Board of Directors
All directors of FaithLife Financial are Christians. None are employees and none are involved in its day-to-day business operations, with the exception of the President and CEO. Except through their individual insurance and/or annuity contracts which give them Membership in the organization, directors have no material interest in any contracts with FaithLife Financial.
Geoff R. Bellew, Chair
Geoff Bellew is a business executive with over 40 years' experience in the financial services, technology and consulting services industries. He has extensive business skills at senior executive levels and has served in a senior executive capacity with Scotiabank, Manulife, ING, Aegon, Dspfactory and Mechworks Systems. He most recently served as President and CEO at Southbridge, a Waterloo Region-based investment management firm, guiding the assets of the Bridgeway Foundation.
Geoff is an active community volunteer. He has served many not-for-profit and faith-based organizations and is currently a Director on the Board of Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region, Waterloo Public Library Grand River Hospital and Lutherwood Homes KW (Trinity Village). In business and in the community,
Geoff has established himself as a passionate, trustworthy and responsible collaborator.
Dale E. Wilcox, Vice-Chair
Dale Wilcox is President and co-owner of WATMEC Ltd., a workplace training and development company, dedicated to increasing employee performance in organizations throughout Canada. A business entrepreneur, Dale provides expertise in marketing, human resources and organizational development and has over 20 years of boardroom experience. Dale has been a FaithLife Financial Board member since 1999.
Originally from Chesley, Ontario, Dale is past-president of the Canadian Society of Training and Development and has served on various church committees. Currently, she is on the advisory board of eLearn Campus. A founding member of the International Alliance for Learning, Dale is also a member of the Canadian Professional Sales Association and the American Society for Training and Development.
Karen C. Bjerland, President and CEO
Karen is President and CEO of FaithLife Financial. Since joining FaithLife Financial in 1980, Karen has played pivotal roles in a number of areas where she assumed increasingly senior roles including Regional Sales Manager, Director Field & Branch Services, as well as Vice-Presidential roles in Member Services, Field Services, Brand Development, Fraternal and Sales. She became the organization's first female President and CEO in September 20, 2010.
Karen is known for her leadership skills, her strong communication and organizational development skills, as well as her ability to manage change. She's passionate about stewardship and servant leadership, which she expresses through her work on several non-profit boards, such as Koinonia Homes and the Canadian Fraternal Association.
Nicholas J. DiRenzo, FCA, ICD.D
With more than 30 years as a senior executive, Nick DiRenzo has held diverse roles as CEO, Board Director, CFO and Senior Sales and Marketing VP in the insurance, wealth management, mortgage, banking and real estate industries. Most recently, Nick served as the Senior Vice President, Personal Banking Services, at Alterna Savings Credit Union and Alterna Bank, responsible for Alterna’s retail banking operations. He has also served as Senior Vice President and CFO at Colonial Life Insurance and President of its real estate affiliate, Colonial Life Holdings. Nick then served as Executive Vice President at a major Canadian real estate company, Lehndorff Tandem before moving on to Foresters as Senior Vice President of North American Sales and Marketing. After his contribution to Foresters, Nick accepted a new challenge as CEO of the start-up of Canadian operations for New Zealand based Seniors Money.
Nick has devoted much volunteer time giving back and helping others in his community and profession. He has served on many non-business boards and associations such as the Mississauga Hockey League, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, the Canadian Advisory Council for the Children’s Miracle Network, Villa Charities and the Oakville Arts Council.
Julie A. Halgren
Julie Halgren is the Director of Long Term Development at Thrivent Financial, appointed to our Board in 2012 as the Thrivent representative. She has over 25 years' experience in the marketing arena; with expertise in developing and implementing marketing strategies for financial services and insurance organizations. Prior to joining Thrivent Financial she worked at Fair, Isaac & Company in the capacity of Account Manager and Market Offering Director. She also has experience as a surety bond wholesaler and underwriter.
Julie contributes her time, life experience, and skills as a mentor to other professionals. She has chaired the Greenwood Elementary Grant Committee and volunteers at the House of Charity and Habitat for Humanity. She is a member of St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church, Plymouth MN. Julie received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College, Iowa. She earned the Chartered Life Underwriter designation from the American College.
Walter S. Rugland
Walter Rugland retired in 2002 as Executive Vice President of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Thrivent is among America's largest non-stock life insurers. In the 23 years prior to service at Thrivent he was a Consulting Actuary and Principal of Milliman, an international consulting and actuarial firm. Walter is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. He holds honorary Fellowships in the actuarial associations in England and Scotland. He received a Bachelor's degree from Luther College, Iowa, and a Masters of Business Administration in Actuarial Science from the University of Michigan. He has received Luther College's Distinguished Service Award, as well as recognition for lifetime service by his profession.
Walter also serves as past-chair of the board of ThedaCare, a not-for-profit health provider, chair of the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value and vice president of the Wisconsin Historical Foundation. He has served as treasurer of the Hartford Stage Company, chairman of the Community Foundation of the Fox Valley Region and is secretary/treasurer of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. A Rotarian, he is also past chair of the Luther Institute in Washington, D.C., and the Actuarial Foundation, and is an emeritus governing regent of Luther College.
Lester H. Stahlke
Les Stahlke has spent his career in leadership positions in churches and not-for-profit organizations. He received his Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri and is an ordained member of the Lutheran clergy. Les has served in many capacities throughout his career. He was a founder of the Lutheran Association of Missionaries and Pilots (LAMP) serving remote areas in Northern Canada. He has also served as a board member, Board Chair and Vice-Chair of Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) of Canada.
Les developed the Relationship Model™ of governance, leadership and management. The Relationship Model™ proved its ability to meet the governance and management needs of complex international organizations. Since 1999, Les has applied the Relationship Model to churches and not-for-profit organizations in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He travels extensively training boards in governance and strategic planning. Following his service with MAF, Les formed GovernanceMatters.com Inc. to support the governance needs of not-for-profit and church organizations.
Stephen A. Taylor
Stephen Taylor dedicated 30 years of his career to Lutheran Life Insurance Society of Canada (now FaithLife Financial). He served as the organization’s President and Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the Board of Directors from 1990 to 2004. He served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA), as President of the Canadian Fraternal Association (CFA), as a member of the Board of Governors of Wilfrid Laurier University (also Chair of its Pensions and Benefits Committee), and as a member of the Board of Governors of Lutherwood, a social service agency.
After retiring from Lutheran Life, Steve served on the Board of Directors of the Alberta-based Western Life Assurance Company from 2005 to 2011, and as a member of both of its Governance, Conduct, Management and Resource Committee and Audit and Risk Committee. Steve is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and established himself as one of the first actuaries in Canada from the First Nations community. He is active in the Canadian faith community as a layman and a musician, where he sings bass with The Revelations, a southern gospel quartet. He and his wife, Margaret attend Hope Lutheran Church in Kitchener, ON.
Sheryl A. Teed Callum
Sheryl A. Teed Callum joined the FaithLife Financial Board in February 2011. From Toronto, Ontario, Sheryl recently retired as a partner of Ernst & Young LLP. She is a Chartered Accountant with her FCA designation, and her primary focus during her 35 year career was in the financial services sector.
Sheryl has experience as a Director on the Boards of a number of not-for-profit organizations and has provided advice to Boards in a number of industries including financial services, healthcare, universities, technology, and pharmaceuticals. Sheryl's passion is for not-for-profit companies.
Ronald W. Walter
Ron Walter was elected to the FaithLife Financial Board of Directors in 2010. He offers expertise to the FaithLife Financial Board in the areas of board governance, policy development and fiscal discipline in varying economic climates. A life-long resident of Saskatoon, Ron graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Commerce degree.
Ron worked with the Saskatoon Public School Division for 13 years gaining experience in insurance, pensions, board policy and finances. He holds an Advanced Class A certificate in local government administration. Ron is a life long member of St Paul's Lutheran Church in Saskatoon and is currently serving as President of the congregation.