Our management team leads by example. Some have served as COUNTRY FinancialŪ representatives, while others have worked in sales, actuarial, information services, banking and marketing. Our leadership team has the experience and dedication needed to ensure COUNTRY Financial meets the financial security needs of people like you during every stage of your life.
Kurt F. Bock, Chief Executive Officer
Kurt F. Bock of Bloomington, Ill., has been chief executive officer of COUNTRY Financial since Feb. 1, 2012. In his capacity as CEO, he leads the over 5,000 COUNTRY employees and financial representatives in meeting the financial security needs of almost 1,000,000 households. Additionally, he serves as chairman of the board of directors of two companies with which COUNTRY has strategic alliances: Holyoke Mutual Insurance Company, Salem, Mass.; and Middlesex Mutual Assurance Company.
Bock joined the Illinois Agricultural Association family of companies in 2003 as chief executive officer of the IAA Credit Union. He served as treasurer of COUNTRY and IAA from 2005-2008 and was the chief operating officer of Horizon Hobby until his selection as the COUNTRY CEO.
Bock earned a bachelor’s degree of science from the United States Air Force Academy, a master’s degree in business administration from Southern Illinois University and a doctoral degree of philosophy in business administration from Saint Louis University. He was awarded the Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 2004. He also served in the United States Air Force for 28 years, attaining the rank of colonel. During his career, he served in flying command positions and in strategic defense policy positions including leading the NATO senior military working group on Alliance reorganization.
He serves on the Illinois State University Foundation Board, is a commissioner of the Central Illinois Regional Airport Authority and a member of the Property Casualty Insurers (PCI) Association of America Board of Governors. He serves as the chairperson of the PCI Audit Committee and is a member of the PCI Political Action Committee.
He and his wife, Carol, have two children, Jonathon and Rebecca.
Barbara A. Baurer, Chief Operating Officer
Barbara Baurer of El Paso, Ill., has served as chief operating officer for COUNTRY Financial since September 1999. She is a member of the Boards of Directors for alliances COUNTRY has made with the following insurers:
- Cotton States Life Insurance, Alpharetta, Ga.
- Holyoke Mutual Insurance Company of Salem, Mass.,
- Middlesex Mutual Assurance Company of Middletown, Conn.
Baurer also serves as president for Holyoke and Middlesex.
Since joining COUNTRY in 1977, Baurer has served in various positions, including vice president and general manager of the Property and Casualty companies. Prior to that, she served as vice president of Information Services (IS).
She joined the COUNTRY Management Committee/Leadership Council in 1989.
Baurer earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a Master’s of Business Administration from Eastern Illinois University, Charleston. In 2006, she received the Outstanding Graduate Alumnus Award from the Eastern Illinois University College of Business Graduate School and in 2013 she received the Eastern Illinois University Distinguished Alumna Award.
She also furthered her education, earning three insurance designations: the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU).
She is a member of the Board of the American Institute for CPCU. Baurer also serves as chair of the Eastern Illinois University College of Business Advisory Board.
Baurer is past board chair for Advocate BroMenn Regional Medical System. She also serves on the United Way of McLean County Board and was the 2012 Campaign Chair. In addition, Baurer was named a 2004 Woman of Distinction by the YWCA of McLean County (Ill.). She was named a 2010 Woman Worth Watching by Profiles in Diversity Journal. Baurer is also one of the National Diversity Council’s Most Powerful and Influential Women in Illinois for 2010 and 2011. In 2013, Baurer was inducted into the Illinois State University (ISU) College of Business Hall of Fame. The Griffith Insurance Education Foundation also awarded her the Distinguished Service Award in 2013.
Robert H. Bateman, Chief Financial Officer
Robert H. Bateman of Bloomington, Ill., has served as the chief financial officer for COUNTRY Financial since June 2013. In his position, Bateman is responsible for internal auditing, corporate investments, corporate controllers, corporate actuarial and reinsurance and corporate risk and compliance.
Prior to his COUNTRY career, Bateman served as senior vice president, corporate controller and chief accounting officer for Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., Hartford, Conn., a multi-line international insurer.
Bateman held a variety of chief financial officer positions during his tenure at the Hartford, including senior vice president/chief financial officer for the commercial markets business, leading strategy and finance for the division.
Prior to joining the Hartford, Bateman served as vice president of internal auditing and chief audit executive for Kaman Corporation, a publicly-traded company with global headquarters in Bloomfield, Conn. He also worked at KPMG LLP, an audit, tax and advisory firm.
Bateman holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Connecticut. He is a Certified Public Accountant.
He and his wife, Joan, have one daughter, Samantha.
Steve Denault, Executive Vice President of Corporate Services
Steve Denault of Bloomington, Ill., has served as executive vice president of Corporate Services since April 2012. He is responsible for overseeing hiring, employee benefits, payroll, internal and external communications, continuing education programs, facilities planning, purchasing, mail services and supply operations.
Denault joined Illinois Farm Bureau in 1991 and moved to COUNTRY in 1992 as a Health Business analyst. He moved to Human Resources in 1995 where he held various positions. In 2006, he became vice president of Human Resources. He was named senior vice president of Human Resources and Communications in June 2010.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Illinois State University (ISU), Normal, in 1987. He then earned a master’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1991.
Denault furthered his insurance education and earned the Chartered Life Underwriter and Certified Compensation Professional designations. He holds a certification in Strategic Human Resource Management from Cornell University.
Denault is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management and the World at Work associations. He serves as vice chairman of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America Human Resources Committee. He is a committee member for the Illinois Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
Denault is vice chairman of the Advocate BroMenn Medical Center Governing Council. He serves on the ISU College of Applied Science and Technology Dean’s Advisory Board and the ISU Management and Quantitative Methods Advisory Council. In addition, Denault serves as vice chairman of the McLean County Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee. He is a private pilot and a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Therace Risch, Chief Information Officer
Therace Risch of Arden Hills, Minn., has served as the chief information officer for COUNTRY Financial since April 2014. In her position, Risch is responsible for the overall strategic direction of the organization’s technology and information functions, which includes incorporating emerging technologies which support corporate strategies, with an emphasis on mobility, security and improved customer experience.
Prior to joining COUNTRY, Risch served as vice president of Technology Delivery Services for Target Corporation in Minneapolis, Minn. In that role she was responsible for delivery and execution of technology projects supporting the merchandising, supply chain, marketing, healthcare, and human resources business areas, as well as enterprise-wide business intelligence needs. She also held a variety of technology roles including overseeing application development and support, IT operations and regulatory compliance.
Prior to joining Target, Risch served as assistant vice president of IT Infrastructure at St. Paul Companies, now known as Travelers Insurance, in St. Paul, Minn. She also served in a number of technology roles including application development and support, infrastructure engineering and operations.
Risch holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics from Ripon College. She served on the board of COMPAS, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting art programs. She is also a board member of Project 515, a non-profit working to ensure same-sex couples and their families have equal rights and considerations under Minnesota law.
Risch currently lives in Arden Hills with her spouse, Catherine.
Gary J. Vallo, Vice President of Northeast Operations
Gary Vallo of Glastonbury, Conn., has served as vice president of Northeast Operations for COUNTRY Financial since May 2002.
In this position, Vallo represents COUNTRY alliance companies Holyoke Mutual Insurance Company of Salem, Mass. and Middlesex Mutual Assurance Company of Middletown, Conn. These companies use independent agents for core product distribution in seven New England states and specialty product distribution in nine other states.
Prior to joining COUNTRY in this capacity, Vallo served as executive vice president and chief operating officer at Middlesex Mutual, a position he was named to in 1993. Vallo joined Middlesex Mutual in 1983. During his tenure with the organization, he has held many management positions, including chief financial officer.
Vallo earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance in 1979, and a Master's of Business Administration in 1986, both from the University of Hartford, Hartford, Conn.
He is a member of the board of Inroads, Inc., an organization that provides opportunities for minorities to secure internships and employment opportunities in the private sector.
Doyle J. Williams, Chief Marketing Officer
Doyle Williams of Mahomet, Ill., is the chief marketing officer for COUNTRY Financial. In this position, Williams is responsible for developing and executing all aspects of the organization’s marketing and sales strategy. Additionally, he leads the distribution management team, which includes field executives and business development efforts across all sales channels.
Williams is a 20-year industry veteran with a broad background. He has held a number of executive management positions in both the operating and marketing arms of the COUNTRY organization.
He is a member of the boards of directors for Cotton States Insurance Group, Middlesex Mutual and Holyoke Mutual. He also serves as Chief Executive Officer of COUNTRY Capital Management Company, an internal broker-dealer.
Williams received a bachelor’s degree in business and finance from Illinois State University, Normal, and a Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Illinois, Urbana.
He also furthered his education by earning the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) professional designations. He is a registered securities principal.