Leading the way in innovative talent resourcing
Meet the industry experts and founders of WAHVE
Sharon Emek, PH.D., CIC
CEO & President
Sharon Emek is WAHVE’s founder, President & CEO and the indefatigable force that leads WAHVE and keeps the company always focused on its purpose.
Sharon has effectively broken the mold by infusing flexibility into the traditional insurance office staffing structure with a proven blueprint that is gaining widespread attention, changing lives, and yielding impressive results. With decades of industry experience, Sharon understands firsthand the challenges that insurance firms and “vintage” professionals are facing today.
Before founding WAHVE, Sharon spent thirteen years of her career as a partner at CBS Coverage Group, Inc., where she managed the New York City office and provided business insurance and risk management for a large client base. Prior to joining CBS, Sharon was president, founder and CEO of The Emek Group, an insurance agency she formed in 1988. Sharon began her career as a professor at Rutgers University.
Sharon is a dynamic leader, a frequent industry speaker, and a progressive thinker with an award-winning record of success for ushering in a much-needed WAHVE of change for the insurance industry.
Sharon has earned numerous awards for her thought leadership, including the 2016 SmartCEO Brava Award honoring top female CEOs and the Vistage Leadership Legacy Award; Insurance Business America’s “Elite Women in Insurance” 2014, 2015 and 2016 and the 2015 “Hot 100” list; the first woman to receive the 1882 Fellow Award, the highest honor presented by IIABNY (2014); Outstanding Committee Chairperson Award from IIABNY (2008); the first woman to receive the Sidney O. Smith Government Affairs Award from the IIABA (2007); the Distinguished Service Award from IIABNY (2006); the Helen Garvin Outstanding Achiever Award from the NAIW (1999); and the National Promising Research Award for her doctoral research (1978).
Sharon is frequently sought out by the media as an industry expert on insurance, management and business issues. She has appeared on CNN, CNBC, CBS, Fox and Lifetime; has authored numerous articles; and is often quoted in national insurance and news periodicals including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, National Underwriter and Business Insurance. Sharon has testified before the New York State Assembly Insurance Committee, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee Subcommittees and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Sharon served on the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York Board for ten years and is a past chair. She served as a board member of ACT (Agents Council for Technology) for four years and Chaired the Mid-Commercial Working Group. She has served on numerous other boards including the Institute for Student Achievement, Women Builders Council, Center for Women’s Business Research, NYC Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Board, and the IBM Small Business Research and Technology Advisory Council.
Sharon received her doctoral degree from Rutgers University (1977). She is the author of Answers for Managers and numerous articles on management and insurance issues.
Executive VP & Chief Sales Officer
Bill Hunt is a founding partner, Executive VP & Chief Sales Officer, and the driving force at WAHVE that inspires insurance firms to engage our work-at-home vintage experts.
Throughout his career, Bill has developed deep relationships in the industry and is known as a brand in his own right. He has had a long, successful career in the insurance industry. He has worked with many of the industry’s leading innovation companies delivering new state-of-the-art solutions that have had significant success in the insurance industry.
Bill has a long history of devising solutions for the insurance industry, and is regarded as one of the best leaders of sales teams in the industry. He was a sales consultant for the Lexis Nexis Insurance Exchange, Sr. Vice President at Artizan Internet Services, a leading company in products that serve the entire Insurance value chain, and Executive Vice President at XDimensional Technologies. As a Sales Executive with many successful years at SAP, AMS, and CISGEM, Bill built several successful sales and marketing teams and worked successfully with many of the industry’s leading national brokers and carriers. He has authored and has been quoted in numerous articles on technology research in the insurance space.
Our team members
Our WAHVE team is made up of amazing individuals from around the country
Our WAHVE team is made up of amazing individuals from around the country etc etc etc.....
Kelly AmadeiSystems Support Assistant
Kelly, with her extensive career in insurance and computer systems, can wear both caps when helping our clients and wahves with tech support working from her home in Maine. She has held numerous positions including PL CSR, agency management agency systems training and compliance.
Carla CowanQualifying Team Manager
Carla has the detective instinct which makes her the consummate interviewer. She also keeps our qualifying team running smoothly from her Texas home office. She has been managing teams for more than 30 years whether working at a carrier, MGA or independent agency, and has held many positions including COO and is P&C licensed.
Patti DeschaineIT Manager
Patti keeps the lights on, figuratively speaking, from her home in NC. She is a technology wizard and keeps our home offices and virtual company running. She has over 18 years’ of insurance and systems administrator experience, on both the agency and company sides. She is A+ and Net+ certified.
Deborah FalcoAdministrative Assistant
Deb keeps us on track, organizing our company meetings and conferences. She never forgets a staff birthday or work anniversary. Deb is both a licensed Property and Casualty broker and licensed Master Social Worker. She has had a 20-year insurance career. She flew the NY coop to Florida.
Susan FletcherQualifying Specialist
Susan, with her extensive knowledge of all aspects of the industry and her warm personality, is adept at qualifying talent. Her insurance career spans 41 years, having worked as an Account Executive at large brokers, an Underwriter at carriers and a Manager at reinsurers. Susan works from her home in Indiana.
Connie GeorgePlacement Specialist
With over 30 years of mid-market industry experience in various positions, including Underwriting Supervisor, Sr. Marketing Rep, and Placement Specialist, and having numerous industry designations, Connie knows how to match the right talent to the right assignment. Connie works from her home in Washington state.
David (Denny) GilmoreQualifying Specialist
Denny is an interviewer par excellence, but as we say, a Johnny-Come-Lately to insurance. He is a famous cultural anthropologist who has written seven books. After retiring as a professor, he is now using his amazing interviewing skills to qualify our applicants. Denny lives in New York.
With over 20 years in the insurance industry serving in many positions from CSR to office manager, Kristy knows how to keep assignments humming. From her home in NC, she provides guidance and assistance to clients and wahves in order to make each assignment a success.
Connie HerrickRelationship Manager
Connie makes taking care of our clients and wahves look easy, which she does from her helm in Maine. With her 27 years’ experience in the insurance industry, both at the agency and company levels, Connie has held many positions, including Senior Account Manager and Senior Underwriting Assistant.
Rita KattRelationship Team Manager
Rita manages, from her home in CA, the team that keeps our clients and wahves happy. She knows how to listen having successfully worked for a family-owned retail agency for 35 years. She was part of the management team, helping plan for future growth and solve problems. Rita is P&C licensed.
Melody KauffmanQualifying Specialist
Melody is one of our great interviewers. From her home in PA, she spends her day speaking with applicants and vetting them. Her insurance career has spanned 32 years, starting in a large agency as Commercial Lines Manager and Account Executive and then AVP of Commercial Underwriting for a carrier.
Elizabeth KordekPlacement Specialist
With a background in psychology, it is not surprising that Elizabeth knows how to help people. She has held a variety of positions ranging from Property & Casualty Account Manager to heading up the company’s Learning & Development team. She is P&C licensed and works from her home in Chicago.
Retiring Talent Account Manager
Lorrie is our head detective. She finds our industry’s retiring talent while working from her home in New York. She had a 20-year career with a national insurance staffing firm managing a staff of recruiters and helping many insurance firms fill their staffing needs. Lorrie worked 10 years for a large insurance carrier.
Dana McKoewnRelationship Manager
Dana brings a breadth of relationship management experience having worked for both an agency and carriers during her 30 plus year career. As a Field & Underwriting Manager, she worked with over 40 agencies before becoming Operations Manager for a retail broker. Dana works from her home in Florida.
Rick MorganSr. Vice President of Marketing
Rick, who lives in CO, is our branding guru and keeps us in the media. He is as one of the industry’s leading marketing and branding experts and has been named by the Insurance Media Association as one of the "100 Most Powerful People in Insurance in North America." He is also an active participant in ACT.
Julie NardonePlacement Specialist
Julie has been successfully matching and placing people at positions in the insurance industry for more than 15 years. With her background at various insurance firms in underwriting, claims and rating, she knows how to match the right person to the right assignment as she works from her home in Minnesota.
Julie PettyPlacement Specialist
With her sixteen-plus years of progressive staffing insurance industry experience, Julie is adept at understanding the key skills and the requisite knowledge needed to place people in the right job. She began her career at a retail agency. Julie works out of her home office in Michigan.
Kim PhippsPlacement Specialist
Kim is a pro at matching wahves to our client’s job needs from her home in North Carolina. With more than 25 years in the commercial insurance industry, she is a veteran insurance professional whose carrier experience includes underwriter, operations supervisor and management consultant.
William (Bill) RyanCFO
Bill is like a mother hen who watches over our finances from his home office in CT. What else would you expect from a Marine? His career spans more than 30 years, presiding over the growth of American Phoenix, a company that grew to more than 650 employees and seven hundred million of premium sales.
Neil SchwanReference Check Specialist
It takes a skilled person to do a great reference check and no one does it better than Neil. After retiring as a principal in his own independent insurance agency in PA, Neil joined the WAHVE team and moved to Florida. With a 40 year insurance career, Neil has held various teaching positions in the industry.
Chrissy TadlockOffice Manager
Chrissy is the glue that holds us all together. She runs a crackerjack operation from her home office in Las Vegas and keeps all the lines of communication flowing. She is a highly experienced office manager having run large complex businesses, including insurance, staffing and hospitality.
Delcie ThibaultPlacement Team Manager
Delcie is the consummate matchmaker and chief cook and bottle washer for the placement team, which she manages from her home in CT. With her long career in Human Resources, Public Relations and Journalism, she knows how to listen. She also holds a Certificate in Human Resource Management.
Our advisory board
Meet our group of strategic thinkers
Richard (Dick) A. Poppa
Richard Poppa is well-known as a key figure in the insurance industry. He is president and chief executive officer of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York (IIABNY). In this role, he serves as the chief staff executive of IIABNY and its subsidiaries. Prior to his role with IIABNY, he served as senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (1989-1996), executive vice president of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Indiana (1986-1989) and as administrative vice president of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of California (1984-1985). Poppa is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and an Accredited Advisor in Insurance (AAI).
Poppa has received many recognitions for his contributions to the insurance industry, including: the Association Executive of the Year by the Indiana Society of Association Executives (1989), the Empire State Society of Association Executives (ESSAE) Distinguished Member of the Year Award (2007), three-time IIABA Chairman’s/President’s Award winner, IIABNY’s Distinguished Service Award, Miller College of Business’s Award of Distinction (2012), and the 1882 Fellow Award. Poppa was named Insurance Person of the Year in 2010 by the Tri-County Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Association.
Martin L.Vaughan III (Mell)
Martin Vaughan has more than 40 years of leadership experience in the insurance industry. From 2003 to 2008, Vaughan served as Chairman and CEO of Hilb, Rogal and Hamilton Company (HRH), the world’s eighth largest insurance intermediary. He negotiated the acquisition of HRH by Willis in 2008, which was considered one of the biggest deals in decades and was valued at $2.1 billion. Vaughan had served as President and Chief Operating Officer of HRH from 1999 to 2003, before he took on the role of Chairman and CEO. Vaughan had joined HRH when they acquired his company American Phoenix Corporation, of which he was president and CEO. He led integration efforts between American Phoenix Corporation and HRH and later spearheaded HRH’s Best Practices initiative. Before joining American Phoenix in 1990, he was president of the retail division of Poe & Associates, an insurance agency into which he had merged his own agency in 1976. He is a graduate of Jacksonville University.
Cynthia Hardy Young
Known for her a strong reputation in the insurance industry, Cynthia Young has held many leadership positions over the course of her career. Young is currently the CEO & founder of Pivot Global Partners, a boutique management consulting firm with global reach, specializing in operational improvement in innovation. From 2012 to 2014, she served as global head of agency at Chartis Insurance/AIG, where she focused on consumer and small commercial business written through intermediaries worldwide. Young was is also the former president of Encompass Insurance from 2005 to 2011, a $2.5-billion division of Allstate Insurance that sells personal lines products countrywide through two brands. Prior to joining Encompass, Young’s has also held executive roles including serving as president of the personal lines division of Hanover Insurance Group and vice president of product management and personal lines for The Hartford. Young, a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana, earned her Juris Doctorate from the Notre Dame School of Law.
Young has been recognized with Diversity MBA Magazine’s “Top 100 Executives and Emerging Leaders Under 50” award and Career FOCUS Magazine’s National Eagle Leadership award. She also was named among “100 Women to Watch” by Diversity Journal.
Beth Polish is an experienced, dynamic leader with a strong track record of providing vision and delivering results, and a proven talent for getting to the essence of business opportunities. She most recently She has served as president of the Critical Junctures Group since 2001. Among her many accomplishments, Polish created and led Hearst Corporate Innovation, with the twin mandates of producing new growth opportunities based on ideas from within Hearst – one of the nation’s largest media, information and service companies – and fostering a company-wide culture of innovation. Polish has held senior positions in media, finance, private investment, and technology and is a frequent speaker at various conferences. Beth has a BA in Anthropology from F&M and received her MBA from Harvard Business School.
Over the last 25 years, Leslie Grossman has brought her unique knowledge and experience as a marketer, entrepreneur and business development strategist to help CEOs and entrepreneurs grow their businesses into multimillion dollar enterprises. Grossman chairs CEO advisory boards for Vistage International, the world’s largest CEO organization. As creator and co-founder of Women’s Leadership Exchange (WLE) she produced 85 conferences reaching more than 65,000 women leaders and entrepreneurs from 2001 to 2010. Previously, she was president of the integrated marketing agency CMA, which was known for its breakthrough strategies for companies such as American Express, Platinum Guild International, Northwestern Mutual, North Fork Bank and others. Author of two books: LINK OUT (Wiley, 2013) and SELLsation! (2005), Grossman facilitates groups, trains, coaches and consults on leadership and business development strategies.
Sheldon Czapnik has been a writer, editor, and a top executive in the publishing field for over more than 30 years. Czapnik currently works with publishers and other executives to write and develop books. Czapnik was director of editorial services at Time Inc., the largest magazine publisher in the United States, from 1996 to 2001. In that role, he was responsible for managing and monetizing all of Time Inc.’s text and picture assets. He transformed antiquated, paper-driven, reactive cost centers into one vigorous, entrepreneurial, high-tech revenue-producing division. Czapnik conceived and editorially directed Time Inc.’s custom publishing business, with over more than $60 million a year in revenue; developed award-winning digital system for making Time Inc.’s image archive available on-line; created an award-winning “virtual” Research Center, cutting costs by several million dollars a year and also generating millions in revenue; opened a photo lab and other retail outlets; and conceived and produced photo books, including the best-selling LIFE: Our Century in Pictures, which sold 700,000 copies and generated over $20 million in sales.