The 2019 Public Sector Power Brokers

Seth Cole, ARM
Senior Vice President
Alliant, San Francisco

Seth Cole, Senior Vice President, Alliant

The Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority is made up of 360 water districts across California. One district, explained Karen Thesing, director of insurance services, has a hydropower electric facility worth $3.2 billion. When the authority placed its all-risk portfolio in April, it did not include this facility. Then the port switched to Alliant and Seth Cole.

“The facility asked, if possible, to add this hydropower into the mix.” But that would vastly change the risk profile of their book of business.

“Seth began the conversation with Lloyd’s of London syndicates specializing in large energy systems and was able to create something that included this $3.2 billion facility without any increases to the other districts or placing this hydropower in its own silo.”

Dean Boes, CEO/executive director, Wisconsin Municipal Mutual Insurance Company, said Cole really acts as the company’s go-between on cyber: “He never fails us. He’s personable, and I’m confident in his knowledge of the industry.”

Another client, Paul Bushee, president, California Sanitation Risk Management Authority, added, “Throughout my course of tenure, Seth has done a tremendous job at communicating with the board.”

In this last year, Cole presented the risks of drones to the board. “Seth went ahead and developed a survey for our membership to assess the value of providing this coverage.” As a result, the authority decided to review its airspace liability to better include drone usage.

Katie Crowe, ARM, RIMS-CRMP
Account Executive
Aon, Washington, D.C.

Katie Crowe, Account Executive, Aon

Darkblade Systems Corporation was approaching their DBA renewal, and Kerry Walters, director of contracts, finance & administration, said they were looking for a solution that would allow them to use better economies of scale and find programs with the level of servicing required.

“I’m not from the insurance industry. A lot of stuff becomes confusing very quickly. It’s an ever-changing environment,” he said.

Luckily, he had Katie Crowe on the case. “She helps get answers much more quickly and makes sure we have the right things.”

This year, Darkblade added new locations to where they deploy personnel and had to amend their policy to include these places. Two scenarios arose back-to-back where Crowe had to amend the policy last minute in order to get adequate coverage on time — and at no additional cost to Darkblade.

“I really see her as an extension of our risk management team,” said Randy Jouben, risk manager, Fairfax County. “It’s not a matter of filling a product. Katie looks at what’s needed and finds solutions.”

A third client added: “She’s available whenever we need her and is always willing to put forth new ideas in an innovative way. And I think that’s what you need. You need a broker who can be your eyes and ears and have a historical knowledge [of the company].”

This year, the client added, Crowe prevented work stoppages and was able to get this government contractor the coverages it needed, sometimes within a day.

Ron Cutter, AIC, ARM
Senior Vice President
Brown & Brown, Portland, Ore.

Ron Cutter, Senior Vice President, Brown & Brown

Ron Cutter wants what’s best for his clients.

“He is a person who is ethical and reliable. He takes the time to educate himself on what it means to be a public employer.

“When he became our broker, he invested the time to learn what the city’s values are and what the city’s cultures are, and he brings that knowledge to the table when it comes to discussing issues, policies or renewals,” said SueLing Gandee, risk manager, City of Hillsboro.

This past year, Cutter reviewed the city’s property policy; Hillsboro was looking for more robust earthquake coverage. Gandee said he went to the market, reviewed their options and came back with similar pricing for increased coverage through another insurer.

“But for me, what made it above and beyond, was that Ron advocated for Hillsboro’s interest and helped us maintain the crucial relationship with our other insurer,” she said.

Another client, who has worked with Cutter for more than 20 years, said “Ron has been extremely helpful in telling us what our clients really need. He gives advice on what needs to be changed.” This executive director added they look to Cutter, Brown & Brown’s public sector practice leader, for advice on the agent side when it comes to placing reinsurance.

“Frequently, I need things immediately,” said Marlee Smith-Janney, risk manager, City of Gresham. “One time I needed an immediate answer on a performance bond question right in the middle of renewals. It was not a problem for Ron, and I had my answer in short order, allowing a very important contract to move forward.”

Karen Graham, ARM, CRM, CIC
Area Executive Vice President
Gallagher, Centennial, Colo.

Karen Graham, Area Executive Vice President, Gallagher

Denver International Airport wanted to renovate its main terminals and started looking for a public private partnership. Karen Graham was tasked with developing insurance contract language that suited all parties while simultaneously creating an owner-controlled insurance program for the airport.

It took two years.

“Sometimes we had four different languages on one conference call,” said risk manager Kate Tremblay. “I remember, around the 2017 holidays, Karen dropped her plans to get everything done.”

“I’ve been in the insurance business for 42 years, and I’ve never seen another broker like Karen,” said Deborah Callahan, executive director, Washington Schools Risk Management Pool (WSRMP).

Graham worked to change WSRMP’s casualty tower to include both reinsurance and excess to more appropriately address policy limit demands. Graham and Callahan introduced a Casualty Consortium, where the pool has quarterly meetings with their reinsurers to inform on losses and talk about loss control efforts.

Cheryl Carrasco, HR assistant director, City of Avondale, Ariz., said Graham walked them through self-insurance options this year:

“She took a complicated process and helped us understand it and go to the market. We changed risk managers during that process. We changed safety staff during that process. She always started at the beginning with each new person.”

Marcus Henthorn, CLCS
Area Vice President
Gallagher, Rolling Meadows, Ill.

Marcus Henthorn, Area Vice President, Gallagher

“Marcus is the Energizer Bunny of brokers,” said Tim Vincent, program manager, VSBIT, which offers coverage and risk management services to the school districts of Vermont.

Members needed solutions when the state mandated school district consolidation. Vincent explained there were transitional school boards formed and conducting business with no staff, teachers or employees on record, yet they needed school board legal liability coverage.

Marcus Henthorn went to the reinsurance carrier and procured coverage for the boards at no additional cost to members. But that’s not what Vincent appreciates most: “Risk management was the biggest add when Marcus came on board. He works with a number of public entities. … Marcus is able to facilitate the sharing of initiatives and resources that benefit all involved.”

Like a slip, trip and fall prevention tool, noted Julie Milavec, director, Downers Grove Public Library.

Henthorn just brokered a deal for the 2018-19 winter season to include “icy conditions signs” installed around the parking lots to help reduce slip and fall claims. It was a program he started in the Vermont school districts and carried over to the library system in Illinois.

“He saw that our largest number of claims where primarily weather-related slips and falls,” said Milavec. So he obtained the signs at a reduced rate per member of their pool.

“If I have a question, I feel confident that I can go to Marcus and he’ll have an answer. And I think he puts things in terms that someone without the insurance background can understand,” added Steve Wilt, chief school business official, Wood Dale School District #7.

Patricia Piccinini
Vice President
Aon, Baltimore

Patricia Piccinini, Vice President, Aon

Patricia Piccinini does not balk at a challenge. “Tricia is outstanding … when Aon took over my company’s account for risk management services, she was tasked with renewing our very complex property program in 30 days,” said Cathy Frye, insurance administrator, Port Authority of Allegheny County.

“An impossible task she not only accomplished but also did so while saving me premium and adding some much-needed terms-and-conditions enhancements to the policy. We didn’t even know one another yet, and she went all out for my company.”

Another client, a U.S. state director of insurance, said Piccinini’s approach to revamping its boiler and machinery coverage was beyond professional. “She was very honest with us: ‘These are your problems and you need to realize them, and here are some solutions.’ “

Another state’s manager of claims and risk management said Piccinini uses her relationships and integrity with underwriters to secure coverage.

This year, he needed an internal service deductible for water loss, which, he said, wasn’t something carriers wanted to do. But Piccinini did not give up: Now the entity is able to go to its agencies and show it has a loss prevention strategy in place.

“Her determination is priceless,” said Frye. “As the client, we must rely on the broker to advocate our position, and Tricia delivers on that respect. I honestly don’t know how she does it, but whatever reasonable request I have, she can always achieve it for me.”

The complete list of 2019 Power Broker® winners can be found here.


Joann Alaimo
Assistant Vice President
Aon, New York

Branden Miller, CIC, CRM
Area Senior Vice President
Gallagher, Nashville

Michele Montgomery, CPCU, ARM-P, AINS
Area Senior Vice President
Gallagher, Orlando

John Walker, CPCU, ARM
Senior Vice President
Willis Towers Watson, Columbus, OH

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