MILWAUKEE (BUSINESS WIRE), May 26, 2010 - The board of trustees of Northwestern Mutual today elected John E. Schlifske to be Northwestern Mutual’s next chairman and chief executive officer. Schlifske, currently president, will become CEO on July 1 and chairman and CEO on August 1, after the retirement of Edward J. Zore, currently chairman and CEO.

“It’s an honor to follow in the footsteps of so many dedicated leaders who have built this company,” Schlifske said. “Ed Zore will be leaving Northwestern Mutual in an exceptionally strong position, after significantly growing the business and guiding our organization through the worst economic meltdown of our lives. That speaks to his leadership and the strength and stability of Northwestern Mutual.”

Zore, who has been CEO since 2001, will continue to serve on the board after his retirement.

“John Schlifske is a great leader and has the vision to make Northwestern Mutual even stronger,” Zore said. “He brings to the role a keen understanding of our business and the passion to do what’s right for our policyowners and clients.”

Schlifske joined Northwestern Mutual in 1987 as an investment specialist and began to hold positions of increasing authority in the securities and real estate departments. He then led the Northwestern Mutual investment products and services business as executive vice president from 2004 – 2008 before serving as president and CEO of Northwestern Mutual subsidiary Russell Investments from 2008 – 2009. He was appointed Northwestern Mutual president in 2009.

Schlifske, 51, grew up in the Milwaukee suburb of Shorewood and is a 1977 graduate of Shorewood High School. He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., in 1981, and a master’s degree in finance and accounting from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., in 1983. Schlifske is married and has six children.

The Northwestern Mutual board also named Gary A. “Skip” Poliner, 56, president and chief risk officer, effective August 1. Poliner is currently executive vice president, chief risk officer and a member of the company’s board of trustees. He will report to Schlifske.

Photos and bios of these executives are available in the Northwestern Mutual Newsroom:

About Northwestern Mutual

The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company – Milwaukee, WI (Northwestern Mutual) has helped clients achieve financial security for more than 150 years. As a mutual company with $1.2 trillion of life insurance protection in force, Northwestern Mutual seeks to share its gains with policyowners and deliver consistent and dependable value to clients over time. Northwestern Mutual and its subsidiaries offer a holistic approach to financial security solutions including: life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability insurance, annuities, investment products, and advisory products and services. Subsidiaries include Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, member FINRA and SIPC; the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company, limited purpose federal savings bank; and Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company; and Russell Investments