June 20, 2024

Illinois State University Head Women's Basketball Coach Kristen Gillespie Visits With COUNTRY Underwriting Leadership Team

Bloomington, IL - Kristen Gillespie is more than just a local collegiate head basketball coach with a winning record. She’s also a strong leader with the experience and knowledge to build an all-star team.

Coach Gillespie brought her A-game to COUNTRY on Wednesday, June 12th where she met with Tim Ekberg, Vice President and Chief Underwriter, and his team. She spoke about her role as Illinois State University’s Head Women’s Basketball Coach and her 12 commandments of successful coaching. One of which, reflects Our Value, change.

“Get comfortable with the uncomfortable,” said Gillespie. “Share the struggles of new tasks, but never lose sight of how important it is for leaders to embrace change.”

Ekberg’s team is tasked with underwriting across property casualty lines of business and crop claims in Illinois. His team recently restructured.  

“We are in a world of change with new systems and new processes, and we all need to be comfortable driving change, accepting change and leading change in how we accomplish our tasks and goals,” said Ekberg.

He aspires to deliver superior service and allow our COUNTRY agents and clients to Experience more under a common approach. In order to achieve this, Ekberg needs a strong team of coaches and mentors.

That’s where Gillespie comes in.

Ekberg saw the overlap between Gillespie’s work building the Redbirds into one of the Midwest’s premier programs and the vision he has to develop a winning team of his own.

Gillespie took over a challenged basketball program in 2017. Through thoughtful leadership and strategic thinking, she built a winning program. Gillespie was named the 2022-2023 MVC Coach of the Year and boasts a 132-82 record.

“While the business of college sports looks very different than the business world, there are a lot of similar skills and capabilities our leaders need to exhibit to consistently be great leaders to our team and help our team members be their best,” said Ekberg. 

Leadership is the long game.

“You have to coach the team in front of you,” adds Ekberg. “The team can change for many reasons, so having the right habits and the right culture in place is key to long term success.”

And an overall win for everyone.

COUNTRY is a proud community partner of Illinois State University and celebrates a culture of giving back. Learn more about how COUNTRY impacts your community

Media contact

David Beigie, COUNTRY Financial


COUNTRY Financial® is a family of affiliated companies (collectively, COUNTRY) located in Bloomington, IL. Learn more about who we are.

About COUNTRY Financial® 

COUNTRY Financial® serves about a million households and businesses throughout the United States. It offers a wide range of insurance and financial products and services including but not limited to auto, home, life, farm, and fixed annuities. To learn more, visit countryfinancial.com.

COUNTRY Financial® is the marketing name for the COUNTRY Financial family of affiliated companies (collectively, COUNTRY), which include COUNTRY Life Insurance Company®, COUNTRY Mutual Insurance Company®, and their respective subsidiaries, located in Bloomington, IL.

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