Ameritas announces Bill Lester’s retirement

June 5, 2023 |read icon 5 min read
Ameritas Home Office

Bob Jurgensmeier named CEO; Sue Wilkinson named president and COO

Bill Lester

LINCOLN, Nebraska (June 5, 2023) – William W. (Bill) Lester, CFA, FLMI, will retire as president and chief executive officer of Ameritas Mutual Holding Company, Ameritas Holding Company and Ameritas Life Insurance Corp., and as chair, president and CEO of Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. of New York, effective Jan. 2, 2024.

Bob Jurgensmeier

The board has selected Robert M. (Bob) Jurgensmeier, FSA, MAAA, to succeed Lester as CEO.

“Bill’s legacy reflects 40 years of unwavering commitment to the Ameritas purpose and customers and to everyone associated with the organization,” said board Chair Tonn Ostergard. “Bill is an outstanding leader and an exemplary representative of Ameritas within the industry and community. The board and I thank Bill for his leadership and congratulate him on his retirement.”

Sue Wilkinson

In addition, Jurgensmeier and the board have named Susan K. (Sue) Wilkinson, CPA, FLMI, president and chief operating officer, also effective Jan. 2, 2024.

Lester is a Nebraska native with a business degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He began his career with Ameritas in 1983 as a securities analyst and held numerous positions throughout the organization before becoming CEO in January 2020. Lester is a Chartered Financial Analyst and is a member of the Omaha/Lincoln Society of Financial Analysts.

Among his many activities in the industry and community, Lester serves on the board of directors for the American Council of Life Insurers. He is past chair and a board member of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and serves on the executive committee.

He also is a trustee of the University of Nebraska Foundation. He serves on the United Way board for Lincoln and Lancaster County and is chairing this year’s United Way community campaign together with his wife, Cindy. The Lesters have two sons, two daughters and five grandchildren.

“Ameritas has been my career, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and the people I’ve come to know with this remarkable company,” Lester said. “Ameritas is strong and stable, with an outstanding team of dedicated associates and a growing network of excellent distribution colleagues. Now is a good time for me to take this step. Cindy and I look forward to having more time for family pursuits and continued community involvement.”

Jurgensmeier and Wilkinson are terrific choices, Lester said. “Bob and Sue are smart, strategic leaders with a great vision for the future and a deep understanding of our industry and of the unique qualities that make Ameritas so special.”

Lester played a key role in the mergers with two life insurance companies during his career with Ameritas. More recently, Ameritas acquired two companies complementing the Ameritas group benefits and retirement plans businesses. Lester’s time as CEO was characterized by organizational growth and significant investment in transformative technology and processes.

The COVID-19 pandemic began shortly after Lester took the helm. In the years that followed, Lester guided Ameritas associates through a time of working fully remote and into a flexible hybrid workplace strategy without losing sight of company values, customer care or business goals.

Lester also encouraged associate professional development to help position Ameritas for identifying future leaders at all levels from within the organization. In announcing these leadership selections, Ostergard pointed to the board’s thorough evaluation of prospective candidates.

“We’re excited about the results of that process,” Ostergard said. “Bob and Sue are experienced, knowledgeable and prepared to continue building on a record of growth and success at Ameritas.”

Both Jurgensmeier and Wilkinson also are Nebraska natives with business degrees from UNL. Jurgensmeier holds the professional designation Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and is a member of the American Academy of Actuaries. Wilkinson is a member of the Nebraska Society of CPAs, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the UNL School of Accountancy Hall of Fame.

Jurgensmeier has worked in the insurance and financial services industry for over 25 years. He began his career with Ameritas in 2012 as senior vice president and chief actuary – individual division and currently serves as executive vice president – independent distribution and investments.

He serves on the boards of CHI Health St. Elizabeth Hospital and CHI Nebraska Heart Hospital and on the audit committee of the Diocese of Lincoln. He also is a member and past president of the Nebraska Actuaries Club. He and his wife, Sarah, have four children and three grandchildren.

“I’m excited to take this handoff from Bill,” Jurgensmeier said. “I’m proud of the difference our associates and financial professionals make for our customers and communities, and I look forward to leading the next phase of growth for Ameritas.”

Wilkinson joined Ameritas as a corporate accountant in 1995 and has held various leadership roles. She was elected executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer in 2018. She was awarded the 2020 Outstanding CPA in Business & Industry from the Nebraska Society of CPAs.

Her community activities include board membership for the Bryan College of Health Sciences, Lincoln Chamber Economic Development Corp., Lincoln Chamber of Commerce Foundation and Catholic Foundation of Southern Nebraska. She and her husband, Bert, have two children.

“I have a deep passion for the way Ameritas helps our customers improve their lives and plan for the future,” Wilkinson said. “I look forward to helping the organization and our associates grow and develop.”


About Ameritas

Ameritas is a marketing name for Ameritas Mutual Holding Company and its affiliated subsidiary companies, including Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. and Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. of New York. Founded in 1887, Ameritas offers a wide range of insurance and financial products and services to individuals, families and businesses. These products and services include life insurance; annuities; individual disability income insurance; group dental, vision and hearing care insurance; retirement plans; investments; asset management; and public finance. Securities offered through affiliate Ameritas Investment Company LLC, member FINRA/SIPC and investment advisory services offered through the business name of Ameritas Advisory Services.

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