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Our Management Team

 

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James R. Belardi

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Athene Holding Ltd. and Athene Asset Management, L.P.

Prior to founding Athene Holding Ltd. and Athene Asset Management, James Belardi was President of SunAmerica Life Insurance Company and Chief Investment Officer of AIG Retirement Services, Inc., responsible for a $250 billion invested asset portfolio. SunAmerica was the best performing stock on the NYSE in the 1990s, appreciating 21,300 percent or 213 times. In 1994, Jim created the GIC-backed note (GICBN), which has since developed into a $300 billion market. AIG SunAmerica is the largest GICBN issuer with approximately $50 billion in issuance. In June 2006, Jim left AIG Retirement Services to start Athene Holding Ltd. and Athene Asset Management. Jim received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Stanford University and his Master of Business Administration from the University of California, Los Angeles. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Loyola Marymount University, Paulist Productions, where he chairs the investment committee, and Southern California Aquatics. Jim swam in the 1976 and 1980 Olympic Trials and is a nine-time Masters World Record holder.

Grant Kvalheim

President of Athene Holding Ltd.

Grant was Co-President of Barclays Capital from September 2005 until the end of 2007. Having joined Barclays in 2001 as Global Head of Credit Products, Grant converted a European cash investment grade business into a leading global cash and derivatives business across both securitized and non-securitized credit products. Assuming responsibility for investment banking in late 2001, he similarly expanded the investment banking platform. Barclays was named IFR House of the Year in 2004 and was the #1 Global Debt underwriter as measured by Euroweek in 2006. Prior to joining Barclays, Grant was a member of the Corporate and Investment Bank Executive Management Committee at Deutsche Bank as Head of Global Debt Origination, which encompassed debt capital markets, syndicate and relationship management. Prior to joining Deutsche Bank, Grant was Co-Head of Global Debt Origination at Merrill Lynch. While at Merrill Lynch, Grant pioneered products that utilized their retail network, including high yielding foreign currency denominated corporate bonds and preferred stock products, including the first issue of trust preferreds. Grant received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Claremont McKenna College and his Master of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Chicago. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of Independence Equity.

Brenda Cushing

Chief Financial Officer, Athene Holding LTD.

Brenda Cushing is executive vice president and chief financial officer for Athene. In this position, she ensures the financial functions of Athene are conducted within the legal and statutory framework and provides leadership in the execution of the strategic directive of the organization. Brenda is a leader of financial and performance management for the company and responsible for communication of financial results to Athene's internal and external stakeholders. She began her Athene career in 1993 as general accounting manager at AmerUs Life Insurance Company, and joined AmerUs Bank in 1994 as finance vice president, and later, as the bank's CFO until its sale in 1998. After the bank's sale, Brenda became CFO of AmerUs Home Equity, and later, senior vice president and controller for Athene USA. Prior to joining the company, she was with public accounting firm McGladrey and Pullen where she worked with clients in the financial services industry. Brenda has a bachelor's degree in business administration from Iowa State University and serves on the Dean's Advisory Council for the College of Business. She is a member of the Iowa Economic Development Authority board, serves on the finance committee of Mercy Medical Center and is a community board member for Bankers Trust (Des Moines). She is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, the Iowa Society of CPAs and Financial Executives International.

Guy H. Smith, III (Chip)

President of Athene USA.

Chip was President and CEO of Liberty Life Insurance Company from April 2010 until its acquisition by Athene in April 2011. Before that he served as Liberty's vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer. After coming to Liberty in 1992 from Ernst & Young, Chip held various positions in finance including director-finance and controller. He serves as chairman on the Erskine College Investment Committee and previously as chairman of its board of trustees. He is also active in his church, serving as an elder and treasurer for the church and denomination. Chip is a Fellow of the Life Management Institute (FLMI) and is a Certified Public Accountant. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting from Erskine College.

Stephen E. Cernich

Executive Vice President of Corporate Development of Athene Holding Ltd.

Prior to joining Athene, Steve was Chief Risk Management Officer and EVP for Capital Assurance Corporation. He had responsibility for all product development, pricing valuation and asset/liability management. He also oversaw the company's institutional line of business and managed the relationship with the firm's external asset manager. Steve built and managed the funding agreement line of business for XL Life & Annuity prior to CAC. He was instrumental in the build-out of staff and establishing corporate strategy and direction. Steve has had significant exposure to the Bermuda regulatory environment. Prior to XL, Steve built and managed the funding agreement business for Zurich Kemper Life, and had responsibility for its $9 billion bank-owned life insurance (BOLI) business. Steve received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of Notre Dame and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago. He is a member of the American Academy of Actuaries and an Associate of the Society of Actuaries, and he is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder.

Christopher Grady

Executive Vice President and Head of Retail for Athene USA.

Chris joined Athene Annuity in March 2011 as the Head of Retail, responsible for building a market-leading provider of consumer retirement solutions under the Athene brand. Prior to joining Athene Annuity, Chris was President of Distribution and Marketing for Genworth Financial's life insurance companies. He oversaw a diverse, multi-channel sales and marketing organization that produced nearly $4.7 billion in annuity sales and more than $550 million in premiums in life and long-term care insurance products in the U.S. market. Before joining Genworth, Chris spent 14 years in senior leadership roles at Merrill Lynch, ultimately serving as Managing Director and National Sales Manager for Merrill's Consumer Finance Group. In addition, he held various sales management positions at Mass Mutual, including Director of Advanced Sales. As a District Manager, Chris qualified for life membership in the Million Dollar Round Table. Chris received a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York College at Cortland.

Christopher Welp

Executive Vice President of Insurance Operations for Athene USA.

Christopher is responsible for all of Athene USA's insurance operations and has a critical role in defining and leading the company's strategic initiatives. These key initiatives include customer services, life and annuity business, underwriting, agency services, administration shared services and the mail center. He joined the predecessor company, Aviva USA, in August 2010 with more than 25 years of experience in the insurance industry. Prior to Aviva USA, he held a variety of progressive roles culminating as Chief Operating Officer of ING's retail annuity business, a position he held since 1999. He has a bachelor's degree in business administration and accounting from the University of Iowa, is a Certified Public Accountant and member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Chris serves on the board of directors of the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity.

John L. Golden

Executive Vice President, Legal of Athene Holding Ltd.

Prior to joining Athene, John was an attorney at Sidley Austin LLP. At Sidley, John represented a variety of financial institutions in connection with all aspects of their businesses such as corporate transactions, securities offerings, regulatory and compliance, enforcement matters and employment matters. Prior to Sidley, John worked for Fisher Investments and IBM Corporation. John received his JD from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was second in his class, and a BS in Operations Management/Information Systems from Santa Clara University. John is admitted to the State Bar of California. 

Thomas V. Daula

Chief Risk Officer for Athene Holding Ltd.

Prior to joining Athene, Tom was CRO for both UBS Investment Bank and Morgan Stanley. Tom worked at UBS five years as CRO and Chief Operating Officer. Before joining UBS, he spent nine years at Morgan Stanley where he worked in Firm Risk Management before taking the position of CRO and becoming a member of the management committee. Previously, Tom spent five years at Bankers Trust/Deutsche Bank in Global Risk Management. He also served 14 years as a Professor of Economics at the United States Military Academy. He holds a Bachelors of Science from United States Military Academy and a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT.

Michael Downing

Executive Vice President and Chief Actuary, Athene USA

Prior to joining Athene, Mike had a seven-year stint at Allstate, leading the turnaround of the annuity business in his role as the VP of Inforce and Risk Management. As a result of his success, Mike was promoted to Senior Vice President for Product and Actuarial Services. Before joining Allstate, Mike was a Managing Principal at Aon Hewitt, leading the International Consulting practice following overseas assignments in the UK and Switzerland. A founding member of the Pension Risk Services consulting practice, Mike advised large multinational clients on global benefits strategy, governance and pension risk management. Mike's career in business spans more than 21 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. He is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA), an Enrolled Actuary (EA) and a Certified Enterprise Risk Analyst (CERA).

Mark Suter

Chief Integration Officer for Athene Holding Ltd.

Mark is responsible for strategic and operational acquisition integration, expense management and non-core asset disposition. Prior to joining Athene, he was the Chief Operating Officer of an Apollo portfolio company charged with developing a commercial bank in the United States and evaluating banking opportunities in the European Union. From 2000 to 2007, Mark co-founded and was a senior executive for Countrywide Bank, N.A., a national bank that grew assets from $100 million to $95 billion. He also managed a $1 billion distressed residential mortgage portfolio for an affiliate of Blackrock from 2008 to 2009 and was a management consultant to the banking industry from 1995 to 2000. Mark holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics, cum laude, from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

David C. Attaway

Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Athene USA.

David was CFO of Liberty Life Insurance Company from April 2010 until the acquisition of Aviva in October 2013 at which time he became SVP & Controller of Athene USA. He served in various roles within Liberty's finance and accounting function since his arrival with Liberty in 2002. He joined Liberty after working at Ernst & Young as an auditor, TeamVest as a controller and AIMCO as an SEC Reporting Manager. David is a Associate of the Life Management Institute (ALMI) and is a Certified Public Accountant. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Clemson University graduating Magna Cum Laude with Honors.

Erik H. Askelsen

Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Athene USA.

In his role, Erik leads the legal and compliance teams and is a member of the Operating Committee. Prior to his current role, Erik was Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Athene USA. In that capacity he was responsible for all legal work arising out of the sales and distribution, insurance operations, marketing, and product development functions, as well as all company litigation and non-DOI investigations and governmental inquiries. Erik joined the predecessor company, Aviva USA, in 2007. During his tenure with the company Erik has also led the advanced markets and case design teams within sales and distribution and spent three years in Aviva's legal department as Vice President of Litigation. Prior to joining Aviva, Erik was a partner in the business litigation practice division of Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP. Erik received his law degree from the University of Kansas and his Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Iowa. He is admitted to practice in Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. He has served as a United Way Campaign Cabinet Member since 2012, is President-Elect of the Board of Trustees for Children and Families of Iowa, member of the Association of Life Insurance Counsel, and was a member of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute Class of 2012.

Julian M. King (Jay)

Senior Vice President, Internal Audit of Athene Holding Ltd.

Before Athene, Julian led Aviva's U.S. and Canadian audit function from 2011 until the acquisition of Aviva's U.S. business by Athene. Previously, Jay was head of Genworth's global internal audit function, a position he held since 2005. From 2001 to 2005, Jay worked in enterprise risk management and internal audit at Capital One Financial, and prior to that, with Spark Capital, a finance consulting firm helping technology companies with venture capital funding. He began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Jay received his BBA in accounting from James Madison University, and a MBA and MS in Information Systems from the University of Maryland. He is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Internal Auditor.

Kristi K. Burma

Senior Vice President, Human Resources of Athene Holding Ltd.

Prior to assuming her current role, Kristi served as VP of Human Resources at the predecessor company, Aviva USA. During her time at Aviva, she held the title of business manager to CEO of Aviva USA, and served in the role of VP, Human Resources Business Partner, supporting the North American region as well as local Insurance Operations and Information Technology divisions. Prior to joining Aviva, Kristi held various leadership positions in human resources, as well as managing an Enterprise Program Management Office (EPMO). She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Iowa, and serves on the Board for Iowa College Foundation. She also is a member of the United Way Women's Leadership Connection.