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Commissioner Lara Appoints Members to Insurance Diversity Task Force

News: 2020 Press Release

For Release: May 13, 2020
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Commissioner Lara Appoints Members to Insurance Diversity Task Force
Experts and advocates come together to advance diversity in the insurance industry

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara today announced the newest members of the Insurance Diversity Task Force, which makes recommendations to the Insurance Commissioner on innovative ways to increase diversity within the insurance industry.

Commissioner Lara’s newest appointments include the first Hmong-American member who brings extensive leadership in representing underserved populations including immigrants, refugees, New Americans, small business owners, and farmers, and an appointee who leads a national organization representing the issues and interests of more than 1.3 million women business owners in California.

“I am honored to announce the appointments of Blong Xiong and Vikita Poindexter, both of whom are truly experts in their fields and advocates on behalf of diverse small business owners, and the reappointment of several exceptional members of the Diversity Task Force,” said Commissioner Lara. “I am confident that our new and returning members will help us push forward the goals of the Insurance Diversity Initiative to further empower diverse businesses with resources to grow and sustain their business, especially during this extraordinary pandemic as businesses across the state grapple with how to get back on their feet.”

The Insurance Diversity Task Force (Task Force) was formed in 2012 as part of the Department’s Insurance Diversity Initiative, which encourages insurers to increase procurement contracts with diverse business owners, including women-owned, veteran- and disabled veteran-owned, minority-owned, and LGBT-owned businesses, as well as advance the diversity of insurance company corporate boards. The Task Force was formally codified in law on January 1, 2020 with Governor Gavin Newsom’s signing of Senate Bill 534, a bill sponsored by Commissioner Lara and authored by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena).

Task Force members propose ideas and actions to Commissioner Lara and the Department to encourage insurance companies to utilize diverse suppliers and to increase diversity among their governing boards. The transparency achieved through this initiative has helped demonstrate the progress of increased procurement between insurers contracting with California’s diverse-owned businesses, which significantly increased by 93% over a five-year period, from $930 million in 2012 to $1.8 billion in 2017.

“During this unprecedented moment in history where small businesses are experiencing the devastating impact of COVID-19, it is even more important that the insurance industry works together with our Task Force members, who are committed to helping us address the growing needs of our diverse businesses in order to help them navigate this challenging time,” said Commissioner Lara.

“The effects of a global pandemic also require deliberate and timely decisions at the governing board level, and creating greater opportunities to advance board diversity continues to remain at the forefront of my commitment to diversity and the state’s small business community,” emphasized Commissioner Lara. According to data collected by the Department, in 2017, insurers reported that board seats continue to be disproportionately represented by men, with 80% of governing board seats held by men and only 12% of board seats held by persons of color. The Commissioner’s reappointed members include experts in the field of governing board diversity, who will help provide greater insight on the types of resources that the Department can provide to the boards of insurance companies as they make key decisions amidst the rapidly-evolving insurance environment.

The next Task Force meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. More details are available at: or you may send an email to:

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Media Notes:

Members of the Task Force include:

  • Linda Akutagawa is the President and Chief Executive Officer 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. She is also the Chair of the Alliance for Board Diversity, a national organization focused on advancing gender and ethnic/racial diversity on corporate boards, of which LEAP is a partner organization. She also serves as a member of the Asian/Asian American Institute Advisory Board at California State University at Los Angeles, Board member of Japanese American Community Services, and a Board member of the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council. Akutagawa rejoins the Task Force as an advocate/expert of governing board diversity with a term ending on March 23, 2022.
  • Imelda Alejandrino is the Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director of AP42 Integrated Marketing where she has led the charge by forming a top-quality team driven by a successful combination of creative quality, strategic focus and client services. Alejandrino also serves on the Leadership Forum as the Vice Chair of the Global Service Team for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). She is a marketing volunteer and contributor to WBEC-Pacific (WBENC regional partner), Women Who Lead, and the Western Regional Minority Supplier Development Council (WRMSDC), a regional partner of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) which advances business opportunities for certified minority business enterprises and connects them to corporate members. Alejandrino rejoins the Task Force as an advocate/representative of minority business enterprises with a term ending March 23, 2022.
  • Annalisa Barrett is a Senior Advisor at KPMG Board Leadership Center where she plays a key role in the development of research and thought leadership and advises directors on emerging trends in corporate governance. Prior to joining KPMG, Barrett was the CEO of Board Governance Research LLC, which provided independent research on corporate governance practices, board effectiveness and composition. Barrett is also an Adjunct Lecturer of Finance at the University of San Diego School of Business where she teaches graduate courses in Corporate Governance. Barrett has served on the board of the Corporate Directors Forum, and is the San Diego Campaign Co-Chair for 2020 Women on Boards, a national organization focused on increasing the percentage of women on U.S. company boards to at least 20% by 2020. Barrett rejoins the Task Force as an advocate/expert of governing board diversity with a term ending on March 23, 2022.
  • Jay Greene is an Attorney/CPA and owner of Jay Greene Law Firm and Greene Estate, Probate, and Elder Law Firm, a certified LGBT business enterprise, where he specializes in supplier diversity law. Greene is a member of the Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA) which is the world’s first LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce, and also serves as a board member of the GGBA Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities for LGBTQ businesses. Greene rejoins the Task Force as an advocate/representative of LGBT business enterprises with a term ending on March 23, 2022.
  • Salvador Peinado, Jr. is the Senior Supplier Diversity Consultant at CSAA Insurance Group 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 also serves on the Board of Directors of the Western Regional Minority Supplier Development Council and is a member of the Financial Services Roundtable for Supplier Diversity. Peinado rejoins the Task Force as an insurance industry representative with a term ending on March 23, 2022.
  • Cecil Plummer is the Chief Executive Officer and President of the Western Regional Minority Supplier Development Council. The Council works to create jobs and wealth for people of color by supporting and promoting minority owned businesses and connecting them with contract opportunities with Fortune 1000 companies and large public entities. Plummer has over 20 years of executive leadership experience and possesses a solid background in strategic sourcing, change management, performance and process improvement, supplier diversity, strategic planning, and risk management. Plummer rejoins the Task Force as an advocate/representative of minority business enterprises with a term ending on March 23, 2022.
  • Vikita Poindexter is President-Elect of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) -California, a regional partner of NAWBO that represents the issues and interests of more than 1.3 million women business owners in the state. As the President of Poindexter Consulting Group, LLC and minority woman small business owner, Poindexter educates her fellow business owners on how to propel and grow their business in California with an emphasis on human resources and diversity in staffing and recruitment. Poindexter is also a member of the California Small Business Association Workforce Skills and Education Issue Committee and Southern California Edison’s Small Business Advisory Panel. Poindexter joins the Task Force as an advocate/representative for women business enterprises with a term ending on May 13, 2022.
  • Blong Xiong is the Executive Director for the Asian Business Institute & Resource Center (ABIRC) which provides advocacy, economic development and support to the local small Asian businesses in California’s Central Valley region. Xiong served as a Council Member for the City of Fresno, where he was the first elected Hmong Council Member in the State of California. He is also a current board member of the Valley Small Business Development Corporation, which provides small business loans in the Central Valley. Xiong joins the Task Force as an advocate/expert for supplier diversity with a term ending on May 13, 2022. 

Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.

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