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CA Department of Insurance

Climate Insurance Working Group Members

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With California communities increasingly exposed to climate change-related threats, Commissioner Ricardo Lara wrote the nation’s first climate insurance law, passed by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor in 2018 (SB 30 (2017-2018)),  to explore innovative strategies that reduce the risk. He has appointed a working group of environmental advocates, public policy experts,  researchers, and insurance experts that will make recommendations to reduce the threat from wildfires, floods, mudflows, urban high heat, sea-level rise and other issues facing our state. 


California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, Department of Insurance
Commissioner Ricardo Lara

Commissioner Ricardo Lara has a long record as one of California’s most effective environmental champions, passing laws that promote innovation and investment in clean air, embrace equity, protect our waters from oil drilling, and keep California at the forefront of confronting global climate change. He wrote the nation’s first climate insurance law to engage the insurance industry in the fight against climate-linked environmental disasters like wildfires and sea level rise. Commissioner Lara received the 2017 U.N. Climate and Clean Air Award with California Governor Jerry Brown for his groundbreaking work to create California’s short-lived climate pollutant strategy.

Alice C. Hill, Senior Fellow, Energy and the Environment at the Council on Foreign Relations
Alice Hill

Alice C. Hill is the David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her work at CFR focuses on the risks, consequences, and responses associated with climate change. Hill previously served as special assistant to President Barack Obama and senior director for resilience policy on the National Security Council staff where she led the development of national policy to build resilience to catastrophic risks, including climate change and biological threats. Prior to this, Hill served as senior counselor to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in which she led the formulation of DHS’s first-ever climate adaptation plan and the development of strategic plans regarding catastrophic biological and chemical threats, including pandemics. Earlier in her career, she was a supervising judge on both the Los Angeles Municipal and Superior Courts as well as a federal prosecutor and chief of the white-collar crime unit at the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, California. Oxford University Press published her coauthored book, Building a Resilient Tomorrow, in 2019. She currently serves on the boards of the Environmental Defense Fund and Munich Re Group’s U.S.-based companies. In 2020, Yale University and the Op-Ed Project awarded her the Public Voices Fellowship on the Climate Crisis. Hill’s new book, The Fight For Climate After COVID-19, will be published in summer 2021. 

Butch Bucani, United Nations, Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative
Butch Bacani

Butch Bacani leads UN Environment’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative (PSI). The PSI serves as a global framework for the insurance industry to address environmental, social and governance issues—as risk managers, insurers and investors—and a global initiative to strengthen the industry’s contribution to building resilient, inclusive and sustainable communities and economies. Butch leads PSI activities supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Financial Stability Board’s climate risk disclosure recommendations (TCFD). 

Jorge Ramos, Associate Director, Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, Stanford University
California Climate Insurance Working Group

Dr. Jorge Ramos earned a PhD at Arizona State University, focusing his research on freshwater and coastal environments and quantifying the potential for greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide from constructed wetlands. Prior to starting his position at Stanford University, Dr. Ramos was the Manager of the Blue Climate team in the Center for Oceans at Conservation International in Washington D.C., a role in which he helped develop, implement, and manage coastal community conservation projects and teams worldwide. 

Starla Yeh, Director, Policy Analysis Group, Climate and Clean Energy Program
Starla Yeh

Starla Yeh focuses primarily on climate policy, especially the formulation of standards for carbon pollution from power plants. She previously worked at NRDC’s Center for Market Innovation, where she modeled the effects of emission standards on the nation’s coal-generation fleet and explored strategies making our energy systems more efficient. 

Raghuveer Vinukollu, Senior Vice President, Natural Catastrophe Solutions, Munich Re
Raghuveer Vinukollu

Raghuveer Vinukollu is a Senior Vice President for Natural Catastrophe Solutions at Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. (“Munich Re”) based in Princeton, New Jersey. He is a member of the Strategic Products team and leads the Nat Cat Solutions group focusing on development of innovative products designed to cover various natural catastrophe exposures, either through traditional reinsurance structures or private label approaches. Prior to joining Munich Re, Raghuveer began his reinsurance career as a Natural Hazard specialist, developing probabilistic models for Flood and Storm Surge perils. He later transitioned to the Facultative Programs unit as a Property Reinsurance Underwriter. Raghuveer has a PhD in land surface hydrology. 

Louis Blumberg, Principal of Blumberg West Consulting
Louis Blumberg

Louis Blumberg works in California, Washington DC and Europe to advance climate policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help communities address extreme heat and other escalating impacts of climate change. Previously, Louis was the Director of the California Climate Change Program at The Nature Conservancy working to advance natural climate solutions. In addition, Louis served on the Technical Advisory Group to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, as a member of the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resilience Program, and as deputy director of external affairs for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. 

Carolyn Kousky, Executive Director, Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
California Climate Insurance Working Group

Dr. Carolyn Kousky is Executive Director at the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also directs the Policy Incubator. Dr. Kousky’s research has examined multiple aspects of disaster insurance markets, the National Flood Insurance Program, federal disaster aid and response, and policy responses to potential changes in extreme events with climate change. She has published numerous articles, reports, and book chapters on the economics and policy of natural disasters and disaster insurance markets, and is routinely cited in media outlets including NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fortune, CBS News, and Business Insurance, among others. She is the recipient of the 2013 Tartufari International Prize from the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. Dr. Kousky was a member of the National Research Council Committee on Analysis of Costs and Benefits of Reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program and is a visiting Fellow at Resources for the Future. 

Katelyn Roedner Sutter, Senior Manager for U.S. Climate, Environmental Defense Fund
Katelyn Roedner Sutter

Katelyn Roedner Sutter focuses on advancing policies that establish and implement long-term greenhouse gas emission reductions and improve local air quality. She was directly involved in California’s cap-and-trade program extension in 2017. Prior to her role leading EDF’s efforts, Katelyn worked in the San Joaquin Valley with environmental justice and faith communities on local air quality and land use issues. 

Lloyd Dixon, Senior Economist at the RAND Corporation and Director of RAND’s Kenneth R. Feinberg Center for Catastrophic Risk Management and Compensation
Image of Lloyd Dixon

Lloyd Dixon is a Senior Economist at the RAND Corporation and Director of RAND’s Kenneth R. Feinberg Center for Catastrophic Risk Management and Compensation. He has expertise on insurance, compensation, and liability 79 Protecting Communities, Preserving Nature and Building Resiliency: How First-of-its-Kind Climate Insurance Will Help Combat the Costs of Wildfires, Extreme Heat, and Floods issues. Dr. Dixon has completed a number of studies on the National Flood Insurance Program, most recently examining the cost and affordability of flood insurance in New York City. He has written on wind insurance markets along the Gulf Coast and examined the impacts of wildfire risk on the homeowners insurance market for California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment. He is currently examining the insurance practices of state and local government regarding public buildings and was recently appointed to the governing board of California Earthquake Authority. 

Kristen Pawling, Sustainability Program Director, Los Angeles County Chief Sustainability Office
Kristen Pawling

As Sustainability Program Director, Ms. Pawling is overseeing the climate, air quality, housing, land use, and transportation policy areas. Previously, she advocated on climate and urban planning issues at the Natural Resources Defense Council and served in the Chair’s Office at the California Air Resources Board. Kristen earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography and environmental studies and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from UCLA. 

Sona Mohnot, Associate Director of Climate Equity, Greenlining Institute
Climate Insurance Working Group

Sona Mohnot is an Associate Director of Climate Equity at the Greenlining Institute, a statewide racial and economic justice public policy organization based in Oakland. Growing up in New Orleans, she experienced the environmental injustices that communities of color faced after disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the B.P. oil spill. Sona Mohnot on creating equitable climate adaptation and resilience strategies to ensure that communities hit first and worst by climate disasters have the resources and support needed to adapt to a changing climate. She was the lead author of Making Equity Real in Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience Policies and Programs, a guidebook for policymakers on how to meaningfully embed equity in resilience efforts. Sona also serves as a council member on the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program (ICARP), out of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. She holds a J.D. from Tulane School of Law and her LL.M in Natural Resources and Environmental Law from Lewis and Clark Law School. 

Michelle Passero, Director, California Climate Program, The Nature Conservancy
Michelle Passero

Michelle Passero is the Climate Change Program Director for The Nature Conservancy, California office. She has extensive experience working in land conservation and environmental law and policy. Currently, Ms. Passero is leading The Nature Conservancy’s climate policy efforts to ensure successful implementation of California’s landmark climate policies. Ms. Passero’s recent work includes projects in Merced County, California, developing Greenhouse Gas project standards published by the World Resources Institute and World Business Council for Sustainable Development. 

Kathy Baughman McLeod, Director, Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center at the Atlantic Council
Kathy Baughman McCleod

Kathy Baughman McLeod built and leads the Center’s strategy to achieve their goal of reaching one billion people worldwide with resilience solutions to the challenges of climate impacts, migration, and human security by 2030. With a global team with diverse and deep expertise, the Center has quickly built an action-oriented portfolio of initiatives to address the risks and impacts of climate-driven extreme heat to vulnerable communities. In her prior role as managing director, Climate Risk & Resilience, for The Nature Conservancy, she created, with Swiss Re, an insurance policy for a stretch of the Mesoamerican reef in Mexico, now in its third year of coverage. The policy triggered in October 2020 and provided capital to train and pay local teams clean and repair the reef. Kathy now serves on the Board of the Coastal Zone Management Trust Fund that governs the program. She also served as deputy chief of staff to Florida’s Chief Financial Officer. 

Michael Lynes, Director of Public Policy, Audubon Society, California
Michael Lynes

Michael Lynes is the Director of Public Policy for Audubon California, the state office of the National Audubon Society. He joined Audubon California in 2014 to lead its efforts on statewide policy, focusing on issues related to water management, habitat and biodiversity conservation, and climate change. Michael served as the Conservation Director for the Golden Gate Audubon Society from 2008 until 2012 and as its Executive Director in 2013. From 2004 to 2005, Michael was an associate at the law offices of Andrew L. Packard, where he practiced environmental and water law. Prior to law school, Michael was a biologist with Point Blue Conservation Science. 

Dan Firger, Co-Founder, Great Circle Capital Advisors
California Climate Insurance Working Group

Daniel Firger is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Great Circle Capital Advisors, an investment and strategic consultancy firm focused on accelerating the transition of capital markets to a net zero, climate-resilient future. Firger works with leading investors, think tanks and philanthropies to develop innovative strategies and partnerships that support rapid decarbonization and resilience across multiple asset classes and geographies. From 2014-19, he managed global climate and sustainable finance programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies, where he also supported Michael R. Bloomberg in his role as Chairman of the Financial Stability Board Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). 

Rex Frazier, President, Personal Insurance Federation of California
Rex Frazier

Rex Frazier represents PIFC’s member companies before the California State government and provides advice on legislative, regulatory, litigation and political matters. He previously held the position of Vice President General Counsel of PIFC. Prior to joining PIFC, Mr. Frazier was an attorney in Los Angeles with the law firm of Pillsbury Madison Sutro, focusing on insurance and banking issues. Mr. Frazier previously served as Deputy Insurance Commissioner with the California Department of Insurance as well as legislative staff in the California State Assembly.

Emeritus Members

Serena Sowers, Vice President, Public Sector Solutions North America, Swiss Re
Serena Sowers

Serena Sowers is a Vice President at Swiss Re, who focuses on creating insurance-based solutions to critical global challenges, including natural catastrophes, climate change, healthcare, food security, infrastructure, and longevity. Serena works with government entities at the federal, state, and local levels to identify risks and develop risk transfer options. Serena is passionate about building strong and resilient communities by enabling individuals, governments, and businesses to plan for and recover quickly from shocks and stressors. 

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