Mission and Leadership

The Royal Neighbors Foundation is a philanthropic not for profit corporation. We were established by Royal Neighbors of America in 2002 as a 501(c)(3) public charity to provide financial education and support causes that empower women and their families. 

Hopes, dreams, and goals are a part of life’s journey. How we achieve them is different for each of us. However, some of those hopes, dreams, and goals may need financial resources to make them a reality, and understanding our financial situation is key to our success.

Our Mission:

Building Women’s Futures Through Financial Education℠


Statistics show that women face unique challenges that impact their financial futures.

  • On average, women live longer than men. In 2012, life expectancy was 81.2 years for females and 76.4 for males.1
  • Women typically spend fewer years in the workforce while raising families and caring for others. Due to their caregiving role, women work 12 years fewer than men over the course of their careers.2
  • On average, women earn less than men. In 2013, the median woman working full-time all year earned 78% of what the median man working full-time all year earned.3

We help women successfully overcome these issues by sharing relevant information and practical tips to manage finances more effectively and with confidence.


Although it may be difficult to quantify your true worth as a spouse, parent, friend, or employee, you can gauge your financial worth. And that’s important when making financial decisions that affect your future of you as well as your loved ones futures. 

We know you have what it takes to plan your financial roadmap. We just want to go along for the ride and help you “recalculate” every so often.

Our Know Your Worth® programs serve as your guide on your journey.

  • Financial Webinars
  • Scholarships
  • Know Your Worth® Grants 
  • Events

Are You Ready To Know Your Worth®

About Royal Neighbors of America®
Royal Neighbors of America, one of the nation’s largest women-led life insurers, empowers women to meet the needs of their families with annuities and life insurance products such as whole life, simplified issue, and universal life. Royal Neighbors was founded in 1895 and is headquartered in Rock Island, IL, with a branch office in Mesa, AZ.
BNY Mellon Financial Advisor Playbook, 2016 pay issue brief final.pdf


Mary Staver

Mary Staver, PHR, CEAP, President
Rock Island, IL

Ms. Staver has led the efforts of the Royal Neighbors Foundation since 2014 and has redesigned the programs and offerings to truly meet the mission of the organization, Building Women’s Futures through Financial Education℠. Programs include live educational webinars on financial topics, scholarships for women pursuing financial degrees and designations and a $10,000 grant to deserving female entrepreneurs who are providing services that lift women up and empower their communities. Ms. Staver is committed to the philosophy that understanding your financial position is key to empowerment and success. She inspires others with the phrase “Know Your Worth®,” the Foundation’s tagline, when communicating with women’s groups about the work of the organization.

A native of Rock Island, she joined the staff of Royal Neighbors of America in 2001, and has served as its Human Resources Executive since 2006. 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 of America Board of Directors.

Matt Mendenhall

Matt Mendenhall, Ph.D., MSW, Vice President
Bettendorf, IA  

Dr. Mendenhall serves as the President of the Regional Development Authority, Davenport, IA. In this capacity he directs the distribution of grants to nonprofit groups with funding from the Rhythm City Casino revenues. He is a graduate of Cornell College and has a MSW degree from St. Ambrose University and a Ph.D. from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. He serves as Vice Chair of the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation Board and is on community advisory boards for WQPT Public Television and Western Illinois University – Quad Cities Campus. 


John Friederich, JD, FLMI, ACS, AFSI, Secretary
Rock Island, IL

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.

Marla Glabe

Marla Glabe, Director  
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 is Lead Managing Director for MasterMind Advisory Board (“MasterMind”), a corporation offering advisory services to CEOs and business entrepreneurs and Senior Advisor for Management Control International, Inc., a privately owned family asset management firm. Prior to founding MasterMind in 2011, Ms. Glabe served as a senior executive with Northbrook, Illinois-based Allstate Insurance Company and as a Board of Director with Allstate Life 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, she 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, Northwest Community Healthcare, and Royal Neighbors of America. She also is 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, 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.

Barbara Melbourne

Barbara Melbourne, J. D., Director
Bettendorf, IA

Barbara Melbourne, J.D., was named Palmer’s vice chancellor for advancement in November 2016. She is responsible for providing leadership in the strategic planning and execution of college programs and initiatives related to alumni relations and fund-raising. She previously served as vice president for development at the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend for 10 years. Ms. Melbourne brings to the Foundation over three decades of experience, including more than 21 years of planned-and major-gift experience in higher education and social services, including previous work at Augustana College, UCLA, and Penn State University. She holds a juris doctorate from the University of Kansas School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Creighton University, Omaha, Neb.

Liz Merdian Lareau

Liz Merdian Lareau, M.A., Director
Moline, IL

Liz Merdian Lareau is a partner in Bawden & Lareau Public Relations. B&LPR currently handles digital and traditional PR and public advocacy projects for clients both in the Quad Cities region and nationally. Her 30-year career spans television and radio news, corporate public relations, crisis management, advertising and marketing PR, brand management, and digital marketing and public relations.

She is a graduate of the University of Illinois School of Journalism. M.A. in Communication at Western Illinois University. She has published and presented scholarly papers on marketing and brand narrative-related topics, and in 2018, she will debut as an author — her series of graphic novels encourages young girls to consider STEM careers.

Cynthia Tidwell

Cynthia Tidwell, Director   
Rock Island, IL

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.

  • Contact
  • (800) 537-1396
    8A.M. - 5P.M. CT
  • Royal Neighbors Foundation
    230 16th Street
    Rock Island, IL 61201-8645
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Insuring Lives, Suporting Women, Serving Communinites
Form #: F00008; Rev. 2-2021