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Independent Distribution (ID) 20 Award Recipients

Congratulations to the 2022 Independent Distribution (ID) 20 Recipients! To be included on this list, an organization must have either been an exhibitor during the most recent NAILBA's Annual Meeting or apply for our Allied Membership. For more information, please contact NAILBA.

Learn more about 20 of the industry’s innovators and trailblazers:

Douglas Allenbaugh
Executive Vice President
The Marketing Alliance 

Douglas Allenbaugh is Executive Vice President of The Marketing Alliance (TMA), where he has led the insurance distribution business since 2010. Before joining TMA, Doug worked at the global reinsurance group, Munich Re, where he was responsible for leading and supporting executive-level initiatives including post-merger integration, strategic alliances, and operational efficiency-related projects. Doug also worked at the management consulting firm Accenture, where he specialized in enterprise system solutions. A graduate of Miami University, Doug holds an MBA from the University of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business where he graduated with honors. He is based in St. Louis, MO.

Charles Arnold
Chief Marketing Officer
The Leaders Group

Charles Arnold is the Chief Marketing Officer for The Leaders Group, guiding the overall structure of the firm’s marketing, recruiting, and business development efforts. He resides in Highlands Ranch, Colorado with his wife Allison and their two golden retrievers.

Grace Ata
AVP Software Development

With 17+ years of experience in FinTech and InsurTech, Grace has led the development of several game-changing digital transformation initiatives within the automotive lending sector and Insurance and Wealth Management industries in North America. Grace brings a deep knowledge of the insurance distribution space and extensive network of industry subject matter experts to lead the strategy and development team.

Farron Blanc
VP, Brokerage Distribution & Strategy
Legal & General America

Farron Blanc leads Distribution & Marketing at Legal & General America, leveraging technology to drive Term Life growth in the independent brokerage channel. He is a recovering VC-backed Startup CEO, global reinsurer, corporate Venture Capitalist, life insurance carrier President, BCG Strategy Consultant, and the CMO for Aviva’s Indonesia business.

Christopher Bottaro
SVP, Insurance
Valmark Financial Group

As SVP of Insurance for Valmark Financial Group, Chris Bottaro leads Valmark’s life insurance-related business lines and does his best to “Bring the Golden Rule to Life.”   He is responsible for the vision, strategy and execution of life insurance marketing, new business, underwriting, and in force solutions.  In this role, he prides himself in partnering with Advisors and insurance carriers to help make the life insurance process simpler and more efficient for clients. Chris has a deep technical risk assessment background and is seen as an UW/NB subject matter expert, having spent the first 12 years of his career in various underwriting production and leadership positions at Lincoln Financial Group in Hartford before relocating to the Twin Cities to join Valmark in February of 2015.  Chris has a B.A. from Boston College, where he majored in Economics, an MBA from the University of Massachusetts, and holds the Series 6 and 26 Registrations. 

Phil Chuba
Vice President, National Account Executive, Independent Distribution

During his 33 years in the noble insurance industry, Phil served as Prudential’s Chief Underwriter and currently leads the Strategic Relationship Management Team for Individual Life.  He has volunteered as a member of the ALU Education Committee, served on the NAILBA Charitable Foundation Board and is an active participant in the events that are part of the Finseca Community.   

Bruce Donaldson
Chief Executive Officer
Simplicity Group Holdings

Mr. Donaldson serves as Simplicity’s President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Donaldson is responsible for defining the Group’s strategic direction and supporting its various operating businesses.

Jim Duff
President, Tellus Brokerage Connections, Inc & Sr. VP, Crump Life Insurance Services

At Crump, Jim is responsible for the sales and operational growth of the Solution Centers, an internal sales and servicing organization that provides annuity, disability and long term care insurance solutions to the more than 25,000 Crump insurance producers annually. Jim is also responsible for Tellus Brokerage Connections, a national network of independent brokerage general agencies that affiliate with Tellus for carrier access. Jim is a graduate of the University of Richmond. He currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina with Kortni, his wife of 30 years. They have two grown children, a son, Adam (wife, Rachel) and daughter, Kristin (husband, Cameron).

Debra Gangelhoff
VP and General Manager for Life Market
LexisNexis Risk Solutions

Debra Gangelhoff is Vice President & General Manager of Life Insurance for LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Debra helps execute market planning and early stage product development to support the continued growth of LexisNexis Risk Solutions in the life market. She works with internal and external stakeholders to position the team as a valued partner to life insurers in the use of data and analytics to meet their strategic objectives. Prior to joining LexisNexis Risk Solutions in August 2019, Debra spent more than 20 years in the payments sector. Debra served Synchrony Financial for more than five years, most recently as Vice President for Growth & Innovation where she led strategic planning and cross-functional leadership. Prior to that, she was with GE Capital serving in various leadership roles. Debra graduated from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls with a bachelor’s degree in economics.

Jeremy Hallett
Vice President of Quotacy
Highland Capital Brokerage and Quotacy

Jeremy Hallett is co-founder of Quotacy, Inc., a direct-to-consumer digital life insurance brokerage headquartered in Minneapolis. The company’s mission is to help everyone who has loved ones—who depend on them financially—to own a life insurance policy. Mr. Hallett is also CEO of Hallett Financial Group, Inc., a brokerage general agency (BGA) that distributes life insurance, annuities, disability, and long term care products. Hallett Financial has been serving over 2000 insurance agents and financial advisors since 1990. Jeremy’s partnerships—across technology, insurance, and finance—stem from his willingness to spark innovation and his curiosity about what’s possible in life and business. Playing sax and meditating daily keep him happy and humble.

Luke Kaplan
President, Executive Life and Benefits, Life Insurance and Annuity Brokerage

As President of Executive Life and Benefits at Gallagher, Luke is responsible for the strategic direction and growth of life insurance and annuity brokerage as well as executive benefits and planning.  The division’s 200 professionals span 17 locations.  Luke is actively involved in devising and executing strategies for organic growth as well as mergers and acquisitions.  Prior to re-joining Gallagher, where he started his career, Luke co-ran his own general agency that Gallagher acquired in 2017.  Luke’s life insurance career began as a retail life agent before joining Credit Suisse’ Life Finance Group to lead its buy side origination team.

Leah Mahoney, FLMI, PCS, NCCM
Director of Operations
Diversified Brokerage Services

Leah Mahoney has over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. In her current role she is well regarded as an innovative and charismatic leader. She has proven skill in resolving complex business and process challenges and has worked extensively building teams and fine-tuning the service experience her team members ultimately provide customers. Her drive and enthusiasm for improving processes and finding solutions is a true asset to building bridges throughout the industry.

Adam Monteverde
Co-Head of National Accounts
John Hancock Insurance 

Adam serves as National Account Vice President at John Hancock with a core focus of helping key distribution partners navigate a path to success and achieve growth targets. Adam plays a critcal role in identyfing customer needs and create strategies to meet those needs. He collaborates across the organization to bridge resources and faciliate how John Hancock can add value and implement actionable and innovative solutions for our partners and their clients. 

Martin Schafer
Chief Distribution Officer

Marty Schafer, Chief Distribution Officer, leads channel distribution and insurance partnerships with third party life insurance distributors and insurance agents. Prior to Ethos, Marty was an SVP at Crump Life Insurance Services, VP at John Hancock, and co-founded Saybrus Partners, a distribution company.

Carlan Snipes
Pacific Life Field Vice President
Broad Market

With over 28 years’ experience, Carlan was first recruited to First Colony Life after graduating from Virginia Tech. She advanced her career in positions such as Customer Service, Product Specialist, and RVP with GE Financial and Genworth. She spent 22 years with Genworth marketing life insurance, annuities and linked benefit products to independent brokerage before joining Pacific Life in 2017.

Lisa Todd
Head of Life & Disability Insurance Distribution
MassMutual Strategic Distributors

Lisa overseesbusiness development, relationship management, wholesaling, marketing, service and operations for Life and Disability Insurance through our third-party distribution partners. Most recently Lisa was Head of MMFA Brokerage Sales where she was responsible for driving top-line sales by expanding existing and establishing new partnerships. Prior to joining MassMutual in 2013, Lisa was with John Hancock for 10 years, in several positions, including leading distribution and product development. Lisa began her professional career at The Hartford and held a variety of roles in operations, product development and distribution. A native of St. Paul Minnesota, Lisa is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. Lisa currently resides in South Boston, Massachusetts. Lisa is a longstanding member of LIMRA’s Brokerage Committee.

Kelli Tormey-Grass
Executive Director & Chief of Staff
LIBRA Insurance Partners

Kelli is Executive Director & Chief of Staff at LIBRA Insurance partners. Prior to her role at LIBRA, she served for 16 years at LifeMark partners as Senior Vice President. She began her career in the industry as Marketing Research Associate at CNA Insurance and is a graduate of Tennessee Technological University.

Todd Villeneuve
Managing Partner
IFC National Marketing

Originally from Fairmont, Minnesota, Todd first entered the financial services industry in 1993. Todd is actively engaged in his community as a member of his local NAIFA organization, Rotary Club and Knights of Columbus. Todd is proud to consider many of his agents as his closest friends and he loves helping them successfully market and grow their agencies. Having an attitude focused on family and friendship is what he strives for at IFC National Marketing. Todd and his wife, Denise, are proud parents of Audrey, Frankie and Tessa. His love of his family and love of life are worn on his sleeve and usually followed by a hardy laugh. Todd enjoys spending time at his cabin with family and friends. He is a huge sports fan, an avid golfer, and a proud University of Minnesota alumnus and booster.

Rachel Wender
Managing Director
TAG Financial Institutions Group

Rachel joined TAG Financial as Managing Director in January 2022 with 13 years of life insurance, senior products, disability income and annuity distribution experience. Prior to TAG, Rachel served as Executive Vice President of Business Development at Ash Brokerage, one of the largest privately-held life insurance and annuity product distribution companies in the United States. While there, Rachel led all merger and acquisition activities, including sourcing, structuring, valuation, due diligence and successful integration of middle-market acquisitions or investments. She also led the strategic financial planning and reporting initiatives. Rachel is a Certified Merger and Acquisition Advisor (CM&AA), Life and Health Insurance licensed, and is Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Certified. Rachel is a former collegiate swimmer, a 2x Ironman finisher, and yoga instructor. She is also actively involved with Meals on Wheels, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Three Rivers Yoga Foundation, and The Shepherd’s House for Recovering Veterans. Rachel received her MBA from the University of Missouri – Columbia.

Kristin Wills
Senior Vice President Marketing
Hexure (formerly Insurance Technologies)

Kristin has spent more than 20 years with Hexure (formerly insurance technologies). Since 2010, she has served in various leadership roles in the marketing arm of the business, currently as Senior Vice President. She is a graduate of Western Colorado University. 

Learn more about 20 of the industry’s innovators and trailblazers:

Tim Bellig

Managing Principal
Vanbridge, an EPIC Company

Tim Bellig is Managing Principal at Vanbridge, an EPIC company. In 2001 he co-founded Trumark a leading distributor of life insurance to alternative asset managers before selling it to EPIC in 2019. In 2007 Tim created XRAE underwriting software, eventually selling it to iPipeline. Tim and his wife Courtney have 5 children.
Patrick Bowen 

Co-Founder and CRO

Patrick is a senior executive with 25 years of broad-based experience in multiple distributions. He is an exceptional sales professional who leads by example and delivers results. He started his career in financial services working for an insurance carrier during his high school and college years. Before co-founding InsurAware, he spent the previous two decades serving in a variety of distribution leadership roles. He most recently served as Senior VP of U.S. Distribution for the 6th largest insurer in the world. Active in many industry organizations, he takes pride in witnessing the sales results that the teams he has been privileged to lead have achieved over the years.

Brian Duncan
Duncan Advisor Resources

Brian is CEO of Duncan Advisor Resources, overseeing all of the firm’s wholesale businesses. He works with team members across the organization to be the leading trusted partner for advisors and their firms, with a special focus in the Life Brokerage General Agency business and underwriting advocacy. Brian works with advisors, agents and clients to design strategies that help grow, protect and transfer their wealth.
Matt Essick 

Chief Marketing Officer 

Matt Essick leads marketing, business development and strategy for Ensight™, the market-leading Life, Annuity & LTC sales acceleration platform for insurance carriers, national distributors and BGAs. Previously, Matt led various marketing divisions and strategy/innovation programs at Zurich Insurance Group, as well as spending a decade in Silicon Valley. Matt is a graduate of Boston College, London Business School and London School of Economics.

Blair Farwell
President and CEO
Resource Brokerage, LLC

Blair Farwell, RHU, REBC entered the insurance industry in 1995 and is the President of Resource Brokerage. Blair provides innovation to independent brokers through training and technology. Blair graduated from Hope College with a double major in Business and Communications.

David Fenimore
Chairman of the Board
Insurance Technologies

David Fenimore is Chairman of the Board for Insurance Technologies. Mr. Fenimore was an originating team member of Insurance Technologies and progressed his career to CEO, leading the technology, business development, and growth strategies for Insurance Technologies and its product offerings.

Scott Fergusson
Chief Executive Officer

I am the Chief Executive Officer at Techficient, an insurtech company formed in 2020. As an independent company with strong connections to the industry, we see a tremendous opportunity to transform the insurance space using the case management tools we have developed. When you combine this with our analytics, we have a unique platform that empowers distribution and carriers to better serve their customers and impact lives.

Paul Garofoli
Regional Sales Director 
The Standard

Paul Garofoli, Annuity RSD for the Standard, has a 39-year career touching upon all aspects of our industry, especially independent distribution. Nicknamed the “Annuity King,” his enthusiasm is legendary. A nationally recognized speaker, Paul is known for his entertaining presentations.

Eric Griffin
Executive Vice President
The Cason Group

Eric Griffin is the Executive Vice President at The Cason Group and is responsible for the life, DI, & LTC brokerage business. He has been with The Cason Group since 1998. Eric & his wife Wendy live in Charlotte, NC with their three kids Evie, Matthew, and Molly.

Angie Hughes
Managing Partner
Producers XL

Angie began her insurance career in 1993 and joined Producers XL in 1999. Recently becoming a Partner with Producer’s XL, Angie is excited to work with the agents in Life, Annuity, LTC, Disability and Medicare solutions. She spends most of her time working with advisors on developing marketing strategies for their practice and developing solutions for their clients.
Krish V. Krishnan

Founder and CEO 

Krish V. Krishnan is Founder & CEO of Magnifact, a Chicago-based insurtech company that created the AgentVizion platform—a patented performance measurement platform for the insurance industry that enables carriers, agencies and agents to get a 360-degree view across their lines of business. He is also the inventor of AgentVizion2Go, the first of its kind mobile app for insurance agents.

Jeff Levin

Vice President of Sales, Care Solutions 

Jeff Levin is Vice President of Sales for OneAmerica’s Care Solutions, a suite of life and annuity asset-based long-term care products. He is responsible for leading a team of Divisional Vice Presidents, Regional Sales Directors, and Managers, and an Account Management team, all focused on the distribution and support of OneAmerica’s sales partners.

Marjorie Ma

Head of Life Insurance Product Management

In her role, Marjorie is responsible for overseeing AIG Life Insurance Product portfolio, including Term, UL, IUL, and Whole Life. Her focus is on product strategy development and product implementation, as well as day-to-day product management. She is also responsible for Market Intelligence to collect industry and competitor updates and to provide actionable intelligence to other teams within AIG. Marjorie started her career in the life insurance industry with AIG in 2012 and has taken various roles in Product Development and Marketing. She’s passionate about life insurance products and is also an advocate for leveraging new technologies in life insurance to take customer experiences of this traditional industry to the next level.

Mike Pepe


Mike Pepe capitalized on 20 years of life insurance expertise by launching Proformex, a life insurance servicing platform that helps advisors, brokers, and carriers service clients better. Proformex delivers multicarrier visibility, collaboration, and performance reporting in a single, secure system.

Rachel Sachs
Vice President, Life Operations
Advisors Excel

Rachel Sachs is Vice President of Life Operations at Advisors Excel where she leads the day-to-day operations and strategic vision for the life insurance operations division. She joined Advisors Excel in 2010 and has helped grow the robust life insurance division to nearly 100 employees. Rachel and her husband Robby have been married for 15 years and they have two children, Delaney and Everett.

Scott Safranek

National Sales Manager
American National

Scott began his insurance career more than 25 years ago as a career agent and prior to joining American National Insurance Company he was a Sales VP at MetLife where he focused on growing life insurance sales on a national level. He has also had other sales VP positions with Mutual of Omaha, Lincoln Benefit Life and AIG-American General.

Scott obtained his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and served our country for nine years in the U.S. Army. He is also a veteran of the first Gulf War. Outside of the office Scott enjoys spending time with family and friends on his boat either at the Lake of the Ozarks or the Missouri River.

Bobby Samuelson

President, Life Innovators
Executive Editor, The Life Product Review

Bobby is the Executive Editor of The Life Product Review, the industry’s best source for objective life product intelligence, and President of Life Innovators, a product development firm. Previously, he was SVP and Head of Product Development at Brighthouse Financial.

Jim Sorebo

SVP of Sales 
Highland Capital Brokerage 

James J. Sorebo, CLU®, serves as Senior Vice President, Community Banks & IBDs for Highland Capital Brokerage. Jim started his financial services career in 1979 and was an executive with an industry-leading insurance and investment company. Jim has given back to the industry in numerous ways over his career.

Matt Szychulski 

National Account Vice President
John Hancock 

Joining John Hancock in January 2020, Matt Szychulski serves in the role of National Account Vice President responsible for managing and growing top line production with several strategic National Marketing Organizations. When not working, Matt enjoys playing golf and spending time with his wife Joanne and coaching his sons Matthew and Caden in various youth sports.

Kim Wilcox
Director of Service and Underwriting 
Innovative Underwriters 

Kim Wilcox, LUTCF is the Director of Service and Underwriting at Innovative Underwriters in Philadelphia. Innovative Underwriters is a full-service BGA with an experienced team that focuses on building relationships and delivering solutions to meet every clients’ needs.

Learn more about 20 of the industry’s innovators and trailblazers:

Bryan AdamsBryan Adams
Co-Founder & CEO
Integrity Marketing Group

Bryan Adams leads the day-to-day operations of the company. Bryan also serves on the Board of Directors of Integrity. Bryan is the Founder of Legacy Safeguard, LLC a company dedicated with helping members leave a lasting legacy and being remembered long after they’re gone. Bryan is considered one of the nation’s leading experts in the Senior Market and speaks frequently across the country about the importance of helping families on one of the most difficult days of their lives.

Andy AlbrightAndy Albright
National Agents Alliance

Andy Albright is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, and motivational speaker. Albright co-founded National Agents Alliance (aka The Alliance) in 2002 and quickly helped it grow into one of the country’s largest and most successful insurance marketing organizations, specializing in life event marketing and sales insurance marketing organization in the United States.

Dan AllisonDan Allison
Managing Partner
Brokers Clearing House

Along with his partner, Debbie Hannam, he acquired the firm roughly four years ago and they’ve grown more than 400% during that period of time. With a background in clinical psychology and an 18 year track record of coaching some of the most successful RIA’s in the world through his other consulting firm, Feedback Marketing Group, Dan has gained unique insight into how to integrate insurance services into wealth management practices.

Tim Ash Tim Ash
Ash Brokerage

Tim Ash is known as a visionary in the financial services community. He is an industry leader who envisions a future where insurance is easy, affordable and an essential part of a sound financial plan. As CEO of Ash Brokerage, Tim has fostered an environment of success with team-focused empowerment and client-centered service. He has built a culture where people not only believe in what they do, but more importantly, they understand the reason behind their efforts. Everyone at Ash Brokerage knows their work makes a difference — in the lives of their clients and their communities.

Michael Ashwill

Chief Marketing Officer/Principal
Borden Hamman Insurance Marketing

Ashwill oversees case design, recruiting, and sales development at Borden Hamman Insurance Marketing. He joined the agency in 2006 to work with his parents, Reed and Marian Ashwill and sister, Christi Daughenbaugh. After a few months of studying, Reed told him to go start recruiting. He suggested he start with P&C agents because they probably wouldn’t know much more about life insurance than he did at the time. Since contracting over a hundred agents in his first few months, he has been working with non-traditional agents finding innovative ways to make selling life insurance as fun and easy as possible.

Jeff BarkerJeff Barker

SVP, Brokerage Distribution and Independent Wholesaling, Life Insurance

In this role, Barker is responsible for leading and driving sales for the Life Brokerage channel for AIG Financial Distributors, the U.S. life and retirement distribution organization for American International Group, Inc. (AIG). He joined AIG in December of 2012 as Divisional Vice President, Western Division, AIG Life Brokerage. Mr. Barker has over 40 years of experience in the life insurance industry. Prior to joining AIG, he served as Independent Channel Head – Life for MetLife where he managed the organization’s third-party business. Previously, he served as National Sales Vice President for Travelers Life & Annuity where he managed the firm’s independent life insurance business.

Jenny Canas Jenny Canas

Vice President of Product, Underwriting and Operations
SelectQuote Insurance Services

Jenny Canas has been a leader at SelectQuote Insurance Services for almost thirty-three years. In her role, she oversees product, underwriting, and operations.

Rob Carney Rob Carney

Crump Life Insurance Services

Rob is responsible for setting and driving the strategic direction of the company and its 1,000–plus teammates to achieve its growth objectives through service excellence, process efficiencies, and innovation. Joining in 2004, Rob has held a variety of roles including oversight of the company’s institutional businesses (including Crump’s wholesale National Accounts and TIME, a Crump company, Crump’s point of sale business), business development, and institutional underwriting; managing carrier relations, marketing, the product organizations (life insurance, annuities, long term care, disability insurance, and life settlements), advanced sales, and information technology development; and being the strategic architect of the Tellus Brokerage Connections sales channel. Before Crump, Rob worked for a major northeast life insurance carrier as vice president of business management in individual life, after rising through other roles.

Pete ChrisosPete Chrisos

Vice President and National Account Manager
Protective Life Insurance Company

Pete Chrisos has more than 41 years of insurance industry experience. He began his career in 1979 at North American Company for Life and Health Insurance working in multiple areas of the company before starting his career as a as a Senior Life Underwriter. He joined the Zurich Life Underwriting Team in 1998 as a Senior Life Underwriter and Sales Support Manager.

He began establishing his career as a Sales Vice President in the brokerage community in 2001. Pete joined Protective Life in 2006 and is currently a National Account Manager in the Brokerage Distribution channel, managing relationships with multiple strategic marketing organizations.

Tracey EdgarTracey Edgar

Vice President of Sales

Tracey Edgar leads all Care Solutions sales and distribution (bank, broker dealer and brokerage). She is a national speaker on the topic of “The Long-Term Care Crisis in America” and has more than 20 years of experience helping distribution with strategic direction, planning and marketing. She is adept at working with all levels of an organization for optimal sales success. Edgar’s professional experience includes that of critical care nursing, specializing in emergency medicine. She worked as a trauma and charge nurse at a Level 1 Trauma Center-designated hospital for five years. She also served nine years in the military — three years of active duty and six years with the Army National Guard as a helicopter mechanic, crew chief and master fitness trainer.

Kurt Fasen Kurt Fasen, LLIF, LUTCF

Sales & Marketing Executive
Diversified Brokerage Services

Kurt joined DBS as one of the members of the executive team after 20+ years in senior leadership roles with VOYA/ING. He oversees all of sales, marketing, business development and case design at DBS and plays an integral role in the continued growth and success of the organization. He has been instrumental in building and attracting additional sales channels, and his insight and forward-thinking nature has led to many of the firm’s decisions to invest in new technology platforms. He has also been a key figure in a major reorganization, leaving the company well positioned for future change and evolution. Kurt boasts a strong background in the financial services industry with over 30 years of experience, most recently as Senior Vice President of the Individual Life Insurance and Annuity division for Voya. Kurt holds several industry affiliations and has served on numerous industry committees and organizations.

Sylvia GordonSylvia Gordon

Gordon Marketing

I was born into an insurance family and defiantly told my parents that I would “never” go into the business. Here I am, happily in the family business, the president of Gordon Marketing and 2 of my kids are now too. My greatest pleasure is to remain in touch with the agents that we train and support. I love to personally conduct training workshops, CE classes and clients seminars. I still sell a few policies each month so I can train from an agent’s perspective. I’m all over social media and train agents how to get leads from LinkedIN to Tik Tok and every platform in between. Insurance is a relationship business and it is so gratifying to have such a warm industry that helped mentor me and allowed me to grow. Thank you to all who came before me and I’m available to mentor all you that come after me.

Sheryl HickersonSheryl Hickerson
Females and Finance

An international speaker on social and digital marketing strategies for financial services organizations, Sheryl Hickerson has worked with thousands of professionals to grow the presence of their financial services profession through online platforms. In 2018, Sheryl started Females and Finance, a private online membership organization dedicated to fostering recruitment, training, and advancement of women in a financial service or financial technology role. Membership today recently crested 3,000 professionals with no signs of letting up. After 30 years in financial services, Sheryl has dedicated her professional life to promoting better networking and diversity initiatives within her community.

Steven KatzSteven J. Katz
Chief Optimist
Premier Brokerage Services, Inc.

Steven has been a recognized leader in life insurance brokerage for over 30 years. He started as a career agent and moved into the wholesale end of the business, building the brokerage division of Chubb Life from ground zero to a great success. A strong focus on impaired risk and the affluent marketplace gave Steven the foundation he needed to start his own agency, Premier Brokerage Services Inc., in 1995, which has proudly celebrated a milestone of 25 years of excellence in the industry. Premier is a member of LIBRA Insurance Partners, a powerful union of the country’s most distinguished brokerage agencies.

Bill Kauffman Bill Kauffman,CLU®, ChFC®, LLIF

Vice President
Senior Market Sales’ Financial Solutions

Bill Kauffman leads sales and marketing for Senior Market Sales’ Financial Solutions division, which includes annuities, life insurance and long-term care insurance. Under Bill’s direction, SMS has added a number of value-added programs to help agents and advisors grow their business, including Total Social Security®, Income ArchiTech®, Client Stream, Sales Forum and the SMS 360 business planning process. Bill started in the insurance industry as an agent for Mutual of Omaha nearly 40 years ago. He still relies on that field experience in his current role as he and his staff work to help SMS agents and advisors grow their business and meet their clients’ needs.

Doug MasseyDoug Massey

EVP of Sales and Relationship Management
Insurance Technologies

Doug defines, manages, and directs strategy and the overall sales and client relationship management operations for Insurance Technologies. Doug is a 30-year veteran of the insurance and financial services technology space, helping streamline and automate the marketing and sales of insurance products. Doug helped grow his first software company at the age of 21. He has helped develop three successful startups, InsurQuote, Blue Frog Solutions, and CapitalRock, and worked with firms across the industry to automate the sale and processing of annuities and life insurance.

Joann Mattson

Vice President, Strategy and Business Consulting
Highland Capital Brokerage

Joann Mattson is responsible for leading projects tied to Highland’s digital strategy as well as to the overarching strategic initiatives impacting its enterprise strategic roadmap.
She came to Highland via the acquisition of Four Seasons Financial Group, where she was a founding partner and administrator since 1993. During that time, Joann served in varied rolls from operations to marketing and sales, most recently as Vice President of Administration. As she is fond of saying, “There is not one job in brokerage that I have not done at one time or another!” Joann is very passionate about the life insurance industry and using both her home office and life brokerage experience to move the life insurance industry forward for the next generation. She has been a licensed insurance agent for over 25 years.

Alan ProtzelAlan S. Protzel, MBA, CLU, ChFC

Senior Vice President
The Marketing Alliance

My first 29 years were spent with 29 bosses in a wide variety of experiences from field sales and sales management to Home Office duties all focused on growing and supporting the distribution of fixed and variable life insurance and related products. I have worked in carrier, PPGA and brokerage distribution with major projects involving highly innovative digital sales support, Advanced Underwriting, illustration system development, product launches and management and monetization of in-force blocks of business.

Mike Smith Mike Smith

The Brokerage

Mike Smith entered the insurance business in 1993 as a marketing and broker service representative at The Brokerage Inc. Presently, he is the President of The Brokerage, an insurance marketing organization licensed in all 50 states. The Brokerage specializes in life, health, financial, senior insurance products, and marketing services. Throughout his career, Mike has been recognized by his peers with numerous, prestigious accolades including the Donna Carnall Career Achievement Award (FWAHU), the Hollis Roberson Award (TAHU) and the Dallas NAIFA Advisor of the Year. Mike is currently serving as the NAHU Chairman of the Medicare Advisory Group and the NAHU Chairman of the FMO Advisory Council.

John ZiambrasJohn Ziambras
President and CEO

AIMCOR Group’s mission of innovation in developing new markets and achieving steady, sustainable and ethical growth aligns perfectly with John’s professional track record, goals and values. Under John’s direction, AIMCOR continues to achieve double-digit annual sales and revenue growth and has established itself as one of the industry’s premier National Insurance Marketing and Distribution Organizations. AIMCOR’s multi-year strategy entails the continued growth and support of its stronghold in the independent producer channel, expansion into the institutional and alternative distribution space via its AIMCOR Enterprise Insurance Group (EIG) platform, as well as the leveraging of new and innovative technology trends to create new avenues for consumer engagement for protection and retirement products. Prior to his leadership role at AIMCOR Group, John was the Managing Director and General Manager of the Insurance and Retirement Services division at the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC) in New York.

Learn more about 20 of the industry’s innovators and trailblazers:

Amber PateAmber Pate
Executive Director 
Certification for Long Term Care
Amber oversees CLTC’s operations and provides important oversight for the organization’s important functions and programs, including sales and development, graduate benefits and retention, classroom and online training, communications, and more. She joined the organization in 2008 as Director of Graduate Benefits. Her passion for long-term care runs deep as she watched her grandmother’s mental health deteriorate due to Alzheimer’s and has witnessed the benefits of proper extended care planning and how it can protect a family. Her mission at CLTC is to provide professionals with the necessary tools to educate their clients on the importance of having a long-term care plan. Amber earned a BA in public relations and business management from the University of South Carolina. She currently resides in South Carolina with her husband and son.

Bill ShelowWilliam J. Shelow, Jr. CLU®, ChFC®, CPCU®, LLIF
LIBRA Insurance Partners
William “Bill” Shelow is a sought-after speaker, author and thought leader within the financial industry. As CEO of one of the largest insurance marketing organizations and a career spanning more than three decades in the insurance industry, Shelow is widely known for his passion, insights and innovation in his work closing gaps between carriers, agencies, agents and consumers in life insurance distribution. Prior to joining LIBRA (formerly LifeMark Partners), Bill was President of Duncan Financial Group and CEO of Wealth Preservation and Management t/a Atlantic Financial Group. In that role Bill helped to significantly grow the BGA, increasing revenue fourfold in three years. He also oversaw the management of six other business units of Duncan Financial Group, the parent company of Atlantic Financial Group.

Brian HaneyBrian Haney
Founder and Vice President
The Haney Company
Brian has been in the Financial Services Business since 2003, working  with a diverse group of clients representing a slice of the Washington D.C. marketplace. As a native of the Washington area, he grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, attending high school in Bethesda. He founded The Haney Company with his father 7 years ago, to combine 2 generations of industry experience. With more than a decade of  experience in Banking, Investments, Asset management and insurance, Brian’s expertise and keen insights provide organizations, businesses and individuals with unique and innovative strategies to meet their insurance needs and financial goals. The marriage between his father’s association/non-profit expertise and his private industry background give the Haney Company a substantial edge in the marketplace.
Chris OrestisChris Orestis
President, LifeCare Xchange 

Chris Orestis is an over 23-year veteran of both the  insurance and long-term care industries, a nationally known  senior care advocate, acknowledged expert on insurance, life settlements, and long-term care issues. He is a former DC lobbyist and political expert, and very well known in the world of life and health insurance brokerage distribution. His career began working in the White House and for the Senate Majority Leader on Capitol Hill. From that point, he spent the next several years representing the health and life insurance industry as a lobbyist in Washington, DC and in the states. In 2007, he was the first to focus the use of life settlements as a tax-free vehicle for seniors to pay for Long-Term Care through the creation of an LTC-HSA. Chris is a frequent industry speaker, and the author of books Help on the Wayand A Survival Guide to Aging”.

Craig CollinsJ. Craig Collins
President & Executive Director
Insurance Designers of America
J. Craig Collins is a 42-year veteran of the insurance  industry. He began his insurance career as an agent in 1977. He currently serves as President and Executive Director for Insurance Designers of America (IDA), one of the nation’s oldest and largest Independent Marketing Organizations, and is responsible for national leadership of more than 50 of the most respected brokerage general agencies. Additionally, he is responsible for general business development including creating strategic business initiatives and working with insurance companies and institutional customers to implement those plans and deliver high quality business. Prior to joining Insurance Designers, he was Senior Vice President at Highland Capital Brokerage and was Senior Vice President, ING U.S. Inc. (now Voya Financial), where he led the brokerage distribution channel and later co-managed the company’s Independent Life Insurance division.

David R. WickershamDavid R. Wickersham
The Leaders Group
In 1994, Dave founded The Leaders Group which focuses  on  helping distribute Variable Life through BGAs, a life insurance model that has thrived immensely as well as a very robust retail arm that helps Financial Advisors thrive in the independent marketplace. Dave also started and serves as the CEO of TLG Advisors, Inc., an SEC Registered Investment Adviser that provides investment management and financial planning services for individuals, corporations, and retirement plans. Dave has a bachelor’s degree in Zoology with minors in Chemistry and Business from the University of Northern Colorado where he both played and coached football during his time there. Dave is happily married to his wife and best friend, Berny for 43 wonderful years and together have one son. In his spare time, Dave enjoys reading a great novel, wine tasting, shooting handguns, and fly-fishing.

Gonzalo GarciaGonzalo Garcia
Gonzalo has built his reputation on stewarding innovative complex life insurance transactions from inception to  completion. He is a 30+ year veteran of the life insurance industry and has held senior positions with the original Potomac Group, BISYS/Crump, and Credit Suisse’s Life Finance Group. As a Partner at AgencyONE, Gonzalo is responsible for advanced markets and business development. Gonzalo received a BS from Rice University and an MBA from St. John’s University (formerly the College of Insurance) in New York, NY. He is a member of AALU, Forum 400, NAIFA (National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors) and SFSP (Society of Financial Service Professionals). Gonzalo is also on the BGA Advisory Council for Prudential Insurance Company. As a husband (to Alex), father (Carina and Nicholas), Gonzalo has an active life outside of the office.
Heather UlzHeather Ulz
LifePro Financial Services
Heather is Chief Executive Officer of LifePro Financial  Services, Inc. She began her career at LifePro in 1997 as one of the original LifePro employees. Alongside Bill  Zimmerman, Heather helped grow the company from four employees to the team it is today. Before assuming her current position, Heather served as Chief Operations Officer for 9 years. Heather is directly involved in the strategy and growth of the company and has been instrumental in the creation of LifePro’s unique and much-sought-after culture, that focuses on the team’s relentless dedication to LifePro’s Mission and Core Values. Understanding that the job of the independent financial advisor is a difficult, and rewarding one, she draws upon her experience and natural-born leadership talent to lead the LifePro team in fulfilling the needs inherent to the ultimate success of the advisors that LifePro serves.

Jeremy Rubin J.R. Rubin
National Vice President
Platinum Distribution Channel
J.R. Rubin is the National Vice President for the Platinum Distribution Channel, recruiting and helping agency partners through improved business economics, carrier  access, and concept training. He helps his agency partners implement agent recruiting platforms and specialty services, while also serving as their primary point of contact. His number one goal is to help IMO Principals become as successful and profitable as possible. J.R. has 18 years of industry experience, spending the first 9 years as a captive agent. He then spent 3 years as an Internal FIA Wholesaler and 3 years as an External FIA Wholesaler before joining Partners Advantage in 2016. He holds an Economics degree from Iowa State University, and a number of financial industry licenses. In his free time he enjoys spending with his family, kayaking and competing in hot-air balloon competitions across the country.

Joe RossJoe Ross
VP – Sales Productivity, AIG American General Life
Joe Ross, ChFC, CLU, CRC has been in the insurance business since becoming fully licensed in 1978 at the age of 16, and went on to obtain his Insurance degree from the University of Iowa, being awarded the coveted Emmett J. Vaughan insurance scholarship. In 1990 he became an Insurance & Estate Planning Specialist for Merrill Lynch in five Chicago-area offices, followed by Vice President of Sales and Marketing for three life insurance companies before spending the last 20 years as the brainchild behind innovative sales concepts that have driven life insurance, annuity and retirement planning strategies in the independent agent and broker-dealer channels. In 2013 he brought those skills to AIG where he continues to build his legacy, inspiring financial advisors to make a difference in their clients’ lives.

Keith Gillies Keith Gillies
Managing Principal, 
Wealth Solutions, LLC
Keith M Gillies, CFP, MBA, is the Managing Principal of Wealth Solutions, LLC and The Pension Center, LLC, and co-founder of United Wealth Advisors Group, LLC, where he serves as Chief Executive Officer. He began his career as a financial advisor in 1981 with a commitment to providing advice and strategies to individuals, professionals and business owners to help them achieve their personal, business and charitable goals. Professionally, Keith currently serves as Immediate President of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, NAIFA. Prior to joining the NAIFA National Executive Committee, Keith was elected to two consecutive two-year terms to the National Board of Trustees. He is past-president of both greater NAIFA-Greater New Orleans and NAIFA-Louisiana. His honors include NAIFA-Greater New Orleans Member of the Year in 1997; NAIFA-Louisiana’s President’s Award in 2004; and NAIFA-Louisiana’s Arthur Abramson Member of the Year Award in 2007.
Ken LeibowKen Leibow
Founder and CEO, 
InsurTech Express
As Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at InsurTech Express, Ken brings more than 32 years of insurance industry experience, with an extensive background in insurance technology for distribution and back office systems. Prior to founding InsurTech Express, Leibow worked for Genworth Financial, Mutual of Omaha, and as vice president of operations at Diversified Underwriters Services, Inc. As Chief Operating Officer of Integrated Insurance Technologies, Ken built the largest life insurance data exchange hub in the industry, processing over one million policies per year and $30 billion of annuities (now owned by Oracle, Inc.). Some of Ken’s key initiatives he implemented include innovation in quoting and illustration tools, CRM’s, agency management systems, eApp platforms and ePolicy Delivery. Ken is a leader for industry technology standards, working with ACORD, LBTC, LIDMA, NAILBA, LIMRA, LOMA and IRI. In 2019, Leibow was appointed to sit on the ACLI Innovation Committee. He is a past winner of the NAILBA Chairman’s Award.
Linda LevyneLinda Levyne
SVP Head of Sales and Distribution

John Hancock Insurance
Linda is responsible for oversight of all distribution of life insurance in the U.S. for John Hancock, providing leadership of the National Account, Regional Vice President and Sales Support teams that support all of John Hancock’s distribution partners nationwide, including independent marketing organizations, producer groups and financial institutions. Prior to taking on this role, she led a team focused on the sales of John Hancock Vitality across all accounts and relationships and served as Term Champion, promoting the sales of term products and facilitating the use of technology solutions to streamline the sale and submission of all products. Upon joining John Hancock in 2011, Linda served as Vice President, Regional Sales Management, and was accountable for leadership of the Life U.S. Field Salesforce, managing the Regional Directors nationwide. Prior to joining John Hancock, Linda spent over twenty years in various management and wholesaling positions in the life insurance industry.
Marc GlickmanMarc Glickman
Buddy Insurance
Marc Glickman, FSA, CLTC, LTCP is co-founder of, a community of client-centric long term care planning experts. His mission is to help families across the country get an LTC plan and support the 44 million caregivers in the United States. Marc has over a decade of experience as a LTCI actuary. He is an expert in LTCI financing, pricing, and benefits. He has trained thousands of insurance agents and advisors across the country and serves on the Board of Advisors for the Certification for Long Term Care (CLTC) training designation. Marc has unique insight into the inner workings of insurance having consulted for several insurance companies to help design their LTCI products. Marc is a regular author for several industry trade magazines, volunteers on the Society of Actuaries LTC Section Council, hosts a monthly webinar series on insurance planning, and is a LTC subject matter expert on LinkedIn.
Marc VerbosMarc R. Verbos
Executive Vice President, 
Marc joined AIMCOR in September of 2014 as the Vice President of Business Development leading the overall marketing and business development efforts of the organization. In 2015, Marc was instrumental in launching the Enterprise Insurance Group (EIG), AIMCOR’s institutional/B2B platform, and continues to oversee that initiative today. As Executive Vice President, Marc serves as a member of AIMCOR’s senior leadership team and continues to lead the growth initiatives across the organization while working closely with the member firms, insurance carrier partners, and key strategic vendors to help increase the advisor adoption of insurance products through traditional, institutional and alternative distribution channels.

Michael SladekMichael Sladek
National Sales Director, 
Mutual of Omaha
Michael “Slades” Sladek is the National Sales Director with Mutual of Omaha.  In his current role he is responsible for managing a team of sales professionals in the Brokerage Life sales division teaching and coaching the team to increase sales across the country. Slades has over 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. He joined Mutual of Omaha in 2014 as a Life Sales Director and was promoted to his current position as the National Sales Director.  Prior to joining Mutual of Omaha, he held the Senior Vice President of Sales for position for Ebix where he oversaw the Enterprise Sales team.   He currently resides in Houston, Texas with his wife Rose. They enjoy traveling and spending time with their 5 children and 7 grandchildren.

Ron HagelmanRonald R. Hagelman
Ice Floe Consulting
Ronald R. Hagelman, CLTC, CSA, LTCP, has been a teacher, cattle rancher, agent, brokerage general agent, corporate consultant and home office executive. As a consultant he has created numerous individual and group insurance products. A nationally recognized motivational speaker, Hagelman has served on the LIMRA, Society of Actuaries, and ILTCI committees. He is past president of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance and continues to work with LTCI company advisory boards. He remains a contributing “friend” of the SOA LTCI Section Council and the SOA Future of LTCI committee. Hagelman and his partner Barry J. Fisher are principles of Ice Floe Consulting, providing consulting services for Chronic Illness/LTC product development and brokerage distribution strategies.

Ryan PinneyRyan Pinney
Pinney Insurance Center
Ryan J. Pinney is an eleven-year MDRT member  with eleven Top of the Table  qualifications. Recognized for using innovative  technologies to drive insurance sales, streamline the application process, and speed up underwriting, Ryan was selected as one of the 2015 Advisor Today “4 under 40” Financial Advisors and by Life Health Pro Magazine as one of the “24 Most Creative People in Insurance.” Utilizing a wide array of digital marketing tools and home-grown technology, his agency sold thousands of policies direct-to-consumer over the internet last year. Ryan currently serves as a National Trustee for the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) and as a member of the MDRT Annual Meeting Program Development Committee.

Sheryl Moore Sheryl J. Moore
Moore Market Intelligence
Sheryl J. Moore is the founder and creator of several competitive intelligence tools, including Wink’s AnnuitySpecs and LifeSpecs tools, as well as Wink’s Sales & Market Report and Wink’s Index Intelligence Report. Moore Market Intelligence specializes in providing competitive intelligence tools to the insurance industry, particularly the life insurance and annuity markets. Ms. Moore provides competitive intelligence, market research, product development, distribution analysis, consulting services and insight to select financial services companies. She has authored books on insurance products and her articles are featured in dozens of industry trade publications. She works closely with regulators and legislators in the insurance market. She has a degree in Political Science from Grand View University, and holds numerous designations in the field of insurance services.
Tim KlusasTim Klusas
The Marketing Alliance
As Chief Executive Officer of The Marketing Alliance, Tim Klusas is responsible for all facets of the business.  Tim was appointed as President in March 2005 and elected to its Board of Directors in 2011. Its structure where stockholders can exchange shares in the open market make it unique among agency owners who stand to benefit as customers and as owners.  The Marketing Alliance is a life insurance business development company launched in 1996 from Subcenters, a study group of independent insurance general agents that recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding.  Prior to Marketing Alliance, Tim served as a Manager in Corporate Development and Planning for diversified manufacturer Eaton Corporation, where he supported global acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures, as well as corporate strategic planning.


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