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.