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Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Announces Insurance Diversity Task Force

News: 2012 Press Release

For Release: January 12, 2012
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Announces Insurance Diversity Task Force

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced the formation of an Insurance Diversity Task Force to consider and make recommendations about diversity in the insurance industry, including the diversity of corporate governing boards and procurement from diverse businesses.

"Insurance is a $125 billion industry in California," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "I am hopeful this task force will help us identify, measure and increase what the insurance industry procures from California's minority- and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses."

According to the Small Business Administration and the Center for Women's Business Research, diverse business enterprises constitute one of the fastest-growing segments in the U.S. economy, with minority-owned businesses generating an estimated $1 trillion in annual revenue. MBEs also employ nearly 6 million workers, while women-owned businesses employ about 19 million people and generate $2.5 trillion in annual sales. Further, with more than 25 million veterans in the country, 1 in 7 small businesses are veteran-owned.

"Expanding small businesses - especially diverse and disabled veteran-owned businesses - will help turn our economy around,'' added Commissioner Jones. "The goal of this task force is to make it easier for the insurer community to contract with these talented enterprises." 

Task force members will identify and promote insurance companies that are doing a good job on diversity issues, examine the diversity of insurance company governing boards, identify actions the Department of Insurance can take to encourage insurance companies to utilize diverse suppliers, and make recommendations for changes to the law. Commissioner Jones recently requested voluntary supplier diversity data from the top 200 insurance companies. Assembly Bill 53, authored by Assembly Insurance Committee Chairman Jose Solorio, would require top insurance companies to report their diversity efforts.

Members of the task force include:

Melinda Guzman, task force chair, is the sole shareholder of Melinda Guzman Professional Corporation, a certified Woman and Hispanic owned law firm. She serves as Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, as a Trustee for the California State University and as the General Counsel to the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and is the former general counsel of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Guzman has over 23 years of experience representing insurance companies and insured in coverage, defense and bad faith matters. 

Scott Syphax is the President and CEO of The Nehemiah Companies, a Sacramento based social enterprise and development corporation. He leads the development team of Township 9 - a 3,000 unit master-planned, smart-growth community in downtown Sacramento. Syphax serves as the Vice-Chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco; and is a Director of the Board of Norcal Mutual Insurance Company.

John Casas is President and majority owner of JT2 Integrated Resources, the nation's largest Hispanic-owned third party administrator (TPA), handling workers' compensation and liability claims programs for California's self-insured public and private entities. He is a long-standing member of the boards of directors for the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, the Spanish-Speaking Unity Council and the Oakland Work Investment Board.

Cecil Autry is an Associate Vice President and Regional Counsel for the Nationwide Insurance Group. Nationwide has received various awards for its commitment to diversity and inclusion, including the 2011 Diversity Initiative Achievement Award by the National Association of Women and Minority Owned Law Firms, 40 Best Companies for Diversity in 2011 by Black Enterprise and Top Companies for Diversity and Inclusion in 2011 by Uptown Professional.  

David A. Castillo is President and CEO for The Gray Casualty & Surety Company, a national surety providing support to standard and specialty markets. He oversees Gray's national expansion and has been instrumental in creating bond programs for the City & County of San Francisco and the City of Oakland. Castillo is recognized as the first Hispanic President & CEO of a surety company.

Sam Kang is the general counsel for the Greenlining Institute, a national policy, organizing and leadership institute working for racial and economic justice. He oversees Greenlining's legal advocacy and has led several successful campaigns impacting state and national policy. Kang was previously a Coro Fellow and recognized as one of the top young Korean American leaders by the Network of Korean American Leaders.

Phyllis Marshall serves as Counsel for the law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, and LLP. She has more than 15 years of experience lobbying the California Legislature and advocating for clients before Executive Branch agencies and other government offices and commissions. Marshall provides pro bono legal services to the California Black Chamber of Commerce and Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE). 

Robert H. Mulz is the founder and current owner of Video Electronics in San Diego, and Chairman of The Elite SDVOB Network, a nonprofit national organization of service disabled veteran owned businesses. He retired from the United States Navy as a Master Chief (E9) after 27 years of service. 

Michael G. Keeley is the President of MGK Risk and Insurance, a certified minority business enterprise. He has worked for 32 years as an insurance industry professional in both carrier executive and broker capacities. Keeley was a founding member of the Black Insurance Professional Associations in Sacramento and Los Angeles, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Black Chamber of Commerce, SMUD Community Advisory Partners, Board Member of the Greater Sacramento Urban League and the Insurance Education Foundation.

The first task force meeting was held January 6, 2012. 

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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