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CA Department of Insurance

Election of new Insurance Diversity Task Force Chair and Vice-Chair

News: 2016 Press Release

For Release: June 3, 2016
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Email Inquiries: cdipress@insurance.ca.gov
Election of new Insurance Diversity Task Force Chair and Vice-Chair
Industry representatives, diverse business suppliers, and insurance experts come together to increase  diversity in the insurance industry

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced the new Chair and Vice-Chair of the 2016-2017 Insurance Diversity Task Force, Melanie Shelby and Linda Akutagawa. The Insurance Diversity Task Force was first established in 2012 and was created to make recommendations to the commissioner about increasing diversity in procurement and governing boards within the insurance industry.

"I am excited to begin work with this year's Task Force leadership, Chair Melanie Shelby and Vice-Chair Linda Akutagawa," said Commissioner Jones. "Both women are passionate and dedicated experts in the fields of supplier and governing board diversity, and we look forward to the talent, expertise, and leadership they will bring to our Initiative. I want to thank Melinda Guzman who served as our first Chair from 2012-2016 – her leadership has been vital in creating the strong foundation of the Initiative that we have today."

Commissioner Jones reappointed all Task Force members from the previous term, including Linda Akutagawa, Robin Billups, Danielle Beavers, Sal Peinado Jr., Craig Holden, Cathy Schwamberger, and Scott Syphax.

Since 2011, the Department of Insurance has conducted surveys of the nation's top insurers to understand whether they are purchasing goods and services from the state's minority-, women-, disabled veteran-, and LGBT-owned businesses.

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Media Notes:

Members of the Task Force include:

Linda Akutagawa is President and CEO of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP) where she is responsible for LEAP's strategic direction, sustainability, relationships, and collaborations, including its A+ Leadership Program which seeks to increase diversity on corporate boards. Akutagawa serves the Task Force as Vice-Chair and as an advocate/expert of governing board diversity.

Danielle K. Beavers is the Economic Equity Program Manager at The Greenlining Institute and is recognized as a diversity expert across many sectors. She advocates for a more diverse financial sector by leading Greenlining's work with the federal Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion. Beavers serves the Task Force as an advocate/representative for minority business enterprises.

Robin M. Billups is the Director of Business Development and Corporate Relations at the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) where she leads the organization's business development efforts in the West. Billups is a seasoned financial services executive and serves the Task Force as an advocate/representative for women business enterprises.

Janice P. Brown is the Owner and Founder of Brown Law Group, a leading Southern California litigation law firm. Brown also serves as an Executive Committee Member for the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF). Brown serves the Task Force as an advocate/representative for minority business enterprises.

Pat Fong Kushida is the President and CEO of the Sacramento Asian-Pacific Chamber of Commerce (SACC) and President and CEO of the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce where she assists ethnic minority-owned businesses that seek contract opportunities. Fong Kushida serves the Task Force as an advocate/representative for minority business enterprises.

Melinda Guzman is CEO of the Melinda Guzman Professional Corporation, a certified woman and Hispanic owned law firm. Guzman has previously served as the General Counsel for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce—where she was involved in the creation of supplier diversity programs within corporate America—and serves as an advocate/representative for women business enterprises.

Craig E. Holden is Partner & Chair of the National Commercial Litigation practice and Vice-Chair of the National Government Relations practice for the law firm of Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith LLP. Holden has been recognized for his efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and to increase access to legal services for people of modest means. Holden serves the Task Force as an advocate/expert of supplier diversity.

Ramon Jones is the Regional Vice President of Nationwide Insurance—the first and only insurer to have a representative on the inaugural Insurance Diversity Task Force—where he manages premium and distribution goals for the Nationwide brand in 10 western states, including California. He serves the Task Force as an insurance industry representative.

Michael G. Keeley is the President and CEO of MGK Risk and Insurance Services, specializing in commercial insurance broker and risk financing expertise. He has in-depth knowledge of increasing supply chain diversity and focuses on governing board diversity as a member of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. He serves the Task Force as a representative for diverse business owners.

Mark Morales is Vice President of the SBA Division of HomeStreet Bank and co-owner of Charles Jacobsen, Inc. – a certified LGBT Business Enterprise. He is the 2016 SBA Los Angeles District Office - Financial Services Champion of the Year. Morales serves as President of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and also works with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) to help with minority business certifications for the LGBT community. He serves on the Task Force as an advocate/representative for LGBT business enterprises.

Salvador Peinado, Jr. is the Sr. Supplier Diversity and Innovation Advisor at CSAA Insurance Exchange where he is responsible for developing and implementing CSAA's Supplier Sourcing programs, which include Supplier Diversity, Innovation, Environmental Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. He previously served as Manager of Purchasing for California Water Service Company and developed the company's supplier diversity program under General Order 156. Peinado serves the Task Force as an insurance industry representative.

Cathy Schwamberger is an Associate General Counsel for State Farm and serves as lead attorney for State Farm's legislative and regulatory activities in 10 western states, including California. Schwamberger has previously served as President of Equality California Institute, an LGBT advocacy organization that advances equal rights for LGBT Californians. Schwamberger serves the Task Force as an insurance industry representative.

Melanie M. Shelby is an award winning professional with a 20-plus year track record of accelerating business objectives for top tier brands such as Allstate, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Southern California Gas Company, and others through impacting external relations, public affairs and supplier diversity. She resides on the leadership team at Gray, Greer, Shelby & Vaughn, a certified minority and woman owned public affairs firm. Shelby serves the Task Force as Chair and as an advocate/expert of supplier diversity.

Randy Sinnott is the founding partner of Sinnott, Puebla, Campagne & Curet APLC, a Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise believed to be the largest DVBE law firm in California. Sinnott served in the United States Marine Corps and retired after 30 years as a Colonel. He is active in the DVBE community, including providing pro bono legal help for SDVOB (Service Disabled Veterans Owned Businesses). Sinnott serves the Task Force as an advocate/representative for disabled veteran business enterprises.

Scott Syphax is the Chairman and CEO of The Nehemiah Companies - a Sacramento-based national social enterprise and real estate development corporation. Syphax serves on the boards of Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, NORCAL Mutual Insurance Company, Medicus Insurance Company, FD Insurance Company, Valley Vision, American Leadership Forum, and the Bay Area Council of San Francisco. He serves the Task Force as an advocate/expert of governing board diversity.



The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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