top of page
Bennett
Cline
Sam Bennett, CIC, CPRM, AFIS, CRIS, CPIA, is an active retail producer, presenter, and shareholder in Harrison Agency, Inc. of Columbia, MO.  He began his insurance career in 1987 and has been an Independent Insurance Agent from the beginning. He has worked with individuals, families, and small businesses his entire career. In this capacity, he has worked in the personal lines, commercial lines, agribusiness and life and health marketplaces. As a result of working with many types of clients, many carriers, and many coverage needs, Sam has grown to understand and appreciate the important ways an insurance professional must work with markets and clients in today’s insurance world. 

Sam obtained his Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation in 1996. He has taught coursework for the National Alliance in their CISR program since 2000, has presented in their CIC program since 2004, and in 2009 became a National Faculty Member of the Society of CIC. In 2021 he obtained his Certified Personal Risk Manager designation from the National Alliance and is a presenter in that program.  Sam is also a speaker in IRMI’s Agribusiness and Farm Insurance Specialist (AFIS) program, their Transportation Risk and Insurance Professional (TRIP) program and their Construction Risk Insurance Specialist (CRIS) program, as well as presenting coursework in the AIMS Society’s Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA) program. Over the years, Sam has been retained by several law firms to offer expert review of cases involving agent standard of care and coverage questions. He has been called upon to offer insurance education in conferences and symposiums across the country over the past twenty plus years.

Sam Bennett, CIC, CPRM, AFIS, CRIS, CPIA, is an active retail producer, presenter, and shareholder in Harrison Agency, Inc. of Columbia, MO. He began his insurance career in 1987 and has been an Independent Insurance Agent from the beginning. He has worked with individuals, families, and small businesses his entire career. In this capacity, he has worked in the personal lines, commercial lines, agribusiness and life and health marketplaces. As a result of working with many types of clients, many carriers, and many coverage needs, Sam has grown to understand and appreciate the important ways an insurance professional must work with markets and clients in today’s insurance world.

Sam obtained his Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation in 1996. He has taught coursework for the National Alliance in their CISR program since 2000, has presented in their CIC program since 2004, and in 2009 became a National Faculty Member of the Society of CIC. In 2021 he obtained his Certified Personal Risk Manager designation from the National Alliance and is a presenter in that program. Sam is also a speaker in IRMI’s Agribusiness and Farm Insurance Specialist (AFIS) program, their Transportation Risk and Insurance Professional (TRIP) program and their Construction Risk Insurance Specialist (CRIS) program, as well as presenting coursework in the AIMS Society’s Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA) program. Over the years, Sam has been retained by several law firms to offer expert review of cases involving agent standard of care and coverage questions. He has been called upon to offer insurance education in conferences and symposiums across the country over the past twenty plus years.

Sam Bennett

E&O Roadmap to Cyber and Privacy Insurance

Tuesday, October 10 - 1:00 - 4:00 pm

Christopher J. Boggs, CPCU, ARM, ALCM, LPCS, AAI, APA, CWCA, CRIS, AINS, currently serves as a Senior Product Manager with Verisk (ISO). He and his team manage and develop policy language for Verisk’s ISO Commercial Property line of business.  

Prior to his current role, Boggs was vice president of agent development with the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big "I").  

During his greater-than-three-decade insurance career, Boggs has authored over 2,000 insurance and risk management-related articles on a wide range of topics. Additionally, Boggs has written 15 insurance and risk management books. 

Boggs has been a regular speaker at industry events, including the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC), the National Society of Insurance Premium Auditors (NSIPA), the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA), the Institute of Work Comp Professionals (IWCP), the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) Society and many state association conferences. He has also earned numerous professional accolades including the 2017 Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) Brian Hey Prize and the 2019 Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) Charles A. Hachemeister Prize as part of a of professional collaboration with a diverse group of professionals. 

His professional background includes work as an insurance educator, risk management consultant, loss control representative, insurance producer, property claims manager, journalist and columnist, and underwriting quality assurance manager.

Christopher J. Boggs, CPCU, ARM, ALCM, LPCS, AAI, APA, CWCA, CRIS, AINS, currently serves as a Senior Product Manager with Verisk (ISO). He and his team manage and develop policy language for Verisk’s ISO Commercial Property line of business.

Prior to his current role, Boggs was vice president of agent development with the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big "I").

During his greater-than-three-decade insurance career, Boggs has authored over 2,000 insurance and risk management-related articles on a wide range of topics. Additionally, Boggs has written 15 insurance and risk management books.

Boggs has been a regular speaker at industry events, including the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC), the National Society of Insurance Premium Auditors (NSIPA), the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA), the Institute of Work Comp Professionals (IWCP), the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) Society and many state association conferences. He has also earned numerous professional accolades including the 2017 Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) Brian Hey Prize and the 2019 Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) Charles A. Hachemeister Prize as part of a of professional collaboration with a diverse group of professionals.

His professional background includes work as an insurance educator, risk management consultant, loss control representative, insurance producer, property claims manager, journalist and columnist, and underwriting quality assurance manager.

Chris Boggs

The Business Income Report/Worksheet (CP 15 15)

Wednesday, October 11 - Afternoon Breakout (Time TBA)


Four Key Business Income Concepts

Wednesday, October 11 - Afternoon Breakout (Time TBA)

Nicole Broch spent over a decade as an Independent Insurance Agent and Manager of a successful partnership between a community financial institution and a local independent agency in Springfield, Illinois.  She attended The Hartford School of Insurance and achieved her National Underwriter awarded Personal Lines Coverage Specialist (PLCS) designation in 2005.  She went on to receive the National Alliance CISR designation in 2007 and CIC designation in 2009.  

In addition to teaching National Alliance CISR modules, IIABA Errors & Omissions, Ethics, and customer service and professional development topics for IIAs, PIAs, and trade associations throughout the country, she is the Territory Sales Manager for The Hanover Group, supporting independent agents throughout Central and Southern Illinois.

Nicole Broch spent over a decade as an Independent Insurance Agent and Manager of a successful partnership between a community financial institution and a local independent agency in Springfield, Illinois. She attended The Hartford School of Insurance and achieved her National Underwriter awarded Personal Lines Coverage Specialist (PLCS) designation in 2005. She went on to receive the National Alliance CISR designation in 2007 and CIC designation in 2009.

In addition to teaching National Alliance CISR modules, IIABA Errors & Omissions, Ethics, and customer service and professional development topics for IIAs, PIAs, and trade associations throughout the country, she is the Territory Sales Manager for The Hanover Group, supporting independent agents throughout Central and Southern Illinois.

Nicole Broch

Insurance Game of Games

Tuesday, October 10 - 1:00 - 4:00 pm

Through Chris Cline’s 25+ years in the insurance industry, he has established himself as an industry resource for topics such as perpetuation, merger and acquisition, culture, agency operations, marketing and sales, data and analytics, and has had multiple speaking engagements around these topics. As of spring 2022, Chris has begun assuming leadership of the Agents Council for Technology as ACT’s Executive Director.  

In his prior role at Westfield, Chris led a team focused on the entire agency life cycle and has experiences ranging from graphic design, marketing, sales, training, compliance and personal lines P&L leadership. Through his diverse background and life-long focus on continual learning (he’s a closet science geek), Chris has developed a passion for the independent agency channel and helping agencies across key strategic areas such as perpetuation, hiring, culture, DE&I, data/analytics, the customer, information security, and technology.   He was also the inquisitive and thought-provoking host of Westfield’s award-winning podcast, Closing the Gap. 

Chris earned his Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design from the University of Akron.

Through Chris Cline’s 25+ years in the insurance industry, he has established himself as an industry resource for topics such as perpetuation, merger and acquisition, culture, agency operations, marketing and sales, data and analytics, and has had multiple speaking engagements around these topics. As of spring 2022, Chris has begun assuming leadership of the Agents Council for Technology as ACT’s Executive Director.

In his prior role at Westfield, Chris led a team focused on the entire agency life cycle and has experiences ranging from graphic design, marketing, sales, training, compliance and personal lines P&L leadership. Through his diverse background and life-long focus on continual learning (he’s a closet science geek), Chris has developed a passion for the independent agency channel and helping agencies across key strategic areas such as perpetuation, hiring, culture, DE&I, data/analytics, the customer, information security, and technology.   He was also the inquisitive and thought-provoking host of Westfield’s award-winning podcast, Closing the Gap.

Chris earned his Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design from the University of Akron.

Chris Cline

Refocus, Connect, and Empower Your Agency for the Future

Thursday, October 12 - 8:30 - 11:30 am

Brett Gerger is the Director of Education and Agency Resources for the IIA of IL. Previously, he served as the Chief Deputy Director of Product Lines and Licensing at the Illinois Department of Insurance and was responsible for management of Licensing and Continuing Education Units; Property & Casualty; Life & Annuity; Health; and Producer Regulatory. Prior to that Brett served as the Deputy Director for Property & Casualty at the Department which oversaw Producer Regulatory Unit; Licensing & Continuing Education; and Property & Casualty consumer and compliance units.

Gerger served on many insurance license test development panels throughout his career as a subject matter expert. Most recently, Gerger served as the State of Illinois Group Insurance Division Manager with the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. In that role, he had oversight and management for the planning and implementation of policy and operations of the State’s insurance programs, including property, liability and benefits.   

Gerger started his 25+ year career at the Illinois Department of Insurance in the Producer Regulatory Division. Brett has his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Brett Gerger is the Director of Education and Agency Resources for the IIA of IL. Previously, he served as the Chief Deputy Director of Product Lines and Licensing at the Illinois Department of Insurance and was responsible for management of Licensing and Continuing Education Units; Property & Casualty; Life & Annuity; Health; and Producer Regulatory. Prior to that Brett served as the Deputy Director for Property & Casualty at the Department which oversaw Producer Regulatory Unit; Licensing & Continuing Education; and Property & Casualty consumer and compliance units.

Gerger served on many insurance license test development panels throughout his career as a subject matter expert. Most recently, Gerger served as the State of Illinois Group Insurance Division Manager with the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. In that role, he had oversight and management for the planning and implementation of policy and operations of the State’s insurance programs, including property, liability and benefits.   

Gerger started his 25+ year career at the Illinois Department of Insurance in the Producer Regulatory Division. Brett has his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Brett Gerger

Brett's 2 Sense Nonsense

Wednesday, October 11 - Afternoon Breakout (Time TBA)

Brandon Hardesty is an accomplished sales director with over 20 years’ experience in Fortune 500 company sales, marketing and strategy. In his role, Brandon is responsible for providing management consultation, strategic planning, coaching and sales leadership to MarshBerry’s portfolio of insurance brokerage clients and carriers. 

Prior to MarshBerry, Brandon worked for Hub International Limited where he acted as the Sales Director - Commercial Programs. In this role, he was charged with hiring and expediting the qualification process of producers, managing and deepening carrier partner relationships, and growing and retaining a $120M+ book of business. Also during his time at Hub, he developed programs and tools to drive organic growth as the National Business Development Manager for Employee Benefits.

Brandon also worked at Allstate-Ivantage Select Agency, Hays Companies and Wells Fargo all in key business development roles. He has a Bachelor of Liberal Arts & Science degree from the University of Illinois.

Brandon Hardesty is an accomplished sales director with over 20 years’ experience in Fortune 500 company sales, marketing and strategy. In his role, Brandon is responsible for providing management consultation, strategic planning, coaching and sales leadership to MarshBerry’s portfolio of insurance brokerage clients and carriers.

Prior to MarshBerry, Brandon worked for Hub International Limited where he acted as the Sales Director - Commercial Programs. In this role, he was charged with hiring and expediting the qualification process of producers, managing and deepening carrier partner relationships, and growing and retaining a $120M+ book of business. Also during his time at Hub, he developed programs and tools to drive organic growth as the National Business Development Manager for Employee Benefits.

Brandon also worked at Allstate-Ivantage Select Agency, Hays Companies and Wells Fargo all in key business development roles. He has a Bachelor of Liberal Arts & Science degree from the University of Illinois.

Brandon Hardesty

How to Communicate Your Value in a Hard Market

Wednesday, October 11 - Afternoon Breakout (Time TBA)

Paul Hawkins, CEO and Co-Founder of HawkSoft, began developing HawkSoft’s first software program while working as an independent insurance agent in Portland, Oregon, and seeing first-hand the opportunities for increased efficiency and improved product support that software automation could provide. Throughout his 6-year career as an insurance agent, Paul developed many software tools that he and his coworkers used to boost their agency’s success. In 1995, Paul founded HawkSoft to devote his full attention to helping all independent insurance agents. Paul serves as President and CEO of HawkSoft and is a member of the board of directors. He is a frequent speaker at insurance industry events and has received the Legend Award from The Brokers Insurance Group.

Paul Hawkins, CEO and Co-Founder of HawkSoft, began developing HawkSoft’s first software program while working as an independent insurance agent in Portland, Oregon, and seeing first-hand the opportunities for increased efficiency and improved product support that software automation could provide. Throughout his 6-year career as an insurance agent, Paul developed many software tools that he and his coworkers used to boost their agency’s success. In 1995, Paul founded HawkSoft to devote his full attention to helping all independent insurance agents. Paul serves as President and CEO of HawkSoft and is a member of the board of directors. He is a frequent speaker at insurance industry events and has received the Legend Award from The Brokers Insurance Group.

Paul Hawkins

Refocus, Connect, and Empower Your Agency for the Future

Thursday, October 12 - 8:30 - 11:30 am

In September of 2021, Derek Hayden exploded onto the insurance influencer scene when he was announced as the winner of The Protégé, an insurance sales-based reality show.  An insurance sales producer from small town America, Derek made waves by utilizing the tools and strategies he learned on the reality show to lead the competition in sales and ultimately take home the title of The Protégé.   

As an insurance and risk management professional with 10 years of sales experience, Derek understands that insurance professionals often struggle to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.  By expanding on the concepts he learned throughout The Protégé, Derek aims to solve this problem by giving agencies and producers a proven roadmap to a lucrative insurance sales career in 2022 and beyond.  His focus on modern sales techniques will give new and seasoned agents a refreshing view on how to build their books of business and gain the success they desire.

In September of 2021, Derek Hayden exploded onto the insurance influencer scene when he was announced as the winner of The Protégé, an insurance sales-based reality show. An insurance sales producer from small town America, Derek made waves by utilizing the tools and strategies he learned on the reality show to lead the competition in sales and ultimately take home the title of The Protégé.

As an insurance and risk management professional with 10 years of sales experience, Derek understands that insurance professionals often struggle to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. By expanding on the concepts he learned throughout The Protégé, Derek aims to solve this problem by giving agencies and producers a proven roadmap to a lucrative insurance sales career in 2022 and beyond. His focus on modern sales techniques will give new and seasoned agents a refreshing view on how to build their books of business and gain the success they desire.

Derek Hayden

Attracting Your Ideal Client in a Hard Market Through Podcasting

Wednesday, October 11 - Afternoon Breakout (Time TBA)

Phillip Lackman serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois (IIA of IL) and has served as lobbyist for the IIA of IL, the Illinois Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA IL), Illinois State Association of Health Underwriters (ISAHU) and the Illinois Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (IAMIC). 


In his role as CEO, he works with the Board of Directors to develop goals and initiatives in response to the developing needs of membership and guides the IIA of IL staff in implementation of those initiatives. 

In 2011, Lackman was named Speaker of the Illinois Third House, the professional organization for registered lobbyists in Illinois, and served a one-year term. He was inducted into the Samuel K. Gove Illinois Legislative Intern Hall of Fame in 2016, which honors former legislative interns whose careers have exemplified distinguished public service.

​Prior to joining the IIA of IL, Lackman held the position of Director of Legislative Affairs for the Illinois Life Insurance Council and served as Secretary of State Jim Edgar’s Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs. He began his career in Springfield as a Legislative Analyst with the Senate Republicans.  

Lackman graduated from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois with a B.A. in Political Science/Speech Communication and completed the Illinois Legislative Staff Internship Program.

He serves as an Ambassador for the Hope School in Springfield and on the Board of the Panther Creek Homeowners Association.

Phillip Lackman serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois (IIA of IL) and has served as lobbyist for the IIA of IL, the Illinois Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA IL), Illinois State Association of Health Underwriters (ISAHU) and the Illinois Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (IAMIC). 


In his role as CEO, he works with the Board of Directors to develop goals and initiatives in response to the developing needs of membership and guides the IIA of IL staff in implementation of those initiatives. 

In 2011, Lackman was named Speaker of the Illinois Third House, the professional organization for registered lobbyists in Illinois, and served a one-year term. He was inducted into the Samuel K. Gove Illinois Legislative Intern Hall of Fame in 2016, which honors former legislative interns whose careers have exemplified distinguished public service.

​Prior to joining the IIA of IL, Lackman held the position of Director of Legislative Affairs for the Illinois Life Insurance Council and served as Secretary of State Jim Edgar’s Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs. He began his career in Springfield as a Legislative Analyst with the Senate Republicans.  

Lackman graduated from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois with a B.A. in Political Science/Speech Communication and completed the Illinois Legislative Staff Internship Program.

He serves as an Ambassador for the Hope School in Springfield and on the Board of the Panther Creek Homeowners Association.

Phil Lackman

General Session

Wednesday, October 11 - 8:00 - 11:30 am

Kevin Lesch, CBC, is the COO of Arachas Group, a Keystone Partner, located in Bartlett, IL. He began his career at his father’s agency focusing on Personal Lines before moving to Commercial Specialty, Commercial Lines, and then finally to Benefits. In 2013, he took over as President of the agency and then bought out both partners in 2015.

Kevin Lesch, CBC, is the COO of Arachas Group, a Keystone Partner, located in Bartlett, IL. He began his career at his father’s agency focusing on Personal Lines before moving to Commercial Specialty, Commercial Lines, and then finally to Benefits. In 2013, he took over as President of the agency and then bought out both partners in 2015.

Kevin Lesch

State of the Association Address

Thursday, October 12 - 8:30 - 11:30 am

As IIA of IL Government Relations Director, Evan Manning is responsible for all aspects of the association’s government relations program. IIA of IL also represents NAIFA-Illinois, Illinois State Association of Health Underwriters, and Illinois Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, collectively referred to as the Illinois Coalition of Insurance Brokers and Financial Advisors. The Coalition represents thousands of individuals and firms providing insurance and financial advice to Illinois consumers and businesses. 


Manning has experience in the private sector and most recently was an Appropriations Budget Analyst on the Senate Republican Staff.

As IIA of IL Government Relations Director, Evan Manning is responsible for all aspects of the association’s government relations program. IIA of IL also represents NAIFA-Illinois, Illinois State Association of Health Underwriters, and Illinois Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, collectively referred to as the Illinois Coalition of Insurance Brokers and Financial Advisors. The Coalition represents thousands of individuals and firms providing insurance and financial advice to Illinois consumers and businesses. 


Manning has experience in the private sector and most recently was an Appropriations Budget Analyst on the Senate Republican Staff.

Evan Manning

State of the Association Address

Thursday, October 12 - 8:30 - 11:30 am

Murali Natarajan is currently the SVP & CIO of West Bend Mutual insurance. He joined WMBI in 2017 with 20 years of insurance industry experience and 24 years of technology experience. In Partnership with various leaders at WBMI, he is also responsible for creating and executing the technology vision and strategy for the various business units in the company. He is a business savvy leader with a keen ability to drive technology enabled business transformation.

Murali Natarajan is currently the SVP & CIO of West Bend Mutual insurance. He joined WMBI in 2017 with 20 years of insurance industry experience and 24 years of technology experience. In Partnership with various leaders at WBMI, he is also responsible for creating and executing the technology vision and strategy for the various business units in the company. He is a business savvy leader with a keen ability to drive technology enabled business transformation.

Murali Natarajan

Refocus, Connect, and Empower Your Agency for the Future

Thursday, October 12 - 8:30 - 11:30 am

David Ocasek is Chief Executive Officer of the Surplus Line Association of Illinois, a non-profit association created by public statute to act as a liaison between the Illinois Department of Insurance and surplus line producers and to provide marketplace data, education and compliance support. 

Mr. Ocasek joined the Association in 1991 and became CEO in 1998.  He is responsible for the development and implementation of the overall strategic goals of the Association with a focus on technology, education and regulatory affairs.  During his tenure, he has guided the Association through major business model and regulatory changes, as well as a 1700% growth in premium and processing volume. 

He teaches an accredited Illinois continuing education course on surplus line insurance and has been an editor and contributor to multiple editions of the American Bar Association’s Annotations to Surplus Lines Statutes book. 

He has been active participant and fundraiser for Envision Unlimited, serving people with disabilities, and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.  He also serves on the advisory board of the Katie School of Insurance and Risk Management at Illinois State University.

David Ocasek is Chief Executive Officer of the Surplus Line Association of Illinois, a non-profit association created by public statute to act as a liaison between the Illinois Department of Insurance and surplus line producers and to provide marketplace data, education and compliance support.

Mr. Ocasek joined the Association in 1991 and became CEO in 1998. He is responsible for the development and implementation of the overall strategic goals of the Association with a focus on technology, education and regulatory affairs. During his tenure, he has guided the Association through major business model and regulatory changes, as well as a 1700% growth in premium and processing volume.

He teaches an accredited Illinois continuing education course on surplus line insurance and has been an editor and contributor to multiple editions of the American Bar Association’s Annotations to Surplus Lines Statutes book.

He has been active participant and fundraiser for Envision Unlimited, serving people with disabilities, and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. He also serves on the advisory board of the Katie School of Insurance and Risk Management at Illinois State University.

David Ocasek

Back to Basics - Understanding Surplus Line Insurance

Wednesday, October 11 - Afternoon Breakout (Time TBA)

Allyson Padilla, AAI, was born into Blank’s Insurance Agency but began her insurance career full-time in 2008. The agency provides all types of insurance and bonds, including personal lines and commercial insurance. She works in all facets of the agency but is primarily focused on commercial lines, agency marketing, and advertising.

Allyson Padilla, AAI, was born into Blank’s Insurance Agency but began her insurance career full-time in 2008. The agency provides all types of insurance and bonds, including personal lines and commercial insurance. She works in all facets of the agency but is primarily focused on commercial lines, agency marketing, and advertising.

Allyson Padilla

State of the Association Address

Thursday, October 12 - 8:30 - 11:30 am

Richard S. Pitts is a 1983 graduate of Wabash College and a 1986 graduate of Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis. Pitts clerked for the Honorable Patrick D. Sullivan, a judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals in 1986-87. Rick is admitted to practice before Indiana state and federal courts, the United States Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and is a member of local, state, and national bar associations. 

Pitts has served as a panelist and lecturer on a variety continuing education subjects, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, “Mold:  Issues Under the Microscope” for the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum (ICLEF), and “Insurance Issues for Builders” for the Indiana Builders Association. Rick has also served as chair of ICLEF’s “Advanced Corporate Practice” seminar and as a faculty member for various construction law seminars for Lorman Education Services. Pitts has co-authored two articles appearing in the Indiana Law Review. 

Pitts is a Vice-President and General Counsel to Arlington/Roe & Co., Inc., an insurance brokerage and managing general agent in Indianapolis. Rick also serves as general counsel to the Independent Insurance Agents of Indiana, Inc. As counsel to the “Big I,” Rick speaks annually at the association’s Agency Compliance Seminars and teaches various seminars on insurance and employment related matters.

Richard S. Pitts is a 1983 graduate of Wabash College and a 1986 graduate of Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis. Pitts clerked for the Honorable Patrick D. Sullivan, a judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals in 1986-87. Rick is admitted to practice before Indiana state and federal courts, the United States Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and is a member of local, state, and national bar associations.

Pitts has served as a panelist and lecturer on a variety continuing education subjects, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, “Mold: Issues Under the Microscope” for the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum (ICLEF), and “Insurance Issues for Builders” for the Indiana Builders Association. Rick has also served as chair of ICLEF’s “Advanced Corporate Practice” seminar and as a faculty member for various construction law seminars for Lorman Education Services. Pitts has co-authored two articles appearing in the Indiana Law Review.

Pitts is a Vice-President and General Counsel to Arlington/Roe & Co., Inc., an insurance brokerage and managing general agent in Indianapolis. Rick also serves as general counsel to the Independent Insurance Agents of Indiana, Inc. As counsel to the “Big I,” Rick speaks annually at the association’s Agency Compliance Seminars and teaches various seminars on insurance and employment related matters.

Rick Pitts

Avoiding Legal Concerns Due to Emerging Trends

Wednesday, October 11 - Afternoon Breakout (Time TBA)

Lindsey Polzin started her insurance career in 2000 working for her family's agency in the personal lines division. In 2005, she moved over tot he commercial side of the agency. Her family's agency merged with other local agencies to form Presidio, an Acrisure Agency Partner where Lindsey currently serves as Executive Vice President of Operations.

Lindsey Polzin started her insurance career in 2000 working for her family's agency in the personal lines division. In 2005, she moved over tot he commercial side of the agency. Her family's agency merged with other local agencies to form Presidio, an Acrisure Agency Partner where Lindsey currently serves as Executive Vice President of Operations.

Lindsey Polzin

Refocus, Connect, and Empower Your Agency for the Future

Thursday, October 12 - 8:30 - 11:30 am

Luke Praxmarer has been in the insurance business nearly 43 years, all in an Independent Agency.  He has always been a huge advocate of agent education.  Getting licensed in 1980, he then earned his AINS designation in 1982, and the CPCU designation in 1992, and completed the AAI designation in 2001.  That has also been coupled with countless classes and seminars at CONVO and other IIA of IL sponsored coursework. He hopes to study for the CIC designation at some point in the future.  

Luke was a principal in a family-owned agency till January 2020, when he and his brother sold their agency to Assured Partners.  They are both still 100% active in the AP of IL (Elk Grove Village) office.  Luke continues to teach classes and mentor many employees in his office. 

The IIA of IL has always been a huge part of Luke’s professional life.   He has served on the Young Agents, Government Relations, Education, and the Executive Committee.  He was president in 2009-2010. That same year the IIA of IL was awarded the prestigious Maurice Herndon Award, by the Big “I” for outstanding legislative achievements by a state association.  Over the years, Luke has received numerous awards from IIA of IL including the C.M. Cartwright Merit Award in 2018.

Luke Praxmarer has been in the insurance business nearly 43 years, all in an Independent Agency. He has always been a huge advocate of agent education. Getting licensed in 1980, he then earned his AINS designation in 1982, and the CPCU designation in 1992, and completed the AAI designation in 2001. That has also been coupled with countless classes and seminars at CONVO and other IIA of IL sponsored coursework. He hopes to study for the CIC designation at some point in the future.

Luke was a principal in a family-owned agency till January 2020, when he and his brother sold their agency to Assured Partners. They are both still 100% active in the AP of IL (Elk Grove Village) office. Luke continues to teach classes and mentor many employees in his office.

The IIA of IL has always been a huge part of Luke’s professional life. He has served on the Young Agents, Government Relations, Education, and the Executive Committee. He was president in 2009-2010. That same year the IIA of IL was awarded the prestigious Maurice Herndon Award, by the Big “I” for outstanding legislative achievements by a state association. Over the years, Luke has received numerous awards from IIA of IL including the C.M. Cartwright Merit Award in 2018.

Luke Praxmarer

Insurance Game of Games

Tuesday, October 10 - 1:00 - 4:00 pm

Ray Roentz, President of Heneghan, White, Cutting & Roentz,  specializes in all areas of commercial insurance, as well as home, auto, life insurance, farm, and health. He currently serves as a director for the IIA of IL Board of Directors and is a member of the Planning and Coordination and Technology Committees. Ray graduated from Jersey Community High School and Quincy University, and has called Jersey County home for over 40 years.

Ray Roentz, President of Heneghan, White, Cutting & Roentz, specializes in all areas of commercial insurance, as well as home, auto, life insurance, farm, and health. He currently serves as a director for the IIA of IL Board of Directors and is a member of the Planning and Coordination and Technology Committees. Ray graduated from Jersey Community High School and Quincy University, and has called Jersey County home for over 40 years.

Ray Roentz

Refocus, Connect, and Empower Your Agency for the Future

Thursday, October 12 - 8:30 - 11:30 am

Greg Sandrock, CIC, AFIS, is partner at The Cornerstone Agency, Inc, an all lines agency, specializing in Ag Risk Management covering property, liability, and crop risks located in Tampico, Il. 

Sandrock has been very involved in the Ag market, and specifically crop insurance, for over 30 years. Over that time, he has served on various Crop Company Agency Councils. He has served the Illinois association as a Regional Director, a member of several committees, is a Past President of the IIA of IL, and served as National Director for six years. At the national level, Sandrock was previously a member and then Chairman of the Big “I” Crop Insurance Committee, and was a member of the InsurPac Board of Trustees, the IIABA Steering Committee and the IIABA Government Affairs Committee. 

In 2022, Greg Sandrock was elected to the IIABA leadership team. He will serve a three-year term as an at-large member of the seven-member Executive Committee, being responsible for the supervision and management of the affairs of the national association.

Greg Sandrock, CIC, AFIS, is partner at The Cornerstone Agency, Inc, an all lines agency, specializing in Ag Risk Management covering property, liability, and crop risks located in Tampico, Il.

Sandrock has been very involved in the Ag market, and specifically crop insurance, for over 30 years. Over that time, he has served on various Crop Company Agency Councils. He has served the Illinois association as a Regional Director, a member of several committees, is a Past President of the IIA of IL, and served as National Director for six years. At the national level, Sandrock was previously a member and then Chairman of the Big “I” Crop Insurance Committee, and was a member of the InsurPac Board of Trustees, the IIABA Steering Committee and the IIABA Government Affairs Committee.

In 2022, Greg Sandrock was elected to the IIABA leadership team. He will serve a three-year term as an at-large member of the seven-member Executive Committee, being responsible for the supervision and management of the affairs of the national association.

Greg Sandrock

State of the Association Address

Thursday, October 12 - 8:30 - 11:30 am

April Simpkins, SHRM-CP, PHR, CDP is a multi-certified HR Professional with 30 years of executive-level Human Resources experience. She is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Questco, a human resources services firm focused on supporting the HR needs of small- to midsized businesses.  Prior to holding this role, April was a senior level HR consultant. In this role she helped over 1000 business owners shape and develop their human capital. 

April's experience and expertise, coupled with her continued study of Human Resources trends, have made her a trusted advisor for many in the business community. It also led to an invitation to The Business Journal Leadership Trust, allowing April to share her expertise with leaders nationwide. She has been a requested presenter and guest speaker for organizations that include Harvard University Extension School, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, The Citadel, EEOC, and The National Urban League, to name a few.  

April chaired the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee for Greenville SHRM. In 2020 April received Greenville SHRM’s Unsung Hero Award for her exemplary leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Her service and commitment to the HR community and the profession's advancement led to her selection as a member of the HR Advisory Board for Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. There, she works with a team of HR thought leaders charged with designing the human resources undergraduate and postgraduate degree curriculum and programs.   

April has received many awards and honors for her business acumen. Her awards include The  2020 Women In Business Achievement Award from the Charlotte Business Journal, the 2018 Fort Mill/ Tega Cay Business Person of The Year Award from the York County Regional Chamber, and the Movers & Shaker Award given by Business Leader Magazine. In 2016, April was named one of Charlotte's 50 Most Influential Women by Mecklenburg Times. In 2021 April received the prestigious WPO Presidents Award. And in 2022 April was named to the impressive list of 100 Women to KNOW In America.  

April is an advocate for mental health. She became a more visible advocate following the passing of her beloved daughter, Miss USA 2019, Cheslie Kryst who battled depression for many years. April, an ambassador for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and board member for NAMI Piedmont Tri-County, is committed to breaking the stigma of mental illness and promoting mental wellness in the workplace. April is certified in both Mental Health First Aid and Emotional CPR (eCPR). She has shared Cheslie's story emphasizing the importance of mental health with audiences nationwide and on national programs including Red Table Talk, CBS Mornings, and ExtraTV. She has also contributed to print media, including the New York Times.

April Simpkins, SHRM-CP, PHR, CDP is a multi-certified HR Professional with 30 years of executive-level Human Resources experience. She is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Questco, a human resources services firm focused on supporting the HR needs of small- to midsized businesses. Prior to holding this role, April was a senior level HR consultant. In this role she helped over 1000 business owners shape and develop their human capital.

April's experience and expertise, coupled with her continued study of Human Resources trends, have made her a trusted advisor for many in the business community. It also led to an invitation to The Business Journal Leadership Trust, allowing April to share her expertise with leaders nationwide. She has been a requested presenter and guest speaker for organizations that include Harvard University Extension School, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, The Citadel, EEOC, and The National Urban League, to name a few.

April chaired the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee for Greenville SHRM. In 2020 April received Greenville SHRM’s Unsung Hero Award for her exemplary leadership in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Her service and commitment to the HR community and the profession's advancement led to her selection as a member of the HR Advisory Board for Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. There, she works with a team of HR thought leaders charged with designing the human resources undergraduate and postgraduate degree curriculum and programs.

April has received many awards and honors for her business acumen. Her awards include The 2020 Women In Business Achievement Award from the Charlotte Business Journal, the 2018 Fort Mill/ Tega Cay Business Person of The Year Award from the York County Regional Chamber, and the Movers & Shaker Award given by Business Leader Magazine. In 2016, April was named one of Charlotte's 50 Most Influential Women by Mecklenburg Times. In 2021 April received the prestigious WPO Presidents Award. And in 2022 April was named to the impressive list of 100 Women to KNOW In America.

April is an advocate for mental health. She became a more visible advocate following the passing of her beloved daughter, Miss USA 2019, Cheslie Kryst who battled depression for many years. April, an ambassador for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and board member for NAMI Piedmont Tri-County, is committed to breaking the stigma of mental illness and promoting mental wellness in the workplace. April is certified in both Mental Health First Aid and Emotional CPR (eCPR). She has shared Cheslie's story emphasizing the importance of mental health with audiences nationwide and on national programs including Red Table Talk, CBS Mornings, and ExtraTV. She has also contributed to print media, including the New York Times.

April Simpkins

Four Ways to Define and Enhance Your Agency Culture

Wednesday, October 11 - 8:00 - 11:30 am


Managing and Leading a Remote Workforce

Wednesday, October 11 - Afternoon Breakout TBD

Daniel Smith is the Chief Marketing Officer and a co-founder of Market Retrievers, a digital marketing agency that specializes in assisting clients in the insurance industry. He has over 16 years of experience in marketing and design for insurance agencies, carriers, and trade organizations. He has designed and implemented award-winning campaigns for content, client engagement, publishing, and programs. He is also a licensed P&C agent.

Daniel Smith is the Chief Marketing Officer and a co-founder of Market Retrievers, a digital marketing agency that specializes in assisting clients in the insurance industry. He has over 16 years of experience in marketing and design for insurance agencies, carriers, and trade organizations. He has designed and implemented award-winning campaigns for content, client engagement, publishing, and programs. He is also a licensed P&C agent.

Daniel Smith

Building Relationships and Referrals in a Digital World

Wednesday, October 11 - Afternoon Breakout (Time TBA)

Jeffrey S. Smith, JD, CIC, CAE serves as Chief Executive Officer for Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) and IA Valuations. He is responsible for leading the organization’s strategic initiatives and day to day operations.  

As CEO of IA Valuations, Smith has consulted and reviewed over 200 agency valuations for independent agents across the US. IA Valuations serves independent agencies as a trusted advisor and strategic business partner as they implement strategies to increase their agency value, grow their businesses and transition their agencies. Smith provides insights into the agency’s operations, risk factors and legal guidance on how to perpetuate and maximize value in a sale.  

Smith graduated with honors from Kent State University and Capital University Law School with a concentration in government relations. He is a licensed P&C insurance agent, Certified Insurance Counselor Designee, Attorney and Certified Association Executive. Smith is an active member of the Ohio State Bar Association Insurance Committee, Ohio Society of Association Executives and Ohio Lobbying Association. He also served on the Village of Marble Cliff Council and as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Sequent Midwest Business Health Fund.

Jeffrey S. Smith, JD, CIC, CAE serves as Chief Executive Officer for Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) and IA Valuations. He is responsible for leading the organization’s strategic initiatives and day to day operations.

As CEO of IA Valuations, Smith has consulted and reviewed over 200 agency valuations for independent agents across the US. IA Valuations serves independent agencies as a trusted advisor and strategic business partner as they implement strategies to increase their agency value, grow their businesses and transition their agencies. Smith provides insights into the agency’s operations, risk factors and legal guidance on how to perpetuate and maximize value in a sale.

Smith graduated with honors from Kent State University and Capital University Law School with a concentration in government relations. He is a licensed P&C insurance agent, Certified Insurance Counselor Designee, Attorney and Certified Association Executive. Smith is an active member of the Ohio State Bar Association Insurance Committee, Ohio Society of Association Executives and Ohio Lobbying Association. He also served on the Village of Marble Cliff Council and as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Sequent Midwest Business Health Fund.

Jeff Smith

Business Planning to Improve Your Agency Valuation

Wednesday, October 11 - Afternoon Breakout (Time TBA)

Abby Wheeler is the VP of Marketing Campaigns and a co-founder of Market Retrievers, a digital marketing agency that specializes in assisting clients in the insurance industry. She has over 5 years of experience in social media and content creation and has directed multiple campaigns with over 1 million impressions. She has helped brands and businesses increase followers and engagement by exponential amounts and has a knack for creating content & marketing programs that show short- and long-term value.

Abby Wheeler is the VP of Marketing Campaigns and a co-founder of Market Retrievers, a digital marketing agency that specializes in assisting clients in the insurance industry. She has over 5 years of experience in social media and content creation and has directed multiple campaigns with over 1 million impressions. She has helped brands and businesses increase followers and engagement by exponential amounts and has a knack for creating content & marketing programs that show short- and long-term value.

Abby Wheeler

Building Relationships and Referrals in a Digital World

Wednesday, October 11 - Afternoon Breakout (Time TBA)

Gerger
Hardesty
Lackman
Manning
Sandrock
Simpkins
Smith
DSmith
Broch
Praxmarer
Ocasek
Lesch
Padilla
Hayden
Wheeler
Boggs
Pitts
Hawkins
Roentz
Natarajan
Shepherd
Polzin
bottom of page