Protective Life Announces Leadership Changes and Promotions

Longtime Protective CIO Carl Thigpen Announces Plans to Retire
Phil Passafiume Named as Successor
Laura McDonald Named Chief Mortgage & Real Estate Officer

Chief Human Resources Officer Wendy Evesque Promoted to Executive Vice President
Steve Cramer and Francis Radnoti Promoted to Senior Vice President

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.--()--Protective Life Corporation (Protective), a wholly owned subsidiary of Dai-ichi Life Holdings, Inc. (TSE:8750), today announced that Carl Thigpen, Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer (CIO), will retire from the company after 36 years of noteworthy contributions, effective June 12, 2020. Phil Passafiume, who joined Protective in 2003 and currently serves as Senior Vice President, Director of Fixed Income, will become CIO upon Thigpen’s retirement.

Thigpen Announces Retirement Plans

Throughout his career at Protective, Thigpen has held responsibilities for investments, along with the commercial mortgage and real estate portfolios. During Thigpen’s tenure as CIO, Protective’s invested assets grew from $29 billion (2007) to $85 billion (2019), and the Company closed its four largest acquisitions, representing an estimated capital investment of approximately $4 billion. Additionally, Protective’s commercial mortgage portfolio grew from $2.7 billion (2002) to $9.4 billion (2019) under his leadership.

“In Carl’s three-plus decades with Protective, the company has grown dramatically, and Carl has been an instrumental player in our success, providing leadership through a wide range of business and investment cycles,” said Rich Bielen, Protective President & Chief Executive Officer. “I thank him for his countless contributions, including his commitment to developing talent. Phil’s appointment speaks to his extensive investments experience and knowledge of Protective, which make him the ideal successor.”

Thigpen is also a distinguished leader in the Alabama and national business communities, serving on boards and committees of Media General, Cavalier Homes, Inc., the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the American Council of Life Insurers. He has held leadership roles with many charitable and civic organizations, including the Salvation Army of Birmingham, the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation, Alabama 4-H Foundation, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Alabama Parkinson’s Association and Main Street Alabama.

Passafiume Named Chief Investment Officer

Effective June 13, 2020, Phil Passafiume will assume the role of Protective’s Chief Investment Officer. With over 20 years of investment management experience, Passafiume is currently responsible for general account investments for Corporate Bonds, MBS, ABS, CMBS, CLO’s, Private Placements and Bank Loans. Passafiume is also active in the community, serving on the United Way of Central Alabama Investment Committee and as Vice President and Board Member of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama.

Other Appointments and Promotions

Laura McDonald, who has over 25 years of commercial mortgage lending experience and currently serves as Senior Vice President, Senior Housing, will be promoted to Chief Mortgage and Real Estate Officer and will report to Passafiume. McDonald will now provide leadership for Protective’s entire commercial mortgage loan and real estate portfolio and will also continue her responsibility for building and managing Protective’s Senior Housing commercial mortgage loan portfolio. In addition to her leadership within the company, McDonald currently serves on the Advisory Board of the UAB O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center (2019 and 2020 Corporate Fundraising Chair) and on the Beyond Blue 2020 Host Committee benefitting the Mike Slive Foundation. McDonald is also a member of Leadership Birmingham - Class of 2019 and is a current member of the Tocqueville Society of the United Way of Central Alabama. McDonald’s promotion will become effective June 13, 2020.

Passafiume and McDonald will both join Protective’s Performance and Accountability Committee (P&A Committee), a group of the company’s top executive leaders. Lance Black, Senior Vice President and Treasurer, has also been appointed to the P&A Committee.

Wendy Evesque, who most recently served as Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), was promoted to Executive Vice President, CHRO, on March 1, 2020. Evesque continues responsibility for the company’s human resources activities, including leadership development, talent acquisition, compensation, benefits, employee relations, and learning and talent development. Beyond Protective, Evesque serves on the University of Alabama Culverhouse Board of Visitors. She also serves on the Board of Directors for The Friends of Birmingham Botanical Gardens and is Board Chair Emeritus for The Heart Gallery of Alabama. She is a member of the 2020 Leadership Alabama Class.

Steve Cramer, who most recently served as Vice President, Head of Asset and Annuity Risk, has been promoted to Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer, Retirement Division.

Francis Radnoti, who most recently served as Vice President, Head of Life Product Development, has been promoted to Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer, Protection Division.

The promotions of Cramer and Radnoti, which were effective February 1, 2020, follow the January 2020 announcement that Protective reorganized its life and annuity retail businesses into two distinct customer-focused operating divisions: Protection and Retirement. In their new roles, Cramer and Radnoti lead the product development and inforce management functions for the Retirement and Protection divisions, respectively.

“I am pleased to announce these leadership promotions. Wendy has been an influential member of our executive team. Under her leadership, Protective has evolved the way we work to better position the company for continued growth and success,” Bielen said. “Additionally, Laura, Steve and Francis have played key roles in helping our business adapt and expand through the years, and I look forward to their continued leadership in their new roles.”

About Protective Life Corporation

Protective Life Corporation (Protective) provides financial services through the production, distribution and administration of insurance and investment products throughout the U.S. Protective traces its roots to its flagship company, Protective Life Insurance Company – founded in 1907. Throughout its more than 110-year history, Protective’s growth and success can be largely attributed to its ongoing commitment to serving people and doing the right thing – for its employees, distributors, and most importantly, its customers. Protective’s home office is located in Birmingham, Alabama, and its 3,000+ employees are located in offices across the United States. As of December 31, 2019, Protective had assets of approximately $120 billion. Protective Life Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dai-ichi Life Holdings, Inc. (TSE:8750). For more information about Protective, please visit


Brittnie Bordonaro,, (o)205.268.8611, (c)256.339.8303



Brittnie Bordonaro,, (o)205.268.8611, (c)256.339.8303