Richard S. Pitts is Vice President and General Counsel to Arlington/Roe & Co., Inc., an insurance brokerage and managing general agent headquartered 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 has also presented continuing education seminars to insurance professionals nationally. Rick has served as a panelist and lecturer on a variety continuing education subjects, including cyber-related risks, the Americans with Disabilities Act, mold, insurance issues for builders, advanced corporate practice, privacy law, insurance coverage issues, insuring fiduciary exposures, insurance coverage disputes, and agency succession and perpetuation. He has co-authored articles appearing in the Indiana Law Review.
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Steve Bellman is a trusted guide who has a passion for equipping insurance professionals to invigorate sales, inspire clients, and grow leaders. He’s partnered with Independent Agents for 30 years as an agency sales representative and sales manager helping them grow sales and increase agency revenue and was awarded with the best agency sales plan in the Midwest in 2012 and 2014.
Steve is a Certified Trainer, Coach, Speaker, and Executive director for the number one sales and leader development company in the world, Maxwell Leadership and shared the stage with John Maxwell in 2019. Steve is personally trained and mentored by John Maxwell and his world-class faculty, and is equipped with the tools, resources, and experience to help your agency and your team improve productivity, performance, and profitability.
As a co-founder and President of Agents of Growth, Steve’s focus is providing a robust and comprehensive development program in agency sales, client services, and agency management that was inspired and developed by insurance professionals who have a passion to develop other insurance professionals to expand their potential and success.
Steve holds a bachelor’s degree in Management from the University of Illinois and resides in Central Illinois with his wife Danette living out their dream of Faith, Family, Friends, and Fun.
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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.
Brett served on many insurance license test development panels throughout his career as a subject matter expert. Most recently, Brett 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. Brett 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.
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Carla Townsend, State Relations Executive, is responsible for NCCI’s regulatory and legislative affairs, including rate/loss cost filings, legislative pricings, rule and form filings, appeals mechanisms, and residual market issues. Prior to joining NCCI in 2015, Carla worked at the Travelers Insurance Company for 19 years, where she served as assistant operations manager with the workers compensation insurance residual market division. Carla received a BA in psychology from the University of Missouri.
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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.
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James G. Sink is the Regional Flood Insurance Liaison for FEMA Region 5. James works with NFIP partners and stakeholders to build resilient communities by increasing understanding of the NFIP, conducting insurance outreach and education, and assisting NFIP partners and stakeholders. Previously, James was a FEMA reservist in the Planning Cadre where he served as the Customer Care Group Supervisor in the Hurricane Sandy [NFIP] Claims Review Division. James has conducted continuity of operations and emergency operations planning for a large rural healthcare provider, as well as a large agricultural producer. He was a co-researcher of "The New Normal: The Direct and Indirect Impacts of Oil Drilling and Production on the Emergency Management Function in North Dakota." James holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Emergency Management from North Dakota State University.
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Alexis Cierra Vaughn
Alexis Cierra Vaughn joined Cowbell Cyber in 2021 as the Director of Agency Marketing, where she leads agency engagement efforts, such as building loyalty and marketing engagement programs, developing association relationships, agency training, and more. Alexis is also the Producer and Host of “The Cowbell Factors” Podcast, a show created for agents/broker and policyholders, to help bridge the gap between the cybersecurity and cyber insurance industries, which gives listeners a better understanding of the cyber insurance marketplace, through weekly interviews with insurance and cybersecurity industry leaders. The podcast is the first of its kind to gain mainstream distribution on iHeartRadio and to reach the Top 20 Apple Podcast shows for Business News.
Alexis is a 14-time award-winning 12 year insurance expert and has previous experience in sales, ranking as a Top 50 Producer as a full-service agent and successfully starting her own insurance agency of 26 single moms that she taught the business to, worth $3.1 million in premium. Alexis was recently named by Insurance Business America as one of 85 trailblazers, Elite Women of 2022 and she was recognized on the 2022 Top 100 Insurance Innovators list as an Influencer for the industry.
She also previously worked as a broker and business development leader for Mercer (A Marsh and McLennan Company), State Farm, and Country Financial, prior to transitioning into the InsurTech space with Cowbell Cyber. Alexis is currently licensed as a property and casualty producer, life and health producer, and a life and health Counselor in Georgia and Alabama. Alexis volunteers on boards in both the non-profit and professional community in various states, Alexis is also the APIW Atlanta Network Chair.
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