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From CEOs, to vice presidents to hard-working associates and IT specialists, EBA’s 2016 Most Influential Women in Benefit Advising are 25 leaders who stood out among a highly qualified field of dozens of online nominees.

These women seek to not just grow their respective companies and increase their profits, but also make it their business to encourage other women in the field to pursue similar success. They are educating future female leaders by taking part in mentor programs across the country.

Several started out at their companies on the ground level, sharing how they rose from receptionists or producers to the top ranks, some reaching positions such as president or founder of their own firm.

Spread across many different specializations throughout benefit advising, whether it’s a focus on wellness and health programs, or financial stability and end of career benefits or many areas in between, these women represent the wealth of knowledge that goes into becoming an influencer in the employee benefits field.
Vice President, Compliance
and Client Services
Health E(fx)
A national health reform expert, Manno led her team to successfully support more than 250 employers in creating more than 8 million 1095 series forms for the Affordable Care Act’s reporting requirements.
In the last few years, Lannert has grown her company from 90 to nearly 300 employees, while maintaining high growth — doubling revenue three out of the last four years — and positive cash flow. Lannert is a mentor to female entrepreneurs, investing in companies started by women.
Strategic Account Executive
A mentor, author and frequent public speaker, Christofis has both sales and account management responsibilities in her role working with brokers, employers, carriers and other distribution partners. She’s been instrumental in growing one of the company’s largest accounts and acts quickly to bring solutions to clients.
Selden Beattie
Honored for the third year in a row, Beattie is recognized industry-wide as an innovator, thought leader and pathfinder. She imparts her knowledge at conferences and mentors women at Selden Beattie, teaching them to be holistic thinkers while focusing on the achievement of specific objectives.
Christy L. Schwan
President & Owner
Stellarus Benefits Inc.
Author and business leader, Schwan is also a breast cancer survivor who has proudly spent her entire career in the insurance industry. She plays an active role in multiple industry organizations, including NAHU.
Employee Benefits Supervisor
HUB International Insurance
A leader in client service, Porras streamlines the Affordable Care Act reporting process for employers. At the same time, she schedules regular training sessions to keep her team knowledgeable and up to date. She mentors colleagues and has a “fantastic reputation” within the company.
Managing Principal, Strategy
& Business Development
EPIC Insurance Brokers & Consultants
Liedel built the strategy and platform for the specialty/consulting arm of EPIC’s employee benefits practice and helped grow the practice from $12 million to more than $80 million; continuing to lead its overall strategic direction. She is an enthusiastic supporter of her female colleagues’ personal and professional development. Known as a change agent within her organization, she is consistently ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing next-level advisory services.
Partner & Employee Benefit Practice Leader
Baker Tilly
Thanks to Massanova’s widespread employee benefit expertise, Baker Tilly has been able to expand its practice to become a national industry leader. She has also mentored women across the company, invoking her positive attitude and strong work ethic.
Principal & Lead Adviser
Cafaro Greenleaf
The recipient of multiple industry accolades, Greenleaf centers her career around the tenet that all hard-working people deserve to retire with dignity. With that in mind, she is a trendsetter who speaks frequently on the subject of retirement, whether it’s to peers and colleagues or legislators on Capitol Hill.
St. Louis Market Leader
CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services, Inc.
A top -10 producer for CBIZ for six years and leader of her practice, Grasso mentors other women in the profession through multiple industry and professional associations, including as an executive board member of CBIZ Women’s Advantage.
Vice President
Alliant Insurance Services
Gutenplan is one of two women on the sales team in her Seattle office, and one of the few women advisers in the Pacific Northwest. She regularly organizes prospecting events and cold call campaigns that ensure her office has a consistent flow of inbound leads, and also serves as a mentor to colleagues.
President & Founder
Principal Resource Group, Inc.
In the industry since age 16, Rettger is a non-profit retirement plan expert, author and speaker. She is the only adviser on the Plan Sponsor Council of America’s board and always puts client and plan participant interests first. She heads a LinkedIn group for suburban Chicago business leaders.
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Suzanne (Suzy) K. Johnson
President & Owner
Employee Benefit Advisors
of the Carolinas, LLC
Johnson has more than 35 years of experience in employee benefits, having successfully evolved to a fee-for-service model to serve more than 300 regional clients.
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Monica Digon
Chief Client Officer
Selden Beattie
Digon’s most significant impact on the industry has been identifying needs and cultivating strategic partnerships that resulted in the development of new, first-to-market products and services.
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Susan Rider
Consultant, Employee Benefits
& Human Capital Management
Gregory & Appel Insurance
An instructor for the National Association of Health Underwriters, Rider has earned her firm’s Legendary Producer Award for the past four years. She also helped establish NAHU’s national mentoring program for new and young agents.
Lindsey Waters
First National Brokerage Corp.
Entering the field as FNBC’s receptionist at age 17, Waters quickly rose through the ranks of leadership. She is president-elect of the Virginia Association of Health Underwriters and colleagues refer to her as “a true ambassador to the industry” who has never let anyone down.
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Wendy Dominguez
President & Co-Founder
Innovest Portfolio Solutions, LLC
Under Dominguez’s leadership and influence, Innovest has grown from 25 clients with $250 million in assets under management to more than 215 clients with nearly $15 billion in assets. She has also started an annual internship program for college women to understand financial services.
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Rachel Zeman
President & Founder
RiteHealth Solutions
Proud to lead a 100% woman-owned business and be a role model for others in the field, Zeman’s RiteHealth Solutions has been one of the fastest-growing companies in Boulder County, Colo., for the last two years. A mentor to her mostly female staff, she provides one-on-one training.
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Suzanne McGarey
Senior Vice President
Ascende — an EPIC Company
The leader of Ascende’s health and welfare team for more than a decade, McGarey works to differentiate the company through initiatives such as a benchmarking survey and compliance advisory services. She is continually improving her knowledge through professional designations.
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Sallie F. Giblin
Executive Vice President
Lockton Insurance Brokers, LLC
Passionate about mentoring young professionals, Giblin started the Elite Women Producers at Lockton. At the same time, she has doubled her business in the last two and half years.
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Sheri Alexander
President, Employee Benefits
Gregory & Appel
The first female board member at Gregory & Appel, Alexander has transformed her team into one of the company’s top performing divisions. Insurers seek her out for advice and direction. She recently joined the National Association of Health Underwriters President’s Council and has mentored and cultivated the careers of women in the field throughout her career.
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Ritu Malhotra
SVP, Pharmacy Benefits Consulting Group
Pharmaceutical Strategies Group (PSG)
With a deep knowledge of the pharmaceutical market, Malhotra offers creative yet pragmatic solutions to clients that are based on a strong grasp of technology.
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Lydia M. Rivera
Senior Vice President, Employee Benefits
EPIC Insurance Brokers & Consultants
Every year since entering a sales role, Rivera has been in the top 10 producers while continuing to maintain a $2.2 million book of business. She has mentored and developed new female sales team members and monitored their progress to help them be successful. Passionate about health, she is a wellness advocate and broaches the topic with all who meet her.
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Naama O. Pozniak
President & CEO
A+ Insurance Service/Paz Holding, Inc.
A yogi, Pozniak believes in the importance of the mind-body-spirit connection throughout life. She wrote a CE class on yoga and meditation to educate peers on the value of wellness and a healthy lifestyle. She also led Affordable Care Act enrollment in the San Fernando Valley.
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Leslie Straus
Affordable Care Act Compliance &
Services, Inc. (ACACS)
BeneTrak and BeneChex
Responsible for all fields of company operation, Straus leads with respect, confidence and consideration. In assisting with the creation of ACACS, she created jobs and mentored employees while leading the company to positive growth. She is a self-taught expert in the intricacies of the Affordable Care Act and keeps employees motivated through long hours of development.
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The Most Influential Women in Benefit Advising 2015
To see a list of last year's winners, click here.