Columbia, MO — The Board of Directors of Missouri Employers Mutual today announced several key actions regarding the leadership and direction of the independent public corporation. Those actions include:
- The promotion of Interim MEM President and CEO Jim Owen to President and CEO;
- The election of Judy Heeter as Chair of the MEM Board of Directors;
- The completion of an internal review to ensure MEM’s policies and procedures are sound; and
- The adoption of new protocols and bylaw revisions to ensure best practices in corporate governance.
Owen served as an MEM Board member since June 2010 and led the company as chair of the Board and Interim CEO since May 2011. He brings more than two decades of insurance industry experience to MEM, having previously represented in litigation the New York Director of Insurance and numerous insurance companies, including MEM. Prior to joining MEM, Owen was a founding partner of the McCarthy, Leonard and Kaemmerer law firm of St. Louis, Mo. Owen received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Missouri–Columbia.
“We conducted a nationwide search to find the right leader to continue the positive momentum underway at MEM,” said newly elected Board Chair Judy Heeter. “In the six months since Jim assumed leadership of the day-to-day operations, he has reinforced the many reasons why he is the right leader to guide MEM into the future.”
“I have focused the majority of my professional career in the insurance industry,” Owen said. “In the time that I have been privileged to serve as Interim President and CEO, I have been most impressed by MEM’s public purpose as a mutual company and our team’s dedication to keeping Missourians safe at work. I am humbled by the Board’s confidence in me to lead MEM into the future and appreciate the opportunity to serve the company and its 12,000 Missouri policyholders.”
The Board of Directors elected Heeter as Chair of the Board, effective immediately. Heeter has 30 years experience as a practicing attorney and business executive. She was elected to the MEM Board in 2010, and serves as chair of the compensation and nominating committees, and member of the audit and investment committees.
The Board will work to fill Jim Owen’s vacant Board seat as quickly as possible.
Under Owen’s leadership as Board Chair and Interim CEO, MEM conducted an internal review and engaged an independent auditor to review the company’s fiscal and other policies and procedures. The review reinforced that the company is in excellent financial health. To ensure MEM remains fiscally sound, the Board and Owen tightened internal procedures, revised a policy to encourage employee participation in corporate governance and adopted bylaw revisions to ensure best practices in corporate governance that will be submitted to policyholders for approval. To further demonstrate its fiscal stewardship, the Board agreed to a one-time audit by the Missouri State Auditor. The State Auditor’s report is expected in early 2012.
“MEM fulfills a public purpose that is critical to Missouri’s economy,” Heeter said. “We are required to provide affordable workers compensation insurance to Missouri businesses—especially small businesses that suffer the most when other carriers abandon the state. Jim and his leadership team have brought stability to the company following a leadership change. They have scrutinized processes and guided important governance changes to ensure the company follows best practices, all while maintaining important and lasting relationships with the company’s employees, producers and policyholders.”