Leslie Castellani is Chief Governance & Corporate Affairs Officer at First West Credit Union, and Chair of the Surrey City Centre What Really Matters Capital Campaign.
First and foremost though, Leslie is the mom to three boys, Nicholas (19), Noah (13) and Christopher (3). She draws on the knowledge that she’s a better leader because she’s a mother, and a better mother because she’s a leader. Both roles have equipped her to be an amazing juggler of things life tosses at her, a master at prioritizing what’s important and a connoisseur of laughter.
Leslie’s career spans across technology, telecom and financial services. In her role at First West Credit Union, she’s responsible for strategy and corporate planning, board governance, government relations, legal and a multi-year goal to move the credit union under federal regulation.
Her most notable leadership feat occurred in 2013 when her son, Noah, became dramatically ill with a rare condition. Leslie was thrust into navigating the healthcare system, summoning her courage and compassion. Her story aired nationwide on CTV W5 and today Leslie and her son provide support to families around the world. In 2018, an American mom shared that a family connection in Canada recalled the story when her daughter became sick, and as a result, her daughter is much better now with the right treatment. She notes, “Thank you for putting your son’s story out there. You saved my daughter’s life.”
As a member of the Tong Louie Family YMCA since 2007, Leslie knows firsthand the value the Y brings to creating healthy communities, unleashing resilience and health in individuals, and providing peace of mind to parents who are trying to juggle it all: work, kids and life. Leslie enjoys spending time at the Y in the gym, at Tuesday night’s Gauntlet fitness class, and at yoga. Leslie discovered Gauntlet when she set out to train for Tough Mudder Whistler in 2017 and is now preparing for her first half marathon.
Leslie’s youngest son, Christopher is learning to swim in lessons on Sunday mornings, is a frequent participant in the Active Play classes and just wrapped up the Little Chef’s cooking program. In 2013, when Leslie was courageously fighting to get Noah better, the Y was also there for them both, offering respite in the form of a week-long day camp. In Leslie’s words, she was, “overwhelmed by the support the Y provided during this particularly challenging time.”
To help the Y grow its impact by building a new YMCA Centre of Community in Surrey City Centre, Leslie graciously accepted the position of Chair of the What Really Matters Capital Campaign. Leslie is successfully leading a Cabinet of eight committed volunteers, engaging and sharing the Y story with other community leaders in Surrey and beyond. She is excited to be sharing this transformational initiative with others across her community.