s giving spirit and his own values — giving back to the community has always been important to Kenny.
A move to insurance from accounting, where he started his career, highlighted the value and importance of businesses helping customers and communities — it forms meaningful connections, positive change and a sense of pride in protecting what customers value the most. For Kenny, that’s exactly what the Foundation does. He recalls the Foundation’s outreach efforts during the 2013 High River floods, and to the city of Humboldt, Saskatchewan in 2018 after the tragic accident involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team. He’s proud the Foundation represents the real character and DNA of Western — making a difference and saying “thanks” to the customers and communities that support us.
Originally from Montreal, Kenny moved to Alberta in 2011 with his family when Desjardins acquired Western. After serving as Western’s CFO, Kenny became Western’s President and CEO in 2017. The move to Alberta turned a family dream of having an acreage into a reality. During the week, he’s steeped in the workings of Western. On the weekend, he tends to his horses and spends time with family.
Kenny hopes the Foundation will grow to a point where each community Western serves will get a yearly bursary and infrastructure grant.
Prior to joining the Western Communities Foundation Board of Directors in March 2016, Linda began her journey with Western Financial Group in 2005 where she supported the Foundation's former executive director, Don Tannas.
Prior to becoming a mother of three and grandmother of five, Linda attended the University of Calgary and has enjoyed diverse careers including being a junior-high school teacher, florist and an administrative assistant. Married to a now retired RCMP member, Linda has lived in several communities across Alberta. This has given her the ability to relate to many of the people and projects that the Foundation supports. Over the years, Linda has read hundreds of Exceptional Achievement nominations, but one story will always stand out to her. The story was about a student who bore the tragic event of her mother’s suicide yet went on to graduate high school and continued to post-secondary, letting her strength and determination guide her. Celebrating our country’s youth for their exceptional achievements and character and contributing to hundreds of community projects, is extremely important to her.
Working with the Foundation has brought many opportunities for Linda including meeting Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, who helped promote the work of the Foundation at two of our annual golf tournaments.