Ken A. Crerar is president/CEO of The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, an association representing the top tier of insurance brokers who annually place more than $200 billion in commercial property/casualty and employee benefits premiums.
Under Crerar's leadership, The Council has expanded six-fold and solidified its position as the leading representative of the largest and most successful insurance brokers in the nation and globally. Among Crerar's initiatives include creation of a for-profit subsidiary offering business services to Council members; the Foundation for Agency Management Excellence, which provides scholarships to risk management and insurance students; a management, education and human resources program; expanded communications services; a global network of insurance brokers to serve clients around the world; expanded state affairs activities; and creation of Leader’s Edge magazine -- an award-winning publication for and about commercial insurance brokers.
Crerar also has spearheaded The Council's efforts to create The World Federation of Insurance Intermediaries. Headquartered in Brussels, WFII is a non-profit international organization representing associations of insurance intermediaries from around the world. Crerar also was appointed by the Secretary of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative to the Industry Sector Advisory Committee on Trade and Services as an adviser on insurance matters.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in May 2006 appointed Crerar to serve on the prestigious Association Committee of 100 (C100). The C100 is comprised of the country’s leading association chief staff executives. He has also been on the Insurance-Letter's annual List of the 100 Most Powerful People in the Insurance Industry since it began in 2001.
Crerar first joined The Council in 1987 as chief lobbyist and director of the political action committee, and was named president in 1992. Previously, he spent five years with the Footwear Industries of America, where he rose through the ranks to vice president and handled the association's lobbying on international trade issues.
Born in upstate New York, Crerar was raised in Hamden, Conn., and attended Connecticut College in New London, receiving a bachelor's degree in government in 1977. He spent a year as assistant director of admissions for Connecticut College before moving to Washington as special assistant to Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. Crerar is on the board of D.C. Central Kitchen.
Joel Wood is senior vice president of government affairs for The Council, a position he has held since January 1993. He is The Council’s top lobbyist on Capitol Hill and is the chief administrator of the group’s political action committee. Prior to joining The Council, Wood spent four years as assistant vice president for government affairs for the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents. Wood worked for six years on Capitol Hill for Rep. Don Sundquist, R-Tenn., as press secretary and legislative director. In 1988, Wood and two colleagues from Capitol Hill founded Red Hot & Blue, a Memphis-style barbecue restaurant in Arlington, Va., that has grown to 42 locations in 19 states. In 2002, he and his wife, Dana, formed the Foundation to Eradicate Duchenne, a 501c3 organization to speed a treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the world’s most lethal childhood genetic disease. In April 2007, The Hill newspaper named Wood as one of the top 34 trade association lobbyists in Washington. Before coming to Washington in 1982, Wood spent two years as a political reporter for The Jackson Sun, a 40,000 circulation daily in Jackson, Miss. He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi with a bachelor's degree in journalism.
Ce Harrison joined The Council as chief financial officer in September 2010. Harrison previously served for many years as the CFO for AdvaMed, the Advanced Medical Technology Association, where she managed accounting and finance for the association, its research foundation, its PAC and overseas offices. Prior to her time at AdvaMed, she spent six years as the CFO and Chief Operating Officer of the D.C.-based trade association management firm, The Roberts Group, LLC. Earlier in her career, Harrison spent nine years as CFO & Chief Compliance Officer at the NationsBank investment subsidiary, ASB Capital Management, Inc., before serving as the company’s managing director of regulatory and compliance projects. Harrison began her career in banking and operations management with American Security Bank in Washington. She is a CPA and has a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance from the University of Maryland University College.
Susan W. Rushford, The Council’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, has been in the advertising and marketing industry on both the agency and client side for more than 25 years. Prior to joining The Council in April 2011, Rushford spent 18 years at several advertising and marketing agencies including Siquis, Ltd, Rosenthal Partners and EMM Creative, Inc. managing and providing strategic planning for retail and public service clients in the government sector. Prior to this, she spent several years as a marketing consultant, specializing in retail clients, with her own firm, Wallert Communications. Rushford launched her career at Britches of Georgetowne, a men’s and women’s high end, specialty retailer that grew to over 120 stores across the U.S. She was vice president of marketing at Britches and oversaw the in-house advertising agency and visual merchandising departments. Rushford holds a dual bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and political science from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
Phil Basso is The Council's senior vice president of leadership and management resources. Basso is responsible for providing member firms with leadership, management and human resources service and support, through real-time consulting, practical tools and ongoing guidance. Basso comes to The Council after nearly 10 years as director of practice innovation and organizational effectiveness at the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) in Washington, where he transformed APHSA’s leadership training program into a comprehensive organizational improvement practice delivered to over 70 agencies at the state, regional and local levels. Earlier in his career, Basso worked in various human resources, business management, strategic consulting and employee relations roles at companies including LexisNexis, Citicorp, Frito Lay, Gateway Computer and Capital One. A graduate of SUNY Binghamton, Basso earned a master’s degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell and completed Ph.D. courses at the College of William and Mary before accepting his position with APHSA.
Paula J. Karchner, CMP, vice president of meetings for The Council, is responsible for overseeing the management and operations of the Meeting Department, which plans and executes all key Council meetings and events including; vendor and site selection, proposals and contracts, registration, service provider management, on-site logistics. Karchner joined The Council in 1997 and received her Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation in 2004. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Connecticut and spent four years as an air traffic control operator with the United States Air Force. Karchner is currently a member of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and the Financial and Insurance Conference Planners Association.
Coletta I. Kemper, ARM, is vice president of industry affairs for The Council. She is responsible for development of The Council’s international program. She develops the organization’s policy positions on international issues and works with high-level government officials and industry groups to ensure that members’ views are represented in discussions on trade and regulation. In addition, she is the staff liaison with the World Federation of Insurance Intermediaries, which was formed in 1998 to monitor regulatory and trade initiatives impacting insurance brokers. In 2010, Kemper was appointed to serve on the Industry Trade Advisory Committee, an advisory group to the U.S. government on trade and other issues. She contributes to The Council's newsletter on industry trends; writes an international column in The Council’s award-winning magazine Leader’s Edge; prepares a quarterly survey on the commercial property/casualty market; develops executive seminars and programs for members; and produces a monthly newsletter, "The International Series." In addition, she develops programs, strategic resources, and products and services specifically tailored to Council members’ interests. Kemper holds a MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Alycia Kiley serves as The Council’s as vice president of CouncilPAC and member services. She rejoined The Council in August 2010 after working as Vice President of RCM&D from 2007-2010. While at RCM&D, Kiley oversaw the association/non-profit division. Kiley previously served as The Council’s director of government affairs from 2002 to 2007. A native of Washington, D.C., Kiley graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in Kinesiology, and spent time as an athletic trainer for the Buffaloes’ Division I programs from 1999 – 2000. Upon graduation from Colorado, she served a one-year term in the AmeriCorps program. Kiley has a master's degree from George Washington University and is a member of the American Society of Association Executives.
Cheryl Matochik is vice president of strategic resources and initiatives. She is responsible for blending the strategic planning of The Council’s resources and programs with driving the next generation of content initiatives. She previously served five years as director of strategic initiatives in the Office of the President where she developed and directed the mission, goals, objectives and implementation of The Council’s new programs and initiatives. A 2001 graduate of West Virginia University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a second concentration in international and comparative politics, Matochik worked at a technology solutions firm in New York and at an international advertising firm in Atlanta before joining The Council in 2004.
Webb Milward is vice president of business development for The Council. He rejoined The Council in November 2012 after working in college athletics from 2010-2012. Milward previously served as The Council’s director of political affairs and PAC director from 2005-2010. A native of Lexington, Ky., he graduated from The University of the South (Sewanee) in 2003. After graduation, he served two years as a legislative aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., before joining The Council.
Alicia Anderson, The Council’s senior accountant, has more than 16 years of experience in accounting, imports and treasury management. She joined The Council in 2001 after a long career with Hechinger stores, where she advanced from a position handling vendor inquiries and complaints to the job of treasury coordinator analyzing cash management functions, preparing monthly analysis summaries and serving as liaison between the company and banks and vendors. She attended Prince George’s Community College and is currently taking online courses in pursuit of her accounting degree and CPA certification.
Libby Bish joined The Council as meetings and member services associate in May 2013. She is responsible for assisting with meeting logistics and maintaining membership relations. A Washington, D.C., native, Bish previously worked in the human resources department at Booz Allen Hamilton. She has an undergraduate degree in marketing management with a minor in leadership from Virginia Tech.
Jason Capeheart is The Council’s government affairs associate. A South Texas native, Capeheart graduated from Texas A&M University, College Station, in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Prior to joining The Council, he worked for Congressman Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, where he served as both legislative assistant and staff assistant, focusing on transportation and veterans issues. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree in legislative affairs from The George Washington University.
Brittany Foye is The Council’s Human Resources and FAME Scholarship Associate. She works primarily with FAME, but also assists members with human resources and management support needs. Foye is a native of Philadelphia and earned a B.S. in Business Management from West Chester University of Pennsylvania in 2011. While at West Chester, Foye completed several HR internships and worked as a Human Resources Assistant focusing on recruitment activities and benefits administration.
Joel Kopperud is The Council’s director of government relations, where he focuses on legislative and regulatory activity impacting employer-provided benefits, property casualty insurance regulation, and federal natural catastrophe policies. Specifically, Kopperud is working to reform the Affordable Care Act, help Congress pass legislation to create a national broker licensing regime, and reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program. He previously worked at Global USA, Inc., where he directed the group’s political, legislative and regulatory advocacy on international trade and export control issues. Kopperud also lobbied at the Financial Services Roundtable, where he worked a number of policy initiatives and legislative campaigns relating to insurance and financial services. A native of Denver, Kopperud is a 2001 graduate of American University with a bachelor's degree in political science.
Aesah Lew, The Council's digital marketing specialist, joined the staff in March 2013. She brings experience developing and implementing social media, email marketing and website content strategies for nonprofit organizations. She graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in foreign service and received an MBA from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Janet Linkins, an accountant for The Council, joined the staff in July 2010. A graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor's degree accounting, Linkins has strong fundamentals in accounting and finance from her more than 20 years of tax accounting experience, specializing in business including not-for-profit entities. Prior to joining The Council, she also held several accounting positions of increased responsibility in the finance department of a local, publicly traded, utility company.
Nick Lozano joined The Council in June 2011 as the organization’s Techno Wizard. A Florida native, Lozano graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems. Prior to joining The Council, Lozano worked at Accenture. Lozano also holds an associate’s degree in Culinary Arts form Le Cordon Bleu and worked as a professional chef for the past 10 years.
Juan Mata is The Council's production assistant, responsible for assisting the Marketing and Communications Department in branding, designing and producing all Council printed and electronic materials. A 2008 graduate of Georgetown University, Mata joined The Council in August 2010, bringing with him several years of experience in copywriting and design in political, media and corporate environments.
Susanna McElroy, The Council’s meetings manager, joined the staff in July 2010. McElroy graduated from Boston University in May 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental analysis and policy with a focus in economics. In the spring of 2009 she studied Global Business in Paris, and in the summer of 2009, she interned for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Environmental Planning Division.
Rick Pullen is editor in chief of The Council's award-winning magazine, Leader’s Edge. A fomer investigative reporter and editor, Pullen has covered the insurance industry since 1989, first as Washington editor for BestWeek and Best Review, and then as editor in chief of Independent Agent magazine. Previously, Pullen worked for The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., and Fairchild News Service in Washington, D.C. Pullen covered all types of stories during his award-winning newspaper career, including investigations of military corruption, an international munitions scam, political campaign law violations, a bank scam and illegal land deals.
Julia Smith, The Council’s management resources associate, joined the staff in April 2011 after interning with The Council for a year. Smith primarily provides administrative and research support for The Council’s Leadership & Management Resources program which is designed to help members grow their businesses through leadership development, management support and human resources consulting. She is currently pursuing a degree in Social Science from the University of Maryland University College. Her previous work experience includes positions in customer service and technical support.
Katherine Jarvis Smith is executive assistant to the president of The Council. She has spent nearly 20 years in the insurance industry. Prior to joining The Council, Smith was executive assistant to the COO and a top government relations executive at the American Council of Life Insurers, where she worked for 17 years. She also has extensive administrative, industry and political experience through her work in Washington at such firms as the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board; the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering; architects HOK; and Kaiser Permanente. She attended the University of Maryland.
Brianne Spellane is the director of communications for The Council. She is the association's primary media contact and is responsible for assisting in the development of The Council’s overall communications, media, and social media strategies. She also serves as the editor of The Council's bi-monthly newsletter, Competitive Edge. Prior to joining The Council, Spellane spent two years as director of public affairs for the northeast region of the American Insurance Association. She also worked as a general assignment broadcast news and sports reporter at a New England Cable News affiliate, and spent two years as the assistant director of athletic media relations at the College of the Holy Cross. Spellane holds a master's degree, cum laude, in broadcast journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree, cum laude, in psychology with a minor in communications from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Spellane is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
Brittany Thune is the director of CouncilPAC. Prior to joining The Council, she assisted with PAC fundraising for the Republican National Committee during the 2012 presidential campaign. Thune holds a bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, in business administration with a minor in political science from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Jennifer Urso joined The Council in June 2012 as director of strategic programs. Urso drives the management of strategic Council programs that engage different segments of The Council’s membership including The Council of Employee Benefits Executives, The Council’s Wholesale Executives, and The Council’s Study Group Program. Urso relocated to Washington, D.C., from Cleveland, Ohio, where she worked as program manager and management analyst at one of the nation's leading independent insurance brokerage firms, Oswald Companies. She earned her Bachelor’s in Business Management from Indiana Wesleyan University.
Pat Wade is member services director and Leader's Edge magazine business manager for The Council. In her dual role, she is responsible for maintaining system performance and ensuring data integrity for the membership database, and overseeing computer-based needs for The Council. She is also responsible for managing the overall business operations of Leader's Edge, which includes circulation, subscriptions, accounting operations and the budget, and filings with the U.S. Post Office and magazine audits. Prior to joining The Council in 2000, Wade worked for various non-profit associations and spent 18 years in the government affairs office at American Cyanamid in Washington, D.C., where she established its PAC program. Wade holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Fayetteville State University and has state certification in early childhood day care management from Prince George’s Community College in Maryland.
Cory Washington is The Council's office services clerk. A 2007 graduate of Charles Hebert Flowers High School in Springdale, Md., Washington joined The Council in 2008 after gaining extensive experience in retail sales and customer service. He came to The Council from Pitney Bowes Management Services, where he was a customer service associate. He also worked in retail sales and customer service for Best Buy and Marshalls. Washington lives in Upper Marlboro, Md.
MacKenzie Watson first joined The Council as an intern in September 2010 and is now the strategic resources associate. She helps plan and execute The Council's strategic initiatives. She graduated from Boston University in May 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in international relations with a focus on Middle Eastern affairs and economic analysis. She is currently working towards a master’s degree in statecraft and national security affairs from The Institute of World Politics.
Jacquetta Williams, is the database and advertising associate for both The Council and Leader's Edge magazine. She is a 2002 graduate of Morris College in Sumter, S.C., where she earned a bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in English. She previously worked as a customer service specialist with George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C., and as an administrative assistant for Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. Williams joined The Council in 2004.
Meg Wroe, The Council’s marketing and communications associate, first joined The Council as an intern in January 2012. Wroe is primarily responsible for providing project management and administrative support to the marketing and communications department. A native of Cape Cod, Mass., Wroe graduated from the University of Richmond in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and a focus on world politics and diplomacy. As part of her studies, she spent time at Universidad Blas Pascal in Argentina and Charles University of Prague in the Czech Republic.
John Fielding focuses on government relations in the Washington, D.C., office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP, where he is a member of the Government Affairs & Public Policy practice. Fielding’s primary focus is on insurance and financial services legislative and regulatory matters, and trade association representation. He represents financial services companies, insurers, insurance brokers, and industry trade associations on matters before Congress, and before industry regulators at both the state and federal levels. Fielding serves on the Board of Directors of the National Insurance Producer Registry (NIPR) and is a frequent speaker on insurance regulatory reform, agent-broker issues, privacy laws, and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. He has spoken before the International Association of Privacy Professionals, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the American Law Institute, and other public and private organizations.
Before joining Steptoe, he was an attorney with The Scott Group and another major law firm's Government Relations and Public Policy Practice Group, where he concentrated on insurance and financial services policy and regulation, privacy law, and trade association representation. Fielding had previously worked as Senior Counsel for Financial Services at the NAIC. As lead legislative counsel at NAIC, he represented the interests of the state insurance commissioners before Congress and the federal agencies on major insurance legislation and a wide range of regulatory matters. Fielding began his career working on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant to Senator Kent Conrad.
Christopher Gagnon joined The Council as director of strategic technology in 2012 and is president of Tiebeam Partners. Gagnon has more than 15 years of experience developing and directing technology strategy for large insurance brokers. He first entered the industry with Hobbs Group and spent five years directing all aspects of the company’s information technology, ultimately serving as CIO. Gagnon contributed to Hobbs' growth from $25M to $100M in annual revenue through the creation of proprietary customer-focused solutions. In 2004, Gagnon joined with other investors in the formation of Beecher Carlson and served as CIO, focusing his energy on customer-based technology solutions. He served on the executive committee, participating in private equity dealings, M&A activities, and operational oversight for the retail and wholesale operations. He also played a role in the development of OnPoint Underwriting, a wholesale MGA subsidiary to include program design, carrier relations and technology implementation including the development of a proprietary paperless underwriting system. Gagnon left Beecher Carlson in 2008 and founded Tiebeam Partners, a company focused on providing independent technology consulting for some of the fastest growing agencies in the United States. A graduate of Jacksonville State University, Gagnon will oversee The Council’s CIO Working Group.
Scott Sinder is a partner of the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Steptoe & Johnson LLP and he is the Chair of the firm’s Government Affairs & Public Policy Practice Group. Sinder is both a litigator and a legislative advocate. He actively represents trade associations and companies on a wide range of issues in state and federal trial and appellate courts, in state legislatures and Congress, and before regulatory agencies. Current projects include legislative and regulatory work on a wide range of issues affecting insurance agents and brokers including post-enactment regulatory work related to the implementation of the recently enacted Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act.
Sinder also is an experienced commercial and public law litigator. His work in these areas has included involvement in class action, anti-trust, copyright, redistricting and other complex civil litigation cases, including serving as lead counsel in a series of successful constitutional challenges The Council asserted against state countersignature laws. He is a member of the bars of the United States Supreme Court and of numerous United States district and appellate courts, as well as in the District of Columbia and Colorado. Sinder received his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, his M.P.P. from the University of Michigan Institute of Public Policy Studies and his A.B. from the University of Michigan.
Ann G. Steadman is director of the Leadership Circle, The Council's corporate sponsorship and marketing program. She has managed this initiative since 1998 when she relocated from Washington, D.C., to Roanoke, Va. She works as a consultant to develop and implement an annual partnership program to raise non-dues revenue for The Council and offer year-round branding opportunities for member firms, insurance companies, reinsurers and selected vendors. Steadman began work with The Council in 1988 as a legislative representative and advanced to the positions of director of legislative affairs, director of meetings and conferences, and director of membership and meetings prior to assuming her current responsibilities. She spent three years working for a Virginia congressman and two years as a legislative assistant for the American Textile Manufacturers Institute prior to joining The Council. She is a graduate of Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa., with a double major in business administration and English.