Congratulations to the 2018 Class of IBANY Emerging Leaders!

Associate Member

ELoY Logo

Sean Brondi

Sean Brondi
GNY Insurance Company

Hometown: Ballston Lake, NY
Education: Temple University, BBA Degree, Risk Management & Insurance Major
Chief Mentors: Frank Chiappetta, Lucas Sheldon & Gary Stallone

The strength of any organization is the individuals that make up its membership. IBANY is a collection of the most skilled, innovative and ethical people in our business. To be considered an Emerging Leader by such a prestigious organization is a great honor.

I was a sophomore when my Introduction to Risk Management & Insurance professor recruited me to declare RMI as my major and join the International Risk Management, Insurance, and Actuarial Science Collegiate Fraternity. It was the breadth of career opportunities that persuaded me to make this decision. In hindsight, this was one of the best choices I ever made. The program taught insurance fundamentals and prepared me to enter the workforce.

Temple University sparked my initial interest in the insurance field, but GNY has definitely kept me in insurance. Since joining GNY, I have been afforded an abundance of mentors, along with exceptional training opportunities. This helped me develop the skills and confidence to create a fulfilling career. At GNY, as you demonstrate competence, you are rewarded with additional broker assignments and company projects. I have been lucky to work with many different reputable brokerages and, work on large complex accounts. I am on my third different geographical territory, each one broadening my perspective. The company success and culture is a reflection of our incredibly inspiring CEO, Elizabeth Heck, to whom I owe a great amount of gratitude.
Regarding the future, a large number of insurance professionals are approaching retirement age. The opportunities will be generous for those willing to work at their craft and put in the effort. There will always be new challenges, but I am confident we will always be able to solve them.

Wholesale Member

ELoY Logo

Conner Clemmer headshot


Connor Clemmer
Distinguished Programs

Hometown: Marlborough, NY
Education: BA in Business Administration from SUNY Albany
Chief Mentors: Mark Euiler & Albert Leung

Thank you, Distinguished Programs and IBANY, for designating me as a 2018 Emerging Leader.

A common narrative within the insurance industry is how very few of us set out with the intention of entering this business. Individual journeys are often a series of serendipitous circumstances that lead into this dynamic, thriving field. For me, a happenstance summer internship at Distinguished turned into a full-time position post-graduation.

At Distinguished, I discovered, to my surprise, that insurance can be a truly dynamic and vibrant arena. I was presented with the unique opportunity to be part of a collaborative, engaging environment. In this environment, one can bring forth new ideas to challenge the status quo and strive for persistent improvement. I saw a chance to help reform the business’s operational structure and positively affect our customers’ experience.

My career started within the underwriting and service department. It is empowering to be in the role of a solution provider for customers’ needs. I worked toward establishing a wide range of product knowledge across several of our niche real estate programs. I have recently changed roles, shifting my attention toward program management and development. In this position, I am tasked with implementing different sets of solutions for our customers, as well as focusing on overall program growth and further enhancements to our offerings.

As I look toward the future, I am excited about the continued evolution of the industry at large, which appears ripe with opportunity for growth and development overall. I strive to continuously learn and test myself so I am in the position to thrive in the shifting landscape.

Thanks again to Distinguished and IBANY for recognizing me. I am humbled by the honor.

 Retail Broker

ELoY Logo

Frank Caplan Headshot


Frank Caplan
Foa & Son Corporation

Hometown: Great Neck, New York
Education: Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Nassau Community College
Chief Mentor: Mervin McCormack

As a kid, I wanted to be Michael Jordan. But I’ll settle for a successful career in the insurance industry.

I never thought I’d end up a “businessman.” I wanted to help people. After earning my liberal arts degree, I planned to continue my education in psychology. In the meantime, I answered an ad for an entry-level position at a retail brokerage firm. I never considered psychology again.

I started in the benefits department at a mid-size broker, then transferred to Commercial Lines where I built my knowledge. My new competitive edge led me to my current home at Foa & Son, where I have spent the last 5 years as an AVP in Marketing. This is where, after my whole life of being quiet, shy and introverted, I broke out of my shell and shocked myself by falling in love with marketing. I also learned how to work hard and have fun while doing it. Foa & Son provided me with the support of colleagues and management, who have become more like family than just co-workers. Professionally, we are constantly encouraging each other, and always have something to teach and learn from one another.

I never made the NBA, but Foa & Son has been the best team I could ever dream of being a part of.

The thing I am most proud of is being able to balance a demanding job as well as being a dedicated father to my wonderful son.

I am honored to have been named as an Emerging Leader for the 2018 class. I look forward to many more years of growth, and eventually to lead as my wonderful managers have led me.


Headshot Lauren Finnis

Lauren Finnis
Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Hometown: Roswell, GA
Education: Vanderbilt University, MAcc; UNC-Chapel Hill, BSBA, BA
Chief Mentor: David Finnis

In 2008, when my mother’s health took a turn for the worse, I decided to graduate early and returned home to Atlanta without a job. I interviewed at Zurich for an underwriting assistant position, which I did not get, but I made an impression as in 2011, the regional property leader reached out to me about joining his team as a global associate and property underwriter. I was a CPA and recently promoted to senior tax associate at a large public accounting firm but the opportunity intrigued me as it offered more global exposure and external interaction.

Over the next year, I completed property training in Atlanta, an intensive insurance curriculum in Zurich, a rotation with the international outbound servicing team in Chicago, and a posting in Singapore developing the local real estate form and proposition. I wanted to work more broadly with other product lines and regions so in 2013, I accepted a position in New York with the national broker relationship management team. Three months later, I became the interim national Aon relationship leader as well.

In 2014, I was recruited to help build out BHSI’s Customer and Broker Engagement (C&BE) platform – designing the customer relationship management system, developing broker reports and appointments, and managing broker strategies and communications. My role has since evolved to focus more time externally with customers and brokers. In January, I was promoted to be the C&BE leader for the East Region, and I'm in the process of expanding the team. I am thankful to work with such a talented, collaborative, and driven team at BHSI and to have a job that consistently challenges me and offers opportunities for growth.


Amanda Fitzpatrick cropped

Amanda Fitzpatrick
Allied World Assurance Company

Hometown: Neptune, NJ
Education: B.S. in Business, Marketing, and Human Resources from Marist College
Chief Mentors: Diana Cossetti, Jim Cornwell, Mike Conroy

I am an Assistant Vice President and Zonal Manager for Boston and New York in the Primary Construction unit at Allied World. My responsibilities include managing a $25 million book of business as well as managing three team members and maintaining my own book. Prior to that, I spent eight years doing excess casualty and primary casualty at Colony Specialty and Crum & Forster.

I am focused not only on construction but also classes such as products, real estate and hospitality. I have been in the insurance industry for almost 12 years. I started out in the industry as part of the training program at Crum & Forster in 2006 as a graduate of Marist College. Throughout my experience at Crum & Forster, I was able to gain a great understanding of how an insurance company works, and the extensive training program helped prepare me for roles I would take on in the future. I was drawn to underwriting due to the ability to work on different types of business each day and to work with multiple clients in various industries.

I have been able to make lifelong business contacts and friends throughout my time in the industry. The people dynamic of my day-to-day interaction and solving problems for clients is what keeps me in the industry, in addition to mentoring younger team members. I am excited to see how the insurance industry will evolve with emerging technology and hope to be able to pass down anything I have learned to the younger generation. Insurance has built a sense of community that I am proud to belong to.


Headshot Christina Hightower

Christina Hightower
Preferred Concepts

Hometown: New York, NY/ Wildwood, GA
Education: BA in Economics and Political Science from Queens College; MBA in Risk Management from St. John’s University expected 2019
Chief Mentor: Gary Tully

One semester of law school changed my direction completely. I wasn’t sure how to proceed; however, law school was out of my plan. A temporary position was offered to me and I reluctantly decided to accept. This was my first experience working for a major carrier. After three weeks, I was hired as a full-time Technical Assistant. This position was pivotal in exposing me to operations, marketing, underwriting, and claims.

The insurance industry interested me for several reasons: There are so many possibilities and potential for growth. The opportunities to build and maintain relationships excite me. The analytical thought process of evaluating risk and underwriting is inspiring.
I am currently an Assistant Underwriter at Preferred Concepts. Our team has provided a very collaborative and supportive work environment, which has enhanced my career. It was very important to me to invest time outside of work to have a better understanding of insurance, which is why I completed my AINS designation. My master’s degree is the next goal; I am currently enrolled at St. John’s University School of Risk Management’s MBA program. I was selected and accepted, being in the top of the class for The Peter J. Tobin College of Business Executive-In-Residence Program designed to develop business consulting skills, strategic thinking, and networking opportunities.

I am especially grateful to my Preferred Concepts family, specifically Chris Casella, Alison Sullivan and Maura Fields-Ryan and all the executive team for their support. I would also like to thank IBANY for this opportunity. Looking forward to the future I would like to continue to make a difference in the success of Preferred Concepts.


Max Horn Cropped.JPG

Max Horn

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Education: BA in Environmental Studies from Brandeis University
Chief Mentor: Toby Smith

I was drawn to the insurance industry for its exposure to a diverse business landscape. I joined ACE in 2010 as a member of the environmental underwriting team in New York. I knew quickly that the excitement of underwriting, analyzing risks and competing for deals, was a great fit for my personality. After a brief stint with Travelers, I moved to Ironshore in 2014 and have grown personally and professionally under the mentorship of innovative and thoughtful leadership. I have had the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities, helping write the new Ironshore Real Estate Policy form with senior management, mentoring new underwriters as our company has grown, and most recently building a broker facing online storage tank platform.

Working in the insurance industry gives you a peek behind the curtain of our economy. As an underwriter, I have a stimulating work environment with the opportunity to research and evaluate a wide expanse of industries. Beyond just excellent career opportunities, the insurance industry provides an exciting atmosphere and a diverse day-to-day. The industry continues to expand and innovate at an exciting pace that creates opportunities for new entrants to specialize and develop an expertise. Most importantly, the insurance industry provides exposure to business mentors with an incredible knowledge base to aid development. I have found the working relationships are one of the best features of the job.

I greatly appreciate the recognition from my colleagues at Ironshore in naming me an Emerging Leader, and for all their help as I continue to learn and develop in my career.


Rachel Khatkhate headshot

Rachel Khatkhate
Seneca Insurance Company, Inc.

Hometown: New York, NY/Morris Plains, NJ
Education: Bachelor of Computer Science from Dalhousie University, CIP from the Insurance Institute of Canada
Chief Mentors: Douglas Libby and Richard de Silva

I am honored to be part of the insurance industry and chosen as Seneca Insurance’s Emerging Leader. Having a computer science degree, insurance wasn’t my initial choice as a career path, but now I realize it’s my true calling. Insurance is a relationship business built on trust and fulfillment of a promise. As a manager, it’s my responsibility to educate my team to understand this concept. I wear many hats as a coach, underwriter, marketer, motivator, etc.; this is what keeps me engaged. I enjoy sharing knowledge and feel the joy when someone gets their first binder, handles a difficult situation, develops a relationship or learns a new concept.

Our industry is changing at a rapid pace and the underwriting must also evolve to service our clients. This is why I believe in being a lifelong learner. The knowledge I gained from achieving my CIP designation and pursuing my CPCU set the foundation for me to become a better underwriter. I learned the business from my mentors who coached me through on-the-job situations. This combination of learning helped me progress. I believe in trusting your “gut,” working hard, being positive and collaborating. We can achieve more together and still showcase our strengths. It is important to take on new challenges, push yourself to a point of succeeding or failing and having the courage to try it all over again for a new outcome. This is how we achieve change.

Being involved is paramount to the industry’s success. I hope future generations continue their education, discover their passion and explore it, help others realize their potential, support industry events, and join committees to positively shape our industry.


TJ Krzmarzick IBANY headshot

Thomas Krzmarzick
Aspen Insurance

Hometown: Naperville, Illinois
Education: BS in Insurance and Marketing from Illinois State University
Chief Mentors: Lorraine Seib and Jeff Canfield

I started in insurance in my sophomore year, when I changed my major from finance. I was drawn to the specialization, and learning the coverage concepts came easily to me. Through the years, I continued on the education front and completed the CPCU Designation. I am currently working to broaden my industry knowledge with the CRIS program by IRMI.

In 2005, my career began in the Professional Associate Program at AIG and working in the Corporate Accounts Excess Casualty unit in Chicago. In the 9+ years there I worked my way up from PA to Regional Manager with a team of seven in Chicago and St. Louis. The strong technical ability in Excess Casualty came naturally, but the leadership skills have been more of a continuous learning process. When it was time to move on from AIG, I was drawn to an opportunity at Aspen Insurance. At the time, the Excess Casualty operation was boutique E&S but the plan was to scale the operation and write more mainstream business. In the almost four years since, I went from being the sole Chicago excess underwriter to managing a team of four with the GWP nearing five times what it was. The goal is to one day run a Global Excess Casualty operation for an A XV rated company. During my short career, I’ve been lucky to work with many great leaders to whom I owe much credit.

In my personal life, I’m a dedicated husband and father of four. I enjoy the occasional fundraising campaign; most recently my wife and I raised more than $2,000 for Homes for Our Troops.

Thank you, Aspen and IBANY for selecting me as a 2018 Emerging Leader!


Vianset Cropped

Vianset Marino
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

Hometown: North Bergen, NJ
Education: BA in Finance from New Jersey City University; MS in Accountancy from Saint Peter’s University; MBA in Risk Management from Saint Peter’s University
Chief Mentor: John Ruth

The insurance industry is an exciting, lively world. I’ve discovered every day can be a new adventure, where new challenges allow for the hypothesis of a completely new result. Engaging in problem-solving is exciting and I seek out the innovation of those challenges.

I was introduced to the industry through a work study program in high school. I worked as Commercial Lines assistant for a local agency. I was drawn to the insurance field; it kept me engaged to learn more, and I never knew what to expect as there was always a new project, new acquisition or new business. I worked all through college with the agency. After college, I was offered a position as a Commercial Lines Account Executive. Within this job, what I enjoyed most was the opportunity to learn about all the industries that my clients were in: Retail, real estate, manufacturing or construction. There is nothing more gratifying than anticipating a client’s needs then presenting them with a set of solutions. In my current role as a Client Service Supervisor, I mentor upcoming insurance professionals. I enjoy helping them navigate their career path.

The insurance industry is constantly evolving; the ability to adapt to change is vital to the industry’s continued success. The industry has been focused on pricing versus customer experience for the past few years. The ability to continue evolving to anticipate that customer experience will overtake price as a key differentiator.

I am honored to have been selected a 2018 IBANY Emerging Leader. Thank you to IBANY for the opportunity, and the wonderful Gallagher Risk Management team for the support.


Alex Mendelsen cropped

Alex Mendelson

Hometown: Hillsdale, NJ
Education: BA in Economics from Binghamton University
Chief Mentor: Anthony Battaglia

Upon graduating from Binghamton University in 2009 I found myself in the midst of one of the most challenging economies in U.S. history. I was unsure what path my degree might take me. At the time, I had successfully completed two summer internship programs working for AIG in its New York City office. There was still so much to learn and so many people I would meet along the way. Looking back on this time, the choice to embark on a journey in the insurance industry was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Anyone considering a career in insurance would be remiss not to explore all the rewarding opportunities it has to offer. Over the past nine years, I have learned a wealth of knowledge developing on both a personal and professional level. None of this would be possible without the extensive network of colleagues and clients that have made an impact on my career.

I have had the pleasure of working with CNA’s Financial Institutions Group in our New York City office for the past four years. CNA is a world-class organization with more than 6,000 of the industry’s best and brightest insurance professionals. I am passionate about my job and proud to work for a company that empowers me every day with the tools I need to succeed in my role. I’d like to thank CNA and specifically my mentor Anthony Battaglia for providing me with the opportunity to work for such a supportive organization. I look forward to what the future will bring for us as an industry and would like to congratulate all of IBANY’s 2018 Emerging Leaders.

Thank you to CNA and IBANY for this distinguished honor.


Brandon Paul cropped

Brandon Paul
The Travelers Companies, Inc.

Hometown: Flemington, NJ
Education: BA, Criminal Justice from University of Delaware
Chief Mentors: Among others, my parents

Insurance wasn’t exactly my dream job right out of college. However, upon graduating and seeking full-time employment, I fell into insurance. My mother spent 40 years at Chubb, and I have her to thank for introducing me to the industry.

Two weeks after graduating, I was fortunate enough to begin my career in Chubb’s Eastern Underwriting Center as a Detail Clerk processing policy endorsements. My eagerness to learn and think analytically led me to explore the underwriting side of the business, and I became an Underwriter Associate for Chubb’s technology unit. Supporting an experienced underwriter, I gained practical hands-on experience before becoming an Underwriter within Chubb’s commercial lines. As a renewal underwriter, I gained valuable knowledge, however, I wanted to be challenged and experience more of the agency-facing side of the business.

After three years at Chubb, I accepted an offer to join Travelers as an Account Executive. This opportunity forced me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to really focus on my career. What entices me most about underwriting is that no two accounts are exactly the same, and every day I learn something new. Analyzing complex risks and implementing sales and marketing strategies to win business continues to motivate me to push the bar higher for myself. Travelers continues to provide me with the support and training that I need to succeed in my role. Insurance is all about people, and I am grateful for all the managers, mentors, agents and brokers who have influenced me to this point in my career.

I hope to continue to grow as a leader, and am truly honored and humbled to be designated as Travelers’ 2018 IBANY Emerging Leader!


Rocco revised 

Rocco Schiaffiano
Philadelphia Insurance Companies

Hometown: Massapequa Park, New York
Education: Lafayette College
Chief Mentors: Jason Ivins & Bill Misita

Prior to working at Philadelphia Insurance Companies (PHLY), I was not very knowledgeable about the insurance industry. During my final semester at Lafayette College, I was introduced to Brian O’Reilly, CMO at Philadelphia Insurance Companies, and a Lafayette alumnus. My conversations with him about the insurance industry and Philadelphia Insurance Companies sparked my interest, and I began the interview process shortly thereafter. A few months later, I found myself working for Philadelphia Insurance Companies, and I have been there ever since.

I started my career at Philadelphia Insurance Companies as a marketing trainee in Ewing, New Jersey. I then became a marketing representative about a year later in the New York office. One of the greatest aspects of this job is the incredibly talented individuals I get to work with every day, internally and externally with our business partners. I am very fortunate to work in an industry where each day is filled with interactions with and among fantastic people. These interactions have allowed me to learn and grow professionally while also enjoying work.

Because of the various opportunities presented at Philadelphia Insurance Companies and throughout the insurance industry itself, I see myself working in it for a very long time. I am flexible when thinking about my future, and I currently focus on working hard every day, keeping an open mind and following the path that brings me the most success.

Thank you to both IBANY and Philadelphia Insurance Companies for supporting and naming me a 2018 Emerging Leader.


Headshot Kurt Schramm

Kurt Schramm
Chubb Group of Insurance Companies

Hometown: Berwyn, PA
Education: Penn State University, College of Liberal Arts
Chief Mentor: Henry O. Schramm II

I started my career at Chubb Global Casualty in the large account domestic casualty training program. I come from a line of insurance professionals; my father Henry Schramm, was in the business for more than 40 years.

Since joining Chubb Global Casualty out of school, I have worked as an underwriting assistant, trainee, underwriter and now a manager of a team of underwriters servicing and pricing large primary casualty risks. Two things have kept me in this industry: The keys that Chubb has given me to be able to shape and expand my career, and perhaps more importantly, the people that I have met both inside and outside of Chubb. The branch management here in New York (our underwriting manager as well as our branch manager) and my former team leader have been instrumental in helping me progress my career. The great underwriting team that I manage and the people I work alongside have turned this into a passion for me. I have had the fortunate opportunity of working closely with several Chubb senior executives. I particularly recall my interview with the head of Chubb’s Transportation practice, who said to me when I expressed an interest in law school, “No, you want to be an underwriter.”

I also owe a great deal to Chubb Global Casualty’s chief underwriting officer who has been a fantastic mentor to me ever since I was a trainee. I would not be here, though, if it were not for my parents, who encouraged me to set down this career path, and who are always there to support me.