Notable Women in Insurance – December 2021
These women help individuals and companies procure insurance for themselves, their homes, their businesses.
The leaders profiled in the following pages were nominated by their peers at work and in the community and showcase the diversity of talent in our market. The leadership shown by the individuals profiled here is setting an example to shape a better future for our region.
METHODOLOGY: The honorees did not pay to be included. Their profiles were drawn from nomination materials. This list features only individuals for whom nominations were submitted and accepted after a review by our editorial team. To qualify for the list, nominees must be employed at companies in the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado.
To nominate for future Notables, click here.
Strategic business manager
Years in industry: 1
College, university: Colorado State University
Marissa Banninga joined PFS Insurance Group in November 2020 as the marketing manager. “Marissa’s background in luxury automotive marketing and high-end customer experience has been beneficial in helping PFS redefine what a premium insurance experience is for our clients,” said PFS president Dave Janssen.
“A key component to improving the client experience has been transitioning PFS Insurance into a digital agency. Marissa has championed and led implementation of new technologies to streamline the application process for our clients. She has also helped launch the PFS Insurance Online Client Portal that gives our clients the ability to access their commercial and personal insurance documents 24/7.
“Marissa has been working on modernizing the PFS brand to reflect the bold changes that are happening within the agency. A new PFS Insurance website will be launching by the end of the year with the branding refresh. In May of 2021, Marissa was promoted to strategic business manager as her role expanded to include HR. Marissa has helped bring a more vibrant culture to PFS by facilitating meetings that allow for open communication between employees and hosting events that allow employees to get to know each other on a personal level.”
Banninga is a member of the Junior League of Fort Collins. She currently serves on the Hunger Initiative Committee, delivering snacks from the Larimer County Food Bank to local schools so students don’t have to learn on an empty stomach.
“Marissa comes to work every day with a smile on her face and a positive attitude. She believes that all things are possible if you set your mind to it and put a plan in place. She is a collaborative leader who prides herself on getting to know everyone on her team on a personal and professional level,” Janssen said.
Private risk adviser
Years in industry: 10
“As a board member of the Women’s Fund of Weld County and most importantly donor relations, Barbara Campbell helps meet the goal to fund programs that support the needs of women and girls in Weld County. It has two events per year, and Barbara was responsible for generating the most sponsorship opportunities and funds for the spring event of 2021,” said co-worker Abbey Steger.
“Currently, Barbara is in the process of obtaining her certification as a Chartered Private Risk and Insurance Adviser (CPRIA). This certification will set Barbara apart from other advisers in that she can provide education, analyze exposures and provide solutions for those in the high net worth universe.
“She is in her fifth year at PFS Insurance Group and has continually exceeded yearly goals and continues to grow the personal lines book of business. Each year brings new challenges, but Barbara continues to overcome and solidify her place in this market,” Steger said.
“As a member of both the Women’s Fund of Weld County and CREW, she is part of two great non-profit organizations that support women in business in Northern Colorado. The opportunities to connect with other women in business are phenomenal and the exposure in the community is immense.
“Barbara attributes her success to several factors. She is very detail oriented, takes pride in responding to a client or potential client within 24 hours, continues to expand her knowledge through education and certifications and truly loves what she does. Barbara’s role as an adviser is to identify a risk and provide a solution. Insurance is simply a way to finance that solution. She is a member of the Private Risk Management Association, which provides helpful information, connections and member benefits for professional and personal growth.”
Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency
Senior underwriting specialist
Years in industry: 39
College, university: Austin College
“Debbie’s partnership makes risk management easy. Her can-do attitude is contagious. She brings a proven track record of providing the guidance, insight, and tools necessary to reduce risk and increase premiums while securing individuals’ and organizations’ assets,” said Amber Garrett, executive assistant with the city of Wheat Ridge.
“Debbie is happy to help all of her clients in Northern Colorado and throughout the state. She is always available to answer questions and explain things to make sense to all levels of the organization. Due to the current climate, cybersecurity coverage is crazy-expensive; Debbie has been instrumental in getting options for the city.
“I appreciate that Debbie takes the time to review the recent changes to our policy when I call. I know that when I call Debbie I can count on her to have the answers to my questions. If she can’t answer the questions she knows who to transfer me to so I can get the answer. I am blessed to have her as a business partner. She is an amazing asset to CIRSA and the insurance industry.”
Years in industry: 25
“Marie [DeWolf] is a very reputable insurance agent and knows everything there is about insurance and best plans for her clients,” said friend and nominator Kim Kuxhausen, a loan officer with Arnett & DeVoe Mortgage.
“She is very caring and cares about each of her customers to make sure she is getting them the best plans. She is very versed and knowledgeable about all products and especially Medicare.
“I appreciate working with her because if she does not know the answer to a question, she will research it and get back to me. She has been in the insurance business for 25 years and is always doing more of the education that is required to renew her license. She has seen the many changes that are occurring all the time and keeps up with the changes to help her clients.
Kuxhausen said that DeWolf has been involved with the Loveland Chamber of Commerce and the Loveland Rotary Club as a volunteer. “I know that she has also been involved in several committees through the insurance providers and sharing her knowledge with others. I would trust Marie with all my insurance needs.”
Years in industry: 23
“Tina [Galindo] has been in the insurance industry for more than 22+ years and has a wealth of knowledge in all things insurance related. She has experience running her own agency as well as working for larger corporate entities. These experiences are then shared and leveraged within Union Colony, and Tina enjoys taking the time necessary to help train others in the agency,” said her daughter-in-law Lindsey Galindo.
“She is well-known and highly respected in the Greeley community and being bi-lingual allows her to assist more clients in our community. Putting her customers first and going above and beyond for them is what she does best. Since working at Union Colony, she has grown production at the agency significantly, is the top performer and has won several internal/company awards.
“She assists with blood-drives for the agency, participates in Union Colony’s Charity of the Quarter Program, and prior to COVID, participated in community events such as Cinco de Mayo.
Agency owner, insurance agent
Years in industry: 7
College, university: University of California Santa Barbara
“Jennifer Harms, through dedication and determination, works to build her Fort Collins insurance agency to qualify for elite status within the Allstate corporation. In the past year and a half, not only has Harms Agency continued its commitment to quality community relationships and excellent insurance products to the Northern Colorado community, but also the company has expanded the office team to better serve individuals as they negotiate insurance solutions,” said Mary Elizabeth Lenahan, artistic director at Dance Express.
“The team offers personal, customized service. Ms. Harms is dedicated to supporting local non-profits and goes the extra mile to seek matching dollars from the Allstate Foundation. She advocates for and supports area nonprofits, such as Respite Care, Hope Lives, and Dance Express.
“As a member of the Fort Collins Board of Realtors, Northern Colorado Community, and Collindale 2 Homeowners Association, Jennifer shares her leadership skills for problem-solving, accountability, focus on details, and objective assessment. Even through the worst of times and the best of times, Jennifer believes in her company, her staff, and herself to make a positive difference in her chosen community. As she says, ‘I love our Northern Colorado Community!’”
Licensed bilingual producer
Years in industry: 10
College, university: Jose Matias University, El Salvador; University of Nevada, Las Vegas
“As executive director of the Investment Community of the Rockies, ICOR, I have had the experience of working with Eve [Hoelzel] as both a client and becoming a strategic partner of our membership as a subject matter expert and service provider. I say this with all sincerity: Eve is, without question, one of the hardest-working people in the investment side of the real estate industry,” said colleague Troy Miller.
“Last year, it was brought to my attention that Eve was not only the top producing agent in the state of Colorado but ranking very high on a national level. I believe that these accolades represent not only her work ethic but also her commitment to serve and provide what is best for the commercial real estate investor in terms of coverage.
“I find remarkable her willingness and ability to provide education and information for her clients to make informed decisions, positioning her as a vital team member for the ICOR membership. Her ongoing communication and advocacy serve as a reminder as to the commitment to a client-first business model. Eve frequently speaks about her life goal to teach her children, and children in general, about business and money management with the hope of building a solid foundation in financial literacy.
“Eve firmly believes that exposure to such a subject helps drive entrepreneurship, and community investment will become more widespread since financial literacy is omitted from early education. Her vision is to make way for the next generation to be self-responsible and self-driven. As a single mother of two, an immigrant, and a successful business leader, I believe Eve Hoelzel is most deserving of this award based upon her accomplishments and success as an insurance professional.”
Years in industry: 25
College, university: Regis University
Shanna Jamsay graduated from Regis University and started her insurance career in 1997 at Madison Insurance Group. She worked for the agency for five years, got married and moved to Greeley where she continued to pursue her insurance career. She specialized in commercial insurance ranging from mid to large size companies, said Megan Ferguson, deputy executive director of the Impact Development Fund.
“Shanna is now back at Madison Insurance Group and views her career as an insurance consultant to her clients. Anyone can sell on price, but her goal is to be sure her clients know what their insurance program covers and that it’s covered properly. Shanna is married to her husband Jim, and they are raising three children. Shanna enjoys the outdoors with her family in activities such as camping, hiking and fishing. She also has a passion for running and enjoys half and full marathons.
“Shanna has been instrumental in developing quality insurance packages for businesses and consumers alike. She takes the time to fully understand her clients, their needs, and creates policies that accurately reflect the risk coverage needed for piece of mind.”
Years in industry: 17
College, university: University of Denver
“I have had the pleasure of knowing Anne since she became a State Farm agent in 2005. She has always been a profitable agent for the company and very well liked by her clients. None of this surprised me,” said Micki Larson, a retired agent.
“Anne was president of her DU class all four years. She was the youngest manager ever hired by United Airlines. She really rose to the challenge of being on a United plane on 911 and making some critically important decisions on that day and in the following days. She is very active in her community, and has been a sponsor of Sister Carmen Charities, Peak to Peak school, the Rocky Mountain Center for Musical Arts, and the WOW children’s museum, as well as the Denver Children’s Museum.
“She will tell you her greatest accomplishments are her three precious children. I am proud to nominate Anne for this award. She is a truly exceptional woman.”
Years in industry: 30
“Brandi [Markley] goes above and beyond. She is diligent in meeting the needs of the client by talking with the client to identify the needs and then determines which companies to engage for quotes,” said client Sueann Swetzig.
“At that point she gives the client options to make choices. Brandi investigates the fine details so the client is informed and can make decisions with clarity.
“Brandi is kind, accessible and has a great deal of integrity. She has set up systems for easy communication via many avenues, which lessens the need to go to her office or be in person. She is involved in community groups and enjoys time with her family. She is not only an agent but has become a friend over the years of our relationship.
“I recommend Brandi to anyone looking for insurance; she is the go-to person for all levels of insurance, be it personal, professional and commercial.”
HUB International Insurance Services
Senior vice president, Colorado construction practice leader
Years in industry: 32
College, university: Central Wyoming College
Nikki Mosbrucker is the practice leader for the Colorado construction and energy group for HUB International in Colorado and Utah. She has been in the insurance business for more than 30 years and during that time has concentrated on construction, energy, and health care.
“She has been privileged to work with small, start-up construction companies as well as multi-million general contractors with international exposure,” said Nick Roe, a HUB vice president and co-worker.
“Nikki has extensive knowledge in the construction field. Her specialties include program design for commercial and residential contractors, wrap-up programs, wrap-up administration, builders risk, professional liability, environmental risks, and workers compensation. Nikki has obtained the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), Construction Risk Insurance Specialist (CRIS), and Commercial Insurance Service Rep (CISR) designations. She is also a member of several professional and community organizations.
“Along with her duties to protect and help HUB’s construction clients, both nationally and locally, she also develops, mentors and leads her team of construction industry specialists here in Colorado and Utah. Nikki also serves on the executive management team for the HUB Colorado Region and is also the Northern Colorado office leader. She is also a key stakeholder and subject matter expert for HUB’s National Construction Practice Specialty Group.”
Years in industry: 11
College, university: Aims Community College
“I am nominating Gabriela Munoz as a notable woman in insurance. Gabriela gives her time and her skills to anyone who asks. She is committed to not only doing great in her industry but also helping her community,” said Alicia Johnson, an Evans City Council member and friend.
“She is a professional, mentor, mother, and wife, and in all those roles, you witness her love for helping people.”
Munoz is the agent and owner of Aztlan Insurance. She began as a receptionist and became owner within five years of being with the company.
“Gabriela inherited the entire book of business that carried 300 clients based locally, but Aztlan was struggling when she took over ownership. As the new business owner and agent, she had to prove herself to keep her appointments, and she did by growing the agency. She has grown Aztlan to 4,700 clients statewide and credits her success to the work ethic her family has instilled in her.
“With more than 11 years of experience under her belt, she understands the needs of the people she serves. Gabriela has a proven track record of building strong relationships with insurance companies and growing a business along the way by providing a high level of customer service. She also makes time to give back to her community through charitable giving and by donating her time.”
Years in industry: 10
College, university: Colorado State University
“I have known Sarah and her husband, Jason, for a long time. They work well as a team in the insurance and financial planning arena,” said Rayno Seaser, managing partner of Foti & Foti LLC.
“Country Insurance has many platforms and programs available to help us. Sarah does a great job explaining the merits of each and how they help the consumer. I was with various other insurance companies and financial planners for a long time. Once Sarah and Jason approached me about Country and what they had to offer as a company and as agents, I was amazed. I switched all my accounts to them and have never looked back. They answer questions within a matter of hours, perform claims service in a kind, fast and personal way. I wish all service providers were as knowledgeable as Sarah.
“I could not be more impressed by an agent. She balances work, family, community service and personal life with much grace. She exemplifies all that is good.”
Years in industry: 6
“Heather Salvador has been part of our team for six years. She had no prior experience in the insurance or financial services industry,” said Eric Weedin, her supervisor.
“During this time, she has gone from being a receptionist, to getting licensed, selling personal lines insurance, to her current position as a commercial account manager. She is currently pursuing the Certified Insurance Service Representative designation from The National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research. She has continued to pursue certifications and designations to learn her craft to the best of her ability.
“She manages several key accounts for the agency. Our agency continually receives feedback that Heather is the best part of the Weedin Agency. This is a remarkable accomplishment for someone working at a 65-year-old agency,” Weedin said.
“Every day, her contagious energy and attitude help shape the culture and direction of the agency’s day. She is constantly asking questions, helping establish new standards, and performing at an extremely high level.”
Chief operating officer
Years in industry: 18
College, university: Indiana Wesleyan University
“Whitney [Shupe] has made a significant impact not only within our company but within the industry as whole. Whitney has spearheaded many recent initiatives including updating our hiring and onboarding processes and creating a performance-based incentive program. This has increased employee satisfaction as well as improving our turnover rate,” said Sabrina Nowling, director of marketing and communications for Flood and Peterson.
“Whitney has strategically driven F&P to integrate technology to enhance the client experience and improve operational efficiency. She has implemented a standardized and digitized proposal mechanism, which has increased efficiency and provided a more uniform client experience. Most recently she has led us through a conversion to a cloud-based environment to transform and achieve greater growth. This has allowed us to minimize our upfront IT costs and allows our applications to run faster with improved manageability and less maintenance.
“Whitney is most proud of her role in creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce. She has assisted in diversifying our leadership team and board while simultaneously closing the gender pay gap; this has led to a 15% improvement in employee retention and a greater sense of inclusivity within the organization.
“Most importantly, Whitney serves as a true mentor in our company, which has allowed other women to excel. Whitney’s leadership style and abilities as a one-on-one collaborative coach have allowed our employees to become more efficient, become better leaders and have truly impacted the F&P culture in a positive way,” Nowling said.
Shupe also participates in charity events including the Women’s Foundation as a PEP member, Stout Street Foundation, Thirst, Precious Child and the Food Bank. She is a financial sponsor for One Colorado, Shiloh Home, Restore Innocence and the Weld County Food Bank. “Her focus in these endeavors is to bring support to women and children, at risk youth, drug and alcohol treatment and at risk LGBTQ,” Nowling said.
Partner, commercial risk adviser
Years in industry: 8
College, university: University of Colorado Boulder
“Abbey Steger is a trailblazer in the commercial insurance industry. On Oct. 1, Abbey became the first woman to have an ownership stake in PFS Insurance Group,” said Marissa Banninga, strategic business manager for PFS.
“In addition to becoming partner this year, Abbey has successfully closed some very notable construction accounts that she has been working on getting for years. Abbey has also been an advocate for adopting new agency technology to help better serve PFS clients.
“Abbey is driven to help other women succeed. Abbey is the president elect of the Northern Colorado chapter of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) for 2022. The mission of CREW is to transform the commercial real estate industry by advancing women globally. Through her involvement in CREW she has been able to build genuine relationships with other influential women in business that has led to creating beneficial business relationships.
“Abbey leads by example. All of the account managers in the office thoroughly enjoy working with Abbey because of her professionalism, vast insurance knowledge, excellent communication skills, and keen eye for details. PFS is lucky to have her on the team.”
Years in industry: 23
College, university: University of St. Petersburg, Russia
Marina Volosov began her career in insurance and financial services in 1998 with Northwestern Mutual. She joined New York Life in 2004 and became a member of the Million Dollar Round Table in 2018 placing her in the top 2% of the industry in sales. She has also qualified for New York Life’s Executive Council 12 times.
“During the Great Recession, Marina joined Northern Colorado Networking Group with the mission to help people guide their careers during the turmoil of the recession. Her passion to help individuals get connected in the community and remain in the workforce drove her,” said her nominator, Roman Hubbard, executive partner at New York Life.
“She is currently on the board of directors for NOCONET and has given more than she has taken. She is the epitome of a lady and continues to have a passion to help people and a conviction for doing what’s right.”
Years in industry: 30
College, university: Columbia College
“Helen Wagner and her team have been providing a fantastic and inclusive customer experience in a faceless landscape. There is no other team of people I would recommend more highly in any field. I have had experience with many insurance companies, and how they handle clients and provider-facing efforts. What she and her team excel at is connecting with their customers,” said Dan Levin, general manager of Pellman’s Automotive.
“It often feels like the insurance company is a lumbering machine with no personality. Helen and her team create a space that the client has a voice and a place at the table. She cares deeply about her customers and their experience, and so does her team.
Lisa Pellman, vice president of Pellman’s Automotive, concurred. “She is the best insurance agent we have ever had. She really cares for us as people and is always looking out for our best interests. I feel like she does a great job at making sure that we have the coverage we need and doesn’t recommend anything that isn’t needed. I totally trust her advice.”
“Helen has always helped us get our problem remedied quickly and provides us with the information we need. She also has a wonderful calming manner. A few years back we had our passports and belongings stolen while we were in Spain. Helen was our first call.”
Years in industry: 25
College, university: University of Colorado
“Michelle Welsh has been a household name in Colorado insurance for 20 years. As the owner of the Welsh Agency, she has a team of 18 employees that performs at the highest level of excellence,” said Eric Rutherford, broker with WK Real Estate and a client of the Welsh Agency.
“Michelle started in her father’s insurance company before going on her own. She takes pride in the growth and development of her employees and has made her company into more of a family.
“She is the mother of two beautiful adults and one amazing grandson. She has a genuine heart for Boulder Voices for Children, a non-profit that helps kids in Boulder County who have been abused and neglected. She has sat on numerous boards in the past 10 years, including banking, HOA’s and housing associations.
“Finally, the main project she has been working on this past year is trying to help family, friends and staff feel safe, loved and heard. Everyone is experiencing something from the pandemic, so she is very cognizant of trying to be kind and understanding. This is who she is,” said Rutherford.
Years in industry: 36
College, university: Regis University
“I know Sharon Younie as my insurance agent as well as a fellow Rotarian,” said Judy Magara, owner of Colorado Blinds & Design.
“Sharon is very efficient as an insurance agent taking care of her client’s needs. She is also very active in community service. Our Loveland Mountain View Rotary Club helps with gardens with local schools and has a program called “Heroes Among Us” that gives scholarships to local students who submit essays about their “local hero.” Sharon is awesome.”