Meet the Team
Meet the Management Team
Laurie Bakke joined Western in 2009. She is responsible for the strategic direction, financial performance and optimization of growth opportunities of the organization. Prior to Western, she spent three years with Huntington Equipment Finance, seven years with Irwin Commercial Finance and nine years with NordBanken, AB in various management and leadership roles. She is actively involved with the Equipment Leasing & Finance Association, having served on the Board of Directors for the Association and the Board of Trustees for the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation. She received a degree in Business Management from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND.
Vice President / Sales & Marketing
Chad Palmer joined Western in 1998. Chad leads the sales team at Western which includes the Business Development Managers and Account Managers. Chad is the President of the Creel Bay Golf Course and Treasurer of the North Dakota Friends of Deaf Children Foundation. He graduated from Minot State University in Minot, ND, where he earned his degrees in Business Management and Finance.
Vice President / Documentation Manager
Marylin Aune joined Western in 1992. Her duties include managing workflow, efficiency and accuracy of the Documentation Department. Marylin is accountable for ensuring the execution of accurate and timely transactional documentation and vendor funding. Marylin volunteers for the American Heart Association’s Relay for Life, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and First Choice Clinic. She is also a LR Community Shelter board member. She received her Para Legal degree from the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, ND.
Vice President / Credit
Kelli Heilman joined Western in 1979. Her duties include managing the Credit Department while monitoring and evaluating credit worthiness. Kelli also provides guidance and assistance to sales, credit, documentation, risk management and collections. Kelli volunteers for Relay for Life, Senior Meals on Wheels and Lake Region State College Community Foundation. She attended the Minnesota Commercial Lending School in 1992 and A&H Leasing Summer School from 1993 to 1994.
Vice President / Risk Management
Kris Darby joined Western in 2009 as Vice President, Risk Management. She is responsible for evaluating and managing risk in the organization’s portfolio and implementing policies and procedures that will ensure the organization follows necessary practices to mitigate risk. Prior to Western, she spent three years with Huntington Equipment Finance, seven years with Irwin Commercial Finance and eight years with MetLife Capital in various roles including contract administration, compliance and operations management. She is actively involved with the Equipment Leasing & Finance Association, having served as Chairperson of the Small Ticket Business Council Steering Committee. Kris received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA.
Vice President / Accounting Manager
Steve Burtness joined Western in 2007. His duties include preparing and presenting financial statements to management, regulators and the Western Equipment Finance team. He also manages the accounting team to ensure accuracy of all financial statements. Prior to Western, Steve spent three years managing the account operations staff at Dakota REIT and six years at Community First National Bank. Steve volunteers at New Life Fellowship Church and Prairiewood Development Homeowners Association. He is also a part of the North Dakota Society of CPA’s, The American Institute of CPA’s and is a Township board member. He received his Accounting degree at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND.