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Executive Team

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    Cynthia Tidwell

    President and CEO, Royal Neighbors of America

    Cynthia Tidwell joined Royal Neighbors of America, one of the nation’s largest women-led life insurers, as President and CEO in 2005. Her stellar reputation for turning around companies and reshaping them into viable businesses led her to the organization to perform a major business reinvention.

    She is accomplished in all facets of insurance, a true transformational leader with multi-functional, hands-on experience. Her results-oriented and team philosophy has helped build many successful companies and strong leaders throughout her career in the financial services industry.

    Cynthia’s career as a go-to turnaround executive began at Xerox Financial Services and its insurance subsidiaries where she was given the opportunity to revamp departments, divisions, and then companies. Her career was diverse starting with the management of complex, litigated E & O cases. She moved to the P & L side of the business and led a public entity customer segment. While there, she increased revenues, achieved a 14.5 percent ROE in a soft market and reduced the claims ALAE litigation budget 25% in two years.

    Before joining Royal Neighbors, Cynthia was President of Personal Insurance for Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, a part of the Allianz Group, with an annual revenue of $900 million. As its first female to lead one of its profit and loss centers, she used her proven turnaround strategies to steer the 1,300-employee division through an extensive revitalization reducing calendar-year combined ratio 29 points and achieving record profits.

    Cynthia joined Royal Neighbors to take on a new turnaround challenge, this time in the life insurance space. She led its organizational revitalization, reversing declining trends and achieving record sales. During her tenure, assets have grown to over $1 billion and revenues are at an all-time company high while maintaining industry-leading financial ratios. She led transformational initiatives to further clarify and understand Royal Neighbors’ target market and continue to meet the needs of its membership. As a membership organization, its member benefits have been updated and expanded; member engagement and philanthropy outreach have reached new levels; and, under her leadership, the Nation of Neighbors℠ Program was launched, which to date has assisted more than 1,000 women and their families with close to $2 million in empowerment grants.

    In addition to her accomplishments in the insurance industry, Cynthia is a member of the ACLI Board of Directors and is chair of the ACLI Forum 500 Board of Governors. She also is a member of the American Fraternal Alliance and the International Women’s Leadership Association. In addition, she recently completed a seven-year board of director’s role for the Quad City Chamber and was a member of its finance committee.

    She won the prestigious Stevie Award as Turnaround Executive of the Year in the American Business Awards; was named a Professional Woman of the Year in Insurance by the National Association of Professional Women; was selected as one of CEO Connection’s Most Influential Women in 2018; was the recipient of the Athena Business Women’s Award for excellence in her profession and for the significant philanthropic difference she makes in her community; and was recognized as the 2012 Small Business Leader by the Chamber of Commerce. A sought-after speaker, television guest and author of numerous industry and leadership articles, Cynthia also was featured in Business Insider for her career advice along with 24 other “super-successful” people.

    Cynthia is a graduate of Arizona State University and has achieved the LLIF and FLMI designations, as well as the Wharton AICPCU. Cynthia and her husband, Don, have two sons.

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    Curt Zeck

    Chief Sales, Marketing and Product Officer, Vice President

    Curt Zeck joined Royal Neighbors in 2008 as leader of the Information Technology (IT) department. His duties have included establishing the strategic long-term goals, policies, and procedures for the department. Having previously served as Vice President, CIO/Operations Executive, in 2019 Curt accepted the new position of Chief Sales, Marketing and Product Officer, Vice President, leading the organization’s Growth area. Curt is also a member of the board of directors, serving on the governance and investment committees. A 20-year veteran in the IT field, he has held numerous positions in Marketing, IT Business Management, IT Development, and IT Operations for Bandag, Inc. He is experienced in IT Business Planning, Enterprise Architecture, and Product Development. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa with a business degree in management information systems. He is a Representative Payee for Alternatives for Older Adults, a member of his church council, and a Junior Achievement mentor.

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    Tom Myers

    Chief Financial Officer

    Thomas Myers Jr. is Royal Neighbors of America Chief Financial Officer. He oversees the Society’s financial, actuarial, investment and internal audit functions as well as provides support and counsel for the senior management team.

    A life insurance industry professional for over 30 years, Tom has extensive financial and operations expertise. He most recently held the position of President of United Insurance Company of America located in St. Louis, Missouri. In addition, he has served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer for United.

    Earning a Bachelor of Science degree in business from Indiana University, he also has achieved the designations of Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Fellow, Life Management Institute (FLMI). A sports enthusiast, Tom also enjoys the theater, art fairs and spending time with his wife, Therese, and son, Sean.

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    John Friederich, JD

    General Counsel and Secretary

    John Friederich became a member of the Royal Neighbors staff 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.

    Graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, John 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 of the RNA Real Estate Holdings, Inc. board; is secretary of the Royal Neighbors 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 and the Litigation Committee of the American Council of Life Insurers.

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    Karen Hayes

    Operations Executive

    With Royal Neighbors since 2011, Karen Hayes serves as Operations Executive for the organization, overseeing Underwriting, Agent Services, and the Customer Support Center.

    During her tenure with Royal Neighbors, Karen has held leadership positions over multiple functional areas, most recently serving as Senior Director, Agent and Customer Services, where she oversaw Society functions relating to customer support, claims, underwriting operations, licensing and contracting, and commissions.

    An experienced insurance professional, Karen has been integral to improving business processes that impact both the Agent and Member experiences. Before joining Royal Neighbors, Karen was a senior manager at Allsteel.

    Karen graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management. An avid football fan, she never misses an Iowa home game. She enjoys spending time with her family, traveling (especially to Hilton Head) and simply being together.

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    Raja Krishnamurthy

    IT Executive

    Raja Krishnamurthy oversees the strategic direction and operations of Royal Neighbors Information Technology services, IT Security, and PMO. In addition, he leads the facilitation, development, and delivery of strategic planning artifacts for the organization.

    Joining Royal Neighbors in 2008, Raja has served in numerous leadership roles in IT, Finance and Marketing. Most recently he held the position of Senior Director – Strategy, Research, and Analytics. He has over 20 years of experience in software design and development, enterprise architecture, business intelligence and strategy development.

    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 IA. He also holds the FLMI and ACS designations.

    When not at work, he loves spending time with his family, volunteering, reading, teaching, meditating, and enjoying his favorite sports.

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Board of Directors

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    Suzanne Riesterer

    Chair – Edina, MN

    iness leader with a track record of achieving profitable growth through setting strategic direction, developing highly effective cross-functional teams, and driving broad organizational change, Ms. Riesterer has demonstrated substantial success in business line and finance roles. Her diverse background includes the hospitality, manufacturing, technology, and learning resource sectors. Ms. Riesterer is on the board of directors and audit chair for Adolfson & Peterson Construction. She is also on the board of trustees for Washburn Center for Children in Minneapolis, the state’s leading children’s mental health center. She most recently served as the Chief Financial and Investment Officer for the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and previously served the organization as Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Vice President of Finance and Administration. She also held roles for Carlson as Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis and Vice President of Audit and Business Risk Management. Prior to joining the Carlson team, Ms. Riesterer was the Chief Financial Officer for Gelco Information Network. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting and business administration, summa cum laude, at Augustana College and a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in strategic management at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota. She was named an Outstanding Woman Financial Executive by Treasury & Risk magazine in 2011. Elected to the Royal Neighbors board in 2013.

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    Marie Ziegler

    Vice Chair – Bettendorf, IA

    Ms. Ziegler has extensive board leadership experience. She is vice chair of QCR Holdings, a $5.7 billion bank holding company, and serves as its audit committee chair. She is a community leader, serving as chair of the Regional Development Authority, in addition to sitting on several other not-for-profit boards. Ms. Ziegler is the retired Deputy Financial Officer of Deere & Company, where she had responsibility for global treasury operations, risk management, pensions, and 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 serves as its vice chair, she is chair of the investment committee and is a member of the audit committee.

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    Alejandra Evans

    South Haven, MI

    Ms. 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 $1.2 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 a member of the governance and compensation committees.

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    Marla Glabe

    Northbrook, IL

    Ms. Glabe has in-depth experience managing and providing leadership at sophisticated nationwide organizations in highly regulated businesses. Ms. Glabe is Senior Advisor for Management Control International, Inc., a privately-owned family asset management firm. She previously served as a senior executive with Allstate Insurance Company, where she gained extensive experience in building and developing new businesses and leading major operating organizations within the Allstate Financial Group. Earning a Bachelor of Science degree in actuarial science from the University of Illinois, Ms. Glabe is also a graduate of Duke University’s Strategic Executive Education Marketing Program and is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries. Ms. Glabe serves on the Board of Directors for Wintrust Financial Corporation, Wintrust Wealth Management, and Northwest Community Healthcare, and on the Executive Committee for First Insurance Funding and Wintrust Life Finance. She is past President of the North Shore Chicago United Way Board of Directors. She is also a member of Heidrick & Struggles Chief Advisor Network and the YWCA’s Academy of Women Achievers, and an Executive Mentor for The Menttium Program. Elected to the Royal Neighbors board in 2013, she is chair of the audit committee and is a member of the compensation committee. Ms. Glabe also serves as a Board of Director for the Royal Neighbors Foundation.

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    Patricia Jones

    Minneapolis, MN

    Ms. Jones is the founder of Culture Circus LLC, a management consulting firm. She previously held executive positions with TCF Financial Corp, Arctic Cat, Lifetouch, Inc., Allina Health, H.B. Fuller Company, and Northwest Airlines, Inc. Ms. Jones’ experience crosses several disciplines, including human resources, law, corporate governance, operations, process improvement, communications, and public and community relations. Ms. Jones received a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations/Spanish at the University of Minnesota and a Juris Doctor at William Mitchell College of Law. Elected to the Royal Neighbors board in 2013, she is chair of the governance committee and is a member of the investment committee.

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    Lisa Kro

    Orono, MN

    Ms. Kro is the Chief Financial and Administrative officer of Ryan Companies, a national leader in commercial real estate services. Prior to Ryan Companies, Lisa co-founded Mill City Capital, L.P., a private equity firm specializing in acquiring consumer and industrial companies. Ms. Kro started her career in public accounting. She enjoyed 17 years of working at KPMG, spending a portion of her tenure in KPMG’s Munich office, and served as the Practice Leader for the Retail, Food & Manufacturing practice in the Midwest. Ms. Kro currently serves on the board of directors of Herman Miller, Inc., a publicly held company and is also active in the nonprofit sector as a board member of Ecumen, an organization operating a variety of senior housing options and services. Elected to the Royal Neighbors board in 2018, she is chair of the compensation committee and is a member of the audit committee.

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    Janet Sichterman

    Muscatine, IA

    Ms. Sichterman is a strategic business leader that is 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. She previously held executive roles in North American sales, global human resources, and organizational development with Bandag, Incorporated. Ms. Sichterman received a Bachelor of Arts from Central College, and Master of Business Administration, Master of Accounting, and Master of Organizational Leadership degrees from St. Ambrose University. She was an honoree for the Athena International Women’s Leadership Award in 2019. Ms. Sichterman currently serves on the Muscatine Art Center Foundation and has previously served on Boards for UnityPoint/Trinity Regional Health System, Community Foundation, United Way, Red Cross, Leadership Muscatine, Junior Achievement and many more. Elected to the Royal Neighbors board in 2020, she is a member of the governance and compensation committees.

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  • photo of cynthia_tidwell

    Cynthia Tidwell

    President and CEO, Royal Neighbors of America

    Cynthia Tidwell joined Royal Neighbors of America, one of the nation’s largest women-led life insurers, as President and CEO in 2005. Her stellar reputation for turning around companies and reshaping them into viable businesses led her to the organization to perform a major business reinvention.

    She is accomplished in all facets of insurance, a true transformational leader with multi-functional, hands-on experience. Her results-oriented and team philosophy has helped build many successful companies and strong leaders throughout her career in the financial services industry.

    Cynthia’s career as a go-to turnaround executive began at Xerox Financial Services and its insurance subsidiaries where she was given the opportunity to revamp departments, divisions, and then companies. Her career was diverse starting with the management of complex, litigated E & O cases. She moved to the P & L side of the business and led a public entity customer segment. While there, she increased revenues, achieved a 14.5 percent ROE in a soft market and reduced the claims ALAE litigation budget 25% in two years.

    Before joining Royal Neighbors, Cynthia was President of Personal Insurance for Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, a part of the Allianz Group, with an annual revenue of $900 million. As its first female to lead one of its profit and loss centers, she used her proven turnaround strategies to steer the 1,300-employee division through an extensive revitalization reducing calendar-year combined ratio 29 points and achieving record profits.

    Cynthia joined Royal Neighbors to take on a new turnaround challenge, this time in the life insurance space. She led its organizational revitalization, reversing declining trends and achieving record sales. During her tenure, assets have grown to over $1 billion and revenues are at an all-time company high while maintaining industry-leading financial ratios. She led transformational initiatives to further clarify and understand Royal Neighbors’ target market and continue to meet the needs of its membership. As a membership organization, its member benefits have been updated and expanded; member engagement and philanthropy outreach have reached new levels; and, under her leadership, the Nation of Neighbors℠ Program was launched, which to date has assisted more than 1,000 women and their families with close to $2 million in empowerment grants.

    In addition to her accomplishments in the insurance industry, Cynthia is a member of the ACLI Board of Directors and is chair of the ACLI Forum 500 Board of Governors. She also is a member of the American Fraternal Alliance and the International Women’s Leadership Association. In addition, she recently completed a seven-year board of director’s role for the Quad City Chamber and was a member of its finance committee.

    She won the prestigious Stevie Award as Turnaround Executive of the Year in the American Business Awards; was named a Professional Woman of the Year in Insurance by the National Association of Professional Women; was selected as one of CEO Connection’s Most Influential Women in 2018; was the recipient of the Athena Business Women’s Award for excellence in her profession and for the significant philanthropic difference she makes in her community; and was recognized as the 2012 Small Business Leader by the Chamber of Commerce. A sought-after speaker, television guest and author of numerous industry and leadership articles, Cynthia also was featured in Business Insider for her career advice along with 24 other “super-successful” people.

    Cynthia is a graduate of Arizona State University and has achieved the LLIF and FLMI designations, as well as the Wharton AICPCU. Cynthia and her husband, Don, have two sons.

    Read More
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    Tracey Gray-Walker

    Plainfield, NJ

    Tracey Gray-Walker is an accomplished CEO and board member and a financial and marketing expert within both regulated and unregulated industries. Tracey’s 25 years of financial services experience in financial and insurance, national and global markets delivers strong, executive level engagement, P&L management, B2B, and B2C marketing strategies, and solid business leadership for leadership teams and the boards she serves.

    Currently, Tracey is the CEO and member of the board of American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Trust and United Veterinary Care. Her AVMA leadership impact includes strategies to unify the positioning of the Trust, enhance member experience, improve productivity and efficiencies, all while creating additional value for members. Within Tracey’s first year, she successfully led the merger of two individual insurance Trusts, and the simultaneously launch of an Association Health Plan, for a 95,000-member organization.

    Prior to joining the AVMA Trust in 2019, Tracey spent over twenty-five years in the financial services industry. At AXA Equitable she was responsible for P&L for AXA Equitable’s Association Business where she led the successful relaunch that generated double digit growth, enhanced client engagement and overall client satisfaction levels.

    Tracey’s current corporate board experience includes service on AVMA Trust’s and United Veterinary Care boards. In addition, she serves on the Investment Committee for the Association Health Insurance Company (AIC), and formerly served on AXA Equitable’s 401(k) Board. Tracey’s expertise is informed by 15 years of non-profit board experience, and she is a former Board Member of The Executive Leadership Council.

    Prior to joining AXA Equitable, Tracey spent four years with Deloitte & Touche formerly Touche Ross & Co. as a senior auditor.

    During Tracey’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 Woman in Business,” and she was featured in Profiles in Diversity Journal as one of its “Women Worth Watching”. She 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.

    Tracey received her BS, Accounting; Business from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Elected to the Royal Neighbors board in 2021, she is a member of the audit and investment committees.

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    Curt Zeck

    Chief Sales, Marketing and Product Officer, Vice President

    Curt Zeck joined Royal Neighbors in 2008 as leader of the Information Technology (IT) department. His duties have included establishing the strategic long-term goals, policies, and procedures for the department. Having previously served as Vice President, CIO/Operations Executive, in 2019 Curt accepted the new position of Chief Sales, Marketing and Product Officer, Vice President, leading the organization’s Growth area. Curt is also a member of the board of directors, serving on the governance and investment committees. A 20-year veteran in the IT field, he has held numerous positions in Marketing, IT Business Management, IT Development, and IT Operations for Bandag, Inc. He is experienced in IT Business Planning, Enterprise Architecture, and Product Development. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa with a business degree in management information systems. He is a Representative Payee for Alternatives for Older Adults, a member of his church council, and a Junior Achievement mentor.

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Form #: P00003; Rev. 8-2021