NetVU Announces Executive Board & 2021 Award Winners

Posted on: 5/19/2021

IRVING, TX – May 19, 2021 –The independent agency channel is resilient and ready to meet the challenges of the future through robust investments in technology and innovative approaches to education. That was the theme of the annual meeting of NetVU, The Network of Vertafore Users, which serves as the official kickoff to Accelerate, insurtech’s first and longest running annual event for independent agencies and carriers. This year’s annual meeting was broadcast virtually to NetVU members across the country.

Outgoing NetVU chair Jessica Jeffress of Peel & Holland in Benton, Kentucky, acknowledged agency principals, producers and customer service staff for their unwavering commitment, which has positioned them for the post-pandemic environment.

“You endured change and disruption and all the while stayed true to your mission to serve customers and be there for them in what is often a stressful time,” said Jeffress. “In the past year NetVU made tremendous progress and accomplished more than I could have imagined. We’ve established an exciting new strategic plan and the future is bright.”

Incoming board chair Dean Giem of Paradox Insurance Agency in Kalispell, Montana, explained how the organization’s new strategic plan emphasizes modernization.

“Modernization means that much of what we’ve been doing is good, but the pandemic has forced us to think and act differently, to embrace innovation and change,” said Giem. “Over the next five years you’re going to continually see that theme as we improve our organization, provide more resources to our members, and give them the tools to lead within their teams, their businesses and even in their communities.”

Vertafore™ CEO Amy Zupon shared the importance of the relationship between NetVU and Vertafore, which the two organizations recently validated by signing a new multi-year agreement.

“Our strategy has been shaped and guided by the insight, expertise and partnership with the NetVU community, and we are a better company because of it,” said Zupon. “We have doubled down on our partnership with the NetVU community, and we are thrilled to continue our long-term partnership and support of NetVU as its founding and principal partner.”

The following NetVU members were elected to one-year terms on the executive board, beginning in July:

  • Dean Giem, Chairman, Paradox Insurance Agency, Kalispell, Montana
  • Joyce Sigler, Chairman-Elect, SeibertKeck Insurance Partners/Jones & Wenner, Fairlawn, Ohio
  • Jessica Jeffress, Immediate Past Chairman, Peel & Holland, Benton, Kentucky
  • Lorraine Plezia, Treasurer, Risk Strategies Company (RSC), Lincoln, Rhode Island
  • Dana Coates, Member at Large, United Western Insurance Brokers, Pasadena, California
  • Oliver Connor, Member at Large, Connor Insurance Agency, Sherrills Ford, North Carolina
  • Jim Dahoney, Member at Large, Marshall & Sterling, Poughkeepsie, New York
  • Kate O’Toole, Member at Large, Starkweather & Shepley, Cohasset, Massachusetts
  • Jim Rogers, Member at Large, The Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut
  • Bonnie Wood, Member at Large, Brown & Brown Insurance, Atlanta
  • Cassidy Smirnow, Vertafore Executive Sponsor, Vertafore, Denver

Each year NetVU gives special recognition to members for exceptional service and dedication to its mission. Immediate past board chair Joe Clabaugh broke with tradition and announced that instead of bestowing the 2020 Chairman’s Award on a member, the honor this year was being given to the entire NetVU staff for their dedication and hard work during a year of transition and unpredictability.  

“For two years I had to opportunity to work side by side with the NetVU team and I learned the dedication they have runs deep and that each one of them is very passionate about our membership and what they do on daily basis for our membership,” said Clabaugh.

Other award winners were:

  • 2021 Chairman’s Award: Cassidy Smirnow, Chief Revenue Officer, Vertafore
  • Volunteer of the Year: Chasity Devasurendra, CRC Insurance Services
  • NetVU Leadership Award in memory of Louie E. Woodbury, Jr.: Mike Foy, Foy Insurance Group
  • 2021 NetVU Automation Excellence Award: The Cincinnati Insurance Company, EMC, Encova Insurance, The Hanover Insurance Group, The Hartford, Liberty Mutual Insurance, MetLife Auto & Home, Nationwide, Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, Safeco, Selective Insurance Company, Travelers, United Surety and Indemnity Company, and Westfield Insurance.

For the first time, members were recognized for high levels of engagement within the NetVU community. Top Contributors for 2020 were:

  • Kate O’Toole, NcSA, Operations & Agency Management Systems Project Manager, Starkweather & Shepley
  • Cathy Hall, Forest Agency Insurance
  • Cyndi Kirk, White Hills Plaza dba K & S Insurance Agency
  • Patricia Kleehammer, Brock Insurance Agency
  • Mickey Robertson, Don Bullard Insurance
  • Matt Shannahan, Clinton Polley Group
  • Beth Smock, Hilb Group Mid-Atlantic
  • Debbie Spanbauer, JM Insurance Service
  • Venus Tondreau, Lake Michigan Insurance Credit Union
  • Janet Tuttle, TDECU Insurance Agency
  • Tracey Weber, Huntington Insurance

Special recognition was given to retiring board members Joe Clabaugh of the Cincinnati Insurance Company in Cincinnati and Michelle Hoffert of Baldwin Risk Partners in Lakeland, Florida. NetVU’s annual Accelerate conference opens with Kickoff Week May 25–27 and runs through June.

About NetVU
The Network of Vertafore Users (NetVU) is an independent, national member organization committed to providing industry advocacy, world-class education, and networking to more than 20,000 insurance agencies, over 1,000 carriers, and 23 state governments. NetVU's members reside in every state and are supported by over 35 local and virtual chapters led by members.