I am the President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Fraternal Alliance. The organization represents more than 60 not-for-profit fraternal benefit societies domiciled in the U.S. and Canada. These societies provide a variety of financial services products – primarily life insurance and annuities – to their more than 9 million members, along with a host of other member benefits, from scholarships to financial planning courses, to social networking. Equally important, member societies contribute millions of dollars in direct financial support and millions more hours of volunteer service to a wide range of community service projects and charitable organizations in all 50 states. In fact, fraternal benefit societies’ volunteer networks are one of the most powerful sources for good in North America.
I was hired as the CEO by the Alliance Board on March 31, 2008. I consider my primary responsibility to be the chief visionary officer for the organization and the fraternal system. Yes, I’m responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the organization and serving as the voice of and advocate for the fraternal industry. But my real job is to envision and, in conjunction with the Board of Directors and Alliance members, help create a future environment in which strong, vibrant, and relevant fraternals can prosper. That also means I serve as the child in the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and point out when societies’ stubborn grip on the past creates obstacles in their ability to accomplish their organizations’ missions and damages other fraternals in the process. I’m not afraid to ruffle feathers – alright, sometimes I actually enjoy it – but I do it for only one purpose: to create a brighter future for fraternals.
I have more than 30 years of experience in association management, and joined the Alliance after serving as Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). Prior to PCI, I served in a similar capacity with the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of California. Those two experiences gave me unique insights into both the insurer and producer sides of the business, as well as a thorough understanding of politics and policy.
I have been married to my wife, Jody, for 34 years – all of them consecutive. (And her friends warned her it wouldn’t last!). When people refer to their “better half,” they can only be talking about my wife. She’s patient, kind, understanding, a great mother to our two sons, and still drop-dead gorgeous after all these years. Why she puts up with me I’ll never know. I count my blessings every day. She does bookkeeping for a major retailer. As a result of her career, I’ve come to hate Thanksgiving because of “Black Friday’s” impact on my formerly favorite holiday’s traditions of food and family. But, because I’m counting on her medical benefits and 401(k) to cover the costs of a long retirement, I don’t complain too much.
We have two fantastic sons and equally fantastic daughters-in-law. Our older son and his wife live in a deluxe apartment in the sky on the upper west side of Manhattan, where he works as an environmental consultant and she puts her hard-earned doctorate degree to work as a psychologist. Our younger son and his wife live in San Antonio. He inherited my father’s entrepreneurial spirit and is the founder of Oak & Salt, a web-based gourmet foods business. She is wrapping up a graduate degree in nursing and will soon be a licensed nurse practitioner. While we miss having them close to home, there are worse places to visit than the Big Apple and the Alamo City.
We live outside of Chicago in the northern suburb of Golf, Illinois. Golf is the smallest incorporated village in Illinois. Yes, it was named for the sport. No, living there does not get me playing privileges at the nearby country club. In my free time, my wife and I enjoy traveling, taking in films, reading, and participating in a variety of sports. We do volunteer work in our parish and for the local Jesuit high school. I still play basketball in a church league (although you’d never know it had any religious affiliations based on the sharpness of the elbows out there) and try to play golf as often as possible, but every year I find there’s just not enough time to get my handicap below a 14.
I haven’t bought an album – oops, I mean CD – that was made after 1979. My listening tastes are varied and include Sinatra (I’m Italian; it’s a rule we have to like him), the Grateful Dead, Steely Dan, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Talking Heads, The Band, Jefferson Airplane, John Prine, David Bowie, Return to Forever, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, and Emmy Lou Harris.
And finally, the first thing I’m going to do when I retire and walk off into the sunset is take my I-phone, I-pad, and every other electronic leash I’m forced to carry around with me, and toss them into the deepest body of water I can find. In the interim, though, you always know you can reach me…
Name: Joe Annotti
Location: United States