Aflac gives Duckprints Award to three leaders for their support of the Children’s Art Project at MD Anderson Cancer Center

Aflac presented its Duckprints Award to three Houston-area residents for their longtime support of The Children’s Art Project at MD Anderson Cancer Center. The Art Project, founded in 1973, is a program that raises funds for juvenile cancer patients and their families by selling merchandise featuring designs created by young cancer patients.

The award recipients are:

  • Caitlyn Mortus — A former MD Anderson patient who at age 13 fought Burkitt’s lymphoma. Now 18, she has become a regularly featured Art Project designer, with seven designs in the 2013 collection alone.
  • Mia Gradney — An anchor and reporter at Houston’s KHOU-TV who includes The Art Project in many of her philanthropic efforts and frequently hosts events that benefit the program.
  • Kendra Scott – A celebrated jewelry designer who has consistently given back to MD Anderson, hosting promotional events and raising money for the Children’s Art Project.

As part of the Duckprints campaign, Aflac is calling on unsung heroes across America to become active in the cause. People can get involved by taking to social media to talk about childhood cancer. Aflac will donate $2 for any Duckprints-related social actions taken on various social mediums up to $2 million.

For more information, visit aflacduckprints.com.

Allianz Index Advantage New York® Variable Annuity offers balance with potential growth and protection

Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York launched the Allianz Index Advantage New York® Variable Annuity, a new Index Variable Annuity (IVA) that offers the combination of traditional variable options with an index strategy. This new product offers a balance of growth potential and a level of downside protection with a built-in death benefit.

A key feature of Allianz Index Advantage New York is the index performance strategy. This crediting method offers customers a level of asset protection for the principal investment while maintaining the potential for higher performance. It also gives accumulation-focused customers the flexibility to pursue the accumulation strategy that best suits them each year whether there is positive or negative performance. However, the product and features are available only in New York, and may vary by broker or dealer.

MassMutual establishes MassMutual Ventures LLC

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) announced the formation of MassMutual Ventures LLC (MMV), a $100 million corporate venture capital firm with the mandate to back startups and entrepreneurial businesses whose technologies have the potential to transform MassMutual’s core insurance, retirement and asset management businesses.

MMV is managed by Doug Russell, MassMutual’s senior vice president, strategy and corporate development; Eric Emmons, who joins MMV after serving as the head of Siemens Venture Capital North America for the past five years, and Mark Goodman, who founded and managed two technology-focused venture capital funds, Terawatt Ventures and Brookline Ventures.

MMV will manage its worldwide investments from its offices in Boston and will focus on investments in financial technology, consumer internet, digital health and cybersecurity.

Transamerica expands enrollment options to better serve employers and employees

Transamerica Employee Benefits will utilize the technology of a cloud-based provider of benefits administration, exchange, payroll, and HRIS solutions to employers. The TransApp® enrollment system now offers complete integration with PlanSource. Using a streamlined enrollment process and PlanSource’s easy-to-use enrollment technology, employers can offer their employees insurance products from Transamerica Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Transamerica), including hospital indemnity, short-term disability, cancer, critical illness, accident, universal life, interest-sensitive whole life, and term life.

Employers can now simplify benefits administration with easy tools for maintaining Transamerica’s policy group information and billing reconciliation. The system also allows employers to transmit data between benefit advisers, payroll systems, health plans, insurance carriers, COBRA providers, FSA administrators, HSA administrators and other benefit service providers, all from one source.  Employees can access multi-media educational materials, review benefit options and sign up for Transamerica products through a quick and simple enrollment process.

Seasoned senior account executive joins Burnham Benefits

Burnham Benefits Insurance Services, a California based employee benefits brokerage firm, announced the addition of its newest team member, Helen Vits. As a senior account executive, Vits consults with Burnham clients as they structure their employee benefit packages — from procurement and analysis, to implementation. The role of consultants has especially evolved with the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Vits’ career began at Baker, Thomsen Associates, and when the firm was acquired by Brown & Brown, she launched and led a webinar series, managed partner relationships, served as a technical lead and pursued new business opportunities. Prior to her career in employee benefits, Vits worked in different accounting and advertising roles.

Erik Horstmann joins Cherry Bekaert as managing partner of Charlotte practice

Cherry Bekaert LLP welcomed Erik Horstmann as managing partner of the firm’s practice in Charlotte, North Carolina. Horstmann will oversee client relationships to ensure a coordinated and seamless service experience throughout the Charlotte market.

With an emphasis in the manufacturing & distribution and technology sector, Horstmann will specialize in guiding closely held and private equity-owned businesses to meet their growth objectives. His practice will focus on providing assurance and strategic management consulting services to middle market organizations.

He received a Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Wake Forest University is a Certified Public Accountant in North Carolina and South Carolina, is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants and South Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants. 

Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation names Sarah Conway executive director of its Texas/Southeast division

The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF)has named Sarah Conway executive director of its Texas/Southeast division. Conway will be responsible for leading the IICF’s charitable and philanthropic initiatives in the region. She succeeds Carol Mason as the executive director of the IICF’s Texas/Southeast division.

Conway joins the IICF with a wealth of experience in nonprofit organization management in the Dallas area. Most recently, she served as a development officer with the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, one of the largest not-for-profit pediatric health care systems in the country. In addition, Conway is the Founding Board Chairman of “The One” Society, a 501(c)(3) organization that engages local young professionals in community involvement.

Jennifer M. Webb named PIA national counsel & director of regulatory affairs

The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) has named attorney Jennifer M. Webb, Esq., counsel & director of regulatory affairs. Webb is the former director of legislative affairs for Nolan Associates, where she managed legislative relations for the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) and the National Conference of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS).

In her new position, Webb will develop working relationships among PIA state and regional affiliate staff counterparts and work closely with PIA’s national legislative, regulatory and communications team in developing and executing PIA’s public policy positions. She will be PIA’s representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), NCOIL, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and other key industry groups. Webb earned a bachelor’s degree in political economy and political science from Tulane University and a J.D. from The Catholic University of America.

Webb succeeds David M. Eppstein, Esq., who resigned to accept a position as legislative counsel for the American Bar Association (ABA) in Washington, D.C.

Jody A. Beresin named executive vice president and chief administrative officer of The Phoenix Companies, Inc.

The Phoenix Companies, Inc. (NYSE:PNX) announced that Jody A. Beresin has been promoted to executive vice president and chief administrative officer. She is responsible for human resources, corporate communications, corporate services and information technology.

Beresin joined Phoenix as director of corporate communications in 1994 and held increasingly senior positions before being named vice president in 2003.  She assumed leadership of human resources in 2004 and was promoted to senior vice president in 2012. Prior to joining Phoenix, Beresin was director of public relations at The Travelers Companies and an account executive at an advertising agency.

Beresin holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Boston University and is a member of the executive advisory committee of the Connecticut Insurance & Financial Services Cluster and the board of Journey Home, Inc.