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Learn. Connect. Inspire.

Changing the Narrative of Workers’ Compensation

Comp Laude® Virtual is a must-attend event for workers’ compensation professionals who want to see a positive change in the industry.

Now more than ever, we are committed to achieving what our founder, David DePaolo, set out to do: to change the narrative of the workers’ compensation industry to a more positive one. He understood that as the general news cycle goes, what most people hear and focus on is all the negative press our industry receives and pushes out. Our mission with Comp Laude® Awards & Gala is to highlight and promote the positive achievements that happen in our industry every single day. We do this by recognizing individuals and companies who work hard to ensure the system works as it was intended. We are proud to continue the mission that David started, and we are so happy you are considering joining us on this important journey.

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Schedule of Events

10:00 AM PST- 11:00 AM PST

How Social Determinants Impact Every Claim

A work accident may not only affect the employer, and its productivity and costs, but more importantly, it may affect the injured worker and his/her entire family. A work accident that keeps the injured worker from substantial gainful activity for a lengthy period of time may also affect family income, the ability to meet its financial obligations, and oftentimes creates new needs and financial difficulties. Long term financial burdens and its accompanying complications can add stress to an already trying situation, can bring on anguish, depression, anxiety, and ultimately a breakdown of the family unit.

Recent studies have shown that an injured worker’s medical improvement and eventual successful return to work depends not only on appropriate and timely medical care, but also on his/her SDOH, the social factors that may impede the injured worker from improving, getting better, and ultimately able to return to work. The literature and research is consistent that if the injured worker is worried about feeding his/her family, keeping a roof over their head, how to get to the next medical appointment, or living in an unsafe environment, the injured worker will not improve as quickly as expected, will not engage as otherwise indicated, will not commit to his rehabilitation as desired, and as a result may remain disabled significantly longer.

SDOH affect an injured worker’s healthcare and ability to return to work. These socioeconomic components are barriers to getting healthy and returning back to gainful activity, so employers/carriers/TPAs must develop a strategy to address and asses SDOH to promote short/long-term health wellness, financial stability, employer productivity, and lessen possible exposure and future higher premiums. Attendees will learn about socioeconomic status, transportation, language, living arrangement, food, physical activity, safety, housing, work, employment, support, and access to healthcare as determinants of health. The panel will analyze how each of these may become barriers to health, and will provide ideas on how to keep them from affecting health and ability to return to work.

Rafael Gonzalez headshot

Rafael Gonzalez, Esq.

Partner

Cattie & Gonzalez, PLLC

Rafael has over 35 years of experience in the auto, liability, no-fault, and workers’ compensation insurance industries. He has written extensively on liability, workers’ compensation, social security, and Medicare/Medicaid issues. He has also taught these subject matters at several law schools and medical schools in Florida. He lectures throughout the country on all aspects of Medicare and Medicaid compliance, including Mandatory Insurer Reporting, Conditional Payment Resolution, Medicare Set Asides, MSA Post Settlement Administration, Medicaid Third Party Lien Reimbursement, and Special Needs Trusts.

Over the last 30 years, Rafael has been recognized by City of Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda Storm for his work on behalf of the Hispanic community in Tampa and Hillsborough County. He was awarded the Governors Appreciation Award by Governors Bob Martinez and Jeb Bush for his work in improving Florida’s workers compensation system. He was awarded the Governors Leadership Award by Governor Charlie Crist for his work in improving Florida’s Medicaid system. He was awarded Florida’s Distinguished Service Award by US Senator Mel Martinez for his work and advocacy to improve the US Social Security disability system. He has also been awarded the Presidential National Service Award by President George W. Bush for his work on improving the Medicare Secondary Payer system through the addition of the Mandatory Insurer Reporting process, and by President Back Obama for his work and support of the Affordable Care Act.

Recently, WorkCompCentral CEO Kristen Chavez presented Rafael with the Magna Comp Laude Award with Great Honor for his willingness to share his knowledge, experience, and scholastic work with the country’s workers compensation community. Also RISE CEO Ellen Wofford honored Rafael with the RISE Distinguished Service Award for his many years of leadership, scholarship, and professionalism in educating the thousands of professionals who have attended his numerous Medicare and Medicaid programs. And International Association of Industrial Accidents Boards and Commissions President Evelyn McGill awarded Rafael its President’s Award for his leadership and service to the international workers compensation community.

Rafael is active on social media. He is owner and manager of several LinkedIn groups, including Medicare and Medicaid Compliance (8,500 members), Medicare Mandatory Reporting, Medicare Conditional Payments, Medicare Set Aside Allocations, Medicare Set Aside Administration (3,500 members), Florida Workers Compensation (2,500 members), Social Security Benefits (1,500 members), Hispanic Issues and Demographics (500 members), and Affordable Care Act Compliance (250 members). Rafael is also active on Twitter with 2,000 followers and Facebook with 2,000 friends.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Rafael and his family escaped communism to Madrid, Spain, and ultimate immigrated to the US. He owes everything he has achieved to his mother, Miriam Lera. Her love and sacrifice have allowed him to live in freedom, succeed and prosper. Rafael graduated from Miami Senior High School, received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida and his Jurisprudence Doctorate degree from the Florida State University. He lives in Lithia, Florida with the love of his life, his wife Lisa, and his greatest pride, his two sons, Alex and Andres.

Mollie Kallen Headshot

Mollie Kallen, MS, CRC, CCM

CEO/President

MKCM, Inc.

Mollie has over 30 years of professional experience in the worker’s compensation industry. She has worked in the industry from all perspectives, culminating in her building a national case management company of over 400 case managers. Mollie started her career as a public school teacher and then moved towards counseling and psychology at a Master’s Degree level. Her introduction to worker’s compensation was providing group and individual counseling to injured workers and their families in the private clinical sector. She then started her case management career with the first national case management company, Intracorp, and quickly became one of their highly successful and most requested case managers. Mollie transition to Corvel as a senior case manager for 13 years and became noted in her field in South Florida . After working at Genex for one year, Mollie decided to start her own company as a sole practicing case manager, giving customers the high quality care without higher costs, administrative fees and incentivizations that she had known in prior companies. Mollie formed MKCM ( Mollie Kallen Case Management, Inc.) emphasizing strong customer service, transparency, ethics, quality and using only experienced case managers. MKCM is now the only national, wholly owned and minority run case management company. Mollie has become a leader in our industry and speaks at many national and regional conferences, webinars and does a great deal of training in our industry. Mollie is involved in many industry wide organizations and believes strongly in mentoring young professionals and case managers.

Dr. Geralyn Datz Headshot

Dr. Geralyn Datz

President and Clinical Director

Southern Behavioral Medicine Associates PLLC

Dr. Geralyn Datz is a licensed clinical health psychologist. Dr. Datz received her PhD in Clinical Psychology at SUNY Stony Brook in Long Island, New York. She completed her residency at the New Orleans VA Medical Center and specialized in Behavioral Medicine. She completed her Post Doctoral Fellowship in Behavioral Medicine at LSU (Louisiana State University), Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Dr Datz is licensed in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. She also has telehealth licenses in Georgia, Idaho, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Ohio, and South Carolina.
Dr. Datz specializes in pain psychology, forensic assessments, independent medical opinions and public speaking.
Dr. Datz is President and Clinical Director of Southern Behavioral Medicine Associates PLLC, in Hattiesburg, MS, a group mental health specialty practice. Southern Behavioral Medicine provides assessment and treatment of individuals with psychological disorders as well as medical issues, such as chronic pain, head injury, and physical work injuries that result in, or contribute to, mental health problems. Veterans, active duty, young and mature adults, and intellectually disabled clients are welcome.
Dr. Datz is a sought-after speaker, accomplished writer and scientific presenter. She has authored a number of peer reviewed, scientific articles and book chapters on the topics of health psychology, pain psychology, the mind-body connection, mitigating opioid risk, treatment of injury, and return to work, mindfulness and burnout in the legal and medical professions.
Dr Datz has presented nationally and internationally in both scientific, legal, and industry conferences. Dr Datz is Past President of the Southern Pain Society, and currently served on their Programming Committees for over 10 years. She is a recipient of the Hubert & Renee Rosomoff Award of Excellence in Pain Management. She is a frequent presenter at industry and scientific conferences. She has presented at American Academy of Pain Medicine, American Pain Society, RIMS, WCI360, Pain Week, Impairment Without Disability, and many others. Dr Datz has been interviewed by Work Comp Central, Women’s Day, The Clarion Ledger, WDAM- NBC affiliate, the National Pain Report, Pain.edu, QuantiaMD, Medscape, and Health24.com.

Natalie Torres Headshot

Natalie Torres

Senior Director of Client Solutions

Workfinders USA

Natalie is a crusader in supporting all injured workers to say YES on their return-to-work journey.

As Senior Director of Client Solutions with Workfinders USA, Natalie is intentionally rooted in service to workers to encourage their return to good health and meaningful work. She is a visionary return-to-work specialist collaborating with brokers, carriers, employers, and third-party administrators to skillfully interpret the impact of return-to-work. Her partners welcome her multi-dimensional view of the return-to-work process to support mitigating their current and future risks.

Before joining the workers’ compensation industry, Natalie spent nearly 20 years serving guests of Milwaukee’s finest eateries. She worked the dish pit and directed the operation of multiple units guided by engaging her customers to create unforgettable experiences.

Natalie is a designer of RTW solutions to support the return of every worker to good health and meaningful work. She conceptualizes and integrates RTW initiatives for Fortune 100 carrier, employer, and TPA clients. She works intimately with her partners to craft and direct case management strategy for Permanently Restricted and Transitional RTW scenarios, that encourage all workers with injuries to say YES on their return-to-work journey.

Natalie designs and implements social media marketing strategies and creative content to support the advancement of the return-to-work mission while fostering the Workfinders USA philosophy. She develops and delivers national conference seminars, webinars, and customized RTW training sessions. She operates with the spirit of warrior and advocate for workers in the industry and community.

Natalie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marquette University, continues to study virtually in the areas of economics and finance with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and is a hatha yoga instructor. She’s also the co-chairwoman of the Midwest Claim Association, member of the Disability Management Employer Coalition, and avid supporter of The Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation.

Flower

11:30 AM PST- 12:30 PM PST

One Veteran’s Journey to Recovery

In the midst of this pandemic, our nation is still facing an opioid crisis and recent studies show overdoses have increased. This is confounded by the present mental health of our country and the ability to access medical care. Effective alternatives are available to those in need helping with both acute and chronic injuries.

Topics to be Discussed:

Join us to hear the stories of two Wounded Warriors and a Pain Management Specialist taking a different successful approach to treating chronic injuries. This discussion will focus on:

  • Breaking the cycle when the patient appears resistant to medical treatment
  • The perspective and experiences of two Wounded Warrios as they forged a path to recovery and success
  • Our Nation’s pain crisis and access to care during a pandemic
  • How our mental health complicates recovery and isolation
  • Effective treatment alternatives that disrupt the status quo

Eddy Canavan Headshot

Eddy Canavan

Chief Claims Advisor

Alta Claims Services

Eddy has over 25 years of experience in the workers’ compensation industry and is currently working as the Chief Claims Advisor for Alta Claims Services. In his present role Eddy serves as a subject matter expert for Alta’s clients helping them with compliance, practices and refining their products and services. Before working for Alta, Eddy spent 18 years with Sedgwick. Most recently Eddy served as Sedgwick’s Senior Vice President of Casualty Practices helping shape best practices, update auditing methods, support business development, provide expertise to clients, colleagues and the industry. Eddy holds several professional designations including an Associates in Claims and Risk Management and secured his bachelor’s degree in business administration from California State University of San Bernardino.

Sherman Gillums Headshot

Sherman Gillums Jr

AMVETS

Sherman began his career in veteran advocacy as a national service officer in San Diego, where he developed Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits claims and clinical appeals for veterans and families in the area. Gillums continued his work in the VA benefits claims arena as an appellate representative at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington, DC. He was promoted to associate executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America’s veterans benefits department in 2011 and subsequently served as the organization’s executive director for two years. Gillums holds a master’s degree from the University of San Diego School of Business Administration and completed his executive education at Harvard Business School. AMVETS is the nation’s largest and oldest Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization that is open to and fights for all veterans who served honorably, including reservists & guardsmen. AMVETS has been a nonpartisan advocate for veterans and their families for more than 70 years.

Dr. Stephen Fisher

Dr. Stephen Fisher

Medical Advisor to the CEO

Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company

Stephen Fisher, MD, PhD, is currently the Medical Advisor to the CEO at Chesapeake Employers’ Insurance Company, the largest workers’ compensation insurer in the state of Maryland. Dr. Fisher has a MD degree with a PhD in pathology focused on interaction of immune factors with the brain. He completed a residency in orthopedic surgery and a fellowship in hand surgery. Dr. Fisher received extensive experience caring for patients with workers’ compensation claims from both private practice and hospital employed practice positions. His current position involves developing company strategies and policies for positively impacting claims within the company as well as the climate of workers’ compensation medicine and practice at-large in Maryland. The issue of Rx drug over-prescribing and dependence is one of the primary issues the company currently is engaging. Dr. Fisher has given numerous talks to regional and national audiences on topics ranging from opioid dependence in work related injuries to medical management and utilization in worker’s compensation claims.

10:00 AM PST- 11:00 AM PST

Empathy: See What I Am Thinking

Workers’ compensation professionals can never forget that at the center of every claim is a person facing a devastating or challenging injury. Using empathy to connect with an injured employee throughout the claims process is an approach that is leading to more positive outcomes.
When a claims starts out well, it will typically end well. This session is designed to demonstrate the impact empathy can have on the claims process as well as how empathy can be learned and applied to produce improved outcomes for all stakeholders.

Mark Debus Headshot

Mark P. Debus, MSW, LCSW

Clinical Behavioral Health Specialist

Sedgwick

As clinical behavioral health specialist since 2015, Mark has a dual role at Sedgwick. He works as a consultant to claims examiners on challenging or psychiatric claims. He is also an advocate for employees who’ve experienced a work-related injury and may be struggling with the aftereffects of a workplace trauma or who are experiencing other types of psychosocial stressors in their lives. Through careful assessment, coaching and advocacy, Mark helps injured workers overcome barriers to treatment and improve motivation for a successful return to work.
Mark started working with Sedgwick in 2006. Prior to his current role, he managed short- and long-term disability mental health claims. Before coming to Sedgwick, he worked as an employee assistance program (EAP) counselor, a trauma specialist, and as a care consultant for the Alzheimer’s Association. He is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).
Training and education
Mark graduated with a bachelor of arts in psychology and communications (BA) from Marquette University and received a master of social work (MSW) from the University of California at Berkeley.

Flower

11:30 AM PST- 12:30 PM PST

Got Chronic Pain? Get A Pain Coach!

Becky Curtis was nearly killed in a horrific rollover car accident 14 miles from Wisdom, Montana. She sustained a C-4 spinal cord injury and her doctor told her she was an incomplete quadriplegic and would never walk again. Becky did not accept that answer.  She fought hard through rehabilitation and painstakingly re-learned all the motor skills she needed to walk again. Two years into her rehabilitation, she began experiencing severe burning nerve pain. Her doctors worked hard to find a solution. The best medications for nerve pain didn’t work and opioids just made it harder for her to cope with the pain.

Finally, she was referred to a pain clinic where she learned the science of pain, knowledge of the mind-body aspects of pain, and tools to make desired behavioral changes and reach measurable goals. She now had a scienced-based approach to decrease her pain.  Becky realized this was the missing link for many people suffering from chronic pain. She then set out to establish a program through her company Take Courage Coaching with the goal to make pain coaching the standard of care for people with chronic pain.  A recent study based on TCC’s program data was published in PLOS One Journal, a highly-respected scientific journal, that proves the pain coaching approach works.

In this session, Becky Curtis along with a panel of experts will discuss how pain coaching works to help people who suffer from chronic pain by teaching them the mind-body connection and discovering ways that work best for them, in their life with their specific situation, at their pace, in their home. The panel will walk the audience through the 12-month program of how a pain coach walks side by side with the patient and helps them discover what works best for them through a process called Motivational Interviewing. Finally, there is a way to help patients reduce their dependence on opioids, or leave them behind for good. They also learn healthy habits to minimize their pain experience and get back to a life worth living.

Yvonne Guibert Headshot

Yvonne Guibert, CHWC

Marketing Consultant

Guibert Services LLC

Yvonne has over 28 years of marketing experience specializing in the healthcare and workers’ compensation industries. As a marketing consultant, she supports industry businesses by offering all aspects of marketing support. Digital and event marketing is her passion. She helped David DePaolo realize his dream vision of the Comp Laude® Awards & Gala, hosted by workcompcentral.com. The event was launched in its current format in 2014. Working closely with WorkCompCentral leadership and IT team, as well as industry leaders, she developed the nomination and vetting process, created the sponsor strategy, managed marketing and media relations for the event. She continues to participate in several event committees.

She served as an Alliance of Women in WC ambassador from Sept 2017 until June 2020. Additional industry events include The Crystal Conference hosted by Joe Paduda and Peter Rousmaniere 2014 – 2017, CompPharma’s annual member meetings from 2008 – 2015 in St. Petersburg, FL. She also enjoys organizing educational events and has numerous seminars, webinars, and various communications to her credit including special reports, white papers, blogs, seminars, webinars, and workshops for professionals in workers’ compensation.

In 2010, WorkCompComplexCare.com was named a Lexis-Nexis Top 25 Workers’ Compensation Blog, a blog she authored for Total Medical Solutions. She launched and directed the Florida CHOICE Awards for Workers’ Compensation, an awards event focused on awarding physicians in workers’ compensation at the WCI Conference in Orlando, FL 2003 – 2007. Currently, she serves as a marketing consultant to several companies in the workers’ compensation industry, including WorkCompCentral, MTI America and Take Courage Coaching to name a few.

Becky Curtis

Founder & CEO

Take Courage Coaching

In the summer of 2005, a violent, work-related, rollover car accident caused a C4 spinal cord injury nearly taking Becky’s life. After the fight to stay alive and months of recovery from physical injuries, she began suffering burning nerve pain. She faced the hopelessness of living the rest of her life in constant, pain.
Becky began to research pain. She recognized a piece missing for most people in pain: ongoing support. She developed the program— Take Courage Coaching® to help people in pain achieve the skills she used. Pain Management Coaching is an emerging health profession partnering with clients to achieve their chosen goals. It is practiced from a bio-psycho-social perspective, viewing each person as intrinsically whole and the ultimate expert in their healing journey.
Becky has presented at State and International conferences such as PAINWEEK. Her presentations and coaching program is sought by physician groups, caregivers, and prayer groups.

Les Kertay, PhD, ABPP

Owner and President

Dr. Les Kertay & Associates, LLC

Les Kertay, Ph.D. is owner and president of Dr. Les Kertay & Associates, LLC. He also works currently as a medical director for a large private disability carrier. His work is focused on improving individual and corporate health, well-being, and work performance. Les has over 40 years’ experience in health and human services, including 15 years in executive leadership positions in the group insurance industry, with a focus on absence management. He is a licensed and board certified clinical psychologist with expertise in the arena of mind-body health including disability medicine, chronic pain, and health behaviors. He is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences on topics related to the psychological aspects of work and disability, practical approaches to managing psychosocial issues in medical practice, pain management, somatoform and personality disorders, and professional ethics. In addition to other publications, he is a contributor to three books on the psychosocial aspects of complex disability claims, and is lead editor for the AMA Guides to Navigating Disability Benefit Systems.

Kendy Anderson Headshot

Kendy Anderson, CPMC, NBC-HWC

Coach and TCC®U Director

Take Courage Coaching

Kendy lives in northern California with her husband and daughters. Mom of six children—some grown, twin daughters still at home—and a grandmother to five, she raises poultry, enjoys scrapbooking, sewing, and gardening, and she loves to read. She lives with several pain-producing conditions but hates to miss out because of pain, so she loves coping strategies—choices she makes daily that have her back to “doing life,” rather than being a spectator or withdrawing completely. After being coached for her own pain, she made the decision to become a coach herself. As a TCC®U- and National board-certified coach, she helps clients learn pain management skills and return to happy and productive lives. She wholeheartedly believes it is possible to change your perception of pain.

Jim Brown

Chronic Pain Client

10:00 AM PST- 11:00 AM PST

Real Conversations About Workers’ Comp

A dynamic, interactive discussion about a potential real-life scenario that could occur in the workers’ compensation system. The panel will discuss different and opposing viewpoints and perspectives that may happen in the decision-making process for the different stakeholders in the workers’ compensation system. This panel will discuss and debate the following complex workers’ compensation scenario…

An employee works in transportation and is considered an “essential employee.” The employee lives in California, was hired by a Texas employer and visits the state for more than 2 weeks every year, and claims exposure in Florida to SARS-Cov-3 eventually known as Covid-21. A variant of Covid-19, this disease attacks the vascular system, not the respiratory system, and thus may or may not meet the language for presumptions. The employer has the original decision of which state to file the workers’ comp claim.

Join our expert panel as they discuss this interesting “potential” workers’ comp case and the twists and turns that may happen along the way.

Stuart Colburn Headshot

Stuart Colburn

Shareholder

Downs Stanford

Stuart Colburn is a shareholder of Downs Stanford and opened the Austin, Texas, office. He is board certified in Workers’ Compensation Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Colburn is an AV Rated lawyer by Martindale Hubbell. He is a certified lobbyist and attends Legislative meetings and hearings. Mr. Colburn is the firm’s representative at Division meetings. He has extensive experience in all phases of dispute resolution before the Division of Worker’s Compensation and in district courts across the state. The State Bar Of Texas Workers’ Compensation Section awarded Stuart “The Barb-wire Award” for lifetime service in the area of workers’ compensation. He also received the Comp Laude Award by Workcompcentral.com for his contributions as a defense attorney. Mr. Colburn was the founder and first Chair of the State Bar of Texas Workers’ Compensation Section. He is a co-author of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Handbook published by LexisNexis. Mr. Colburn served as a Contributing Editor for the Texas Insurance Code Annotated and contributor for The Complete Guide to Medicare Secondary Payer Compliance. He serves on the Executive Committee of the LexisNexis Advisory Board for Larson’s on Workers’ Compensation. He served as founder and first chair of executive committee for the workers’ compensation subgroup for Primerus Defense Institute. He is extremely active in the education of attorneys, adjusters and employers for workers’ compensation and bad faith allegation and is certified by the Texas Department of Insurance as a continuing education provider. The TexasBarCLE Staff awarded Mr. Colburn the Standing Ovation Award recognizing his efforts, commitment and leadership. A sought-after speaker, Mr. Colburn has delivered over five hundred speeches regarding Workers’ Compensation across the country. He also served as the Course Director for numerous programs including the Texas State Bar’s Advanced Workers’ Compensation Seminar and Texas Workers’ Compensation Forum.

Jeffrey Adelson

Jeffrey Adelson

General Counsel and Co-Managing Partner

Adelson McLean, APC

Mr. Adelson obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Fullerton, and his law degree from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton. He has also completed numerous courses in Advanced Legal Education at the University of Southern California Law Center as well as multiple courses in human anatomy, orthopedic medicine and psychiatric medicine. He has served as a Judge Pro Tem and also as a workers’ compensation instructor at several colleges in Southern California. Throughout his career, he’s mentored numerous first-year students and enjoys their enthusiasm and fresh approach to the law. Mr. Adelson has been the recipient of several honors. He received the prestigious designation of Certified Litigation Management Professional (CLMP) from the CLM’s Litigation Management Institute. He was nominated and accepted as a member of The Society of Fellows of the Orange County Bar Foundation. In 2014, he was named as one of California’s Top Lawyers by The Legal Network for “exhibiting the highest in ethical standards and professional excellence.” Who’s Who named Mr. Adelson as a Top Attorney of North America in their 2017 publication. In 2013, Mr. Adelson was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States of America. In addition to California, he is a member of the state Bars in both Iowa and Washington, D.C.

Hiawatha Franks Headshot

Hiawatha Franks

Workers’ Compensation Division Director

Texas Association of School Boards (TASB)

Hiawatha Franks is the Workers’ Compensation Division Director at the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), responsible for managing the claims, pre-authorization, and medical bill review operation. Franks joined TASB as the Division Director in January 2017. He holds a Business Administration Degree in Business Management from Texas State University and Master of Business Administration from Walden University. Hiawatha also earned the Charter Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and Associates in Risk Management (ARM) professional designations. He has more than 20 years of experience in the workers’ compensation field, which includes working for TASB for seven years (from 1998 -2005) as the Department Director of Workers’ Compensation Claims. Most recently, he served as a claims program director for The Hartford, and has also served in roles of increasing responsibility at Texas Mutual and American International Group, Inc. (AIG).

Dr. Robert Hall

Robert Hall, MD

Corporate Medical Director

Optum

As Corporate Medical Director, Dr. Robert Hall advises customers and employees on evidence-based clinical and rehabilitation guidelines that optimize pharmacy, home health, and durable medical equipment programs, promoting better outcomes for claimants. He also offers counsel on processes and procedures, identifying and reducing prescription medication misuse and abuse.
A practicing, board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, Dr. Hall has healthcare, workers’ comp, and auto no-fault experience. He has treated patients in private practice, private and state-run hospitals and out-patient clinics. His areas of focus include electromyography, pain management, musculoskeletal medicine and stroke rehabilitation.
After receiving his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering at The Ohio State University, he continued his medical training and was chief resident in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the university’s medical center. Dr. Hall also serves as an adjunct assistant professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. He has been awarded the distinction of “Best Doctors in America®” since 2009.

YaSheaka Williams Headshot

Ya’Sheaka C. Williams

Partner

Eraclides Gelman

Ya’Sheaka C. Williams is a practicing attorney, who has defended Workers’ Compensation claims for over 15 years and has been a practicing attorney for 17 years . She is a partner with Eraclides Gelman, and a member of its Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She graduated from Brenau University Women’s College with a B.A. in Conflict Resolution and Legal Studies and a minor in English. She earned her J.D. from Stetson University College of Law in May 2003 and was admitted to the Florida Bar in September 2003. Mrs. Williams practices in the area of Insurance Defense specializing in Workers Compensation. She represents employers, PEO’s, carriers, and third-party administrators regarding all workers’ compensation matters. Mrs. Williams takes pride in her practice ensuring that due and owing benefits are provided, while helping her clients, the employer, and the carrier reduce exposure in an effort to resolve a case as quickly and economically as possible. Mrs. Williams is a certified Florida Department of Insurance instructor in Florida Workers’ Compensation Insurance, and provides continuing education courses upon request. Mrs. Williams is a recipient of Martindale Hubbell’s AV Preeminent rating; AV Preeminent is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank her at the highest level of professional excellence. Florida Super Lawyers magazine also named her a Rising Star in the areas of Insurance Coverage and Workers Compensation respectively. Only five percent of lawyers in the state of Florida are named to Super Lawyers.

Ronda Hammond Headshot

Ronda Hammond

Director, Associate Risk Services

Ascension Health

Ronda Hammond is the Director, Associate Risk Services for Ascension Health. She joined Ascension Health eight years ago. Ascension is the largest non-profit, Catholic Health System in the US with more than 150,000 associates and 40,000 aligned providers. The national health system operates more than 2,600 sites of care – including 150 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities – in 20 states and the District of Columbia.
Ronda has extensive experience in the areas of post injury and illness management and currently oversees the self-insured workers’ compensation program for Ascension. Prior to her role with Ascension Ronda worked for Sedgwick as a Director of Claims. Her 15+ years of experience with Sedgwick included integrated post injury management strategies and a highly successful return to work program.
Ronda holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Services from Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri. She currently services as the Vice President for the Texas Self Insurance Association and has been a frequent guest speaker for the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network as well as at the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference.

Flower

11:30 AM PST- 12:30 PM PST

Meeting of the WC Data Minds

There has been uncertainty about the spread and impact of COVID-19 in the workplace. However, data collected on workers’ compensation claims can provide important insight to inform policy and industry response. Presenters will examine current data to share covid claim demographics, compare and contrast employer responses, and the effect COVID-19 may have on the workers’ compensation industry as a whole.

Bill Zachry Headshot

Bill Zachry

Senior Fellow

Sedgwick Institute

Appointed a Sr. Fellow of the Sedgwick Institute in 2017. He is known throughout the risk management industry as a champion of workers’ compensation reform. He serves as Chair of the Audit Committee on the board of the State Compensation Insurance Fund, California’s largest provider of workers’ compensation insurance; Zachry was appointed to the board by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010 and reappointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014. He participated in the design and implementation of landmark legislation and regulations to bring greater benefits for injured workers, while saving over 165 billion dollars for the employers of California.
Previously, Zachry served as group vice president of risk management for national grocery retailer Safeway / Albertsons. His 15 years of leadership there earned him recognition as Business Insurance Risk Manager of the Year in 2014 and recipient of the California Coalition on Workers’ Compensation’s Tim East Award in 2016.

Alex Swedlow Headshot

Alex Swedlow

President

CWCI

Mr. Swedlow has more than 25 years of experience in health services research, public policy analysis, and data development and has published numerous research studies in the areas of managed medical and disability systems, evidence-based medicine, pharmaceutical utilization, access to care, return-to-work, and key performance indicators of California workers ’ compensation reform. In 2013 he was named President of the Institute after having served as Executive Vice-President of Research for 13 years. Prior to that, he had been an independent consultant to CWCI from 1988 to 1999, working to enhance data collection and research on topics including medical and indemnity benefit development, 24-hour coverage and medical treatment utilization, and cost drivers. In 1998, he served as the Systems Architect and Project Manager for CWCI’s primary claims database, the Industry Research Information System (IRIS), one of the largest and most robust workers’ compensation transactional data warehouses in the nation. Mr. Swedlow earned his master’s degree in Strategic Planning and Health Services Research from the George Washington University and was awarded GWU’s International Research Fellowship Award. He is an active participant in industry advisory committee work and a frequent speaker at regional and national conferences and forums.

John Ruser

President and CEO

Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI)

John W. Ruser is President and CEO of the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Institute is an independent, not-for-profit research organization that provides objective information to inform public policy debates concerning the state workers’ compensation insurance systems. Dr. Ruser is responsible for executive leadership and strategic planning for the Institute, as well as oversight of the Institute’s economic and statistical research program. Dr. Ruser previously held three executive positions in the Federal statistical system, serving as Associate Commissioner for Productivity and Technology and Assistant Commissioner for Safety, Health and Working Conditions, both at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and Associate Director for Regional Economics at the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Earlier in his career, Dr. Ruser was a researcher and Chief of the BLS office that conducted research on employee compensation and working conditions in the US, including measures of employee wages and benefits and worker safety and health. Dr. Ruser has written many academic peer-reviewed and non-technical articles and book chapters on occupational safety and health, workers’ compensation insurance and employee benefits. He holds Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in economics from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in economics from Princeton University.

Jennifer Wolf Headshot

Jennifer Wolf

Executive Director

IAIABC

As the Executive Director of the IAIABC, Jennifer builds community, creates value, and motivates change. The actions and innovations of IAIABC members work to reduce harm and aid recovery for those impacted by an occupational injury, illness, or fatality. In her role, Ms. Wolf connects with industry professionals from around the globe to identify emerging issues, develop resources, and reinforce the social purpose of workers’ compensation programs.
You can hear Ms. Wolf’s perspective on workers’ compensation during the IAIABC’s monthly podcast, Accidentally. Even though Jennifer accidentally fell into workers’ compensation, she appreciates the important role it plays in our health, safety, and security at work.
Ms. Wolf has authored numerous articles on workers’ compensation management and regulatory topics, most recently on changing employment relationships, the platform economy, and emerging healthcare trends in workers’ compensation. Ms. Wolf has frequently presented on the history, foundations, and structure of workers’ compensation in the United States.
Ms. Wolf manages five staff and works closely with the IAIABC Board of Directors and other Association leaders. Jennifer graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.S. in Chemistry. Her degree is put to good use with baking experiments in her free time.

Flower

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Bonus

Cultivating REAL Mentorship: Bringing Up The Next Generation of Work Comp Professionals

With a “Silver Tsunami” approaching, the need for mentorship in the insurance industry is real. While many companies boast offering mentoring programs, a recent study cited by a Harvard Business Review article reveals the results may not be as effective as we think. If our industry is to continue to grow and thrive, we need address the need for recruiting and retaining talent by building strong programs to mentor insurance industry newcomers and rising professionals so they:

1) understand the opportunities the industry has to offer them
2) are excited to join our organization and bring fresh ideas to the table
3) have the desire to remain in insurance, as we commit to their growth.

In this session, our experts share how we can attract, inspire and retain our future insurance professionals, through mentorship, sponsorship, and providing the resources and support they need to flourish.

Kristy Sands Headshot

Kristy Sands, CWC

Vice President – Marketing & Communications

Gallagher Bassett

Throughout her 30 year career as insurance professional, Kristy has served as claims operation branch manager, account manager, and producer. Professionally, she has experience in all lines of insurance coverage, with workers’ compensation and innovative applications as her main areas of expertise.
Kristy recently served her third year as the City Leader for Dive In Miami, A Lloyds of London global initiative, promoting diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry. She has spoken on bias in the workplace, gender advancement, personal brand and generations in the workplace. She is also a founding member of Include@GB, Gallagher Bassett’s E,I&D initiative.
Kristy is the winner of the 2018 Comp Laude Awards – People’s Choice award for “6 Minutes”, her talk on how the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting affected her family and community and taught her valuable lessons on resilience. She served as a panelist and moderator at WCI, Florida RIMS, and National PRIMA on industry topics such as return to work alternatives, loss control and overall health and wellness from a workers’ compensations claims perspective and communications following catastrophe. She is a 2018 In Touch award winner and 2020 nominee, as a “Woman Leading the Way” in the Florida Workers’ Compensation market. Kristy also serves on the boards of WCI Gives Back/Give Kids the World.
Kristy has her BA in Communication from the University of Pittsburgh, and enjoys her work with college students as a trainer and advisor for Greek organizations at the University of Miami and Pitt.

Sheri Lawrece Headshot

Sheri Lawrence

Risk Manager

Southern CA Gas Company

Sheri Lawrence is currently the Risk Manager at Southern CA Gas Company, a Sempra Utility Organization (SCG) where she manages the Self- Insured Integrated Disability Management Program. Her team Employee Care Services manages the workers’ compensation, Family Medical Leave Act and California Family Rights Act programs for 8,000+ employees. Sheri’s responsibilities also include, vendor management and contracts, const containment, claims system, SIU/Fraud program and Office of Self-Insured Plans compliance. Her department is housed within the Human Resources – Diversity & Inclusion Department. Sheri began her career with SCG in 2018 and has increased and retained a diverse community of suppliers. Her dedication and successful retention rate over 75% earned her a Leadership Diversity & Inclusion Award in 2019. Sheri began her career in Workers’ Compensation at State Compensation Fund Cerritos Branch in 1989. During her career she has held the positions of Claims Examiner, Hearing Representative (Applicant & Defense), Quality Assurance, Supervisor, Assistant Manager, Assistant Vice President and Claims Manager. Ms. Lawrence’s vast experience in the workers’ compensation industry has allowed her to understand the nuances of the industry from every angle. The integration of her skills and dedication to mentorship has allowed her the opportunity to mentor, train and promote those with exceptional skills who would have otherwise not been given the opportunity

Margaret Spence Headshot

Margaret Spence

CEO

C. Douglas & Associates, Inc.

Margaret Spence – CEO of C. Douglas & Associates, Inc. and Founder, The Employee to CEO Project. She is transformational leadership development expert and keynote speaker disrupting the way organization advance diverse women into executive leadership.

In 1999, Margaret founded C. Douglas & Associates, because she wanted to use the experience she gained as an Adjuster, Risk Manager, and Human Resources Director to impact the way employers managed Workers’ Compensation injuries. Frustrated by the injury-settlement cycle, Margaret knew that the only way to stop this revolving door was to show employers how to navigate the injury management process successfully. From a catapulting question written on a napkin in 1999, her company, currently manages human resources oversight functions, workplace injury compliance, and a self-insured claims loss portfolio valued at over $110 Million for its multinational Fortune 500 client base.

With more than 30 years of Insurance, Risk Management, Workers’ Compensation, Human Resources, and Injury Prevention experience, Margaret’s award winning expertise has empowered companies to navigate the often-complex Workers’ Compensation system. Through her expert guidance, companies learn how to implement strategies that drastically reduce injury rates, increase productivity, and energize employees to work safely. C. Douglas & Associates clients include Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Tempur-Sealy, Adventist Health Systems, Boeing, Airbus, EADS, Nissan, various Cities and Municipal Governments. For two consecutive years her clients won the National Underwriter Award for Risk Management and Workers’ Compensation Excellence after deploying Margaret to drastically turnaround their self-insured insurance program. Seaboard Foods winners the 2017 NU Award and Butterball Turkey winners of the 2018 NU Award.

Margaret is keenly focused on disrupting the dismal number of diverse women in executive leadership. Determined to create a glide path for diversity, inclusion, and equity in executive leadership, Margaret launched The Employee to CEO Project. A global initiative aimed at increasing the representation of minority women, in C-Level leadership roles. Her bold life’s mission to empower ten-thousand diverse women, over the next five years, so they are prepared to enter and advance through the executive leadership development pipeline. Margaret has authored three books, her first book – From Workers’ Comp Claimant to Valued Employee challenged employers to value injured and disabled employees. Her second book, The Injury Management Challenge empowered front-line managers to effectively manage workers’ comp injuries. Her latest book, Leadership Self-Transformation challenges women to clarify their vision, pivot from expert to leader, and build the career they want. The opening chapter of her book asks women two simple questions, what do you want, and why don’t you have it now?

Margaret’s industry contributions includes being a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Special Expertise Panel on Employee Health, Safety, and Security, she also represented SHRM on the CIDRAP Board – Centers for Infectious Disease Research and Policy during SARS and H1N1. Margaret is a continuing education provider for the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI). Two-term VP of Professional Development for the Greater Miami Society for Human Resource Management (GMSHR). For nine years she has served as the co-chair of the Workers’ Comp Institutes (WCI) – Return to Work Section. Margaret writes and speaks extensively on Workers’ Compensation, disability management, and women’s leadership development. She has been quoted or had articles published in Forbes, CNBC, Time, The Washington Post, Crain’s, HR Florida Magazine, HR Magazine, Workforce Management, Risk Management Quarterly, and National Underwriter Magazine. LexisNexis awarded her blog – The Workers’ Comp Gazette Top 25 Workers’ Compensation Blog in 2010. In 2017, Margaret was awarded – InTouch Women Leading the Way in Workers’ Compensation Award.

Claire Muselman Headshot

Claire Muselman

Director

Workers’ Compensation

Claire is the Director of Workers’ Compensation and founder of the first ever Workers’ Recovery Unit (WRU). Using her knowledge with over 16 years of direct claims experience, Claire designed a new approach to Workers’ Compensation. Claire built The Workers’ Recovery Unit by combining a solid technical foundation with her passion for creating a better experience through emotional intelligence, empathy, and customer centricity, ultimately, making good things happen for people. This innovative approach to claims handling has provided new value to both Continual Western Group and their insureds. Claire now speaks nationally on the topic of Humanity in Claims looking to change the industry one insurance professional at a time.
Claire has earned her SCLA Gold, as well as other industry designations including an AIC, AIC-M, AIM, AIS, AINS, ACS, and CLP. She is the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished SCLA Designee Award, 2019 IAIABC NextGen Award, 2019 Insurance Business America Young Guns Award, recognized as an Honor Roll recipient for the 2019 Comp Laude Award, is a 2020 Des Moines Business Record Forty Under 40 and is part of the 2020-2021 West Des Moines Leadership Academy. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree from University of Iowa, a Master’s of Public Administration and a Specialist’s of Educational Leadership in Business from Drake University, and is finishing her Doctor of Education focused on Organizational Leadership in Business from Grand Canyon University. She is an Adjunct Professor at Drake University in the College of Business & Public Administration and the College of Education, furthering young minds about to enter the workforce. Claire heads the Iowa Chapter as an Ambassador for the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation, is a member of the International Association of Insurance Professionals, a member of Rising Insurance Star Executives, and in her free time, mentors high school students through the National Leadership Academy (NLA) and Elevate & Evolve. She also serves on the SFM Foundation: Kids Chance of Iowa Board of Directors and the Workers’ Compensation Community Board for Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM).

11:00 AM PST- 12:00 PM PSTSedgwick Logo

Injured Worker Panel

Presented by: Sedgwick

What’s at the heart of the workers’ compensation industry and Comp Laude®? Why injured workers of course. Join us for a panel discussion featuring the real heroes in our industry, those who have been injured at work, and have persevered. This discussion reminds us that entire families are impacted by a catastrophic injury. Even for the standard lost-time injury it can have a tremendous impact psychologically, monetarily and of course physically. Kimberly George of Sedgwick and Out Front Ideas will moderate this discussion and remind us why we all do what we do.

Kimberly George Headshot

Kimberly George

SVP Corporate Development, M&A, and Healthcare

Sedgwick

There is no place I would rather be than working with Sedgwick’s clients, colleagues, and partners to improve outcomes for the American employee.

Kimberly George has been a registered nurse for more than 20 years. Although she began her career as a neuro-trauma nurse, she quickly transitioned to the insurance and benefits arena.

Her experience in the cost containment field spans nearly 20 years.

Kimberly is also co-host of Out Front Ideas, a complimentary webinar series and interactive forum designed to explore critical workers’ compensation-related issues that are not given enough attention in other industry outlets.

Location Chicago, IL Areas of expertise: Disability and leave, Drug abuse or misuse, Health and wellness, Managed care, Workers’ compensation, Liability, Professional liability, Absence management, Affordable Care Act.

Billy Parker Headshot

Billy Parker

Safety Advocate

Billy Parker is a SAFETY ADVOCATE who has a passion for saving limbs and lives.

Billy has 20+ years experience in the welding and fabrication trade. He has participated in and applied OSHA SAFETY STANDARDS from Confined Space to Lockout– Tagout.

Billy is a member of a group called “Moving Forward Limb Loss Support Group” and is a CPV(Certified Peer Visitor) with the Amputee Coalition, bringing together amputees and their care givers. He also volunteers as a personal assistant showing other amputees how to use their new prosthesis and a recipient of a 2018 Comp Laude award for Injured Worker.

One day while cleaning out a machine (a drywall shredder) while it was running he was caught and was being pulled into the machine.

Now Billy’s mission is to bring SAFETY AWARENESS to the workplace. He wants to share a story about the mistakes made that January morning and how losing his arms has changed the way he lives and feels about life.

Through personal stories,humor and real life situations Billy can make sure your employees will remember the “WHY” behind SAFE WORK PROCEDURES.

Dana Moore Headshot

Dana Moore

Injured Worker Finalist, Comp Laude® Awards 2019

Dana, was an assistant driller working on a drilling rig in November 2013, when a 400-pound pipe fell on the back of his head. He had a brief loss of consciousness and experienced an immediate loss of sensation from the chest down. Dana achieved an outstanding recovery from his spinal cord injury. After receiving acute medical and surgical care, followed by inpatient acute spinal cord injury rehabilitation, he was discharged to a community-based residence, with ongoing rehabilitative and medical care on an outpatient basis. He completed all planned restorative rehabilitative and surgical interventions and has been deemed to have reached maximum medical improvement. Mr. Moore has exceeded the targeted outcome of Community Integration and achieved the capacity for return to work. He was released to work in 2015 with modifications and restrictions (sedentary activities). He currently works in a commercial real estate company near his home in Poway, in Southern California.

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Tess Sunderland

Injured Worker Finalist, Comp Laude® Awards 2020

Tess Sunderland personifies resilience. In 2010, Tess was a young archaeologist launching a promising career when, on the first day at a New Mexico dig site, she was struck by a powerful bolt of lightning. The bolt changed her life in an instant, leaving her with anoxic and traumatic brain injuries that stripped away from her the ability to walk, to speak, and to live the life of her choice. More than 14 months of rehabilitation pushed Tess toward recovery, helping her regain the abilities and life she lost to her injury.

Almost ten years later, tragedy struck a second time — a sudden, hemorrhagic stroke, considered a long-term aftereffect of her initial injury. But Tess endured, leaning on the expertise of the medical community responsible for shaping her first fight for recovery. Once again, Tess faced turmoil head-on. And once again she found the strength to rebuild life from injury.

Today, Tess lives independently in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she continues to lead a life of her own making — including rock climbing, participating as a resident of the local zen center, and consulting with the same archaeology firm that employed her during the initial lightning strike.

12:15 PM PST- 1:30 PM PSTGallagher Basset Logo

People’s Choice Award

Presented by: Gallagher Bassett
In this highly-anticipated session, the 2020 Comp Laude® People’s Choice Award session features six of the most poignant, personal stories in our industry. Each six-minute vignette features a powerful message of individual resilience that will serve as a model to raise our industry as a whole. The People’s Choice Awards honor David DePaolo, the founder of WorkCompCentral, who understood that stories don’t just educate an audience, they lift us into action. At the close of the session, audience members will use text to vote, based on totality of the story and the storyteller’s delivery, to determine this year’s People’s Choice Award winner. Be sure to tune in for this emotional program, and be part of our collective effort to elevate the workers’ compensation industry, one story at a time.

Greg McKenna Emcee at People Choice Awards 2019

Gregory McKenna

National Practice Leader, Public Sector

Gallagher Bassett

Greg provides strategic direction in the growth and development of GB’s public sector business. Having previously served as Director of Communication, Greg helps connect GB’s public sector clients to each other and the broader enterprise to advance best practices and results. He is a subject matter expert on legislation, regulations, and ethics rules that impact public claims and risk management. He is co-author of The Way, GB’s weekly briefing on governmental affairs and the risk and insurance industry.

He is the immediate past Chair of the Medicare Advocacy Recovery Coalition based on Washington, DC, and is an officer and past Chair of the Association of Claims Professionals. He serves a Trustee for RISK PAC, the Political Action Committee of RIMS, the Risk and Insurance Management Society.

Prior to joining Gallagher Bassett in 2008, Mr. McKenna was a civil litigator with the firm of Cremer, Kopon, Shaughnessy & Spina, LLC, in Chicago. He holds a law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law (J.D. 2001), a Master’s Degree from Georgetown University (M.S. 1997) and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Notre Dame (B.A. 1996). With his wife and three children, Greg lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

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Steve L. Ehretsman

Founder & CEO

Shamrock Prosthetics, Inc.

Steve Ehretsman is Founder & CEO of Shamrock Prosthetics, Inc. Ehretsman is responsible for the overall strategic leadership of the company but spends his days on the road heading up the new patient onboarding via mental coaching and attending amputation surgeries. Prior to starting Shamrock in May of 2015, Steve spent 5 years at ProCare Prosthetics & Orthotics as Vice President of Business Development. He was involved in a work comp accident, prior to ProCare, that led to 13 surgeries and resulted in a below knee amputation. This changed Ehretsman’s career perspective to get into the prosthetic industry. Prior to his injury, Steve spent 15 years in various sales and marketing roles, working for some of the most prestigious consumer brands like Coca-Cola, Budweiser, and Gatorade.

In 2018, Ehretsman was appointed to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation Medical Advisory Committee and was the 2017 GA SBWC Spirit Award Recipient. In 2011, Ehretsman was named to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under 40 list of Rising Business Leaders. Steve is a former Division 1 student athlete, where he served as Captain of the Boston University Basketball Team and was named Boston University’s Winter Sports Scholar Athlete of the Year. He was a cover story in Scottsdale Health Magazine and named one of Jezebel Magazine’s Most Eligible Bachelors. He is a featured speaker on “Repackaging and Repurposing Yourself” and CEU course “Trauma to Triumph”.

Ehretsman is from Cleveland, OH and resides in midtown Atlanta.

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Rafael Gonzalez, Esq.

Partner

Cattie & Gonzalez, PLLC

Rafael has over 35 years of experience in the auto, liability, no-fault, and workers’ compensation insurance industries. He has written extensively on liability, workers’ compensation, social security, and Medicare/Medicaid issues. He has also taught these subject matters at several law schools and medical schools in Florida. He lectures throughout the country on all aspects of Medicare and Medicaid compliance, including Mandatory Insurer Reporting, Conditional Payment Resolution, Medicare Set Asides, MSA Post Settlement Administration, Medicaid Third Party Lien Reimbursement, and Special Needs Trusts.

Over the last 30 years, Rafael has been recognized by City of Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda Storm for his work on behalf of the Hispanic community in Tampa and Hillsborough County. He was awarded the Governors Appreciation Award by Governors Bob Martinez and Jeb Bush for his work in improving Florida’s workers compensation system. He was awarded the Governors Leadership Award by Governor Charlie Crist for his work in improving Florida’s Medicaid system. He was awarded Florida’s Distinguished Service Award by US Senator Mel Martinez for his work and advocacy to improve the US Social Security disability system. He has also been awarded the Presidential National Service Award by President George W. Bush for his work on improving the Medicare Secondary Payer system through the addition of the Mandatory Insurer Reporting process, and by President Back Obama for his work and support of the Affordable Care Act.

Recently, WorkCompCentral CEO Kristen Chavez presented Rafael with the Magna Comp Laude Award with Great Honor for his willingness to share his knowledge, experience, and scholastic work with the country’s workers compensation community. Also RISE CEO Ellen Wofford honored Rafael with the RISE Distinguished Service Award for his many years of leadership, scholarship, and professionalism in educating the thousands of professionals who have attended his numerous Medicare and Medicaid programs. And International Association of Industrial Accidents Boards and Commissions President Evelyn McGill awarded Rafael its President’s Award for his leadership and service to the international workers compensation community.

Rafael is active on social media. He is owner and manager of several LinkedIn groups, including Medicare and Medicaid Compliance (8,500 members), Medicare Mandatory Reporting, Medicare Conditional Payments, Medicare Set Aside Allocations, Medicare Set Aside Administration (3,500 members), Florida Workers Compensation (2,500 members), Social Security Benefits (1,500 members), Hispanic Issues and Demographics (500 members), and Affordable Care Act Compliance (250 members). Rafael is also active on Twitter with 2,000 followers and Facebook with 2,000 friends.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Rafael and his family escaped communism to Madrid, Spain, and ultimate immigrated to the US. He owes everything he has achieved to his mother, Miriam Lera. Her love and sacrifice have allowed him to live in freedom, succeed and prosper. Rafael graduated from Miami Senior High School, received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida and his Jurisprudence Doctorate degree from the Florida State University. He lives in Lithia, Florida with the love of his life, his wife Lisa, and his greatest pride, his two sons, Alex and Andres.

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Bradley W. Gronke, Ed.D

Talent Acquisition & Development Manager

Gallagher Bassett

Dr. Bradley W. Gronke helps people identify their opportunities and build upon their strengths through inclusive engagement. He currently serves as a Talent Acquisition and Development Manager for Gallagher Bassett. Bradley is responsible for the learning and development of more than 700 experienced new hires as well as trainees annually through collaboration with the superlative colleagues on his team. He is an outcomes driven, motivational claims leader, and public speaker with more than 19 years’ experience.

Bradley’s initial experience was with a large insurance carrier managing medical only workers’ compensation claims then rising to an assistant team leader while also training staff across the country on implementation of a new claims system. Advancement continued on to progressively more challenging claims management through third party administrators, always dedicated to mentoring new employees. He was able to decrease risk liabilities by $1.3 million during his time leading claims management for a school pool while also training new staff. Bradley started at his current organization as a Branch Manager, also directly supervising claims, fostering development of trainee’s through supervisor’s, and seeing 20% of his staff promoted within one year.

Dr. Gronke draws upon his professional experiences to deliver a high energy and engaging adult learning experience. He serves on the faculty at Benedictine University as an adjunct lecturer as well as on the faculty and as an executive council member at CLM Claims College. Delivering courses such as Business Communications, Ethical Leadership, and Group Processes his goal is for his students to be able to apply their knowledge gained to make real world impacts at their organizations. Bradley has volunteered since 1999 as an emergency medical technician. He also enjoys volunteering as a leader of his congregation, with his family as well as friends for Feed My Starving Children, and serving food through the Night Ministry.

Passionate about developing a true sense of belonging for all, Bradley is a member of the national Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the CPCU Society, the CLM Alliance, as well as Rising Star Insurance Executives. He serves Gallagher Bassett in the focus area for Awareness and Education of the Include@GB steering committee. He is grateful to volunteer with organizations such as Junior Achievement and Invest to grow the next generation of talent for the insurance industry.

Bradley has earned the professional designations of Associate in Claims (AIC), Associate in Insurance Services (AIS), Associate in Management (AIM), Senior Claim Law Associate (SCLA), and Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU). He has obtained degrees including a master of science in social justice (MS), master of business administration in organizational behavior (MBA), and a doctor of education in leadership (EdD). Dr. Gronke’s why is to impact society through teaching. Bradley, his wife, and two children live in the Chicago suburban area.

Reema Hammoud Headshot

Reema Hammoud, Pharm.D, BCPS

Assistant Vice President, Complex Pharmacy Management

Sedgwick

Reema is a board-certified pharmacist with over 10 years of experience. She earned her doctorate of pharmacy from Ferris State University in 2006 and gained board certification in pharmacotherapy in 2014. She has experience working in a multitude of clinical settings including community, hospital, and psychiatric. Reema joined Sedgwick in 2014 and has been active in formulary management, clinical services, and drug utilization management. Along with working as a clinical liaison between clients and pharmacy benefit managers, Reema provides developmental support to the Complex Pharmacy Management Team.

Through her experience and training, she has helped integrate pharmacy solutions and opioid best practices into Sedgwick, helping numerous clients and claimants successfully transition away from opioid treatment. She also developed a medication therapy management program called MTM. This service takes a proactive approach to help injured employees get the most benefit from their medications through pharmacist counseling and drug education.

Reema has helped Sedgwick with the creation of a student clerkship program which allows pharmacy students the opportunity to include workers’ compensation studies as part of their pharmacy curriculum. She has also created a summer internship program that will allow Sedgwick the opportunity to work with newly trained pharmacy students to synergistically enhance complex pharmacy services.

Reema’s main goal is to work with clients and providers to ensure the best results for the injured worker. Reema and her highly trained staff utilize best practices which include the development of weaning protocols that focus on opportunities to allow providers to discontinue medications in a safe and effective way. This allows clients the benefit of having their injured workers off of medications that may have been hindering their complete recovery.

Outside of the clinical realm, Reema has been passionate about cultivating an atmosphere of ideas by promoting inclusion. She is currently the Chair of Diversity and Inclusion Council at Sedgwick, local office Manager Liaison for the culture warrior committee, and a Board member at the Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital.

Claire Muselman Headshot

Claire Muselman

Director of Workers’ Compensation

Continental Western Group (A Berkley Company)

Claire is the Director of Workers’ Compensation and founder of the first ever Workers’ Recovery Unit (WRU). Using her knowledge with over 16 years of direct claims experience, Claire designed a new approach to Workers’ Compensation. Claire built The Workers’ Recovery Unit by combining a solid technical foundation with her passion for creating a better experience through emotional intelligence, empathy, and customer centricity, ultimately, making good things happen for people. This innovative approach to claims handling has provided new value to both Continual Western Group and their insureds. Claire now speaks nationally on the topic of Humanity in Claims looking to change the industry one insurance professional at a time.

Claire has earned her SCLA Gold, as well as other industry designations including an AIC, AIC-M, AIM, AIS, AINS, ACS, and CLP. She is the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished SCLA Designee Award, 2019 IAIABC NextGen Award, 2019 Insurance Business America Young Guns Award, recognized as an Honor Roll recipient for the 2019 Comp Laude Award, is a 2020 Des Moines Business Record Forty Under 40 and is part of the 2020-2021 West Des Moines Leadership Academy. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree from University of Iowa, a Master’s of Public Administration and a Specialist’s of Educational Leadership in Business from Drake University, and is finishing her Doctor of Education focused on Organizational Leadership in Business from Grand Canyon University. She is an Adjunct Professor at Drake University in the College of Business & Public Administration and the College of Education, furthering young minds about to enter the workforce. Claire heads the Iowa Chapter as an Ambassador for the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation, is a member of the International Association of Insurance Professionals, a member of Rising Insurance Star Executives, and in her free time, mentors high school students through the National Leadership Academy (NLA) and Elevate & Evolve. She also serves on the SFM Foundation: Kids Chance of Iowa Board of Directors and the Workers’ Compensation Community Board for Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM).

David Vittoria Headshot

David Vittoria, LCSW, MCAP, ICADC

Senior Vice President, Clinical Business & Product Development

Carisk Partners

Mr. Vittoria has over 25 years of experience in senior clinical and operations capacities within the behavioral health field. Mr. Vittoria provides clinical and administrative oversight of all behavioral health functions in Carisk’s Clinical Services division across all lines of business including commercial, government, Medicare, Medicaid and workers’ compensation.

Mr. Vittoria began his career as the Clinical Team Leader at Charter Hospital of Miami, a private psychiatric and substance use disorder hospital serving children, adolescents and adults. In 1994, he launched South Florida’s first Chemical Dependency Intensive Outpatient Program at Charter Hospital, overseeing all clinical, regulatory, compliance, marketing, case management, and utilization management divisions.

In 1996, Mr. Vittoria joined Transitions Recovery Program as a therapist and later became the Director of Utilization Management. In 2004, he founded Ascendi, providing executive health and employee wellness training and coaching programs for 26 of the Fortune 50 companies in the United States. Following Hurricane Katrina, he founded Helping Those Helping Others, a not-for profit providing free coaching, stress management, organizational development, and leadership training programs to organizations assisting underserved populations in the hardest hit areas.

In 2012, he joined Baptist Health South Florida to administer South Miami Hospital’s Addiction Treatment & Recovery Center. Soon thereafter, Mr. Vittoria assumed the role of Assistant Vice President and co-led Baptist Health’s behavioral health services integration across the enterprise.

He volunteers for various social service agencies in Miami, Florida including Chapman Partnership and Trauma Resolution Services, and for the New York City Fire Department, training trauma counselors on Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. He has served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Miami’s Center for Addiction Studies and Education and currently teaches addiction treatment courses at Florida International University’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work.

He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Master’s Level Certified Addictions Professional, a Nationally-Certified Addictions Counselor, a Certified Prevention Professional, an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. He has been trained in a variety of clinical approaches, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Traumatic Incidence Reduction, and is a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Mr. Vittoria earned BA and MA degrees in Social Work from Florida International University, twice graduating Summa Cum Laude.

1:45 PM PST- 3:00 PM PSTBroadspire Logo

Comp Laude® Awards

Presented by: Broadspire
Join us for the coveted Comp Laude® Awards as we celebrate all that is good in workers’ compensation. We will recognize this year’s winners from the following categories: Injured Worker; Applicant/Claimant Attorney, Defense Attorney, Medical Professional, Doctor/Physician, Industry Leader, Employer, Service Provider/Vendor, Claims Professional, Work Comp Philanthropy, followed by the top two awards – Magna Comp Laude and the Summa Comp Laude, or David J. DePaolo Award, presented by last year’s winners Rafael Gonzalez and Michele Adams.

Kristen Chavez Emcee at 2019 Awards

Kristen Chavez

General Manager

WorkCompCentral

Kristen has been with WorkCompCentral since 2004. Having worked in every department within the company, she brings to the table a very thorough understanding of the company’s inner workings and role in the community. As General Manager, Kristen continues to lead WorkCompCentral in providing exceptional news, education, resources, and service to the workers’ compensation community at large.

Yvonne Guibert Headshot

Yvonne Guibert, CHWC

Marketing Consultant

Guibert Services LLC

Yvonne has over 28 years of marketing experience specializing in the healthcare and workers’ compensation industries. As a marketing consultant, she supports industry businesses by offering all aspects of marketing support. Digital and event marketing is her passion. She helped David DePaolo realize his dream vision of the Comp Laude® Awards & Gala, hosted by workcompcentral.com. The event was launched in its current format in 2014. Working closely with WorkCompCentral leadership and IT team, as well as industry leaders, she developed the nomination and vetting process, created the sponsor strategy, managed marketing and media relations for the event. She continues to participate in several event committees.

She served as an Alliance of Women in WC ambassador from Sept 2017 until June 2020. Additional industry events include The Crystal Conference hosted by Joe Paduda and Peter Rousmaniere 2014 – 2017, CompPharma’s annual member meetings from 2008 – 2015 in St. Petersburg, FL. She also enjoys organizing educational events and has numerous seminars, webinars, and various communications to her credit including special reports, white papers, blogs, seminars, webinars, and workshops for professionals in workers’ compensation.

In 2010, WorkCompComplexCare.com was named a Lexis-Nexis Top 25 Workers’ Compensation Blog, a blog she authored for Total Medical Solutions. She launched and directed the Florida CHOICE Awards for Workers’ Compensation, an awards event focused on awarding physicians in workers’ compensation at the WCI Conference in Orlando, FL 2003 – 2007. Currently, she serves as a marketing consultant to several companies in the workers’ compensation industry, including WorkCompCentral, MTI America, and Take Courage Coaching to name a few.

Ed Burkhardt Headshot

Edward G. Burkhardt

Vice President – Strategic Client Business Development

Broadspire Services, Inc.

Broadspire is a division of Crawford & Co. Ed is responsible for generating and growing new business opportunities for large strategic accounts in the West, as well as fulfilling client service and account management needs for a select group of large clients. Ed manages the entire customer relationship and serves as a single point of contact for clients. He partners closely with adjusters and the claims management staff within Broadspire to provide assistance from a client services perspective and provides the necessary support for the Western Region as well.

Ed has been in the insurance/claims industry for 33 years and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Michelle Adams and Rafael Gonzales at 2019 Awards

Rafael Gonzalez, Esq.

Partner

Cattie & Gonzalez, PLLC

Rafael has over 35 years of experience in the auto, liability, no-fault, and workers’ compensation insurance industries. He has written extensively on liability, workers’ compensation, social security, and Medicare/Medicaid issues. He has also taught these subject matters at several law schools and medical schools in Florida. He lectures throughout the country on all aspects of Medicare and Medicaid compliance, including Mandatory Insurer Reporting, Conditional Payment Resolution, Medicare Set Asides, MSA Post Settlement Administration, Medicaid Third Party Lien Reimbursement, and Special Needs Trusts.

Over the last 30 years, Rafael has been recognized by City of Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda Storm for his work on behalf of the Hispanic community in Tampa and Hillsborough County. He was awarded the Governors Appreciation Award by Governors Bob Martinez and Jeb Bush for his work in improving Florida’s workers compensation system. He was awarded the Governors Leadership Award by Governor Charlie Crist for his work in improving Florida’s Medicaid system. He was awarded Florida’s Distinguished Service Award by US Senator Mel Martinez for his work and advocacy to improve the US Social Security disability system. He has also been awarded the Presidential National Service Award by President George W. Bush for his work on improving the Medicare Secondary Payer system through the addition of the Mandatory Insurer Reporting process, and by President Back Obama for his work and support of the Affordable Care Act.

Recently, WorkCompCentral CEO Kristen Chavez presented Rafael with the Magna Comp Laude Award with Great Honor for his willingness to share his knowledge, experience, and scholastic work with the country’s workers compensation community. Also RISE CEO Ellen Wofford honored Rafael with the RISE Distinguished Service Award for his many years of leadership, scholarship, and professionalism in educating the thousands of professionals who have attended his numerous Medicare and Medicaid programs. And International Association of Industrial Accidents Boards and Commissions President Evelyn McGill awarded Rafael its President’s Award for his leadership and service to the international workers compensation community.

Rafael is active on social media. He is owner and manager of several LinkedIn groups, including Medicare and Medicaid Compliance (8,500 members), Medicare Mandatory Reporting, Medicare Conditional Payments, Medicare Set Aside Allocations, Medicare Set Aside Administration (3,500 members), Florida Workers Compensation (2,500 members), Social Security Benefits (1,500 members), Hispanic Issues and Demographics (500 members), and Affordable Care Act Compliance (250 members). Rafael is also active on Twitter with 2,000 followers and Facebook with 2,000 friends.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Rafael and his family escaped communism to Madrid, Spain, and ultimate immigrated to the US. He owes everything he has achieved to his mother, Miriam Lera. Her love and sacrifice have allowed him to live in freedom, succeed and prosper. Rafael graduated from Miami Senior High School, received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida and his Jurisprudence Doctorate degree from the Florida State University. He lives in Lithia, Florida with the love of his life, his wife Lisa, and his greatest pride, his two sons, Alex and Andres.

Michelle Adams and Rafael Gonzales at 2019 Awards

Michele Adams

Vice President, Risk Operations & Casualty Claims

Walmart

Experienced Vice President with a demonstrated history of working in the entertainment and resort industry. Skilled in Negotiation, Analytical Skills, Operations Management, Coaching, and Sales. Strong program and project management professional with a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) focused in Business Administration and Management, from Rollins College – Crummer Graduate School of Business.

Before transitioning to Walmart in March of 2020, she served as Vice President of Risk Management Services at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. She spent more than twenty-four years at the Walt Disney World Resort where she led a very dynamic and diverse team that managed all aspects of the resort’s risk management program.

Michele is the past-Chair and Executive Committee Member of the Medicare Advocacy and Recovery Coalition; serves on the Boards of the Florida Self Insured Guaranty Association and the Florida Justice Reform Institute; is a member of Florida and National Advisory Committees for the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Council of Self-Insureds.

Michele is a national speaker on a wide range of topics involving risk management and workers’ compensation. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Rollins College and her Masters in Business Administration from the Crummer School of Business, Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. Michele is a native Floridian and when she is not working, is an avid reader and enjoys writing, bike riding, and spending time with her family.

3:15P PST – 4:15 PST

Comp Laude® Zoom After Party

Join Kristen Chavez & Yvonne Guibert as they host the annual Comp Laude®  “After Party” celebration. We’ll mingle, high-five, and congratulate all the nominees, finalists, and winners of the 2020 Comp Laude® Awards! Grab your favorite celebratory beverage and dress up, dress casual, dress however you are comfortable, just be ready to celebrate! We’ll take virtual selfies and see what other kinds of fun we can stir up. This occurs immediately following the awards ceremony at 3:15P Pacific time Thurs, Dec 3. See you there!
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