Meet Our 2012-13 Students and Their Mentors
Click on a name below or scroll down the table for an introduction to our students and mentors.
|Austin Neimanis—Hal Larson/Lara Baugh
Andrea Bahr—Gail Steffen
Yu Cao—Steve Merkey
Li Chang—Vivian Liu
Michael Gillette—Rod Warren
Bryn Gisel—David Blankenship
Lizzie Hague—Jason Smith/Peter Berg
Aaron Hoefle—Karin Cooling/Collin Forst
Xinyang Jiang—Robert He
Yi Lin—Mark Mentzer
Sean Noonan—Kurt Eaves
Staci Pump—Linda Riley
Ali Rosenberg—Wade Sheeler, Dana Ramundt
WanQien Tan—Andy Lennette
Matthew Vogel—David Blankenship
Mengying Wang—Jia Luo
Xiangyun Yu—Ming Lodh
Xiaofan Zhuang—Eric Schmit
Meg Zmolek—Ryan White
Hal Larson is vice president and risk manager for Kent Corporation (F.K.A. Varied Investments Inc.), which is a holding company with the following operating subsidiaries: Grain Processing Corporation, Kent Feeds Inc., Kent Feeds Inc., DBA Evergreen Mills, Muscatine Corporation, Blue Seal Feeds Inc., Precision Foods Inc., and GPC Equipment Company. Muscatine Foods employs roughly 1,600 people in 16 states with both union and nonunion staff.
Hal has roughly 39 years of experience in the risk management and insurance industry, and his previous employment includes over 17 years with Farmland Insurance Companies, during which time he rose from field sales to the third level of company management. He left Farmland to join Muscatine Foods and has spent the last 22 years in their employ.
Hal is active in the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS), and he currently serves as vice chair of the Member and Chapter Services Committee, a member of the RIMS Student Advisory Council, RIMS delegate, vice president of legislative affairs and co-webmaster for the Greater Quad Cities Chapter. He is a past president of the Greater Quad Cities Chapter of RIMS, and has served in virtually all chapter officer positions during his career.
Other risk management services undertaken by Hal include sitting on the FM Global Risk Managers Executive Council, the risk management committee for the City of Muscatine, the board of directors for Lutheran Homes, and as a consultant for a Des Moines-based risk retention group. Hal holds a bachelor's degree in finance with an insurance major from the University of Iowa, and a CPCU professional designation.
Lara Baugh is the director of risk management for Deere & Company since October of 2010. She has more than 20 years of finance and risk management experience. For nine of those years, she worked for Allied Waste Industries where her final position was vice president of risk management. In early 2009, following the acquisition of Allied, she joined Chartis where she ran their Dallas, Texas, claim office.
At Deere, she oversees the Risk Management Department where they are responsible for protecting the assets and earnings of the enterprise from material fortuitous loss through risk management strategy and insurance program design.
She is a current member of the Risk and Insurance Management Society and has served in various positions including past president for the Arizona chapter. She is also a member of the Risk Management Executive Council for FM Global.
She is a native of Scottsdale, Ariz., and she holds a B.S. degree in business from Arizona State University and has earned her CPA, CPCU, and ARM designations.
Gail Steffen provides employee benefits consulting and brokerage services for local, regional, and national clients. She has experience in benefit plan designs, health care data analysis, and the role of the insurance advisor in insurance and employee benefits. She joined Holmes Murphy seven years ago bringing with her more than 30 years of group insurance experience. Her background includes sales, service, underwriting, administration, and management.
Gail has experience on both the carrier and agency side in both large- and small-group and both insured and self-funded product.
Gail has her CPCU, HIAA, FLMA, and six parts of her CLU designations, and she has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa.
Steve Merkey joined United Fire Group (UFG) in July of 2010 as an actuary in the accounting department. His primarily responsibility is estimating liability for unpaid losses (including claims not yet reported) and adjusting (both defense costs and other) expenses. Prior to joining UFG, he was employed by Wausau Insurance Companies in Wausau, Wisconsin as an assistant actuary. He became a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society in 1996 and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries in 1993.
Steve graduated 1980 with majors in math and physics from the University of Northern Iowa. His first employment after graduation was as an application programmer with Wausau Insurance Companies. He soon transferred to the systems programming area and maintained operating system software until about 1989. At that time Steve moved to the actuarial department as a student actuary. Within the actuarial department he has experience in reserving, rate filings, internal profit center reporting, program (franchise and affinity group) pricing, and various other projects of a statistical and financial nature. His work has involved interaction with essentially every area within an insurance company which includes sales, underwriting, credit, claim, loss control, legal, finance, and senior management.
On a personal note, Steve is married and has four adult children along with two grandsons. He likes to spend some of his leisure time with active sports including biking, running, skiing, and disc golf.
After four year of journalist experience at Hebei TV in China, Hong (Vivian) Liu started her America career in 2001 as a risk analyst working for Federal Home Loan Bank in Des Moines. She spent three years working at the Investment Risk Management Department on various assets pricing, modeling, and asset-liability duration management.
Hong joined the investment team at AEGON in 2004. She works as a sovereign analyst covering the AEGON's investment in Asia. Hong primarily provide fundamental research and recommendations on Asian sovereign and quasisovereign credits. It includes analyzing political, social, and macroeconomic factors in order to determine the appropriated level of sovereign risk exposure for AEGON's investment portfolio.
Hong received her MBA in finance from Drake University in 2001; she is also a CFA chart holder.
Rod Warren is the president of the insurance companies and insurance agencies under the NCMIC Group umbrella. The insurance companies specialize in professional liability coverage for physicians, dentists, chiropractors, and lawyers. The insurance agencies provide insurance products to a variety of audiences from a number of national insurance companies. The companies have a presence in all 50 states. Rod joined NCMIC Group in 2001 as vice president of its annuity company, before moving to its professional liability companies.
Prior to NCMIC, Rod was director of Life and Annuity Operations for AmerUs Life/AVIVA from 1998 through 2001. Before joining AmerUs/AVIVA, Rod's career included roles at ING, Principal Financial Group, and Farmland Life Insurance Company.
Rod's work experience includes a variety of leadership roles in the annuity, life insurance, professional liability, and health insurance industries.
Rod earned his BBA in finance from the University of Iowa in 1986, his MBA from the University of Iowa in 1997, and partially completed his MSM/RMI at Florida State University. Rod is a CPCU, CLU, and FLMI/M in addition to completing approximately 10 other insurance designations. Rod serves on the board of directors of the Iowa Health Foundation and Employee & Family Resources.
Dave Blankenship is
President of AEGON USA Realty Advisors, LLC and President of AEGON USA Investment Management, LLC.
Davidâ€™s responsibilities include the coordination of business strategies and initiatives across the US asset management platform. In addition to these broad responsibilities, he is directly responsible for executing strategies in real estate, commercial mortgage loans, tax credit, and energy sector investing. He is also responsible for the development of the third-party asset management business in AEGON USA. During his 35-year career with AEGON, he has participated in the evaluation and assimilation of numerous strategic acquisitions.
David is a member of the Counselors of Real Estate, an international consulting organization and President of the AEGON/Transamerica Foundation. He also sits on the Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America and is active in numerous not-for profit agencies working with young people. He was awarded a Bachelor degree in Business Administration from the University of Iowa and a Master of Business Administration from Marquette University.
Kari Cooling started working in insurance in 1999. She went through Holmes Murphy's internship program. She began her career with Holmes Murphy in the Cedar Rapids office and focuses on property and casualty insurance for middle- to large-sized companies. Kari has her Associate in Risk Management (ARM) and Construction Risk Insurance Specialist (CRIS) designations.
Cooling is actively involved in the Cedar Rapids Community. She serves on the board for Waypoint Services, Junior League of Cedar Rapids, Metro North Rotary, and Young Leaders Society of the United Way.
Collin Forst began his career at Holmes Murphy in 2007 through Holmes Murphy's internship program. Joining the Cedar Rapids team as a full-time producer in June 2011, Forst continues to focus on property and casualty insurance for middle- to large-sized companies in Eastern Iowa and Illinois. Forst has his Associate in Risk Management (ARM) and Accredited Advisor of Insurance (AAI) designations and is a graduate of the Indiana School of Commercial Insurance.
A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Forst continues to stay involved in the community and is involved in Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Eastern Iowa; ImpactCR, and the Rotary Club of Marion-East Cedar Rapids.
Peter Berg has specialized in formulating and executing enterprise risk management practices for Transportation Companies that utilize nonasset-based and asset-light capacity models since 2007. Peter's primary focus is architecting cohesive strategies that contemplate legislative and regulatory compliance, administrative efficiencies, technology utilization, capacity maximization, and risk transfer.
Peter also coordinates strategic industry partnerships which further lend efficiencies in protecting and maximizing nonasset and asset-light capacity models.
Peter is an active member of the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA). He is also actively involved in the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA), Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), and the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS).
Jason Smith specializes exclusively in developing risk management and insurance programs for the transportation Industry. His entrepreneurial background, energy, and desire to create a TrueAdvantageâ„¢ for clients transcend TrueNorth's transportation division. Jason has been a transportation specialist with TrueNorth since their inception in 2001 and currently sits on TrueNorth's board of directors.
Jason is licensed to sell insurance in 20 states. He is an active member on the American Trucking Associations (ATA) Labor and Regulatory Policy Committee, which addresses legal, legislative, and regulatory issues related to labor and the financial operations of trucking companies. He is also actively involved in the Trucking Industry Defense Association (TIDA), Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS), and Iowa Motor Truck Association (IMTA). In 2011, Jason was named to the Corridor Business Journal's Forty Under 40 list as a representative of someone who has had great success early in their career.
Jason graduated from the University of Iowa with a business degree specializing in management and marketing.
Robert He came to the United States to pursue an MBA in 2003, after six years' experience at one of the leading insurance companies in China. After graduation in 2005, Robert started to work for Transamerica's annuity division. Robert now works in Transamerica's corporate division as an actuary leading the ALM strategy team. The main responsibility includes overseeing the risk profile of the whole company, designing and implementing risk management strategies, and dealing with ALM and financial issues across legal entities.
Robert received his MBA in finance from the University of Iowa in 2005; he is the fellow of the Society of Actuaries and also a CERA holder
is Director, AEGON USA Realty Advisors, LLC.
Markâ€™s responsibilities include the origination of commercial mortgage loan investments for AEGON affiliated companies and various non affiliated clients in Louisiana and Texas and investing an allocation of the annual $2.5 billion to $3.0 billion in mortgages secured by commercial property throughout the United States. He has been involved in the origination of over $1 billion in commercial mortgage loans in markets throughout the US over the past 14 years.
Prior to his current position Mark spent 10 years with various AEGON companies gaining invaluable experience in the financial services sector as well as in marketing, training, recruiting and business development. Mark was also selected to participate in a leadership development program rotating between the departments of the AEGON Asset Management division.
Mark received a Bachelors of Science degree from Luther College in Management and Economics. He holds a CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter) and a CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) designation.
Kurt Eaves has spent his entire professional career (25 years) in the field of property and casualty insurance and risk management. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1985 with a B.S. degree in biomedical engineering.
Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company: In 2012, Kurt moved to Grinnell, Iowa, to take a position as the vice president of Direct Underwriting and Production. Kurt oversees all commercial and personal lines underwriting, as well as marketing duties for the independent agencies affiliated with their member mutual insurance companies.
Kurt has worked with a wide variety of commercial businesses in his career from small businesses to global Fortune 500 accounts. The functional areas he has worked in have included loss control engineering, sales, marketing, underwriting, and retail insurance brokerage.
Indiana Insurance: In 2010, Kurt took a position with Liberty Mutual's Agency Markets Group as an AVP Underwriting for the five-state western region based in West Des Moines, Iowa. Kurt has P&L accountability for a commercial book in excess of $100,000,000 with an underwriting staff of 21 associates.
Nationwide/Allied: In 2003, Kurt moved back to his home state of Iowa as a result of an opportunity in Des Moines with Allied Insurance, a subsidiary of Nationwide Insurance. He held various positions with the company, and left in 2009 as the marketing leader for the Allied brand. While at Allied, Kurt was also the marketing leader for the Nationwide commercial brand.
Kurt has also worked for Brown & Brown as a broker, developing its agency marketing department and managing several large affinity programs. Before Brown & Brown, he worked at the Hartford where he managed commercial lines underwriting for middle market business. He also spent 11 years at the beginning of his career with Kemper Insurance where he held a license as a professional engineer in fire protection engineering in the states of Texas and Kansas.
Linda Riley is currently the risk manager for West Liberty Foods LLC in West Liberty, Iowa. WLF manufactures protein products in three facilities for various retail and wholesale customers, which include customers like Subway, Costco, and Wal-Mart.
Since the formation of WLF in 1997, Linda has served as the human resource manager for the West Liberty facility, risk and benefit manager for the corporation, and most recently as risk manager. Her current work is directed mainly toward insurance coverage management and product completed claims, with special expertise in handling litigated workers compensation claims.
Prior to the formation of WLF in 1997, the same facility was an Oscar Mayer facility operating under the name of Louis Rich. Linda began her career there as a supervisor in the raw processing area , moving to safety supervisor, safety manager, human resource supervisor, training and development manager, and human resource manager. She holds certifications in various Developmental Dimensions International training modules and continues to hold a Professional Human Resource certification.
Prior to her career with Louis Rich, Linda worked as a rehabilitation counselor at a sheltered workshop and as a jobs/career counselor with the State of Iowa.
Linda earned a B.S. degree in psychology and sociology from the University of Dubuque (Dubuque, Iowa ) and graduate studies in industrial psychology from Iowa State University.
Wade Sheeler is currently the corporate risk manager for Grinnell Mutual. He has been employed by Grinnell Mutual for approximately 18 years in various positions throughout the company, including auditing, marketing services, research and development, Grinnell Life, and corporate development. He is a graduate of Drake University with a BSBA with majors in finance and insurance, B.A. in economics, and an MBA.
He received the CPCU designation in 1995 and CIC designation in 1997. He is the recipient of nine designations from the AICPCU and recently received his CRM (Certified Risk Manager) designation from the National Alliance of Insurance Education and Research.
Wade has been active in a variety of professional insurance organizations. He is a past president of the Heartland Chapter of Insurance Compliance Professionals, past president of the Iowa Chapter of CPCU. He served five years on the Budget & Finance Committee of the CPCU Society, and is currently serving on the Audit Committee. He is a past north central governor for the CPCU Society and is completing his fourth year of service as a member of the board of directors for the CPCU Society. He was recently appointed to the Mentoring Advisory Council of the Emmett J. Vaughan Insurance Institute at the University of Iowa.
He is a member of the CPCU Advisory Committee for the AICPCU, Iowa Education Committee for CIC, and the Examinations Review Committee for the Iowa Insurance Division.
Dana Ramundt, BBA74, is president and CEO of The Dana Company, an independent insurance agency he founded in Des Moines, Iowa, currently serving clients in 22 states. His career, with the exception of a two-year stint as regional vice president of a securities firm, has been in insurance agencies in Mason City and Des Moines, prior to starting The Dana Company in 1989.
Ramundt served his community as county campaign chairman and president of the Cerro Gordo County United Way and founder of a Crime Stoppers program in 1982. He has served the insurance industry as president of two county independent insurance agents' associations and as president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Iowa, and most recently served on the board of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. He was on the board of trustees of Kaplan University for 19 years and is currently a board member of project InVEST, a national program for the introduction of the insurance industry to high school and college students. Ramundt initiated the reestablishment of the insurance program at the University of Iowa which has now evolved into the Vaughan Institute.
Andy Lennette is the
Director of AEGON USA Realty Advisors, LLC.
Andyâ€™s responsibilities include sourcing, underwriting, asset management and research activities related to natural resource investments and commodity markets for AEGON USA Realty Advisors. In addition, Andy is responsible for the product development, placement and investment management activities associated with a potential third-party asset management strategy in natural resources. Prior to joining Realty Advisors in 2007, Andy was a portfolio analyst with the Hancock Timber Resource Group in Boston, Massachusetts; a consulting forest biometrician with Mason, Bruce & Girard in Portland, Oregon; and various public and private natural resource management groups in the Western United States. Andy has approximately 12 years of natural resources experience.
Andy holds a Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, a Master of Science degree in Forest Biometrics from Oregon State University, and a Bachelorâ€™s degree in Forestry and Natural Resources Management from California State Polytechnic University. He has the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a FINRA Registered Representative (Series 7) and a Registered Investment Advisor Representative (Series 66).
Jia Luo joined TransAmerica in 2004 after graduating from University of Iowa's actuarial science program. She has been working in the Life & Protection, Corporate, and Individual Savings & Retirement division for the past eight years on financial reporting, embedded value, and modeling of life and annuity products.
Jia is a fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a CERA (Chartered Enterprise Risk Analyst). She has an M.S. degree in actuarial science.
Ming Lodh started her career in 1997 as an information technology analyst working for Principal International, a subdivision of Principal Financial Group in Des Moines. She spent four years with Principal working in multiple IT roles such as application developer, system developer, and database administrator.
In 2001, Ming enrolled in the Tipple Full-Time MBA Program with a concentration in finance. She was accepted to AEGON''s Leadership Development Program in 2003 and was placed in the Investment Division Quantitative Research Group in 2005. She has worked in the Investment Risk Management group since 2007.
Ming has expertise areas that include Investment performance attribution, economic capital framework and portfolio Risk analytics. Ming is also a CFA chart holder and a Financial Risk Manager.
Eric Schmit is
Director of AEGON USA Realty Advisors, LLC.
Ericâ€™s responsibilities include directing loan production for South Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama and investing an allocation of the annual $2.5 billion to $3.0 billion in mortgages secured by commercial property throughout the United States. Eric has been involved in producing loans throughout most east coast states in his 19-year career at AEGON USA Realty Advisors. Eric has also been responsible for developing and implementing loan workout strategies for sub-performing and non-performing loans resulting in favorably modified loans with negotiated terms acceptable to both lender and borrower.
Eric holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Iowa, a Bachelors degree in Finance with Real Estate emphasis from the University of Northern Iowa and has completed several courses sponsored by the Appraisal Institute. Eric received his CCIM designation from the Commercial Investment Real Estate Institute in 2008.
Ryan White graduated from the University of Iowa in May 2006 with a major in finance. He began his career with United Fire Group in June of 2006 as a commercial underwriter trainee and was promoted to his current position of commercial underwriter in August 2010. Underwriters have many responsibilities, but the most important is managing a profitable book of business, while seeking opportunities for premium growth. He has completed the Associate in Commercial Underwriting (AU) designation and is currently working toward completion of the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) program. He suggests reading Designated for Success by Donald Hurzeler for anyone interested in a career in the insurance industry. In his spare time he enjoys running, watching the Hawks, and spending time with his girlfriend.