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 EducationSM


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

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.

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 EducationSM. 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 non-profit 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

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

Mr. Friederich became Assistant General Counsel in Royal Neighbors’ investment department in 1992. He currently serves as Deputy General Counsel. Graduating from Iowa State University, Ames, with a Bachelor of Arts degree, he earned his Juris Doctorate at the University of Iowa.  He is a member of the Iowa/Illinois and American Bar Associations; serves on the board of RNA Real Estate Holdings, Inc.; and is the co-chair of the law committee of the International Claim Association.

Steve Norberg

Steve Norberg, CPA, FLMI, Treasurer
Rock Island, IL

Mr. Norberg has been part of the Royal Neighbors Home Office staff since 1992, and is currently serving as Senior Internal Auditor. He is responsible for assessing the adequacy and effectiveness of internal financial and operational controls within the Society. Earning his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University, he also is a Certified Public Accountant and a Fellow, Life Management Institute.  He has been a member of the AlWood School Board; a Trustee for the Oxford Township Fire District; treasurer of the Village of Alpha; and Teens Encounter Christ board member.

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 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 and a 2017 Elite Woman in Insurance by Insurance Business America.

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 and FLMI designations, 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.

  • 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. 7-2018