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Director, Global & Experiential Education, Graduate STEM Programs,
UConn School of Business
As the Director of Global & Experiential Education for UConn’s three STEM designated master’s programs within the School of Business, Laurissa bridges the gap between academia and industry. She provides exceptional and varied applied learning opportunities for students through industry conferences, international courses, tech demonstrations, leadership and management seminars, company visits and industry panels. Through various roles within UConn’s Finance department, Laurissa oversaw the implementation of risk management programs, including the MS in Financial Risk Management Program and its Accelerated Track. With a keen focus on program management, recruitment strategy, and budget oversight, Laurissa led a team to significantly increase the growth of these programs, leading to a substantial increase in annual revenue and a notable rise in student enrollment. Laurissa holds an M.S. in Management in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Human Development/Organizational Effectiveness from Boston College.
SVP & Chief Client Experience Officer,
As Chief Client Experience Officer, Scott Campbell leads American National’s client experience team, which includes UX/UI, client insights, client journey consulting and the company’s strategic innovation efforts. Additionally, he oversees the company’s corporate communications, PR and brand programs. Scott holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has
been an active member of several insurance industry committees throughout his career and was named by LIMRA as one of the industry’s Rising Stars of Innovation.
Chairman & CEO,
Oceanview Life and Annuity
Wisconsin Insurance Department
Nathan Houdek has served as Commissioner of Insurance for the State of Wisconsin since his appointment by Governor Tony Evers in January 2022. He previously served as Deputy Commissioner of Insurance for three years under former Commissioner Mark Afable. Commissioner Houdek serves as the state's chief regulator of insurance and oversees the operations of the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. He is also chair of the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund Board of Governors and a member of the Wisconsin Insurance Security Fund (the state's guaranty fund) Board of Directors. As a member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Commissioner Houdek currently serves as chair of the Financial Condition (E) Committee, the Accelerated Underwriting (A) Working Group, and the Health Innovations (B) Working Group, and as a member of the Life Insurance and Annuities (A) Committee and various task forces and working groups. He is also vice chair of the Governance Committee of the Interstate Insurance Compact Commission. Having spent over 20 years working in state legislative and regulatory affairs, Commissioner Houdek has extensive experience finding solutions to complex public policy and regulatory challenges across all lines of insurance. He has held several senior-level roles in the public and private sectors, including serving as a principal at one of Wisconsin's largest public affairs and business consulting firms and as chief of staff to a former minority leader in the Wisconsin State Senate.
Former SVP, Retail Product Development,
Joe Jordan, is an inspirational speaker, behavioral finance expert, and author of the award-winning book, Living a Life of Significance. The book has sold over 125,000 copies, is translated in five languages and was featured in Nick Murray's The Advisor's Essential Library. He has given hundreds of presentations globally to over 400,000 financial professionals in 28 countries. Formerly, Joe ran insurance sales at Paine Webber and more recently was a senior vice president at MetLife. He is also a founder of the Insured Retirement Institute and has been featured on the cover of Life Insurance Selling magazine. Joe is the recipient of the 2023 John Newton Russell Memorial Award, the highest honor accorded by the insurance industry for outstanding service to the institution of life insurance.
CEO & Co-Founder,
Patrick Kelly is Co-Founder and CEO of Signal Advisors. Previously, he was Co-Founder and CEO of RepPro, where he built software to streamline the sale of annuities and life insurance for financial advisors. RepPro was acquired in 2018 by Annexus, a Blackstone-backed distributor of insurance products. Prior to this, Patrick co-managed an independent financial advisory firm, Kelly Capital Partners and started his career as a financial representative at Northwestern Mutual.
Chief Distribution Officer,
Gradient Financial Group
Brian Lucius, a key figure since the 2005 inception of Gradient Financial Group, commands a pivotal role as Chief Distribution Officer. His career launched at a top field marketing organization, where exceptional performance propelled him to leadership. Lucius now steers sales strategies across Gradient's enterprise, enhancing revenue flow and product distribution. Additionally, he shapes the sales teams' growth. His influential ties have positioned him before countless top-tier financial experts, addressing diverse industry matters. With publications in esteemed journals and past media contributions, Lucius has significantly contributed to developing Gradient's multifaceted platforms and business ventures.
Andrew N. Mais, Connecticut’s 33rd Insurance Commissioner serves as the 2024 National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) President. Mais also serves on various NAIC and International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) committees and task forces. Mais has led discussions in several forums on race, diversity, and inclusion at the state level and within the insurance industry and in insurance practices. Mais previously was a member of Deloitte’s Center for Financial Services. Prior to that, he was a Director at the New York State Insurance Department. Mais has dedicated much of his life to public service including serving on numerous councils in his hometown of Wilton, Connecticut.
Managing Director, Head Of Insurance,
The Index Standard
Branislav is an established thought leader specializing in annuities and retirement income planning. He joined The Index Standard after a decade at Cannex Financial Exchanges, where as Vice President of Research he was instrumental in extending Cannex’s strong presence in the retirement income space. Branislav holds a Masters degree in probability and financial engineering and a PhD in applied mathematics from York University in Toronto, where he is also a lecturer in finance and mathematics. Branislav holds the designation of Financial Risk Manager (FRM). He is a prolific author for business and trade publications and a frequent speaker at insurance seminars.
Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures
Marie-Christine (MC) is a Principal at Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures. Marie-Christine focuses on deal sourcing, due diligence, and portfolio monitoring for NMFV. Prior to joining NMFV Marie-Christine was a Scouting Manager for State Farm Labs in Silicon Valley. Here, she was responsible for identifying relevant startups for partnership opportunities. While there she co-founded Insurtech SVSF- an insurtech networking group. She started her career in Catastrophe Insurance, where she spent 7+ years as a Property Underwriter and Catastrophe Modeler, underwriting commercial deals ranging from $1M-$16B. Marie-Christine graduated from McGill University with a B.S. in Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences.
Douglas is responsible for sourcing new investment opportunities, conducting due diligence, serving on boards of directors, and supporting the growth and success of portfolio companies. Before joining CII, Douglas gained extensive experience with early-stage businesses as both an operator and adviser. He founded a consulting firm to assist early-stage companies identify and assess growth opportunities, generate sustainable revenue and manage intellectual property. As a senior consultant at a boutique management consulting firm, Douglas was a strategic adviser to companies in the software, telecommunications, information technology and medical device industries. He advised investors in early-stage businesses, representing more than $250 million in invested capital. Earlier in his career, Douglas spent more than a decade as an operator in the telecommunications industry, primarily focused on building international voice, data and IP networks.
The Life Product Review,
Bobby is the Executive Editor of The Life Product Review, the industry’s best source for independent and objective life insurance product intelligence. He regularly presents at major industry events and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal.
Bobby is also the President and CEO of Life Innovators, an independent product development firm helping life insurers create and implement unique life insurance and annuity products. Previously, Bobby was the Senior Vice President and Head of Product Development and Pricing for life insurance and annuities at Brighthouse Financial, formerly MetLife US Retail. Prior to joining MetLife in 2013, he published The Life Product Review and was an independent consultant to life insurers, distributors and advisors. He is the third generation of his family to work in the life insurance industry.
Wes Severin is Executive Vice President of the Retirement Division for Symetra Life Insurance Company. Mr. Severin has assumed multiple roles within Symetra over the last 12 years. As EVP, Mr. Severin has profit-and-loss responsibility for Symetra’s annuity products, including strategy development, product design and innovation, product marketing, market research, sales, distribution, service, and operations. Mr. Severin earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Colorado State University. He currently serves on the board of Insured Retirement Institute and LIMRA’s Annuity Advisory Committee.
Jay drives product innovation, strategy, and vision at Hedgeness. He brings more than two decades of financial services and technology development experience combined to Hedgeness. He joined Olde Investments in 1999 and had a ten-year financial services career culminating at Morgan Stanley with a focus on retirement planning. After that, he spent time consulting with technology and finance strategy for startups and mid-sized companies. He has a BA with Honors in Political Science from Belmont Abbey College, NC. Prior to moving to the US, he lived extensively in Europe, Asia, and India.
VP Of Community & Partnerships,
Alison Susko is VP of Community and Partnerships at Asset-Map, a financial technology firm dedicated to creating engaging visual communication tools used throughout the customer and advisor journey. Alison has been working in the financial technology industry for over 15 years specializing in Account Management, Training and Partnership Development/Growth. Before joining Asset-Map in 2018, she worked at eMoney Advisor where she oversaw Account Development and Enterprise Relationships and Docupace Technologies where she created and ran their Training Department.
Toland Consulting, LLC,
Tamiko Toland is principal at Toland Consulting, LLC, where she shares her insights, experience, and strategic analysis with clients. She is an expert and thought leader in retirement and
annuities in the individual and institutional markets. For more than two decades, Tamiko has tracked trends and key issues on retirement income, addressing all audiences. She has held leadership roles at TIAA, Cannex, the annuity data and
analytics firm, and Strategic Insight. Tamiko’s introduction to annuities began as a trade reporter for Annuity Market News. She regularly shares her perspectives for the news media and speaks at industry conferences and webinars.
Chairman & CEO,
Michele Trogni is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Zinnia, a leading life and annuity insurance technology services company. Zinnia simplifies insurance, offering comprehensive solutions for the insurance industry's most critical needs. Zinnia's offerings better enable clients to build, sell, and service insurance, and ultimately help more people get the coverage they need. As a global business leader in banking and financial services, Michele is a recognized technology innovator and agent of change. She is currently a member of the Deutsche Bank Supervisory board where she advises on technology, innovation, and risk. Michele was Executive Vice President of Consolidated Markets and Solutions for IHS Markit, where she led a portfolio of businesses that deliver data insights, analytics, and technology solutions to financial markets, engineering, and technology companies. Michele spent the majority of her career at UBS, where among other roles, she served as the firm’s Group CIO and Head of Operations.
Chief Marketing Officer,
Nassau Financial Group
Paul Tyler serves as Chief Marketing Officer for Nassau where he leads the marketing and innovation strategy. Paul drives the branding of the insurance companies and affiliated asset management companies. He built an affiliate sales channel for Nassau Financial Group. In addition, he launched Nassau Re/Imagine, an Insurtech-focused incubator based in Hartford. Prior to his role at Nassau Financial Group, he worked at Fidelity & Guaranty Life and MetLife in a variety of roles in strategy, marketing, operations, technology, sales, and compliance. He earned his A.B. from Princeton University and his J.D. from Cornell Law School.
Founder & CEO,
Alexis Cierra Vaughn is a 16 time Award-Winning Insurance Expert and the Founder & CEO of Off Course, an Insurtech Consulting Firm, dedicated to providing strategy consulting for Insurtechs, Fintech, RetireTechs, Carriers, MGA's, Accelerators, insurance agencies and Brokerages. Alexis is a 14 year licensed Insurance and Insurtech Executive, with a strong reputation as an Insurance Innovator within the industry. Her company Off Course was created due to her strategic and creative approach to innovation being in high demand within the industry and agent & broker distribution. Alexis decided that instead of just impacting one InsurTech, she would use her company Off Course to impact them all. Alexis is also the Producer and Host of the Insurance Unicorn podcast where she interviews insurance innovators in the InsurTech and Insurance industry. Off Course has helped Insurtechs and innovation labs in the areas of Distribution, Cyber, Parametric flood insurance, agency management
systems,technology, claims payment systems, and digital distribution for MGA’s. Alexis’ Co-Founder & COO is her husband Marvin Vaughn, who leads the strategy practice,
talent advisory, and operations advisory verticals of their firm, he brings 20 years of Operations strategy experience to the practice from leading insurers and management consulting Big 4 firms.
Academic Director, MS FinTech,
University of Connecticut
John is an in-residence faculty member in the UCONN School of Business Graduate Program and is the Academic Director of the MS – Financial Technology (FinTech) program. He previously served as Director of UCONN’s Center for the Advancement of Business Analytics. As a faculty member at UCONN, he teaches a variety of graduate business courses including Visual Analytics, Advanced Project Management (Capstone) and Global Technology Management. He has also taught Predictive Modeling, Process Modeling and SQL, Management Information Systems, Engineering Management, and Cost and Risk Management. In 2017, 2018, and 2019 John was recognized as outstanding OPIM- Analytics faculty member in UCONN’s MBA program. In 2019, John received the prestigious UCONN School of Business Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award and in 2020, the AAUP – Early Career Teaching Award. He was also a 2020 CETL nominee for Excellence in Teaching. In January of 2020, he was named Academic Director and tasked to lead the formation and implementation of a new MS program in Financial Technology (Fintech). He is also a member of the UCONN School of Business Hall of Fame.
Doug Wolff is the CEO of Security Benefit and oversees the company’s vision, mission, strategy, and culture. He also serves as Chairman for Everly, the company's life insurance subsidiary. Prior to being CEO, Wolff was President of Security Benefit Life managing product development and operations and spearheaded innovative retirement solutions that made it an industry leader. Before joining Security Benefit, Wolff worked at Allstate Life Insurance and began his career as an actuary with Ernst & Young. Doug earned his Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Illinois and is a Fellow in the Society of Actuaries and a Chartered Financial Analyst.