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Eric M. Bailey is the bestselling author of The Cure for Stupidity: Using Brain Science to Explain Irrational Behavior and President of Bailey Strategic Innovation Group, one of the fastest-growing human communication consulting firms in the United States. Eric has a diverse set of experiences that includes helping NFL All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald pet a rhinoceros, doing barrel rolls in an F-16, and chatting with LL Cool J on the campus of Harvard University.
Honored as Diversity Leader of the Year, Eric is the creator of the Principles of Human Understanding™, a leadership and communication methodology based in brain science and psychology. Eric’s unique style blends fact and emotion and finds ways to appeal to the analytical thinkers, the emotional feelers, and everyone in between. Eric has a unique ability to communicate seemingly complex concepts in practical, easy-to-comprehend ways, aiding in self-awareness and knowledge retention.
As a honoree of the prestigious 40 Under 40 award, Eric has been featured on CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Fox Soul, Huffington Post, Forbes, the Consciously Unbiased Podcast and has helped leaders and teams across the world see common problems from new and different perspectives. Eric works with Google Inc, the US Air Force, Los Angeles County, the City of St. Louis, MO, Phoenix Police Department and many more. Eric also runs a YouTube series of 2-minute executive lessons called The Walking Meeting (www.thewalkingmeeting.com).
Eric has a Master’s degree in Leadership and Organizational Psychology from Saint Louis University and is a lifetime learner of human and organizational behavior. When not working or researching, you can find Eric and his wife Jamie racing on their road bikes, being cheered on by their three children.
An experienced leader, Heather has spent the better part of the last decade at the helm of a Chicago-based non-profit working to disarm the destructive stigma that surrounds mental illness by sharing stories and hosting public conversations.
Before her time in the non-profit sector, Heather worked with Financial Services/Insurance Professionals to establish and sustain their businesses through candid conversation and personal storytelling. From there, she went on to serve as the Chief of Staff overseeing a collection of start-ups with a focus on conflict management and emotional health.
Over the past 7 years, Heather has traveled across the country working closely with leadership teams spanning multiple sectors, including real estate, pharmaceuticals, insurance, and healthcare to examine work styles and ideate mental health-focused approaches to team management.
Barbara's four decades in the insurance and reinsurance industry have spanned leadership roles encompassing operational and strategic responsibilities, including business origination and product development, underwriting, claims, risk management/corporate governance and ceded and assumed reinsurance, while fostering a culture of innovation, mentorship, and diverse talent.
Throughout the past eight years, Barbara has focused her career at the intersection of distribution, underwriting, technology and capital in specialty businesses. Barbara currently serves as a Senior Advisor at Amwins Group and a founding member of the D&I Council, an independent director of Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited (NEIL) and subsidiary Cedar Hamilton, and an independent director The Westfield Companies. She previously held leadership roles at Assurant, Hamilton USA, Guy Carpenter, Argo Group and Swiss Re.
During her 3-year tenure (2017-2020) as Chair of the International Board of Governors of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) and current President of the Association of Professional Insurance Women (APIW), Barbara has been directly engaged in the global and national Women in Insurance Conference series. Furthering her commitment to the IICF she serves as Co-Chair of the IICF Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Council which brings together over 50 of the top D&I officers in the insurance industry to advance the mission of diversity and inclusion. Concurrently, she is a member of the North American board of directors of ISC Group and advocates for the value of the insurance industry as a career of choice in her role as immediate past president and chair of the governance committee and member of the Board of Trustees of Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS).
As a keynote speaker on The Power of Purpose and The Archaeology of a Network in various insurance industry forums, Barbara has been driving the Big Tent of culture, inclusion, innovation, sponsorship, mentoring talent and the power of networks.
A tireless advocate on issues of philanthropy, product innovation and talent, among other awards, Barbara was named Insurance Woman of the Year by APIW in 2012, Inclusion Champion by the IICF in 2015 and Woman of Distinction at the 2017 Insurance Business America Awards. In 2019, she was inducted into Insurance Business America’s Hall of Fame.
Brett Carter is a Managing Director for The Jacobson Group’s executive search team, managing C-level, VicePresident and other executive-level searches for clients from all sectors of the insurance industry.
Brett brings more than 20 years of insurance experience to his role with Jacobson, most recently serving asDiversity Partner for Munich Re US P&C. In this role, he collaborated with human resources and other business unit leaders to attract, develop and retain top talent. During his time at Munich Re, Brett also served as Senior Territory Sales Manager for American Modern, a Munich Re subsidiary, managing the company’s growth and distribution strategies for Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Additionally, Brett’s impressive career includes tenures with Founders Insurance Company, Travelers andState Farm. His deep industry experience, passion for innovation and organizational excellence, and strong communication skills translate into expert executive search and selection consulting for his insurance clients.
Brett attended Augustan a College in Rock Island, Ill., where he received his Bachelor of Arts in marketing/advertising with a concentration in business management. He later received his Master of BusinessAdministration from the Forbes School of Business & Technology at University of Arizona Global Campus.He has earned the following accreditations: Associate in Claims, Certified Insurance Counselor, Illinois property and casualty license, and Six Sigma designation. Brett has also served as President of the Illinois 1752Club and is currently Vice President of the National African American Insurance Association Chicago chapter.Furthermore, Brett is a member of the Wholesale and Specialty Insurance Association (WSIA) CareerDevelopment Committee, which aims to create interest, awareness and enthusiasm about careers in the industry, and a member of the Rising Insurance Star Executives (RISE) D&I committee. In 2021, Brett received the Diversity Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace certificate from the University of South Florida Muma College of Business.
Vanessa Contreras is a Senior Vice President and US Casualty Team Leader at SCOR Reinsurance in Chicago, IL. She is responsible for managing the strategy and direction of the Casualty Treaty Portfolio inclusive of professional liability and cyber for the US. She coordinates efforts amongst the underwriters and manages client relationships. Vanessa previously held the role of Vice President and US Deputy Team Leader for Professional Lines prior to being promoted to her current role in January 2022. Vanessa began her carrier at Munich Re as a Risk Analyst and later as an underwriter. Prior to Munich Re, she worked for State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, IL.
Vanessa holds Bachelors of Science degrees in Finance and Risk Management & Insurance from The Katie School of Insurance at Illinois State University. She holds her CPCU, ARe and is in the process of pursuing her RPLU designation. Vanessa served on The Reinsurance Under 40s Board for six years. She is also an active member of the APIW, ISC Group, and PLUS – Professional Liability Underwriting Society where she completed the LAMP Program previously. Vanessa was also named a Rising Star in 2020 by Insurance Business America. Most recently Vanessa was honored as The 2022 Young Leader of the Year by The Katie School of Insurance at Illinois State University.
Sue Covelli-Buntley is a Co-Founder of UpSpiral Leadership. Consummately devoted to co-creating a better future collectively, Sue works with clients to achieve conscious and transformative change across their organization. Her diverse background combines extensive business and human resources senior leadership positions along with research into leadership development and positive psychology. Sue’s integrative background provides her with a holistic perspective making her uniquely qualified to align success across leaders, organizations and society. Sue is an avid researcher on the future of leadership and is known in the leadership community as an innovator in providing progressive points of view and creatively designed leadership experiences.
Prior to launching UpSpiral Leadership, Sue spent 25 years in the Insurance Industry, holding positions in Underwriting, Operations, Marketing and Human Resources. Her last role was serving as the Global Head of Talent Development for Chubb Insurance and while there received the Lifetime Achievement Award (“Be The Change”). She is expert in business strategy, designing leadership development ecosystems and is a frequent speaker on the Leader Mindset and the Future of Leadership.
Sue lives in Michigan with her husband and a house filled with 5 kids. There is chaos, but much love and joy.
Debra Dunn is the SVP and Property General Manager for the USAA Property & Casualty Insurance Group (P&C). In this role, she is responsible for growth, product development
and innovation, competitive position, and financial performance of personal lines home, renters, valuable personal property, umbrella, and flood products.
Prior to this role, Debra served as Senior Financial Officer for USAA P&C where she transformed and led a team of professionals responsible for financial performance, forecasting, reporting and analysis to support the USAA P&C President, Chief Financial Officer, and the P&C leadership team.
Debra has years of proven results transforming teams, developing leaders, empowering and delivering innovation, and creating a result driven culture. She has a passion for driving diversity, creating a community of inclusion, and growing healthy teams.
Before joining USAA in 1998, Debra worked at Price Waterhouse, LLP as a staff auditor.
Debra also serves on the Board of the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) and the
Midwest Board for Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF). She is a University of Texas
at San Antonio graduate, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and a prior Financial and
Operations Principal. Outside of work, Debra enjoys down-hill skiing, biking, and spending time
with family and friends.
Chicago native Michael Fosberg has spoken at high schools, colleges, government agencies, corporations, law firms and not-for-profits over the past fifteen years, utilizing his award winning autobiographical story, told in the form of a one-man play, as an entry point for meaningful dialogues on race and identity. His work with groups such as; The Boeing Company, United Way Worldwide, PNC Financial Services, and The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is reshaping the way organizations talk about leadership, authenticity and inclusion. Michael has been a frequent guest in the media speaking on these issues, and his latest book, Nobody Wants to Talk About It; Race, Identity and the Difficulties in Forging Meaningful Conversations offers readers seven important tools to engage in authentic dialogue. In 2011 he published his much lauded memoir; Incognito: An American Odyssey of Race and Self-Discovery. He also launched a series of unique virtual e-learning programs using his play as the entry point for delving into uncomfortable conversations and, more recently, Incognito the Podcast - a deep dive into the variety of methods people use to collaborate inclusively.
Deon Hornsby is an AVP for Private Client Group as the Regional Underwriting Manager for the Chicago Region. Deon is responsible for the profitability, growth and retention of the nearly 16,000 in-force policies within the 12 state Chicago Region, which has $93 Million in written premium. Deon leads a team of 9 Underwriters and Underwriter Technicians and works closely with his team and leadership to maintain agency relationships and execute strategies for the states
within the Region.
Deon has held several Underwriting and Distribution positions during his 25 year insurance career.
In addition to his current role, Deon serves on Private Client Group’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Councils as well as Co-Chairing the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team for Private Risk Management Association.
Deon received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Illinois Wesleyan University.
Jeanette Kilo-Smith is Head of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging (DIEB) at Zurich North America. She is responsible for the insurance provider’s continued progress on its DIEB strategy, ensuring alignment of efforts across its Executive Diversity and Inclusion Council (EDIC), its business/function Advisory Councils, its nine Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and its community investment efforts focused on social equity.
Specializing in Diversity and Inclusion, Kilo-Smith has more than 20 years of Human Resources experience at Fortune 500 companies. She has held senior level positions at Thermo Fisher Scientific, Walgreens, Walmart and Motorola, where she has developed successful strategies and initiatives.
Kilo-Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management from DePaul University in Chicago and a Certified Diversity Professional certification from Cornell University in New York.
Jeff Kroeger is Chief Commercial Officer for Insureon, the number one independent marketplace for online delivery of small business insurance.
Jeff is responsible for Insureon’s sales, marketing and operational functions along with long-term strategy.
Before his promotion to Chief Commercial Officer in June 2020, Jeff was Insureon's Executive Vice President of Strategy and Development.Jeff has more than a decade of experience in the commercial insurance industry working for top insurance carriers, such as The Hartford and CNA Insurance. At The Hartford, Jeff held multiple roles, all with increasing responsibility. His final position, was serving as the Head of Strategic Partners and Programs, responsible for developing and supporting national insurance partners, identifying new ventures, and designing and launching a countrywide distribution strategy.
Jeff sits on the board of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation.
He is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
Margaret is a talent strategist, DEI champion and an evangelist for talent innovation, transformation and excellence.
Margaret’s 35-year executive search career has focused on insurance and healthcare in the C-suite(notably CEO, COO, CFO, Chief Actuary, CIO, CRO, Chief Medical Officers/PhysicianExecutives) and in the boardroom on Director searches. She offers depth in the property and casualty, life, health, and reinsurance sectors, including insurtech. She has successfully conducted searches in disciplines such as actuarial, analytics, underwriting, claims, operations, risk, finance, investment, legal, technology, sales/distribution and marketing.
Margaret is Board Chair and Trustee for The Actuarial Foundation. She is a Board Member for theMuseum of Broadcast Communications and for the Executive Sisterhood, an organization promoting female leadership in businesses. Margaret is also a member of the advisory council of Upspiral Leadership™, a custom leadership and organizational development firm. Additionally, she serves as an Advisory Council Member for the Women’s Business Collaborative and holds membership in the Chicago Finance Exchange (CFE) and the National Association of CorporateDirectors (NACD).
Margaret is a champion for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the insurance industry and has been action-focused in her efforts. She served as the North America Co-Champion for Dive In, the global festival for DEI in insurance, growing the reach of the event since 2015. She co-founded the Women’s Insurance Networking Group, a platform for networking and career development among female and enlightened male insurance professionals. Margaret is the current U.S. Chair of ISCGroup, a global business community for women operating in or involved with insurance. She chairs the Women in Insurance Initiative of Million Women Mentors/STEM connector and is the recipient of their Champion of Industry Award. Margaret was honored to receive a 2020 President’s - 2 -Award from the Society of Actuaries in recognition of her service to the actuarial community and for her advancement of DEI. Margaret was also named to the Elite Women 2022 list by InsuranceBusiness America (IBA).
Margaret is an active pro-bono industry speaker, moderator, storyteller, mentor, podcast guest and thought leader on recruiting trends and career forecasting. She shares her insights and advice with industry publications, non-profit groups and universities as a guest lecturer and workshop facilitator.
Margaret received her bachelor’s degree in English with concentrations in French and marketing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to her career in executive search, she was employed by Allstate Insurance Company of Northbrook, Illinois, where she first developed her passion for the insurance industry. Margaret is a native of the Windy City, a die-hard Cubs fan and proud of her Latinx roots.
Angela Noble has over twenty years of professional experience and is a respected leader with expertise in strategic communications, organizational change management, program management, marketing, communications, claims, underwriting and innovation.
Currently, Angela serves as Vice President – Innovation at EMC Insurance Companies, where she is responsible for aligning innovative work and decisions with the core strategic goals of the organization; building a foundation of cross-functional leadership buy-in and collaboration; coaching, developing and encouraging a team of engaged, innovative team members; and managing the strategic effectiveness of external and industry partnerships.
Angela earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Northern Iowa, and frequently visits campus as a guest speaker and a Dean’s Advisory Board member. Angela was selected as a 2017 Des Moines Business Record Forty Under 40 honoree, a 2021 Elite Woman by Insurance Business America, a Hot 100 2022 by Insurance Business America, and 2021 Mentor of the Year by Rising Insurance Star Executives (RISE). Angela serves on the Vaughan Institute Advisory Board at the University of Iowa, the Editorial Content Advisory Committee for Digital Insurance, the Advisory Councils for Rising Insurance Star Executives, Plug & Play Tech Center and the InsurTech Center of Excellence and on the board of the Global Insurance Accelerator.
Ciaran O’Loughlin is the business lead for the Life & Group segment at CNA. This segment includes CNA’s long-term care business line. In his current role, Ciaran leads a team of 60 dedicated professionals across a multitude of disciplines, including Finance, Actuarial, Operations, and Claims, in the active management of this important run-off business for CNA.
Ciaran joined CNA in 2010 having worked for 10 years in public accounting in both Dublin, Ireland and Chicago serving a diverse range of client industries. Prior to joining the long-term care business unit in 2015, Ciaran worked in the Corporate Financial Services function leading financial reporting and technical advisory teams.
Ciaran is a Fellow Chartered Accountant and earned his B.A. in Accounting & Finance and his Masters in Accounting from Dublin City University.
Jon Perry (JP) is an underwriter and the Midwest team lead for US executive risk at Beazley. He also serves on the Global I&D Steering Committee at Beazley and is one of the employee leaders of Beazley RACE (an employee resource group). JP entered the insurance industry in Travelers’ Underwriting Professional Development program after graduating from the Katie School of Insurance at Illinois State, then worked on the D&O team at Allied World before taking on his current role. He is an alum of the Professional Liability Underwriting Society’s Leadership and Mentoring Program. In addition to his work as an underwriter, JP is passionate about recruiting and developing young talent in the industry. He served as a member of Gamma Iota Sigma’s board of trustees and volunteers as a mentor to students, helping to foster their interest in insurance. He has received recognition for his work including the Katie School of Insurance Young Leader Award (2018), one of Insurance Business America’s “Rising Stars” (2020), and was also a Gamma Iota Sigma Alumnus of the Year (2018).
Justin Ruehs, CPCU, ARM, AU-M, AAI-M, AINS, API, AIS, CIC, CISR, CLCS, MBA is the Senior Manager, Business Risk & Insurance at Microsoft. He is based in Chicago and works in partnership on the Global Risk Management program. Prior to Microsoft, Justin was an underwriter at Liberty Mutual, AIG, where he not only gained experience in underwriting large property for a wide array of clients and program structures, but also worked with the senior leaders to promote Diversity and Inclusion through Employee resource groups. Justin is also an active member of Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, The Chicago-West Suburban CPCU Society Chapter, and is a mentor with Foster Progress.
Justin has a Bachelor’s degree in Health Communications with a minor in Public Relations from Grand Valley State University and a M.B.A in Insurance from Olivet College.
When not at work, Justin and his husband are kept busy with their 6-year-old triplets
Mykala is the Director of Inclusive Programs & Talent Development for the KU Alumni Association, a non-profit partner of the University of Kansas that serves 350,000+ alumni and 10,000+ students. She leads Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging as a strategic partner focused on inclusive community building and engagement. She is a thought leader to association leadership on how to improve culture and organizational effectiveness.
Mykala serves on various committees across campus focused on the experience and advocacy of marginalized KU students, alumni, faculty and staff. She provides mentorship to undergraduate students of color and serves as the Vice President of KU’ Black Faculty & Staff Council.
Mykala earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a double minor in Business & Communications from the University of Kansas, and her master’s degree in Education, with concentrations in Diversity & Equity and Human Resource Development from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign).
Nzinga “Zing” Shaw joined ZRG in 2021, serving as the first President and Global Head of the ESG & DEI practice and concurrently serving as the company’s Chief DEI Officer (for internal ZRG talent). Zing is an experienced C-suite executive with extensive hands-on experience and knowledge spanning change and crisis management, human capital management, employee relations, talent acquisition, organizational and strategic planning, branding, community engagement, and diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I). She is known for her pioneering DEI work with the National Basketball Association, serving as the first D&I Officer, representing the Atlanta Hawks & State Farm Arena franchise. There, she launched the “MOSAIC” symposium (Model of Shaping Atlanta through Inclusive Conversations) and made the Hawks the first professional sports team to march in PRIDE and demonstrate public allyship to the LGTBQIA+ community. Additionally, she created the RISE (racial inclusion and social equity) Fellowship Program during her tenure as the Global Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer at Marsh McLennan (NYSE: MMC), the world’s largest professional services firm.
Notably, Zing was the first Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer at four blue chip organizations: Edelman, the NBA, Starbucks, Marsh McLennan. She has been recognized with numerous “40 Under 40” awards from the likes of Sports Business Journal, Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Network Journal, and PR Week. In addition to serving on the Board of Trustees of Fisk University, the Board of Directors of the National Rugby Football League, ColorComm, Moth+Flame and Arctos Sports Partners. She was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve a six-year term on the Board of Councilors of The Carter Center, and she currently serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Honors Program at Fisk University.
Zing received her MLA from the University of Pennsylvania and her BA from Spelman College. She was a study abroad scholar at Oxford. In her free time, Zing enjoys interior design, international travel, cooking, and spending time with her husband Keith and their three children, Lacy, Hudson, and Trey.
Rena serves as EY’s Central Region Insurance Consulting Leader and in this role, Rena is responsible for leading the Insurance Consulting Team and the successful growth of the practice including client management, launching new offerings and the recruiting and deployment of our resources. Rena has over 25 years of consulting experience and had led some of the firm’s largest insurance client relationships. Rena has worked across large business, finance, and technology transformations.
With a love of music as big as his last name, Tesfa Wondemagegnehu has been sharing joy and a vision for equity and justice through song for many years. Through a triumvirate of teaching, conducting, and performing, he has found a way to transform both students and audiences and to reach those seeking resolutions of peace, equality, and respect … through music.
Tesfa Wondemagegnehu serves as the conductor of the Viking Chorus and the Chapel Choir at St. Olaf College. He also served as the guest artistic director of one of North America's Largest LGBTQ+ choirs, Minnesota's One Voice Mixed Chorus. Tesfa maintains an active voice studio and teaches Music & Social Justice with the goal of helping bridge the gap of social injustice through music, dialogue, and inspiring participants to take action in their communities. Wondemagegnehu previously served as the Director of Choral Ministries at Westminster Presbyterian Church of Minneapolis, where he co-founded the Justice Choir movement with noted composer Abbie Betinis and celebrated conductor Ahmed Anzaldua. In the summer of 2018, Tesfa served as guest conductor of the children’s choir at the Aspen Music Festival, leading them in a week-long journey on the Justice Choir Songbook. In 2019, Wondemagegnehu was named artist-in-residence for the Harvard University Glee Club where they co-created and executed the truth-telling W.E.B. DuBois Musical Project. And most recently, American Public Media's Julie Amacher and Tesfa collaborated on several nationally-distributed radio programs on Black Music.
Born and raised in Memphis, with an impressive collection of opinions on barbecue, Tesfa learned early on from one of his mentors that “Excellence is never an accident.” It is achieved by exploring and freely disseminating the blessings bestowed upon each of us. Through the love and dedication of music teachers with whom he has studied, and an abundance of grit and determination, Tesfa has risen to be one of the most sought-after conductors and educators in the country and is on the cutting edge of music-related social justice movements throughout the United States. He summarizes his work in this simple doctrine: "We must be willing to walk through the fire while embracing and practicing unconditional and unrelenting care for one another. The rest is noise!"
Tesfa has been taught and inspired by all of his students throughout his career. His favorite student/teacher, daughter Aïda Hope, born in 2017, is influencing him daily with new developments, all the while wrapping him around her tiny finger. It is still to be determined whether she will be a world-famous singer, a renowned conductor, an intergalactic compassionate ruler of the universe, or the ultimate grill master, but, nevertheless, she will be fierce.
American Public Media’s Vaughn Ormseth has this to say about Tesfa: “He believes choral music transformed his life, saved him, so his passion for it is on a cellular level. He loves the formal tradition of the art form, but plugs his own kind of electricity directly into it. He has a millennial’s impatience with systems.” And so, with music’s undeniable power and potential to save lives, and the impatience to wait for others to make change, Tesfa will continue to transform the world with his vision of abundant education, justice, joy and Grace.
Participants of the Inclusion in Insurance Chicago Forum will develop practical strategies to be more inclusive in their personal and professional relationships. Through storytelling and interactive sessions, you will examine how to:
- Practice the skill of listening and storytelling
- Use those skills to establish trust and build better relationships
- Design personal strategies to navigate difficult conversations
- Become an inclusive problem solver at work, in your community, at home