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20 young leaders in benefits

For the majority of EBA’s 2017 Rising Stars in Advising, their entire career in benefits has been marked by market uncertainty. They’ve come of age as advisers under Obamacare. As a result, they are nimble, quick-thinking, open to change and see opportunity over adversity. Selected by EBA’s editors from dozens of online applicants, these 20 advisers age 35 and younger (listed in random order) are embracing the upheaval in employee benefits — and taking the uncertainty brought on by a new president who campaigned on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act — as a chance to improve the field for all involved.
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Colleen M. Blum

age: 27

Insurance Advisor, Combs & Company, LLC & National Financial Network

In the last year, Blum has increased her book of business by more than 400%. Engaged in consulting contracts with clients, Blum has also discovered cross-selling opportunities and grown the small group business wing of her company while serving on the steering committee for the formation of Women in Insurance & Financial Services’ Long Island chapter.
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Meghan Brady

age: 29

Senior Account Executive, Employee Benefits, HUB International Northeast

Having entered the industry as a teenage intern, Brady has made her mark with more than a decade of service to groups ranging from 2 to 1,000 lives. With deep industry knowledge and strong market relationships, she is frequently called upon to service some of her company’s largest accounts, utilizing a unique combination of veteran expertise in the marketplace and cutting-edge, innovative ideas — such as the launch of a unique corporate wellness program.
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Lindsey Bush

age: 31

Account Executive, Gregory & Appel Insurance

With a devoted work ethic, Bush cuts through all the noise to find not only the right path forward, but also the most effective one. Bush has quickly advanced through the ranks at Gregory & Appel through a voracious commitment to proactivity, responsiveness and care for each of her clients and the challenges they face.
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Lauren Fabbri

Lauren Fabbri

age: 27

Director of Account Services, Austin Benefits Group

Fabbri’s innovative approach to crafting benefit packages as well as her management within her company make her a positive force for excellence within the benefits field. “Young professionals have a deep understanding of the future needs of the workplace. That type of innovation and forward-thinking ability is indispensable to clients,” she says.
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Brett Fowler

age: 30

Vice President and Partner, Turner, Wood and Smith

Having built his hefty book of business entirely on his own, Fowler is on the fast track to complete his Registered Employee Benefit Consultant professional designation in March.
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Cory Friedman

age: 28

VP, Benefits Consulting, GCG Financial, Inc.

The youngest person to earn the title of vice president in GCG’s more than 40-year history, Friedman and his team took their practice nationwide. Focused on the veterinary market, he consults for more than 150 organizations with a unique approach to HR support.
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Ben Gehrki

age: 24

Client Manager, UnifyHR

Gehrki is a proven thought leader in account management, utilizing skills and resources to provide excellent client satisfaction in an ever-changing industry. Immediately assigned a complex book of business upon joining his company last year, his successful client relationships are documented and validated through regularly recurring customer service surveys.
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William Hampton Greene

age: 30

Owner, Palmetto Benefit Solutions

With no industry or sales background, Greene has experienced 10 consecutive quarters of double-digit growth, topping out at more than 200% growth in the last two years. Driven to blend technology with human talent, he is focused on maintaining a human element to client/broker relationships.
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Craft Hayes

Craft Hayes

age: 31

Partner & Market Leader, Bernard Health

Hayes has produced half of his company’s clientele growth in the Nashville market.

“To be a good consultant you really have to ask a lot of questions to understand [client] needs and be a jack of all trades in the industry,” he says. “I look at this challenge as an advantage to young advisers.”
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Jordan Hersh

age: 32

VP of Product Strategy & Development, NX Health Network

Passionate about making cost and quality metrics transparent to healthcare consumers, Hersh works hard to make benefits easier to understand and elect using private exchange technology. He also has experience in establishing high-performance networks, which helps ASO employers to stay in control of their healthcare costs.
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Kevin R. Hennessey

age: 32

Vice President, Payroll & Employee Benefits, Brabo Benefits, Inc.

Hennessey earned a top producer award two of the first four months at his company. Starting his career as a Marine, within nine months of getting his insurance license he became one of the country’s top producers at his former employer, ADP. In four months at Brabo, he has created a unique model that integrates benefits and payroll and strengthens the company in the process.
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Daniel Hostetler

age: 28

Benefit Advisor, Arkin Youngentob Associates, LLC

Year after year, Hostetler has grown his book of business more than 35%. A former professional lacrosse player, strong leadership is critically important to him. By utilizing a knowledge-based approach with an emphasis on long-term strategic planning, Hostetler brings risk management solutions, transparency and innovation to a complex and ever-changing economic environment.
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Thomas A. Jensen

age: 34

Employee Benefits Practice Leader, Connell Insurance, Inc.

Recognized for outstanding service by client Missouri Association of Manufacturers, Jensen helped the association develop a sustainable employer-based health program. With expertise in risk analysis, self-insured plan design, contract analysis, claims and service resolution, and healthcare reform guidance and compliance, he has developed his agency’s second largest book of business in three years with the company.

Andrew McNeil

age: 31

Principal, Arrow Benefits Group

With his company for more than a dozen years, McNeil created The Arrow Community Wellness Initiative, working with other local health industry leaders to offer free wellness classes to the community. He also launched the company’s first benefit app to ease employer and employee access to programs.
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Allen M. Nieves

age: 28

VP of Operations, Crystal Financial Insurance Services

Continuously educating himself, Nieves takes a needs-based approach to client relations. Working up to 16-hour days, he helps to train fellow advisers in the Connecticut broker community while managing an abundance of repeat business and client referrals.
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Bridgette Reilly

age: 27

Employee Benefits Consultant, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

In the top 25% for sales at her company, Reilly is passionate and motivated with a competitive spirit. That spirit led her to earn her Certified Employee Benefits Specialist designation in only 11 months. Working with some of the largest, most complex clients in her branch’s book, Reilly is also responsible for intern recruitment development at her company.
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Joshua Rubich

age: 31

Area Vice President, Arthur J. Gallagher

Consistently a top producer within his entire company, Rubich entered the field as an intern more than a decade ago. He has secured some of the largest and most complicated clients in the region — without losing a single one to another competitor.
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Jason Seltzer

age: 35

President, J. Seltzer Associates

In addition to being responsible for the growth of his company’s book of business, Seltzer regularly consults with private equity firms, management consultants and financial institutions on employee benefit matters as well as regulatory and market dynamics.
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Lindsey Cuciti Soliman

age: 32

Manager of Reporting and Analytics, FNA Insurance Services, Inc.

With rapid understanding of brokers and strong market relationships, Cuciti Soliman was recruited to manage her company’s analytical data process and track revenue growth of benefit brokers. The success of the process led her to pioneer the launch of a unique sales tool, which has users experiencing up to 80% revenue growth.
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Austin C. Wilcox

age: 32

Vice President, Business & Product Development, ACAP Health Consulting

Wilcox has placed in the top 10% of new business producers each year for the past eight years. In 2016, he was instrumental in leading and consulting on the implementation of a very successful, large-scale population health initiative as part of his work with The University of Texas System, impacting thousands of lives in the process.