Congratulations to the 2019 Class of IBANY Emerging Leaders!



Michelle Abecasis 2019 2


Michelle Abecasis

HUB International Northeast

Hometown: La Paz, Bolivia
Education: BA in Art History from Carleton College
Chief Mentors: Marilyn Brown, Norman Newman and Bradley Taylor

Graduating as an Art History major, a career in insurance was the last thing I had in mind. After holding a few jobs in the art industry, ranging from museum work to galleries, and auction houses, I was hired to digitize and catalog a private art collection for insurance purposes. This is when I realized the importance of insurance in the art world. Insurance plays a crucial role in safeguarding unique artifacts that both are meaningful to their owners and represent our shared cultural heritage.

I joined HUB International’s Fine Art & Special Risk division in 2015 and have had the opportunity to work with a dedicated team of industry specialists from a variety of backgrounds in servicing, claims, underwriting and the art industry itself. Every risk we deal with is very unique and requires a specialized, tailored coverage that adequately suits the owner’s needs. The art world is very dynamic and the smallest damages can easily turn into large losses. As a fine arts broker, I believe it is essential to actively engage with clients to understand each request and offer innovative and proactive solutions.

I have been very lucky to have excellent mentors at HUB who have given me the guidance and tools to manage challenging projects that helped me grow. This has allowed me to learn more, gain experience, and advance my skill set. The insurance industry is heading in a very exciting direction. I am eager to pay this mentorship forward and provide the same support that I received, which has been critical to my success.



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Matthew Berliner
RT Specialty

Hometown: Weston, CT
Education: Bentley University
Chief Mentor: My pops, Ed Berliner

Growing up I always had an entrepreneurial spirit with a drive to end up in business. Having multiple family members in the industry, I was attracted to insurance as it provides a collaborative, competitive environment that I find extremely exciting. I began my career underwriting at AIG and eventually moved to the wholesale side at RT. I love the enthusiasm and challenge, in addition to working side by side with my coworkers and senior management who encourage entrepreneurial vigor and consistently strive for excellence.

I have been fortunate to have some fantastic carrier partnerships and clients. Saying yes to every opportunity, and aiming to expand my parameters, while having such amazing mentors and teammates in the industry has enabled me to come this far. I look forward to a very long wholesale career working with the best team in insurance and some of the brightest minds in the industry. Our team seeks to be a leader in the industry by inspiring, educating and motivating the next generation of insurance professionals. I am honored to be one of them.

 

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Dwayne Callender, CPCU, API, ARM
The Travelers Companies, Inc.

Hometown: New York, NY
Education: BA in Economics from the College of the Holy Cross
Chief Mentors: My parents, many others in the industry and an honorable mention to Coach Bill Parcells

As is the case with many in the industry, my introduction to insurance came about through happenstance. I was searching for journalism internships over the summer of my junior year in college and ended up interning at National Underwriter Property & Casualty Magazine. During my internship, I learned there was much more to the industry than the commercials I saw on TV, which raised my level of interest. Asking questions and learning how businesses from every type of industry rely on insurance was fascinating to me.

When I graduated college in 2006, I ended up gravitating towards Insurance Services Office Inc. (ISO), one of the companies I had conducted interviews with during my internship. My five years at ISO provided me with a wealth of information about the industry and how ISO interacts with insurance companies through its many product offerings. This led me to pursue my insurance designations and a desire to learn more about the role of underwriters in the industry. My curiosity led me to leave the confines of ISO to join Travelers in 2011.

At Travelers, I have had the privilege of working with some of the most knowledgeable and dedicated individuals in the industry. We are proud of our spirit of collaboration, and I in particular, enjoy training new underwriters on new processes and procedures so that I can witness their growth. I consider this to be my way of paying it forward, as I have been the beneficiary of the time and energy of so many individuals throughout my career.

I look forward to many more productive years in the industry and I am proud to be named by Travelers and IBANY as one of IBANY’s 2019 Emerging Leaders.

 

Matthew Culkin

 

Matthew Culkin
PL Risk Advisors, Inc.

Hometown: Warwick, NY
Education: Bachelor of Business Administration, Marketing from Marywood University
Chief Mentor: Javier Gonzalez

Insurance is an interesting profession and in general, a fascinating industry. Like many others, I didn’t go to school for insurance or risk management. I didn’t grow up dreaming of someday becoming a broker and was even hesitant in interviewing at an insurance brokerage. I also never thought I would consider insurance fascinating, but here we are!

Accepting the position with Axis Insurance Services/PL Risk Advisors was the best decision of my professional career and a turning point in my life. That first year of employment as an Associate Broker with Axis I would go home and say, to anyone who would listen, that I genuinely felt smarter than the day before. That statement holds true today just as much as it did then. There is nothing stagnant about insurance. Clients change, technology changes, political climates change, but something always stays the same, which is the need to insure corporate risk.

After accepting this job I’ve been able to travel the country, meet several very important people and assist our clients in solving real world problems to help protect their businesses. I’ve been presented with opportunity after opportunity by the management at PL Risk Advisors to better myself as a broker, co-worker and member of society.

I am very grateful for each one of those opportunities and those who gave them to me. I will continue to work toward becoming an industry leader and resource in the Professional/Management Liability field.

Thank you to PL Risk Advisors and IBANY for the honor.

 

Nick DelVino

 

Nick DelVino
AmWINS Brokerage of NY

Educational Background: Boston College, class of 2011, BA in Sociology. CPCU in 2017.
Hometown: West Harrison, NY
Chief Mentors: My entire team as they epitomize hard-work and teamwork.

I did not intend to work in insurance. I started out at AmWINS NY in an entry level position: sorting mail, working reception and processing claims – the fun stuff. Honestly, the idea of working in insurance sounded like one of those boring, soulless office jobs that everyone fears they'll end up doing when they grow up. I was sure that my stint in insurance would not last long.

This feeling lasted for a few months but began to ebb once I was given the opportunity to move to brokerage.

We were asked for this write up to name who our biggest mentor has been, and it's an easy answer for me, except it's not one person. It's my team – "Team Conroy" as we call ourselves. Jim hired me and taught me the meaning of “work hard, play hard.” Jackie took me under her wing and showed me the ropes from day one, and to her I owe more than I can count. Cathleen is a true marketer who makes the job fun every day. Christina, Rob, Tom and Jason have all taught me so much about every facet of the job, most of all that teamwork is the bedrock of success. This team has not just provided me the opportunity to succeed but has given me the inspiration to strive for more and the environment to have fun while doing it. All of our efforts are underpinned by a culture at AmWINS that values and promotes collaboration and expertise, the perfect place for a young professional to grow.

Looking forward, I am excited about continuing to learn every day, as a broker/teammate, as a volunteer leader for the CPCU Society and in my own personal endeavors. Thanks again to my team and AmWINS for giving me this chance.

 

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Patrick Farrell
Philadelphia Insurance Companies

Hometown: Jamison, PA
Education: High Point University
Chief Mentors: Bill Misita and Jason Ivins

Before working at Philadelphia Insurance Companies, I had summer jobs at my mother and uncle’s insurance agency in Philadelphia. During my time at High Point University, I had become friends with a teammate and through him, I was able to get an interview at Philadelphia Insurance. After briefly hearing about the various job and growth opportunities I knew it was something I wanted to do.


I started my career at Philadelphia Insurance Companies as a marketing trainee working out of the home office in Bala Cynwyd, right outside of Philadelphia. In less than a year I became a marketing representative in the New York office. The aspect of this job I enjoy the most is the interactions I have with people within the company and externally. I have been fortunate to work with amazing people in my brief time in this industry and for that I am grateful. This opportunity has allowed me to grow both professionally and personally.

I am looking forward to continuing my career at Philadelphia Insurance Companies and learning something new every day. Thank you to both IBANY and Philadelphia Insurance for supporting and naming me as a 2019 Emerging Leader.

 

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Cheryl Karim
Gallagher

Hometown: Queens, NY
Education: BA in Literature and Cultural Studies from Pace University
Chief Mentor: Jeffrey Haber

As a second generation insurance broker, I am incredibly humbled and honored to be designated as one of IBANY’s Emerging Leaders of 2019. Art insurance has been my passion since I began as an intern in the Fine Arts department at Acordia Northeast with Jeffrey Haber, Michael Fischman and Ellen Ross while I worked through college. The art and jewelry specie market is unlike any other market in the insurance industry; it is completely enamoring. So, it was no surprise to anyone that after I graduated from college, I delved headfirst into a career that gave me the opportunity to work with some of the most brilliant artistic minds in the world.

What I am most passionate about within this career is getting to be a part of something greater than myself. Being able to bring my unique risk management experience in both Specialty Fine Arts and Property and Casualty to the table so that my art clients can concentrate on bringing their remarkable visions to the world through exhibitions, shows and events is thrilling and satisfying. There is an unparalleled sense of pride in seeing an international event come together after months of challenges, seeing a private collector obtain the crown jewel of their collection and helping a new collector understand their insurance needs.

My hope for the future is actually quite simple. I would love to continue doing what I have been doing, being a part of a supportive and innovative organization like Gallagher where I can continue to grow and work with many of the greatest collectors, dealers, artists, museums, galleries, consultants and jewelers in the world, while teaching the next generation of art insurance brokers about the unique needs of our clients.

 


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Stephanie Maes, ARM
Foa & Son Corporation

Hometown: Massapequa, NY
Education: Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Industrial & Organizational Psych, Minor in Business from Queens College
Chief Mentors: Pete Sollecito and Joann Shelton

As is true with many in this field, I did not grow up aspiring to work in the insurance industry. I started right out of college as a receptionist with a small but progressive family-owned insurance agency. I advanced quickly within the company. My introduction to insurance started at this firm working on their one of a kind small business program. I learned the ropes of small commercial accounts and proceeded to get my NYS Broker’s license. This small family-owned firm is not so small anymore and the program in which I had my first taste of insurance has come a long way, as have I in my career in insurance. I went on to other firms and have worked on both the wholesale side in marketing and the brokerage side, working on middle market accounts in various industries. It is when I started at Foa & Son about four years ago that I think I have had the most growth. This firm truly is one of a kind and I am sincerely honored and proud to have been selected to represent Foa & Son as their Emerging Leader.

What I enjoy about this industry are the relationships that I have developed along the way, not only with my colleagues and other industry professionals but with clients as well. While being an insurance broker may not have been what I envisioned growing up, I have always naturally been able to put myself in others’ shoes, which really enables me to connect with others and understand their needs. Over the last few years, I have continued my education and obtained my Associate in Risk Management (ARM) designation, which allowed me to take this natural ability to the next level and really take a consultative approach to help my clients protect their business and assets.

What keeps me here is the unlimited opportunity. I am extremely excited to see where the industry trends in the coming years, and to continue learning and growing individually as an insurance professional.

 

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Victoria Marciano, FCAS
Sompo International

Hometown: Chesterfield, NJ
Education: BS in Finance, Minor in Mathematics from Rowan University
Chief Mentors: Edward Chiang, Anita Sathe and Dave Heppen

One of my college professors mentioned a career in insurance as an actuary, and while I never thought of myself as someone sitting behind a computer crunching numbers all day (this is not the only thing that actuaries do!), I saw value in the skillset and the approach to problem solving associated with the profession. The insurance industry seemed interesting and dynamic and I couldn't be happier with my decision.

Throughout the years, I've been consistently surrounded by mentors and talented professionals who have been paramount in shaping my development.

I began my career as a reinsurance pricing actuary and moved into a consulting role for more breadth of experience. Consulting provided me with a collaborative environment and a variety of learning opportunities ranging from pricing and reserving projects to helping companies develop new products, improving efficiencies in their insurance operations or redefining their strategy. Every insurance/reinsurance client was unique and every project had its challenges, which provided me with ample opportunity to learn and grow.

It was all of these experiences and problem-solving challenges that provided me with the tools needed to excel in an innovative and dynamic environment. As such, joining a new and rapidly growing division like Sompo’s Global Risk Solutions was a natural fit for me. Having been started only three years ago, the division has grown to $350 million in Industry Vertical premium and is projected to end this year at $450 million. Everyone in the group has an extensive knowledge base and deep industry expertise, which have provided me with the opportunity to learn and grow in new ways, all the while providing customized solutions for our clients.

I am currently responsible for pricing and monitoring our growing book of business and developing innovative pricing/portfolio monitoring tools. I have also been expanding my knowledge base by building operational efficiencies across multiple areas, learning underwriting/coverage impact, and developing the young professionals on the team which has been very rewarding.

My hope for the future is that the insurance industry continues to increase their emphasis on innovation and a customer focus to optimize the solutions that are provided for clients.

I am very thankful and appreciate the recognition from my colleagues at Sompo in naming me an Emerging Leader and for all their help and guidance as I continue to learn and develop in my career.

 

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Rudy Milfort
Integro Insurance Brokers

Hometown: Jamaica (Queens), NY
Education: BA in Finance & Business Management from Hofstra University
Chief Mentors: Daniel Rivera and George Dougherty

I am truly honored and humbled to be selected as an Emerging Leader. I would like to thank both Integro / EPIC and IBANY for recognizing me in this way. My efforts alone didn’t bring me here, so I’d like to give special thanks to my loved ones, colleagues and industry professionals who have provided tremendous support throughout the years.

My journey into the Risk Management industry wasn’t intentional at first and there have been some obstacles along the way, but it has truly shaped both me as a person and a colleague. I was working in finance during college but wanted to challenge myself to try something completely different. I began on the claims side, then moved to the carrier side and eventually explored the brokerage arena. I’ve had the great privilege to work alongside so many exceptional people in this industry and learned my greatest lessons by simply listening and observing.

What keeps me in this industry, you ask? The people and the challenges. We as industry professionals are tasked with solving problems in this ever-evolving environment and that provides great opportunities for growth. I will continue to be a strong advocate for our industry and help reinforce the value that we collectively bring. To my family, my community and my industry, I hope that I continue to represent you well.

 

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Ryan Murphy
Allied World Assurance Company

Hometown: Fair Haven, NJ
Education: Virginia Tech
Chief Mentors: Mark Murphy and Karen Marotta

After graduating from Virginia Tech in 2010, I began a five-year obligation as a commissioned officer in the United States Army. My various assignments sent me up and down the East Coast and included a combat deployment to Afghanistan as a logistics officer in 2013. As my time in uniform was coming to a close, I began to search for positions in New York City when I was introduced to Allied World.

Given my prior experience, I was offered a role as an Underwriting Trainee with our Defense Base Act team. I spent a little over three years learning the specifics of underwriting, as well as seeing what else the insurance industry had to offer. In November of 2018, I left my underwriting role and took my current position as the Business Development Manager for the New York/New Jersey metro area. I am continuing to learn about the various product lines we offer, on both the P&C side and the Professional Lines side.

I am grateful for the opportunities that Allied World has given me so far and I look forward to continuing to grow professionally as the years go on. I appreciate both Allied World and IBANY for recognizing me as part of the 2019 Emerging Leader class.

 

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Caroline Nolan
CHUBB

Hometown: Holmdel, NJ
Education: St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Chief Mentor: Faye Callahan

I am truly honored to be recognized as a 2019 IBANY Emerging Leader. I appreciate the support I have received from my organization, CHUBB, for this nomination.

After graduating from college I never envisioned a career in insurance; I wanted more of a flashy job in finance. However, during my job search I found myself applying and being accepted into CHUBB’s trainee program. With no prior insurance background, I was presented with the challenge of learning and understanding an entirely new industry. I was placed into CHUBB’s life science division, which specializes in pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Initially, this was overwhelming as the technical knowledge needed to transact this business was extensive. Fast forward eight years and I am working toward my Life Science Specialist designation within CHUBB, which would provide me expanded responsibility and increased authority.

Although insurance was not my initial career choice, it has been a path that has helped me to grow and build myself both personally and professionally. CHUBB has provided an environment that fosters collaboration and learning, which draws me back to work each day. My technical specialization in life sciences has allowed me to meet with companies on the cutting edge of science and modern medicine.

Throughout my career, I have had various mentors and supporters who have assisted in getting me to where I am today. They have dedicated their time and energy to my own career growth and personal success. IBANY and CHUBB are organizations that put employee value as a top priority and are changing the industry for the better.

 

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Johanna Ospina
Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Hometown: Morristown, NJ
Education: University of Connecticut
Chief Mentors: E&S team at C&F, Karen London and Morgan Wichmann

I never thought I would have ended up working in insurance as a career. Now, with 14 years under my belt, I am thankful for this industry and the great opportunities that have come my way.

After graduating from college in 2005, I proceeded to look for jobs within my major, marketing. I came across a temporary position for Crum & Forster. Shortly thereafter, I was offered a full-time position as an Underwriting Assistant, which lead to my career path. Working as a UA for the E&S team, I was privy to the day-to-day work of an Underwriter. It was a career I could see myself doing and enjoying. In 2007, I had the opportunity to apply and was chosen for the Underwriting Trainee Program.

There are so many aspects of this industry that interest me. This is a people industry. You work with brokers, claims, actuarial, legal, marketing, etc., and are constantly building relationships within and outside your own company. All these interactions have helped me gain experience and I am grateful for my many mentors. I was also drawn to underwriting because every day was (and continues to be) different. With the various types of business industries, there is a lot to learn and stay engaged.

In 2014, I had the opportunity to work for this amazing company, which is where I am today, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance. This move came with a lot of changes, challenges, and opportunities. I feel very fortunate to be at BHSI. I work with an incredible team of experienced, supportive and motivating people. I look forward to continuing to build relationships, pass along my knowledge/experience and continue to help build the Casualty book of business.

 

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Matthew Price
Aspen Insurance

Hometown: Jersey City, NJ
Education: BA in Political Science from the University of Vermont
Chief Mentor: Bruce Eisler

As the child of two insurance industry veterans, one could guess that I grew up hearing about and being exposed to the concepts of risk management, profit and loss, and all the other technical terms that come with a career in the world of insurance. In actuality, what I learned and took from observing my parents whose careers spanned the various functions of HR, Claims, Underwriting and Senior Management was that the insurance industry offers a chance for growth, opportunity, and a place to build a network of both personal and professional connections that can last a lifetime.

My own journey through the industry has included stops in Claims first at AIG, Brokerage at Aon, and most recently underwriting positions at Liberty and now Aspen. Throughout the course of these professional opportunities, I have been fortunate enough to encounter and learn from dedicated professionals who have never ceased to provide me with both the incentive and opportunity to grow as a person, a professional and a colleague to others. These positions have afforded me the chance to learn about risk, interact with and foster lasting relationships with people from many different backgrounds/professions, and most importantly, how to build relationships and work with others to succeed in all endeavors.

My hope for the future is that alongside the other nominees I am able to share the knowledge, skills, and opportunities I’ve learned with others, especially those entering the industry who are just beginning to understand the challenging but incredibly rewarding future ahead.

 

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Lauren Randall
Marsh & McLennan Agency, Northeast

Hometown: Mequon, WI
Education: Bachelors in Print Journalism with Specialization in Art History and Spanish from the University of Minnesota
Chief Mentor: Chantal Raineri

I run Marsh & McLennan Agency’s New York City Investment Management Practice. Financial services encompasses such a wide range of businesses, both in size and scope of services. In my two years of field research, I realized how distinct and unique the investment management world was as it pertained to employee health and benefits as well as human capital strategy. I set out to understand the challenges, successes, gaps and needs of that industry from employees, leaders and mid-level directors so that I could build a truly unique and deeply powerful strategy that not only impacted financial performance but also maximized human capital returns. Diversity and inclusion is a big component of this, and I host and lead a quarterly women’s executive breakfast to continue to discuss these topics and create real solutions.

Whether it be insurance, volunteering or journalism, I’ve always had a strong passion and dedication to understanding others. I believe that it is through understanding that we build bridges, serve and solve complex social problems, thus creating a better present and future world. When I experienced a health crisis at 19, I had absolutely no idea how to navigate the health care and health insurance systems. I saw firsthand the financial, physical and emotional implications of this, especially for my parents. I made a promise to myself that when I fully recovered, I would dedicate my time to making insurance education accessible to employees and anyone with a health plan so that they felt empowered to take control of their health. That is the goal that I strive for every day and the underpinning to my success. I believe that the future of health care and health insurance is bright if we operate from a place of integrity, innovation and constant dedication to improvement and change.

 

Debra Simon

 

Debra Simon
Preferred Concepts, LLC

Hometown: Rahway, NJ
Education: BA in Communications, Minor in Business Administration from Loyola University Maryland
Chief Mentor: Robert Lynch

My insurance career began directly after college with Preferred Concepts. As a first-generation insurance professional, I was immediately astonished by the vastness of the industry. Fourteen years later, this industry continues to captivate and educate me every day.

I’ve been fortunate to hold a number of different insurance positions during my career. It was important for me to explore as many aspects of this industry as I could. In the process, I discovered my real passion: Underwriting. I value the journey in non-underwriting positions and believe it has granted me a valuable perspective on insured’s needs, broker’s expectations, hard/soft markets, and how claims affect carrier rates. It has also gifted me with a wide range of invaluable relationships for which I am forever grateful.

Looking to the future, I’m excited to see new challenges unfold in this ever-shifting landscape of the insurance industry. I am currently studying for the CPCU as my next step in continuing education. In my personal life, I am an avid golfer and passionate about dog rescue.

I am sincerely honored to be named as an Emerging Leader. Thank you, IBANY, Alliant and Preferred Concepts for this recognition. I hope to emulate the leadership of my mentors and all the seasoned insurance professionals I’ve encountered in my career: Lead by example through hard work, knowledge, patience and integrity.