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Executive Team

  • photo of Zarifa Reynolds

    Zarifa Reynolds

    CEO and President, Royal Neighbors of America

    Zarifa Brown Reynolds is the President and CEO of fraternal life insurance organization, Royal Neighbors of America, which is dedicated to insuring lives, supporting women, and serving communities. Zarifa is a mission-driven, transformational executive with a record of team building, talent development, and developing and executing strategies to profitably grow businesses.

    Prior to joining Royal Neighbors in 2023, Zarifa was an executive at Guardian Life Insurance Company (Guardian) where she led a national sales, account management, and underwriting team.

    Before joining Guardian, Zarifa was Head of Corporate Development at Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) where she was responsible for corporate mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, strategic venture capital investing, and corporate strategic projects.

    Prior to joining TIAA, Zarifa was a partner at Greenberg Traurig, an international law firm. Zarifa started her legal career at Shearman & Sterling in New York City.

    Zarifa is a board member of American Council of Life Insurers (Forum 500), KIPP Miami, and the Harvard Law School Association of New York City. She holds a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Brown University.

    Married to Cedrick and mother of two children, Zarifa splits her time between the Quad Cities community and South Florida. She enjoys golf, tutoring children in math, and spending time with her family.

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  • photo of Tom Myers

    Tom Myers

    Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

    Thomas D. Myers is a seasoned insurance financial executive with over 35 years of experience and has dedicated his career to the life insurance industry. He has held roles beyond traditional finance positions including Chief Operating Officer and President and brings a well-balanced, holistic view in his oversight of the Society’ financial operations.

    Thomas has been Royal Neighbors of America’s Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer since 2018. Prior to joining Royal Neighbors, he was with the Kemper Life and Health division of Kemper Corporation for 23 years and progressed his career from a corporate accounting manager to President of Kemper Life and Health’s flagship life insurance company. His first position after graduating college was with the public accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand where he spent eight years providing assurance services to financial services client, including, but not limited to, life insurers.

    Myers possesses a Bachelor of Science degree from Indiana University and is a non-active CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and a FLMI (Fellow Life Management Institute).

    Married to Therese and father to Sean, Thomas enjoys spending time with his family watching sports, theater, traveling, and playing golf.

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    John Friederich, JD

    General Counsel and Secretary

    John Friederich is Royal Neighbors General Counsel and Secretary, responsible for leading all legal and compliance affairs on behalf of the Society.

    Mr. Friederich joined Royal Neighbors of America in 1992 when he accepted the position of Assistant General Counsel responsible for legal review of investments. His successive roles have included Senior Assistant General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel. He was appointed General Counsel and Secretary in 2018.

    After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, Mr. Friederich earned his Juris doctorate at the University of Iowa. A member of the Iowa, Illinois and American Bar Associations, he serves as the secretary/treasurer and board member of the RNA Real Estate Holdings, Inc.; is a member of the board of the Lift Women Foundation; and is a member of the law committee for the International Claims Association. In addition, he holds membership in the Association of Corporate Counsel, the National Association of Corporate Directors and the Association of Fraternal Benefit Counsel. He also serves on the Policy Development Task Force for the American Fraternal Alliance, the executive committee of the Development Authority of Rock Island and the Litigation Committee of the American Council of Life Insurers.

    Mr. Friederich enjoys pursuit of continuous improvement and education while motivating his team to deliver excellent service to the Society while empowering them to achieve their individual goals and career aspirations. He also believes that Royal Neighbors makes work meaningful by enabling him to pursue his passion for helping others give back to their community through volunteerism.

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    Angie Johnson

    Human Resources Executive

    A native of Muscatine, Iowa, Angie Johnson’s role unites perfectly with her passion for serving people and her commitment to the mission of Royal Neighbors.

    As Human Resource Executive, Angie directs the strategy and processes related to developing and retaining an exceptional team of professionals along with optimizing people-centered activities such as talent acquisition, talent development, performance management, succession planning, and total rewards planning, as well as championing organizational culture, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Known as an influential leader, Angie maintains an acute focus on the organization’s mission, vision, and values while leading and motivating her team along a path of strategic and futuristic direction.

    Prior to joining Royal Neighbors, Angie was Vice President of Human Resources for UPH – Trinity Regional Health System, VP of Operations for UPH – Trinity Regional Health System (developing a culture of continuous improvement - leading the Process Improvement Team, Clinical Education Team, and Patient Experience Team), as well as the Executive Director for UPH - Trinity Muscatine (accountable for overall success of a sole community hospital).

    Johnson holds an Associate Degree in Accounting from Muscatine Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and Business from the Iowa Wesleyan College.

    In alignment with the Royal Neighbors mission, Angie is heavily involved in serving her community. Positions currently include the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine Board of Directors and Investment Committee, the Muscatine Center for Strategic Action Board of Directors and Finance Committee Member, the Vision 20/20 Strategic Planning Committee, and Crossroads, Inc. Finance Committee Member.

    Angie enjoys traveling, loves the outdoors, and spending time with her husband, Chad and their six children.

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  • photo of Karen Hayes

    Karen Hayes

    Operations Executive

    Karen Hayes is an experienced insurance professional and leader with a specialty in business process improvement. She currently serves Royal Neighbors of America as Operations Executive overseeing Underwriting, Agent Services, and the Customer Support Center.

    Since joining Royal Neighbors in 2011, Ms. Hayes has held leadership positions over multiple functional areas including Senior Director, Agent and Customer Services where she oversaw Society functions relating to Customer Support, Claims, Underwriting Operations, Licensing, Contracting, and Commissions. Before joining Royal Neighbors, Ms. Hayes was a senior manager at Allsteel in Muscatine, Iowa.

    A native of the Quad Cities, Ms. Hayes graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management. Ms. Hayes has earned both the Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association (LIMRA) Leadership Institute Fellow (LLIF) designation as well as the Fellow, Life Management Institute (FLMI) designation.

    Ms. Hayes dedicates her time as volunteer with Junior Achievement of the Heartland, is past member of United Way Mental Health and Substance Abuse Strategic Investment Committee, and previously served as a judge for Royal Neighbors Nation of NeighborsSM and Scholarship panels. Additionally, Ms. Hayes serves as President of the lift Women’s Foundation (formerly the Royal Neighbors Foundation) and is a member of the LIMRA Executive Development Steering Committee.

    Ms. Hayes is an avid football fan and rarely misses an Iowa home game. Married to Aaron and mother to daughters Cassandra, Grace, Brooke, and son Caden, Ms. Hayes enjoys spending time with family, traveling (especially to any beach and to the Northwoods), and simply being together.

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  • photo of Juliet Christenson

    Juliet Christenson

    Senior Director, Product Strategy

    A native of the Quad Cities, Juliet Christenson is a highly effective leader with a dynamic professional history, holds numerous personal achievements, and is committed to her strengthening her community.

    Juliet’s acclaimed career at Royal Neighbors of America spans three decades. Her career trajectory has included a holistic range of experiences including customer service, underwriting, marketing and sales, human resources, and information technology, where she spent 16 years. Most recently, Juliet is a leader within the organization’s Growth Area as Senior Director, Product Strategy and Development where she manages strategic product planning and the product development lifecycle for life, annuity, and health product portfolios. Juliet has a history of building highly productive teams through training and mentoring staff. In 2012, Juliet was named the Royal Neighbors Employee of the Year. In 2021, Juliet was named a 2021 Woman of Influence by Women Lead Change.

    Throughout her career at Royal Neighbors, Juliet has earned numerous designations including the PMP (Project Management Professional) from PMI (Project Management Institute), the LLIF (Leadership Institute Fellow) from LIMRA (Life Insurance Marketing and Research Association), the FLMI (Fellow Life Management Institute), the AIRC (Associate, Insurance Regulatory Compliance), and ACS (Associate, Customer Service) from LOMA (Life Office Management Association). She also possesses a Six Sigma Green Belt.

    Juliet is currently a volunteer board member with the lift Women’s Foundation (formerly the Royal Neighbors Foundation) as well as a volunteer board member and outcall advocate for Family Resources. She was previously a volunteer and co-chairperson for the Caddie Committee with the John Deere Classic for 10 years and the President of Rock Island Little League and Quad City A’s travel baseball organization.

    Married to Leif and mother of sons Zacariah and Ethan, and daughter-in-law Kara, Juliet is an avid sports fan and enjoys spending time with her family.

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  • photo of Raja Krishnamurthy

    Raja Krishnamurthy

    IT Executive

    Raja Krishnamurthy believes in the power of strategy and technology to create competitive advantages for organizations in the marketplace. He has over two decades of experience in executing technology and business initiatives through influence, transformational thinking, and teamwork. He regards knowledge sharing, sustainable living, and grassroots philanthropy as powerful ways to create a world of opportunity and progress for all.

    Joining Royal Neighbors in 2008, Raja has served in numerous leadership roles in IT, Finance, and Marketing. He has over 20 years of experience in software design and development, enterprise architecture, business intelligence, information technology management, and corporate strategy development.

    Raja considers himself fortunate to have served in a variety of roles learning from leaders with varying leadership styles. He has held positions ranging from highly focused and technical roles to broad strategic leadership and management roles. He was honored to receive the Royal Neighbors Employee of the Year award in 2010.

    Since 2019, he has held the role of IT Executive, with leadership responsibility for Corporate Strategic Planning, Portfolio Management Office, IT Infrastructure, IT Applications Design and Development, Information Security, and IT Production Support.

    Raja earned a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Madras, India, a Master of Computer Applications degree from Bharathidasan University, India, and a Master of Organizational Leadership degree from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. He also holds the FLMI (Fellow, Life Management Institute), FSRI (Fellow, Secure Retirement Institute), and ACS (Associate, Customer Service) designations in the insurance industry, and several technology certifications.

    Raja enjoys supporting and participating in volunteering efforts sponsored or organized by Royal Neighbors. He volunteers at his temple, coaches a local robotics team, and serves as a mentor in a community spiritual program.

    When not at work, he loves spending time with his family consisting of his wife and two children, reading, meditating, going for long walks, biking, and enjoying his favorite sports.

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Board of Directors

  • photo of Marie Ziegler photo

    Marie Ziegler

    Chair – Bettendorf, IA

    Marie Ziegler has extensive board leadership experience. She is chair of QCR Holdings, a $7.9 billion bank holding company, and chair of UnityPoint Health - Quad Cities. Ms. Ziegler is a community leader, serving as vice-chair of the River Bend Food Bank and sitting on several other nonprofit boards. She is the retired Deputy Financial Officer of Deere & Company, where she had responsibility for global treasury operations, risk management, pensions, investments, and investor relations. There she also served on the Chairman’s Global Leadership Council. Her expertise includes strategy, finance, and communications. Ms. Ziegler graduated with a degree in Accounting from St. Ambrose University, earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Iowa, and is a Board Leadership Fellow with the National Association of Corporate Directors. Elected to the Royal Neighbors board in 2018, she is chair of the board and executive committee and is a member of the governance and investment committees.

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  • photo of Photo of J Lynn Anderson

    J Lynn Anderson

    Westerville, OH

    J Lynn Anderson is a seasoned financial services leader with over 35 collective years of experience in life insurance, property & casualty insurance, and banking. Prior to committing to board work full time, Ms. Anderson was an executive with Nationwide (a Fortune 100 company). She served as President and CEO of Nationwide Bank (a $6.5B digital bank) and before as SVP of Property & Casualty Product and Pricing over a $13B direct written premium portfolio. Ms. Anderson currently serves on the board of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati, a $108B asset, government-sponsored entity, as board chair and a member of the governance committee. She is a board observer for the Women Presidents Organization (WPO), a 2000+ member, peer advisory model supporting women entrepreneurs. At WPO she serves on the Governance and Finance Committees. A graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in accounting, Ms. Anderson holds the designations of Certified Public Accountant, Certified Internal Auditor, Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant, Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriter, and Associate in Reinsurance. Appointed to the Royal Neighbors board in 2022, and elected to the board in 2023, she is a member of the audit, compensation, and investment committees.

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  • photo of Alejandra Evans

    Alejandra Evans

    South Haven, MI

    Alejandra Evans’ dynamic leadership in the insurance industry spans three decades across multiple disciplines, including consulting, business strategy, financial performance, risk management, sales, and marketing. She retired from USI Insurance Services, a leading brokerage firm, in March of 2021 as Senior Vice President of Risk Management. Ms. Evans currently serves on the board of directors of The Davey Tree Expert Co., a $1.5 billion employee-owned company, and is a member of its governance and audit committees. She received her B.A. in Business Management from Loyola University of Chicago. Elected to the Royal Neighbors board in 2021, she is chair of the governance committee and a member of the compensation and audit committees.

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  • photo of Tracy Gray-Walker

    Tracey Gray-Walker

    Plainfield, NJ

    Tracey Gray-Walker is an accomplished CEO and NACD-certified board member of United Veterinary Care and Royal Neighbors of America. She is a financial and marketing expert within both regulated and unregulated industries. Ms. Gray-Walker has many years of P&L management, operations, and financial experience with AXA a Global Fortune 500 company with international exposure. She has proven experience in the areas of stakeholder relationship management, collaborative negotiations, inclusive leadership, and pragmatic thinking.

    Ms. Gray-Walker is the CEO of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Trust. Her business strategies include unifying the positioning of the Trust. She has focused on enhancing member experience, improving productivity and efficiencies while creating additional value for members. Within her first year, she completed the merging of two individual insurance Trusts, while simultaneously launching an Association Health Plan for a 101,000-member organization.

    Prior to joining the AVMA Trust in 2019, Ms. Gray-Walker spent over twenty-five years in the financial services industry. Most recently, she led the successful relaunch of a business that generated double-digit growth and enhanced client engagement and satisfaction levels.

    Ms. Gray-Walker’s broad-based experience includes an extensive list of leadership roles. She has a proven ability to drive business results, assess performance, coach, and motivate others. Ms. Gray-Walker serves on the Investment Committee for the Association Health Insurance Company (AIC). She is a former board member of The Executive Leadership Council and served on AXA’s 401(k) Board.

    During Ms. Gray-Walker’s career in Financial Services, she received various awards and recognition, including but not limited to one of The Network Journal’s “Twenty-Five Influential Black Women in Business,” and she was featured in Profiles in Diversity Journal as one of its “Women Worth Watching.” Ms. Gray-Walker was also included among Uptown Professional’s prestigious list of “Top Executives in America” and a Women of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Greater New York.

    Before joining AXA Equitable, Ms. Gray-Walker spent four years with Deloitte & Touche (formerly Touche Ross & Co.) as a senior auditor. Elected to the Royal Neighbors board in 2021, she is chair of the audit committee and a member of the executive, investment, and governance committees.

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  • photo of Photo of Lara Metcalf

    Lara Metcalf

    Chestnut Hill, MA

    Lara Metcalf has deep experience using innovative investment capital approaches in the public and private sectors to drive better outcomes for low-income and vulnerable populations. She believes market-driven solutions must play a role in solving our nation's most pressing problems, so after 18 years in the fixed-income markets at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Credit Suisse, she dedicated the second half of her career to the mission economy. Ms. Metcalf is currently a Managing Director of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, a global venture philanthropy firm supporting early-stage, high-impact startups. She plays a lead role in sourcing new social enterprise investments across the UN SDGs and works with the leadership of those organizations as an operating partner and board member. As part of her role, Ms. Metcalf serves on the board of Reboot RX, a nonprofit dedicated to repurposing generic drugs for cancer care; and BosWell, which helps connect community organization clients to free healthcare.

    In the impact investing space, Ms. Metcalf supports early-stage impact venture funds as a Venture Partner and on the Investment Committee of TSEF: The Social Entrepreneurs’ Fund, MIT Solve Innovation Futures Fund, and an advisor at Zeal Capital Partners. She previously played a leadership role in building the Pay for Success field during her five years as the Managing Director of Social Finance, an innovative 501c3 social enterprise. Ms. Metcalf led the creation of $80M+ in project finance impact investments around issues ranging from refugee and immigrant employment to child welfare, to maternal and child health, to recidivism, while also acting as CFO/COO. Before Social Finance, she was the Chief Financial Officer/Chief Administrative Officer and Senior Associate Dean for Operations at the Harvard Kennedy School where she oversaw the $150M operating budget, finance, human resources, and facilities teams. Ms. Metcalf helped develop a variety of important capital projects. She received her B.S. in Finance and Information Systems from Boston College and her MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Appointed to the Royal Neighbors board in 2022, and elected to the board in 2023, she is chair of the investment committee and a member of the audit, and compensation committees.

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  • photo of Zarifa Reynolds

    Zarifa Reynolds

    CEO and President, Royal Neighbors of America

    Zarifa Brown Reynolds is the President and CEO of fraternal life insurance organization, Royal Neighbors of America, which is dedicated to insuring lives, supporting women, and serving communities. Zarifa is a mission-driven, transformational executive with a record of team building, talent development, and developing and executing strategies to profitably grow businesses.

    Prior to joining Royal Neighbors in 2023, Zarifa was an executive at Guardian Life Insurance Company (Guardian) where she led a national sales, account management, and underwriting team.

    Before joining Guardian, Zarifa was Head of Corporate Development at Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) where she was responsible for corporate mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, strategic venture capital investing, and corporate strategic projects.

    Prior to joining TIAA, Zarifa was a partner at Greenberg Traurig, an international law firm. Zarifa started her legal career at Shearman & Sterling in New York City.

    Zarifa is a board member of American Council of Life Insurers (Forum 500), KIPP Miami, and the Harvard Law School Association of New York City. She holds a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Brown University.

    Married to Cedrick and mother of two children, Zarifa splits her time between the Quad Cities community and South Florida. She enjoys golf, tutoring children in math, and spending time with her family.

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  • photo of Janet Sichterman

    Janet Sichterman

    Muscatine, IA

    Janet Sichterman is a strategic business leader skilled in developing leaders and new business opportunities. As Executive Vice President at Kent Corporation, she is responsible for Enterprise Innovation. Her prior role at Kent was Senior Vice President for Human Resources and Communications. Ms. Sichterman previously held executive roles in North American sales, global human resources, and organizational development with Bandag, Incorporated. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Central College, and a Master of Business Administration, Master of Accounting, and Master of Organizational Leadership degrees from St. Ambrose University. Ms. Sichterman was an honoree for the Athena International Women’s Leadership Award in 2019. She currently serves on the St. Ambrose University Board of Trustees, and lift Women’s Foundation Board, and previously served on the Muscatine Art Center Foundation, Boards for UnityPoint Health -Trinity, Greater Muscatine Community Foundation, United Way, Red Cross, Leadership Muscatine, Junior Achievement, and many more. Elected to the Royal Neighbors board in 2020, she is chair of the compensation committee and is a member of the governance and investment committees.

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  • photo of Photo of Shawn Wright

    Shawn Wright

    Upper Marlboro, MD

    Shawn Wright serves as a partner in Blank Rome LLP’s White-Collar Defense & Litigation group and as co-chair of both the firm’s Litigation Department and Washington, D.C., office. She is an experienced litigator who notably focuses her white-collar criminal defense practice on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and international anti-corruption laws, criminal antitrust, public corruption, government contracts and complex civil litigation matters. Ms. Wright represents corporations, boards of directors, and corporate executives in a wide range of internal and government investigations, audits and risk assessments, parallel proceedings, and complex commercial litigation. She regularly appears before enforcement agencies and bodies such as the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulatory authorities. Additionally, Ms. Wright represents tax-exempt organizations, regularly advising boards of directors on matters involving corporate governance, compliance, and internal controls issues. She also serves as outside general counsel for several nonprofit organizations.

    Ms. Wright is an active member of various organizations, nonprofits, and bar associations, including the National Capital Bank of Washington, My Sister’s Place, a D.C. domestic violence shelter, D.C. Legal Aid Society, National Association of Corporate Directors, Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, and Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals. She is also a member of the William Bryant Inn of Court and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Ms. Wright received her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law, and her B.A., cum laude, from Howard University. Appointed to the Royal Neighbors board in 2022, and elected to the board in 2023, she is a member of the audit, compensation, and governance committees.

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Form #: P00003; Rev. 5-2024