Speakers & Entertainment
Jim Abbott was born September 19, 1967, in Flint, Michigan without a right hand. He was an All-America hurler at Michigan, won the Sullivan Award in 1987, was the pitcher for the Gold Medal Olympic Team in 1988, and threw a 4-0 no-hitter for the New York Yankees versus Cleveland (September 4, 1993). Jim played for 10 seasons on four different teams and ended his big league playing career in 1999.
Abbott has worked with The Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) on several initiatives encouraging businesses to hire people with disabilities.
Today, in addition to often being a Guest Pitching Instructor during Spring Training for the Los Angeles Angels, Jim Abbott is a motivational speaker.
On A Personal Note
Jim lives in California with his wife, two children and their dog. His parents still live in Michigan. Jim and his family take the summer off each year to stay at the lake and visit with family and friends. Jim has a younger brother.
Charlie Berens - Comedian
Comedian, host, actor and Emmy-winning journalist, Charlie Berens, is a dynamic talent in the comedy world. Berens is the creator and star of the Manitowoc Minute. In 6 months, he transformed the viral video series into an hour-long variety show, selling out venues, sometimes within minutes. Charlie’s career extends beyond the Manitowoc Minute by creating content for Funny or Die, TBS Digital and Fox Sports 1, hosting shows for Fox, CBS Sports Network and Variety. Berens’ skill-set proves invaluable in a rapidly changing media landscape.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Berens has always had a love for satire. Growing up watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert inspired him to study journalism at the University of Wisconsin. As a junior he was hired by MTV to cover the presidential election. That began Berens’ unique blend of journalism and comedy.
After MTV, Berens hosted for the emerging comedy news platforms like OneMinuteNews and HyperVocal. He spent months on the road covering the presidential elections. In 2012, Tribune Media tapped Berens to host their late night comedic news show Nightcap. While at Nightcap, his then co-host Zuri Hall (E! News) wrote and produced sketch comedy. They would later use their experience in local news as inspiration for their scripted series Co-Anchor Confidential. In 2016, Berens sold the concept to LOL, a network partnership between Kevin Hart and Lionsgate.
In 2014, CBS Sports Network hired Berens to host the sports gameshow You’re So Money. Also in 2014, PMC (Variety, Deadline) made Berens the host of their comedy/entertainment news brand @Hollywood. From red carpets to Sundance to SXSW to Coachella, Berens has interviewed hundreds of celebrities, politicians, actors, and musicians.
In 2016, Berens turned his attention toward acting and developing his scripted shows. He found success at the Just For Laughs Festival where his Co-Anchor Confidential pitch was selected from 500 submissions. Hart then picked the series up at the JFL Pitch Panel.
Berens is regularly featured on Funny or Die. His comedic mashups, including “If Jack Dawson Was Really From Wisconsin,” have garnered more than 13 million views. Additionally, he performs stand-up around the Los Angeles area, and occasionally hosts events for Samsung and Variety.
Berens is currently on tour with the Manitowoc Minute Live. Additionally he releases a weekly Manitowoc Minute Facebook video often getting between 400,000-1 million views.
John is a Fellow and advisory board member of The Work Institute and a guest lecturer at the Fox School of Business at Temple University. In 2013, he was invited as a subject matter expert to participate in the Global Digital Innovation Initiative at the United Nations General Assembly. John is a co-author of the bestselling book Now You’re Thinking! and a research analyst of the 2014 EDA Trends in Executive Development Bench-mark Report. John is a power walker who lives in Pennsylvania with his generation X wife, Lisa and Generation Y son, Jack.
mALLORY cORNELL - IIAW
Mallory is the Vice President and Director of Risk Management for IIAW. Joining the team in April 2017, Mallory continues to build the risk management playbook within IIAW to provide additional resources, such as E&O audits, best practices and operational consultative services to members. Through innovative new practices, key risks will be identified and mitigated in a tailored fashion to meet your business needs. Mallory is passionate about risk management and the value it can bring to an organization, large or small.
Mallory holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Prior to joining IIAW, she worked for seven years within the global risk management space at Kimberly-Clark Corporation in Neenah, WI.
Rex Dachenbach, CPCU - West Bend Mutual
Senior Product Manager, P&C Underwriting
Rex is a Wisconsin native who enjoys beer, cheese, and P & C insurance, sometimes in that order. In his 40-year career, Rex focused on working with a diverse selection of accounts at four regional companies, rising to underwriting management at two of those companies.
His first love remains teaching and he has helped train many dozens of underwriters within those companies and hundreds of producers through Continuing Education courses he created.
Although primarily involved now with delivering continuing education, he actively consults internally on risks and coverages for NSI, the Specialty Lines division of West Bend Mutual. Rex also speaks at conventions for different industries about their insurance and legal exposures.
Rex obtained his CPCU designation in 1984 and has served many years on the CPCU Society Education Committee for the Dairyland Chapter; teaching a variety of insurance courses for property, liability, finance, as well as introductory classes. The types of accounts Rex has managed includes a wide range of risks from bookstores to nursing homes to zoos and beyond.
Lisa DeMichael, CPCU - Chubb
Senior Underwriter, Financial Lines
Sarah Campbell - CHubb
Executive Underwriter, Team Lead Financial Lines
David has more than 38 years of health plan administration experience. David has held management positions in claims, customer service, enrollment, provider contracting, marketing and sales. David gained his experience through employment at two major insurance companies, a Pharmacy Benefit Manager, and a large independent insurance agency.
David’s undergraduate degree is in Business Administration and Finance from Marquette University, he also holds a Certificate in Sales Management from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and is a graduate of the Certified Health Care Consultant (CHC) program at Purdue University and is a Registered Health Underwriter (RHU) and a Chartered Healthcare Consultant (ChHC) completing the courses of study from The American University in Pennsylvania.
Tad Cleveland, Vice President of Technical Services - WCRB
Tad Cleveland joined the WCRB in 2005 in the capacity of Audit and Inspection Manager. Currently the Vice President of Technical Services, he is responsible for the areas of Wisconsin Workers' Compensation Insurance Pool (WWCIP) administration, Inspection, Wisconsin Contractor's Premium Adjustment Program (WCPAP) and Ownership. Before joining the WCRB, Mr. Cleveland spent 19 years in the premium audit field working for Heritage Mutual, EBI Companies, and United Heartland. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Accounting from Iowa State University.
Melanie Lindseth - WCRB
Melanie started at the WCRB on a part time basis in 1979 while attending UW-Milwaukee. She came on full time in May of 1980. She has held many positions within the WCRB, all related to the many aspects of Experience Rating. She has taught several classes for the IIAW over the years.
Matt Banaszynski, CEO - IIAW
Matthew Banaszynski is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President of the Independent Insurance Agents of Wisconsin. Matt joined the IIAW in 2010. Matt currently serves on the Board of Directors for Trusted Choice. In addition, Matt serves as an Advisory Board Member for UW-Madison’s Center for Professional and Executive Development, Property and Casualty Advisory Committee for former Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner, Ted Nickel, and on the Finance and Policy Advisory Committee for Congressman Mike Gallagher.
Previously, he served on the Board of Directors for InVest and Governor Scott Walker’s Council on Financial Literacy. In addition, he has served on the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America's Strategic Planning Committee from 2013-2016 and as an Advisory Board Member for UW-Oshkosh's Center for Insurance and Risk Management.
In 2015 and 2017, Insurance Business America Magazine recognized Matt as one of the Young Guns, representing the "Best and Brightest in the insurance industry.... set to lead the industry for decades to come who are under 40."
In 2016, Insurance Business America Magazine again recognized Matt, but this time as one of the "HOT 100" which 'represents the best of the best the insurance industry has to offer and are true thought leaders and influencers in our industry'.
In 2017, Matt was recognized as the Young Gun of the Year. This accolade goes to the one new industry player who has excelled at pushing the envelope with innovation and growth, garnering industry’s attention and the respect of peers.
In 2018, Matt was again named to the Hot 100!
CEO, IMT Insurance
President, Integrity Insurance
SVP & COO, Society Insurance