Success Stories
  • Arleas Upton KeaArleas Upton Kea
    Arleas Upton Kea is currently an Independent Director nominee for Thrivent Mutual Funds.  She recently retired from the Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation, an independent government corporation (the “FDIC”), where she served as Deputy to the Chairman and Chief Operating Officer.  She has over 30 years of managerial experience at the FDIC where she oversaw the operations of the federal agency responsible for promoting the economy, financial sustainability, and stability of the banking system by providing a wide range of managerial, corporate advisory and operational support.  She was responsible for administrative oversight of a federal government corporation with over 6,000 employees, the management of a $2-billion-dollar annual operating budget and a $7 billion dollar acquisitions program.   She was the key advisor to the Chairman and Board of Directors on all corporate operations and strategic planning.  She also over saw Equal Employment Opportunity, Diversity and Inclusion, Human Resources and Training, as well as the development of culture change strategies which resulted in the dramatic improvement of the FDIC from 21st to first place among large federal agencies in the Partnership for Public Service's Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings within just two years. As the former principal advisor for the FDIC’s executive compensation program, Arleas has considerable experience addressing complex executive compensation matters. Arleas has in-depth experience with crisis management.  She led the FDIC’s efforts to deal with the impact of the COVID 19 health crisis on the FDIC and its ability to accomplish its mission while protecting the health and safety of its employees, contractors, banks and other constituents.  During the 2008 financial crisis, Arleas worked with Chairman of the FDIC to bolster public confidence and restore the nation’s financial system stability.  During the crisis, she oversaw an ambitious hiring initiative that increased the FDIC’s nationwide workforce by over 4,000 employees in less than nine months to address an increasing number of bank and other financial institution failures. Arleas has held various management and leadership positions with increasing levels of responsibility during her tenure at the FDIC.  From 1996-1999, she served as Ombudsman, where she effectively engaged with multiple stakeholders, including bankers, consumers, media, and congress, all of whom were impacted by the FDIC’s activities.  Arleas also founded the Coalition of Federal Ombudsmen which created the model for most Government Ombudsmen practices today.  When she served as Ombudsman, Arleas was named the “Answer Lady” by the American Banker in 1993.  From 1985 to 1996, Arleas was a highly skilled attorney in the Legal Department of the FDIC where she ultimately served as the Acting Deputy General Counsel. Arleas has considerable board experience and training.  She is a member of the DirectWomen Board Institute Class of 2020, the Board of Trustees of the Trinity AME Zion Church in Washington, DC and the Board of Stewards (Finance Board) of the Lomax AME Zion Church in Arlington, Virginia.  She also has served on the Foundation Board of Trustees at the University of Texas Law School and is the immediate past President of Texas Law School Alumni Association Executive Steering Committee. She is expert in building coalitions, leading people, identifying organizational strengths and weaknesses and focusing resources to deliver results.  She is skilled in transforming organizational cultures to fit business needs and engaging employees and resources proactively to meet the mission.  Arleas exudes a calm and deliberate approach which serves to inspire and motivate others.  She possesses the judgment, integrity, temperament, intellect, and professional experience to make significant contributions to a corporate board.  She has proven experience which will assist a board in carrying out its fiduciary and management responsibilities.  As an accomplished minority female executive, she will bring a perspective that is still much underrepresented. Arleas is a natural leader who earns and commands the respect of those who meet and work with her.  In addition to serving as a career public servant, she is active in her community and serves as a role model and mentor to many.
  • Tamara BoxTamara Box
    Tamara Box is an experienced C‐Suite executive, independent director and global business leader. She is currently Managing Partner, Europe and Middle East for global law firm Reed Smith, ranked in the world’s top 25 with revenues exceeding $1.42 billion annually, where she is a member of the Senior Management Team (C‐Suite) and an executive director of the governing board of the firm. As an SMT member, Tamara has management responsibility for overseeing the development of the firm’s global strategy and operations, including its investments in new business lines, new offices and new technologies. Prior to becoming an executive director in 2016, she served as a non‐executive director on the global board of the firm for more than two years, providing governance of a multi‐national entity whose revenues match or exceed that of many public companies. Before becoming Managing Partner EME, Tamara was global Chair of the firm’s Financial Industry Group, where she had P&L responsibility for the largest business line, with more than $250m in revenues. Tamara also currently holds two independent, non‐executive board roles in private companies. She serves as an independent board member of Interpath Advisory, the UK’s largest restructuring and debt advisory business spun out of KPMG into private equity ownership in 2021. She also is an independent board member of the group holding company of Hanover Capital, a private equity investment management business. For almost three decades, Tamara has advised the C‐Suite, Treasury teams and General Counsels of financial services clients, including traditional investment banks, asset managers, private equity, debt and hedge funds as well as corporates and banks in both developed and emerging markets. She garnered a particular reputation, becoming a market‐ leading expert, as the go‐to advisor to the directors and boards of securitization debt issuers through and following the financial crisis. Tamara is a business leader with global experience of leading and founding businesses in multiple countries, garnering board level, functional and operational experience of M&A, risk management, finance, compliance, human resources, governance, technology (including cybersecurity, digital and data strategy), compensation, strategy and crisis‐related issues, ensuring she would make strong contributions to any board or to board committees such as Finance, Risk, Audit and Remuneration. Dual‐qualified to practice law in both the US and the UK, she has worked and lived in the US, Asia, and Europe, and has advised clients all over the world, including in the Middle East, Turkey, South Africa, Russia, Eastern Europe, the UK and Asia. The author of more than fifty articles and the speaker at hundreds of events across the globe, Tamara is a recognized expert in the field of finance and capital raising. She is a frequently sought after spokesperson and commentator for press and media on topics ranging from securitization, capital raising, social impact finance, real estate finance, M&A in financial and professional services, business development, governance/ESG and gender balance. Not‐for‐Profit Board Roles
    • Trustee and member of Operations and Finance Committee of the Eve Appeal, the UK’s premier charity for gynecological cancers
    • Trustee of the Chartered Management Institute and chair of CMI Women
    • Advisory Board member of Theirworld, an international children's charity founded by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Sarah Brown focused on health and education initiatives
    • Member of the Advisory Board of The Inclusion Institute at the London School of Economics
    • Former Chair of the “Women of Influence” Board for Cancer Research UK, an initiative supporting CRUK’s female scientists
    • Court of Governors, Emeritus and former member of the Audit Committee of the London School of Economics
    Memberships/Networks
    • National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD)
    • Women Corporate Directors (WCD)
    • Financial Markets Law Committee – Member of Forum for Securities Markets
    • Founding member of the Steering Committee of the 30% Club, a group of 100s of Chairs and CEOs globally, dedicated to increasing the gender balance of corporate boards and ExCos
    • Member of The Committee of C200 (C200), an invitation‐only membership organization of the world’s most successful women business leaders
    Awards/Recognition
    • Named one of the “Fifty Most Influential Lawyers” by Financial News
    • Eminent Lawyer” (highest, rarest rank) in Chambers’ UK Guide
    • Named a “Top Deal Lawyer” by Legal Business
    • “Best in Structured Finance” at Euromoney’s Women in Business Law Awards
    • Ranked in the Financial Times (now Yahoo Finance) Global HERoes Champions of Women in Business List every year since inception (six years)
    • Mentor of the Year at the Women of the Future awards
    • Named to the UK’s All‐Party Parliamentary Group (a UK Government initiative) Commission on the Future of Management & Leadership alongside top CEOs/Leaders of UK business
    Tamara holds an honours degree (B.Sc.) in Monetary Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science as well as an honours degree from Georgetown Law Centre in Washington, D.C. Tamara is an American and British citizen who has lived in London for 25 years.
  • Cynthia GibsonCynthia Gibson
    Cynthia Gibson is an experienced C-suite executive, independent director and an audit committee financial expert. Her M&A background includes global acquisitions, joint ventures and divestitures. She also has deep experience in human capital, executive compensation, sustainability/ESG, regulatory and governance matters. Cynthia is currently General Counsel at Bush Brothers & Company, a leading consumer packaged goods company with retail, foodservice and direct to consumer distribution. In this role she has responsibility for legal, corporate development, governance, sustainability/ESG, external affairs, corporate communications and government affairs, as well as managing the Bush’s Visitor Center café and museum. She also serves as a member of the board of directors of The Trust Company of Tennessee, a privately-held financial services firm with more than $4B of assets under management; and is on the Knoxville advisory board for SmartBank, a subsidiary of SmartFinancial Inc. (NASDAQ: SMBK). Previously Cynthia was Executive VP & Chief Legal & Business Affairs Officer at Scripps Networks Interactive (NASDAQ: SNI) with responsibility for legal affairs, business affairs, government affairs, corporate secretary, regulatory, shareholder relations and internal audit. SNI was a fortune 1000 company until its $14.6B sale to Discovery in 2018 and was an omnichannel media company with well-known US brands including HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel and international brands including UKTV, TVN and Asian Food Channel. At that time, she also served on the supervisory board of TVN, S.A. (WIG: TVN), a $2B publicly traded media company acquired by SNI, chairing its Nomination and Remuneration (Compensation) Committee. Cynthia has experience navigating the digital disruption of a traditional business and achieving global and digital growth both organically and through M&A. Representative transactions include the $14.6B disposition of SNI; the $2B acquisition of TVN, a publicly traded company in Poland; and the $900M acquisition of Travel Channel. Cynthia is an expert in the human capital arena, including certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources. Her financial expertise includes transforming SNI’s internal audit function to a risk-based approach that enabled reliance by SNI’s external auditors. Her government affairs experience includes navigating threatened foreign ownership restrictions. Her regulatory background includes privacy, cybersecurity, data breach management and ethics and compliance. She also brings extensive corporate governance expertise in the areas of shareholder activism, and controlled and private company shareholder relations.