Congratulations to the 2015 Class of IBANY Emerging Leaders!

Click here to view the photo gallery from the 2015 Emerging Leader Reception.

 Managing General Agent

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Tyler Nickels, CPCU
Distinguished Programs

Lancaster, PA

Education: Bachelor of Science in Labor and Industrial Relations from Pennsylvania State University; CPCU, ARe, AIS from The Institutes.
Chief Mentor: Tom Nerney

There are great opportunities for growth in the insurance industry for individuals with a broad range of skills and interests. There is truly something for everyone in our business, and I love the feeling of inclusion and diversity this creates for our work environment. The many different facets of our business require constant innovation and collaboration across all levels of an organization.

My career in insurance started in administration, then underwriting, and my current role focuses on business development. I am grateful to have experience spanning across a number of departments and believe this gives me a well-rounded understanding of our business and the importance of each moving part. I believe you can never be afraid to pursue your goals. Just be prepared to point out why you are the best person for the job. 

Earning my CPCU played a big part in getting me where I am today, and I believe continuous learning is paramount when looking to grow in our industry. Knowledge is a very powerful tool in any business, and the deeper your knowledge, the more powerful you can become. Today my career is focused heavily on insurance solutions for real estate, development and hospitality, and I like how tangible these classes of business are. Our industry grants us the opportunity to get out what we put in, and that keeps me energized every day.

In the future, I would like to continue working with insurance brokers across the country towards mutually winning business and growing revenue. In addition to sales and marketing, I also have goals to contribute to product development and management.

Associate Member

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Daniela Palmieri
of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Hometown: Old Bridge, NJ
Education: Bachelor of Science in Management from Keane University with a minor in International Business
Chief Mentor: Karen London

Growing up I was always told to work as hard as you can and never sacrifice my integrity.  My parents migrated to the United States from Italy without a lot of money and only spoke Italian.  Through the years, they managed to raise three children and start a successful business.  While never easy, their dreams were realized by this simple notion of work ethic and character. This is something I think about every day, and it inspires me to be the best person I can be – to work as hard as possible in everything I do. 

I entered the insurance industry in 2006 as a temporary employee for AIG without any insurance experience. I worked my way as a temporary employee to becoming a full-time member of the team, starting as an underwriting assistant and working my way up to senior underwriter.  I accomplished this by always taking the initiative to help others and go above and beyond my job expectations.  I was hired at Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance by my manager who hired me at AIG. I am certain I was offered this opportunity because of my proven capabilities and character.  I am where I am today because of my work ethic and my integrity – something I am proud to accredit to my parents.

I am honored to be the Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance IBANY emerging leader.  Being recognized for my hard work by a company like Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance is humbling.  Everyone at my company has the strong character and work ethic that I strive to possess.  Moreover, IBANY has been an important part of my growth and development in the insurance industry, making this honor even more meaningful.

 Retail Broker

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Melica M. Pang
Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA

Hometown: Hong Kong/Montgomery, NJ
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Psychology from Rutgers University
Chief Mentors: Peter Munger and Maria Traverso

Working in the insurance industry provides with me the opportunity to interact with a variety of individuals and businesses.  Our industry is diverse, challenging and uniquely important to every client and stakeholder. Insurance is the foundation of our client’s balance sheet protection, which requires a well-thought-out, methodical approach to our strategy and analysis. With the state of the world’s fiscal and economic policies, we are a key component for our client’s financial strength and longevity.

Starting with my internship to my current position as an Insurance Placement Specialist, I have been given opportunities and guidance within and outside of Wells Fargo Insurance Services.  My manager, Peter Munger, and my team leader, Maria Traverso, are both important mentors in my career, along with every individual on the New York City/New Jersey Middle Market Placement Team. My experiences at WFIS have been especially valuable; they have taught me that if you are eager to learn, no one will turn you away. I am consistently being challenged and feel accomplished by the work I perform. 

The late Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  I found what I love to do — what I believe is important to society — and I start my day knowing that every day.  

My one goal for the future is promote our industry to non-insurance-related organizations in New York City, such as ethnicity- and interest-based organizations. I will reach out to young professionals and students and offer them guidance the way my mentors have for me. I will continue to challenge myself and learn from the people I meet along the way.

Wholesale Broker

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 Yiana E. Stavrakis, CPCU, ASLI

AmWINS Brokerage of New York

Hometown: Union, NJ
Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Management with an MIS concentration from Rutgers Business School
Chief Mentor: Steven Gross

Like most of us, insurance was not part of my initial plan. I began working part time with an MGU at the age of 15. I was lucky enough to have a mentor who was engaged with the industry and who exposed me to many of its stimulating aspects — claim mediations, strategy meetings and networking events, for examples.

Challenging myself to volunteer for new projects and taking on new responsibilities keeps me engaged. Asking questions, putting in the time and effort to complete tasks, and finding people to rely on are essential, and the rewards are monumental. I have spent most of my 20s speaking to college students about the E&S industry and mentoring recent graduates. Paying it forward like this keeps me engaged and excited about the industry as a whole.

Continuing education and volunteer work are the two most important opportunities that have brought me to where I am today. As a young insurance professional, being taken seriously can be a hurdle – I know without the CPCU and ASLI designations next to my name, I would have had a harder time breaking through. Volunteering for insurance associations has given me the opportunity to meet senior leaders and highlight my work ethic to those outside my immediate network. If you are willing to put as much energy into volunteering as you are into your daily tasks, you will be recognized by an entire community of insurance professionals.

My hope is for our industry to flourish for generations to come – I know we will not disappoint. I hope we will be just as creative, entrepreneurial, supportive and knowledgeable as the generations that came before us.


Jennifer Alimonda
SterlingRisk Insurance

Hometown: Massapequa, NY
Education: Associate in Business Management, Farmingdale State
Chief Mentor:  Salvatore Alimonda

While I may not have grown up dreaming of a career within the insurance industry, I find “present Jennifer” (yes, 3rd person, thank you Sal…) enthusiastically engaged with clients, prospects and peers, energetically discussing buzzworthy industry trends from hot new markets and capacity to strategy sessions and risk management techniques! From my neighborhood agency “insurance origin” 10 years ago to now managing large family offices with high-profile portfolios for one of the most prestigious brokerage firms in the country, I find myself striving to exceed both, SterlingRisk’s expectations and those of each and every client that entrusts me with their insurance well-being.

What keeps me energized about our industry is the comaraderie within my firm, the relationships I have developed over the years with insurers, intermediaries and other insurance professionals, and how those relationships help educate and develop the number one priority, our client.

In our ever-evolving industry, where methods, regulations, terms/conditions are always changing, there is a constant need for educational evolvement and impact organizations like IBANY to help gather past, present and future leaders to help ensure professionalism and advocacy for industry. I am proud to be part of SterlingRisk and honored my peers feel me worthy of this incredible designation!


Nicholas Bozzi
The Hartford

Hometown: Marlton, NJ
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Economics from University of Maryland, College Park
Chief Mentor: Shahzad Ahmad

As a second-generation insurance professional, it is an honor to be designated as one of IBANY’s Emerging Leaders of 2015. My insurance career started as an intern at The Hartford in New York City while I attended the University of Maryland. During my internship, I had the opportunity to meet and become close with some incredible people that attracted me to the industry. I was invited back for a second internship and subsequently a full-time position at The Hartford.

My enthusiasm to remain in the insurance industry came from the individuals I met during my four-year tenure at The Hartford. On a daily basis I am able to interact and work with roommates, lifelong friends and even family members; something I feel only the insurance industry could offer. I have been fortunate enough to have been afforded incredible professional development opportunities, which include enrollment in the Hartford’s Early Career Development Program, becoming the Auto Line of Business Champion for NYC and pursuing my MBA at Fordham University.

Every day I have the opportunity to broaden my skill set and knowledge base, as well as meet many talented individuals who could potentially shape the industry moving forward. I am looking forward to watching the industry grow and transform as young talented millennials enter the workforce. It has been an amazing four years; I can only hope the next 40 are equally rewarding!


Jessica Cullen
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

Hometown:  Wayne, NJ
Education: Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Ramapo College of NJ
Chief Mentor: Dan M. Over

Like many of us in the industry, I stumbled into the insurance world quite by accident. But with all sincerity, I believe it was the best stumble I have ever made.  

Working as a broker at Arthur J. Gallagher has afforded me many extraordinary opportunities, which I would not have been so fortunate to have elsewhere. There are few industries that allow exposure to so many areas of other industries, from financial institutions to chemical manufacturers, which has always kept me engaged.

I stay in this business for three simple reasons: I have been fortunate enough to work for an organization that has supported my ambition to grow and learn the industry; I have been supported by a management staff who did not attempt to stifle my growth, but instead allowed me room to learn and do things on my own; and I have been lucky enough to have worked on some of the most interesting and complex accounts with some of the kindest and most collaborative clients.

My hope for the future is to continue to learn more of the industry and to grow not only myself but my organization, specifically in my role as the National Casualty Practice Leader. The insurance industry has given me the opportunity to become a leader in a fast-paced and exciting field with limitless possibilities for new experiences.



Ryan Darragh
CRC Insurance Services

Hometown: Bayport, NY
Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Sacred Heart University
Chief Mentor: Vincent Darragh

Thank you IBANY for allowing me to be a part of the Emerging Leader program. I have been in the industry as a broker for 9 ½ years and am excited to be recognized as a future leader.

My family has been part of the insurance industry for 30-plus years and I owe any success to my father, who passed away two years ago. My father, Vincent Darragh, started at AIG as a young man working two jobs to support our family and eventually rose to management in both the underwriting and wholesale worlds. He afforded me the opportunity to interview as a retail broker at the age of 22, and every day since I have done my best to repay him with hard work and determination.

I recently became a father myself, and supporting my daughter, Avynn Renee, and wife, Alda, has given me even more motivation to excel as a broker. My hope for the future is to become a mentor and leader for both my colleagues at work and my family at home. I am humbled to be a 2015 IBANY Emerging Leader and will continue to work my hardest to live up to the honor. I especially would like to thank CRC for believing in my future and naming me its Emerging Leader.


Daniel Ehrhardt

Hometown: Glastonbury, CT
Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management from St. Michael’s College
Chief Mentor: Richard Ehrhardt

Some might say that insurance chose them, but for me, I chose insurance. Having a father in the industry for over 30 years, I developed an early interest in the industry. During summers in college, I looked to gain my first experiences working in the industry through internships with Guy Carpenter and Lexington Insurance Company. Upon graduation from St. Michael’s College, I joined Ironshore Insurance Company in their Boston office.

As a new company, Ironshore provided numerous opportunities for personal and career growth. Upon completion of the trainee program, I was given the opportunity to transfer to New York as a Production Specialist. From there, I participated in the Executive Advisory Group and relocated to different cities throughout the US. I now lead the South Central Territory of Dallas, Houston and New Orleans for Ironshore Property.

To work in an industry that is ever evolving, I embrace the opportunity to learn and adapt along the way. As my career continues to evolve, I will look to continue developing strong technical and leadership skills sought within the industry. With change comes opportunity and with every opportunity I face, I am reminded by my father, “Don’t screw this up.”


Mark Fox
Preferred Concepts, LLC

Hometown: Nesconset, NY
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Salisbury University; Associate in Business from Briarcliffe College
Chief Mentor: Hal Fox

Contrary to popular belief, the insurance industry is an exciting, nuanced and lively world. I’ve found that every day can be a new adventure, where new challenges allow for the possibility of completely new solutions. Participating in that problem solving is exhilarating to me, and I seek out the novelty of those challenges.

I was first introduced to the industry by my mother, a retail agent. Growing up, she would return home from work and recount a seemingly endless list of stories about her day. For her, there were never enough hours in the day for work. Her passion about the industry helped foster my own, and I knew early on that I wanted to be part of it.

Like any business sector, the insurance industry is constantly changing. Being able to adapt to change is vital to the industry’s continued success. Luckily, I have always found that seasoned insurance professionals, regardless of their area of expertise, are willing to impart their knowledge not only to the betterment of brokers like myself but to the industry as a whole.

I feel it is our responsibility to show more young professionals that this business is not a static industry, but instead one that promotes change and fosters relationships that last a lifetime. I would like to thank IBANY for honoring me and Preferred Concepts for selecting me to be among such an admirable group of emerging leaders.


Vanessa Marchand
Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers

Hometown: Hauppauge, NY
Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a minor in International Studies from Stony Brook University
Chief Mentor: Elaine Abruzzo

After graduating from college with my bachelor’s degree in business administration, I set out in search of a position in the insurance industry, which is international in scope and diverse in breadth. My pursuit included an interview with Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers —the second-largest carrier of professional liability in New York state. Shortly thereafter I was offered an entry-level position in the Department of Hospitals & Special Programs. I was intrigued by the many facets and ever-changing trends that characterize the health care industry and decided that this would be a good match for me.

During my employment I have attained knowledge in many areas, including but not limited to underwriting, risk management, communications and project management.

I have continued my studies and earned an associate’s degree in Commercial Underwriting. I received recognition for my hard work and dedication, and I was promoted to Underwriter. Since then I have attained a new skill set and perspective that has vastly enhanced my understanding of the insurance industry. I am currently studying for my CPCU, and once I attain this certification I will pursue other designations. While I enjoy the niche industry of medical professional liability very much, I am open to the many other fields that lay on the insurance spectrum. It is my hope that I will climb the corporate ladder at my company and in this industry.

Finally, the most significant lesson that I have learned thus far is that with hard work and confidence, anything is possible. I recognize that my acclimation into Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers may be somewhat fortuitous, but I’m pleased to be part of the team, and I am honored to be a member of IBANY’s Emerging Leader Inaugural Class of 2015.


Tim O’Shaughnessy

Hometown: West Chester, PA
Education: Bachelor of Science in Economics from Saint Joseph’s University
Chief Mentor: Scott Kantrowitz

It is truly an honor to be chosen as ACE USA’s IBANY Emerging Leader for 2015.

Early in my career, I was told insurance is an industry full of challenges. We’re challenged to grow our books, to deal with the demanding clients, to make that difficult phone call to a broker, to find creative solutions to problems, to create and learn new products and to do it all better than we’ve ever done before. The good thing about the industry, though, is that you don’t have to face these challenges alone. Whether it’s learning about a client, having lunch with a broker, sitting in a team meeting that lasts a little too long, or crowding in a manager’s office to take a call, the relationships I continue to build make what I do worthwhile.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who make what I do enjoyable, and by people who push me to continue to improve. I eagerly look forward to the challenges on the horizon — both old ones and new — and hope that I continue to build relationships that make them a little easier to overcome.



Donald A. Poster Jr.
Alliant Insurance Services

Hometown:  Trumbull, CT
Education:  Bachelor of Arts in English from Haverford College with a minor in Business from Villanova University
Chief Mentors:  Steven Kent amd Paul Funk

When I graduated from college in 2008, with a background in English and Business, I was looking for a career that would allow me to take advantage of the skills I learned in these concentrations. As an insurance broker I am constantly in situations where the use of the analytical thinking, communication and business skills developed in school come in handy.

Today, it is my clients and the relationships that keep me in the industry.  As a valued advisor providing solutions for complex personal insurance issues, or helping settle major claims, every day provides both challenges and gratifying experiences.  This was the most evident in the wake of Super Storm Sandy.  Displaced from my office in downtown Manhattan, and living in Connecticut without power or water for over a week, I attended to my clients 24/7 from local coffee shops and libraries.  Clients living in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut who sustained serious damage to their homes were extremely grateful that I went the extra mile to take care of their needs.  The initial reporting and hand holding evolved into the settlement negotiations on some complicated claims. Client appreciation is what makes my job worthwhile.

After seven years in the insurance industry, the focus on my professional development has not changed.  I try to learn something new every day — with the intent to expand my knowledge to all sectors of the insurance industry.  If I continue to be successful, my goal is to become a senior-level executive for a brokerage firm or insurance carrier.


Brian Roberts, CPCU
CNA Insurance

Hometown: Utica, NY
Education: Bachelor of Science in Finance and Master of Business Administration from SUNY Institute of Technology 
Chief Mentor: George Bannell

My career in insurance got its start when, at the age of 19, I took a part-time job in the mailroom at The Hartford.  While working in the mailroom, I picked up a CPCU textbook, brought it home, read through it, and registered for and passed the test. 

My underwriting career began with The Hartford, where I spent six years in various underwriting roles and disciplines.  In 2012 I decided to try my hand at being a broker and moved to Marsh USA here in Manhattan.  After two years at Marsh, an opportunity at CNA presented itself, and CNA is where I call home today.

As New York City Branch Underwriting Director for CNA, I provide leadership to a team of underwriters and am responsible for business results through profitability, business development, analysis and monitoring of the Technology/Federal Government Contractor book of business. I also act as relationship manager with key brokers in New York.
I am extremely passionate about the success of my team and building something meaningful.  The evolution of each team member’s career, as well as the broadening of each individual’s skill set, is of paramount importance to me.  Their success is my success.



Peter G. Shaloub, CPCU
Seneca Insurance

Hometown: New York, NY
Education: Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science and Master of Business Administration-Risk Management from St. John’s University
Chief Mentor: Keith McCarthy

Insurance in its simplest form is a promise. A promise to be there in the event of “what if?” What if can be a scary place. The ability to provide some security in that situation is what led me to actuarial science. As I entered the insurance industry, being able to apply analytics to a complex and evolving environment quickly became a passion, leading me to pursue a masters in risk management. If I could better understand the clients’ needs, I could help create a better solution.

I have had the privilege to work among some of the most talented people in the industry. I was afforded a view of each aspect of the industry from retail to wholesale and finally carrier. It is on the carrier side that I have received the greatest reward in helping meet the client’s needs.

Joining the team at Seneca has proven to be the most rewarding. Under the leadership of Keith McCarthy , I have been provided the opportunity to create solutions for clients from fledgling startups to thriving businesses. The ability to create solutions based on solid practices continuously inspires me to continue to achieve more; more for my staff and more for my clients. I am honored to be designated an IBANY Emerging Leader by Seneca Insurance.



Peter Sollecito
Foa & Son Corp.

Hometown: Westbury, NY
Education: Bachelor of Arts from University of Delaware
Chief Mentor: Pete Carrucciu

In 2007, like most individuals in this industry, the insurance business found me. A family connection gave me an opportunity to work for a relatively large Long Island agency of a well-known national insurance company handling primarily personal lines. I secured both my P&C and L&H licenses and began developing my network just in time for every major insurance carrier to cease writing homeowners insurance on Long Island.

After two years of learning and working in the personal lines sector and a comically unsuccessful commercial sales appointment in New York City, I realized that insurance was much more than I was being exposed to. I was completely unprepared to be the resource I thought I could be. The time had come to move on and find an organization where I could learn and develop as a commercial insurance professional.

Six years later, I am still at Foa & Son, and I am reassured every day that I could not have landed in a better place for my career. The values and work ethic of this firm are second to none.

The most important thing I have learned throughout my career is that the people you surround yourself with matter most. Without my team at Foa & Son, I would not have had the success I have had thus far. I am surrounded by an amazing group of people, beginning with the clerical staff up to our president, Justin Foa. I continue to learn every day and am extremely excited for what I know will be continual growth in this industry and our growth as a firm.



Christine Warner
Chubb Group of Insurance Companies

Hometown: Little Silver, NJ
Education: Bachelor in Science of Business Administration with a Finance major and minor in Economics from University of Delaware
Chief Mentor: J. Tracy Tucker

Upon graduation from college, a career in the insurance industry was not something I had considered. Researching the industry, however, I discovered it offered excitement and stability that quickly piqued my interest.

Having had the good fortune of being offered a job with Chubb, I soon became aware of the myriad opportunities and unique challenges afforded by the industry and Chubb in particular. I am given opportunities that have me wanting to grow and succeed, attaining new goals as my knowledge base expands and my value as an underwriting producer/professional increases.  I have taken lateral opportunities and stretch positions, outside of my comfort zone, to advance my career and round out my skill set.  My mentors have been by my side every step of the way, their interest in my success never wavering, their advice an advantage beyond calculation.

I believe firmly in Chubb’s promises to our clients and enjoy delivering the product and service for which we are renowned, secure in the knowledge that I’ve aligned myself with a company of impeccable standards. Outside of the office, I am able to enjoy sharing my rewarding career with my family, comfortable in having chosen a career path full of excitement and opportunity.