leadership And bylaws Hero

Leadership & Bylaws

Our growth and commitment to women and those they care about remain strong due to the dedicated leadership at Royal Neighbors. The executive team is aligned in its vision of creating an insurance organization that is truly different and focused on giving back. The team is driven to excellence and is involved in the mission of Royal Neighbors.

Executive Team

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    Cynthia Tidwell

    President/CEO

    Cynthia Tidwell joined Royal Neighbors of America as President/CEO in 2005. Her vision of leading an organization that empowers women to improve their lives, families, and communities; her experience with company turn-arounds; and her passion for financial education and giving back made her the perfect fit.

    She is accomplished in all facets of insurance, including sales, marketing, claims, underwriting, agency management, information technology, and human resources, a true general manager 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.

    Before joining Royal Neighbors, she was President of Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company (FFIC) Personal Insurance Business, part of the Allianz family of companies. In this role, she led change initiatives to regain business fundamentals and achieved record results, including annual revenues of $900 million.

    Prior to Fireman’s Fund, Cynthia worked for Xerox Financial Services subsidiary Crum & Forster Managers/Coregis for 13 years. Her significant turnaround skills were developed through a series of difficult, risk-taking assignments.

    Since taking the helm at Royal Neighbors, Ms. Tidwell has enhanced its portfolio of products and strengthened its sales capability, resulting in record-setting life insurance sales and an increase of member benefit utilization by more than 400 percent. She also has maintained an A- (Excellent) rating from the A.M. Best rating agency.

    Ms. Tidwell has embraced Royal Neighbors’ century-old legacy of empowering women and aligned the philanthropic mission to meet the needs of today’s women. Under her leadership, Royal Neighbors’ Nation of Neighbors Program empowers women with financial assistance to achieve their full potential, realize a sense of renewed personal growth, and make a difference in their communities. More than $1.7 million has been awarded to more than 1,200 individuals since 2007.

    Exhibiting philanthropy through leadership, Cynthia volunteers on behalf of Royal Neighbors by serving meals to the homeless, and joining with employees on various hands-on projects that benefit women.

    In recognition of her keen business acumen and her leadership abilities, she won the prestigious Stevie Award as Turnaround Executive of the Year in the 2009 American Business Awards. She was named a Professional Woman of the Year in Insurance by the National Association of Professional Women; was the recipient of a 2010 Athena Business Women’s Award for excellence in her profession and for the significant difference she makes in her community; and was also recognized as the 2012 Small Business Leader by the Quad Cities Chamber.

    In addition to her accomplishments in the insurance industry, Cynthia is a member of the ACLI Board of Directors and is chair-elect 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. She has also recently completed a 7-year board of director’s role for the Quad City Chamber and was a member of its finance committee. She is a sought-after speaker on leadership and the improvement of women’s health and financial security. Because of her visionary leadership both at Royal Neighbors and within the financial services industry, she has participated in a panel discussion with Jim Collins, renowned author of books which teach leaders and organizations how to succeed by moving them from good to great.

    She also was featured in American Executive magazine for her turnaround strategies; listed in the Global Directory of Who’s Who, the foremost network of worldwide leadership; and has been a guest on numerous TV talk shows and news channels.

    Ms. Tidwell is a graduate of Arizona State University, earned the LLIF designation, and was a participant in the Wharton AICPU Program and Hagberg Executive Development. In addition to her President/CEO responsibilities, she serves on the executive committee of the Royal Neighbors Board of Directors. She and her husband, Don, have raised two wonderful sons.

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    Chris Seistrup

    Executive Vice President

    Chris Seistrup began his tenure with Royal Neighbors of America in August 2007 as Regional Sales Manager. He became National Sales Executive in 2008 and accepted the position of Executive Vice President in 2013. A 37-year veteran of the insurance industry, he has extensive experience in sales, operations, and underwriting. Prior to joining Royal Neighbors, he held executive positions at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company in California, Vik Brothers Insurance Company in North Carolina, and Crum & Forster Insurance Company in New Jersey. 

    Mr. Seistrup is a member of the Royal Neighbors Board of Directors, the Development Association of Rock Island Board of Directors, and National Insurance Marketing Executives. He also serves on multiple committees of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI); participated in multi-year leadership studies at Fuqua School of Business at Duke University; and served on the Board of Directors of The San Diego Burn Institute. An Illinois native, he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in marketing from Northern Illinois University.

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    Marc Schoenfeld

    Chief Financial Officer

    Marc Schoenfeld joined Royal Neighbors of America as Chief Financial Officer in July 2012. Mr. Schoenfeld brings over 30 years of strategic business and financial experience, predominately within the financial service sector. He oversees the direction of all financial areas and facilitates the planning process including the development of the business plan and operating expense budget. Prior to joining Royal Neighbors, he was a consultant for Lincoln National Group. He also was the Managing Partner for EZ Decisions and partnered with Fortune 500 Executives and Boards to enable them to manage financial risks. In addition, he worked for the American Express Company for 20 years and held the roles of Managing Director, Executive Vice President, and Chief Financial Officer. During his tenure, he led global financial services businesses in more than 25 countries with a team of over 1,800 employees. He led numerous strategic initiatives such as transforming finance into shared service centers; implementing an economic capital-based decision framework that changed over $1 billion of investment decisions; and building global financial technology. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Brooklyn College and is a Certified Public Accountant.

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    Sally Murphy

    General Counsel/Secretary

    Sally Murphy joined the Royal Neighbors team in June 2014. She brings over 20 years of Corporate Secretary and General Counsel experience in the insurance industry with particular strengths in insurance contracture, reinsurance, and employment law. Beginning her career at Mass Mutual, she became the Associate Secretary to its board of directors. She also has held corporate attorney positions at AIG and Life and Specialty Ventures, a subsidiary owned by multiple-state Blue Cross Blue Shield corporations.

    Earning her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Massachusetts and her Juris Doctor at Western New England College School of Law, Ms. Murphy has a unique combination of skills with strong experience in corporate governance, litigation oversight, compliance, product development, and legislative tracking. She also has an extensive background working with the independent agent distribution channel. A former member of the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce Leadership Group, she also was elected commissioner of the Wilbraham, MA, Housing Authority; was a volunteer at the Houston, TX, Food Bank and Women’s Shelter; and was a member of the Massachusetts National Guard.

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    Curt Zeck

    CIO/Operations Executive

    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. 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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    Mary Staver PHR, CEAP

    Human Resources Executive

    Mary Staver is a native of the Quad Cities and has been a member of the Royal Neighbors of America staff since 2001. In 2006 she was promoted to Human Resources Executive and has served in that role for over 10 years. With over 25 years of experience in human resources, she has held a variety of positions in the HR field and also served as an employee assistance and human resource consultant where she provided human resource consulting for over 20 businesses.

    She graduated from Northern Illinois University with a major in communications and a minor in business. She has earned the designations of Professional in Human Resources and Certified Employee Assistance Professional. Ms. Staver is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management and the Great River Human Resource Association and is active in the community. She is the management liaison to the Compensation Committee of the Royal Neighbors Board of Directors. She believes that offering “employment with a difference” and giving employees an opportunity to give back to the communities where they live is the cornerstone of building employee retention and engagement.

    Under her direction, Royal Neighbors earned the designation of Great Rated! from the Great Place to Work Institute in 2014. The designation is based on the Trust Index© Employee Survey which was completed by Royal Neighbors employees. 

    In addition, Mrs. Staver and her team have built a customized wellness program earning Royal Neighbors the Fit-Friendly Worksite designation from the American Heart Association and recognition as a Be Healthy Quad Cities Workplace from the Quad City Health Initiative.

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    Susan Bartholf, FSA

    Product Development Executive

    Susan Bartholf was appointed Product Development Executive in 2015. She manages Royal Neighbors’ product development for insurance and annuity products. Susan brings more than 20 years of actuarial, product development, and strategic planning experience in the life insurance industry. Beginning her career at Minnesota Life, she moved to CUNA Mutual Insurance Group where she held a variety of actuarial positions further developing her actuarial and management skills. She continued to hone her technical acumen and leadership skills at American Family Insurance where she helped develop innovative products and build a new distribution channel to meet the needs of specific customers.

    Earning her Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and economics, magna cum laude, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, she also has earned the designation of Fellow, Society of Actuaries. She is an actively involved member of the American Academy of Actuaries.

    In addition, she has served as a volunteer for the Four Winds Assisted Living Facility, as treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Corporate Playcare Center, Inc., and as the coordinator for the CUNA Mutual Group’s Mobile Meals Team.

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Board of Directors

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    Estella Vallejo

    Chairman - Peoria Heights, IL

    Estella Vallejo is General Counsel for a group of manufacturing and services companies and an attorney with the law firm of Shay Phillips. Ms. Vallejo is an experienced legal and business adviser, leading geographically and culturally diverse legal and business teams in assessing, developing, and executing strategically significant product and services growth initiatives in the U.S. and abroad, including Asia Pacific and Europe. Ms. Vallejo’s corporate career began at John Deere and continued at Caterpillar Inc. where she held a number of senior legal and business positions for over 20 years. Serving as a member of several women-focused organizations, she has led efforts to build business networks for women in the U.S. and Singapore. Ms. Vallejo is actively engaged in a number of community organizations, including the Bielfeldt Foundation and the Royal Neighbors of America Foundation. Past board memberships include McClarin Plastics where she also served on its compensation committee and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Peoria where she also served as secretary. She served as a Commissioner on the City of Peoria Human Resources Advisory Commission for several years. She has a B.S.B.A. from Drake University and a J.D. from the University of Iowa. Ms. Vallejo has been on the Royal Neighbors board since 2012 and serves as the Chairman of the Board. She also is a member of the investment and audit committees.

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    Dr. Veronica Jordan

    Vice Chairman - Boston, MA

    Dr. Jordan’s entrepreneurial drive has resulted in various successful start-up companies and new corporate endeavors. She is experienced in raising venture capital and participating in public offerings. Her skills include strategic planning, general management, sales and marketing, business development, alliance management, customer focus, global operations, and international acquisitions. She is the founder and CEO of BioInnovation Advisors, a consulting practice that develops and implements growth strategies for science and technology-based companies. This company provides business strategy, market assessment, product development, and outsourcing expertise to companies developing novel healthcare products and services, and to contract research organizations providing drug development services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms. She has served as President, CEO, and board member of Medelle Corporation, a venture capital-funded medical device company formed to develop technology in the women’s health area, and in various senior executive positions at PAREXEL International Corporation, a leading contract pharmaceutical outsourcing organization providing worldwide clinical research services. Her considerable board experience includes Albany Molecular Research Inc.; the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance; Life Science Council, Springboard Enterprises; the Boston Club; and the Board of Overseers for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Jordan earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree in biochemistry at Cambridge University, England, and her Ph.D. in biochemistry/cell biology at Oxford University, England. She has been on the Royal Neighbors board since 2013 and serves as its vice chair and sits on the governance and compensation committees.  She serves as a Board of Director for the Royal Neighbors Foundation.  

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    Julie Bauer

    West Orange, NJ

    Ms. Bauer has extensive experience in developing online marketing strategies and overseeing technology and operations management for global retail enterprises. She is the President of Panasonic’s consumer business of North America. Panasonic Corporation is one of the largest electronic product manufacturers in the world, comprised of over 634 companies. It manufactures and markets a wide range of products under the Panasonic brand to enhance and enrich lifestyles around the globe. Previously she had served as the Senior Vice President of Digital and Global Commerce for Guthy/Renker, where she was instrumental in creating seamless experiences for customers regardless of whether they want to learn, shop, or play online, in stores, or via telephone. Under her leadership, the company’s online sales increased 40% in one year. She also has served as Vice President of Global Online and Retail Channels Technology for Mattel Inc. and American Girl. In this position, she led the development of a multi-channel strategy across website, call center/catalog, and stores. Additional areas of expertise include executive leadership and large business transformation initiatives, strategic planning, marketing, cross channel analytics content management, and profit and loss management. Her experience crosses many industry lines including financial services, health care, retail, beauty, fashion, and manufacturing. Ms. Bauer received her Bachelor of Science degree in business/marketing at the University of Wisconsin, and her Masters in Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas. A member of the Royal Neighbors Board of Directors since 2013, she serves on its audit and investment 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. Her background includes executing major business unit turnarounds and Six Sigma initiatives. She currently is Lead Managing Director for MasterMind Advisory Board LLC and vice chair for Northwest Community Heathcare.   Prior to founding MasterMind in 2011, she served as a senior executive with Northbrook, Illinois-based Allstate Insurance Company where she gained extensive experience in building and developing new businesses and in 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, is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, and a former board of director for Life Office Management Association. Ms. Glabe serves on the Board of Directors for Wintrust Financial Corporation,  Wintrust Wealth Management, and First Insurance Funding Corporation.  She is past President of the North Shore Chicago United Way Board of Directors, a member of Heidrick & Struggles Chief Advisor Network and the YWCA’s Academy of Women Achievers, and is an Executive Mentor for The Menttium Program. She has been on the Royal Neighbors board since 2013 and is the chair of the investment committee and is on the audit committee, and serves as a Board of Director for the Royal Neighbors Foundation.

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    Patricia Jones

    Minneapolis, MN

    Ms. Jones is Chief Human Resources Officer at Arctic Cat, a widely recognized and respected designer and manufacturer of recreational vehicles.  Ms. Jones has previously held senior executive positions at Lifetouch, Inc., DaVita, Inc., Allina Health Systems, H.B. Fuller Company, the Star Tribune 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. She has served as President of the Star Tribune Foundation, a charitable organization founded to improve the communities served by the newspaper. A member of the Royal Neighbors board since 2013, she is chair of the compensation committee and is a member of the governance committee. 

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    Justice Ruth McGregor

    Phoenix, AZ

    Chief Justice Ruth McGregor served on the Arizona Supreme Court from February 1998 until 2009. She was the Court's Chief Justice from June 2005 until her retirement and was a member of the Arizona Court of Appeals. She served as law clerk to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor during her first term on the United States Supreme Court. Justice McGregor received a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Iowa. She received her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Arizona State University and a Master of Laws in the Judicial Process from the University of Virginia. Since her retirement, she has taught courses related to domestic violence and human trafficking. She has been actively involved with the American Inns of Court Foundation, the National Association of Women Judges, and the Conference of Chief Justices. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for the Future of Arizona and of Justice At Stake; and as Special Advisor to the O'Connor Judicial Selection Initiative of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. She was elected to the Royal Neighbors board in 2012, and is chair of its governance committee and serves on the investment committee. 

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    Suzanne Riesterer

    Edina, MN

    A business 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. Her areas of expertise encompass finance, sales, distribution, audit, and strategic planning. She currently serves as the Chief Commercial and Financial Officer for the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and previously served the organization as 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, she was the Chief Financial Officer for Gelco Information Network. Ms. Riesterer earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in accounting and business administration, summa cum laude, at Augustana College and a Masters in 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, she serves as chair of the audit committee and is on the compensation committee.  

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    Cynthia Tidwell

    President/CEO

    Cynthia Tidwell was appointed President of Royal Neighbors in 2005. She has spent many years turning around and reinventing organizations. She is accomplished in all facets of insurance, including sales, marketing, claims, underwriting, change management, agency management, information technology, and human resources. With a passion for leadership, Ms. Tidwell has built start-up organizations, managed turnarounds, and hired and retained top talent by using a results-oriented and team philosophy. Prior to joining Royal Neighbors, she led a $900M national property and casualty insurance business, part of the Allianz family of companies. As president, she led change initiatives to regain business fundamentals and achieved record results.

    Today, Ms. Tidwell has led the turnaround at Royal Neighbors through a formal change framework of identification, stabilization, and strengthen. She is rebuilding the sales capability, increasing membership, and enhancing the philanthropic arm of the organization. In recognition of her keen business acumen and her leadership abilities, she won the prestigious Stevie Award as Turnaround Executive of the Year in The 2009 American Business Awards. She was the recipient of a 2010 Athena Business Women's Award from the Illinois Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce and The Women's Connection for excellence in her profession and for the significant difference she makes in her community. She also was named the 2012 Small Business Leader by the Quad Cities Chamber.

    She is a graduate of Arizona State University and was a participant in the Wharton AICPU and LLIF Programs and Hagberg Executive Development. In addition to her President/CEO responsibilities, she serves on the executive committee of the Royal Neighbors Board of Directors. Married for 30 years to her husband, Don, they have raised two wonderful sons.

    Cynthia serves on the Illinois Quad City Chamber board and its finance committee; is a member of the ACLI Forum 500; has been a member of the Board of Junior Achievement and the Western Illinois Leadership Committee; and has been involved with the United Way. She also volunteers extensively on behalf of Royal Neighbors. In addition, she is a member of the American Fraternal Alliance, Executive Women's Golf League, and the National Association of Professional Women. She is a sought-after speaker on leadership and the improvement of women's health and financial security. Because of her visionary leadership both at Royal Neighbors and within the financial services industry, she has participated in a panel discussion with Jim Collins, renowned author of books which teach leaders and organizations how to succeed by moving them from good to great.

    She also was featured in American Executive magazine for her turnaround strategies; listed in the Global Directory of Who's Who, the foremost network of worldwide leadership; and has been a guest on numerous TV talk shows and news channels.

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    Chris Seistrup

    Executive Vice President

    Chris Seistrup began his tenure with Royal Neighbors of America in August 2007 as Regional Sales Manager. He became National Sales Executive in 2008 and accepted the position of Executive Vice President in 2013. A 37-year veteran of the insurance industry, he has extensive experience in sales, operations, and underwriting. Prior to joining Royal Neighbors, he held executive positions at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company in California, Vik Brothers Insurance Company in North Carolina, and Crum & Forster Insurance Company in New Jersey. Mr. Seistrup has recently served on the Board of Directors of The San Diego Burn Institute. An Illinois native, he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in marketing from Northern Illinois University.

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The Royal Neighbors of America Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws

The Royal Neighbors of America Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws define the Society’s purpose, policies, objectives, governance, and the rights and privileges of membership. Members of the Board of Directors and Royal Neighbors representatives are guided by these articles and bylaws to direct the operations of the Society in the best interest of the membership.

Important Election Information

Nomination Form for Board of Directors

Director Qualifications

Bylaws

Form #: P00003; Rev. 12-2016
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