Last week, the Board of Trustees of The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co. announced that Eileen McDonnell has been appointed to chairman in addition to her role as president and CEO, effective July 1. In her new role as chairman, she is succeeding Robert Chappell.

“Eileen’s impact on Penn Mutual in her five years with the company has been outstanding,” said Chappell, who is retiring from the chairmanship after 17 years but will remain on the board as a trustee. “As with her transition to CEO a few years ago, I know that her transition to chairman will be a smooth one. She and the executive team have done a great job in advancing Penn Mutual’s strategy, and I have no doubt that as chairman of the board, she will continue leading Penn Mutual to an optimistic future.”

McDonnell has held the title of president and CEO since February of 2011.

“It is an honor to follow in Bob Chappell’s footsteps, and I’m grateful to know that his wise counsel and contributions will continue as a member of the board,” McDonnell said. “While the past few years have proved challenging for many in the insurance industry, we at Penn Mutual clearly benefit from a rich history of thoughtful, steadfast leadership and an enduring commitment to our policyholders. We will continue to serve those who believe in the complete value of life insurance and all its possibilities as the foundation of financial peace of mind.”

While current statistics show women make up 59.4 percent of workers at insurance carriers and companies with related activities, there are only two Fortune 1000 insurance companies that are led by female CEOs. McDonnell, one of the two, will keynote INN’s 6th annual Women in Insurance Leadership Forum in Chicago on Oct. 29-30, 2013. She will share her story, including lessons she’s learned along the way, professionals she surrounds herself with and her overall leadership style.

McDonnell joined Penn Mutual in February 2008 as EVP and chief marketing officer, and chairman of the board of investment firm Hornor, Townsend & Kent Inc.

She is also a member of Penn Mutual’s Board of Trustees, as well as a member of the Janney Montgomery Scott LLC Board of Managers. Janney Montgomery Scott is a wholly owned subsidiary of Penn Mutual. McDonnell, a veteran of the financial services industry, was president of New England Financial, a wholly owned subsidiary of MetLife and SVP at Guardian Life Insurance Co. McDonnell also held positions at AXA/Equitable. In addition, she was a member of the Master of Science in Management faculty at The American College, where she held the Chair for Women and Financial Services.

An active industry participant, McDonnell is chair of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania and a board member of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). In addition she is on the board of Universal Health Services Inc., and is a National Advisor for Vision 2020.

McDonnell graduated from Molloy College, Rockville Centre, New York, where she served as member of its board of trustees. McDonnell earned her MBA in finance and investments from Adelphi University, in Garden City, N.Y., where she was recently honored for outstanding service to the school.

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