Our team of experienced, dedicated professionals with diverse specialties share one goal: to give our clients access to expanded resources and enhanced client services unmatched in the market. To find out more about any member of our staff, click on the links below.
Director of Finance & Administration
Rob Bikash joined the firm in 2010 and is responsible for all aspects of the business related to financial management, accounting, information technology and facilities management. Rob is an accomplished senior leader and financial management specialist who contributes to the execution of strategic-level initiatives and management of high-visibility projects. He brings to the firm expertise in the analysis and resolution of diverse financial and operational issues within industries that include insurance, financial services, government and information technology. Rob graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and has an MBA from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College.
Regional HR Platform Manager
Cheryl Botwick joined the company in 2016 as an Internal HR Business Partner with human resources experience in the education and healthcare industries. In her role, she presents and educates employees on management training, sexual harassment and discrimination, management of difficult employees and performance management. She brings cutting-edge knowledge in employee relations, conflict resolution and talent acquisition and a deep understanding of state and federal labor laws and legal compliance to her position.
Cheryl has 28 years of experience in HR. Previously, she worked as an HR professional at the Groden Center Network, the Warwick School Department, South County Hospital Healthcare System and Performance Physical Therapy.
Cheryl holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island. She served on the East Greenwich Personnel Board and the East Greenwich Building Committee and is currently on the Board of The Rhode Island Society for Human Resource Management (RISHRM).
Robert F. Calise
Managing Director, Employee Benefits
Rob Calise is Managing Director of The Hilb Group of New England, where he oversees the 50-person employee benefits division and assists mid- to large-sized organizations in designing benefit programs optimized for their business and employees. Through his strategic planning approach, Rob helps each client proactively advance its benefits program in alignment with its long-term business mission, while ensuring cost containment, including the possibility of self-funding, the plan’s compliance and communication of its value to employees. Rob is the weekly “Smart Benefits” columnist for GoLocalProv and frequently contributes to area business publications on benefits topics. He serves on the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI Broker Advisory Board, United HealthCare of New England Broker Advisory Board, Tufts Health Plan Broker Advisory Board, Delta Dental of RI Broker Advisory Board and the Rhode Island Business Healthcare Advisors Council. He is a member of the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU), American Health Insurance Association (AHIA), the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers and SHRM. Rob is a graduate of Bryant University with a BS in Finance.
Managing Director, Employee Benefits
A founding partner of Cornerstone Group, Joseph Cardello works with small and large employers to develop strategies to control the cost of healthcare coverage for their organizations. Joe also works with many of our personal clients to solve their life, disability and long term care insurance needs.
Joe has worked in the industry for more than 20 years and offers a unique perspective on problem solving through his municipal experience: Joe served for 6 years as a councilman in North Providence, Rhode Island, and recently served for two years on the town council in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Joe is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a BS in Accounting.
Director of Operations, P&C
As Director of Operations, Elisa Cardone’s responsibilities include oversight of customer service and client relations as well as systems management and workflow of the property and casualty divsion. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Brown University and a Master’s Degree from Yale University. Prior to joining the firm, Elisa taught management and writing classes at Yale and worked as a theatre management professional in NYC. In the local community, she has served as Board President for both Quest Montessori School and Rhode Island Youth Theatre.
Director of Client Service & Operations, Benefits
Andrea joined Cornerstone in 2004 with 18 years of management experience. Her sole focus is to guarantee that our clients receive the highest level of service. She manages our group benefits client service team who are responsible for the most important function that we provide: client service. We pride ourselves on becoming “your benefits partner” and Andrea supports that vision and goal that we strive for. She graduated with a B.S. in Management from Rhode Island College.
Anne Nicoll Esq., CPCU
Director of Operational Risk Management
A 19-year veteran of the firm, Anne Nicoll’s responsibilities include insurance carrier and government relations, compliance, contract management, human resources, and oversight of claims. She also serves as corporate general counsel. Anne is responsible for the compliance of the firm’s carrier and government operations in over 50 different regulatory environments in the U.S. and abroad and for managing over 200 insurance carrier and broker contracts. Anne is a past president of the Rhode Island CPCU Society, where she continues to serve as a Director. She has also served as a Director on the Boards of the Gencorp Insurance Charitable Foundation and the Rhode Island CPCU Scholarship Fund. She is a graduate of Rhode Island College and Roger Williams University School of Law and holds the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) insurance designation.
Joseph Padula, MBA, CIC, CRM
Managing Director, P&C
Joe Padula is the Managing Director of Property and Casualty for The Hilb Group of New England. He manages a number of key client relationships for the firm and works on strategic initiatives with the rest of Hilb’s leadership team. By utilizing a risk management approach and alternative risk financing solutions, Joe helps organizations minimize their total cost of risk over the long term. Joe joined the company in 1993 after receiving his BS from Plymouth State College in New Hampshire and his MBA from the Carroll Graduate School of Management at Boston College. Joe is a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and a Certified Risk Manager (CRM).
Richard Padula, CIC
Managing Director, P&C
Rick Padula has devoted his years in the insurance industry to the firm’s commercial insurance clients. He custom-designs and regularly reviews a client’s insurance portfolio, provides counseling on coverage and exposure, and answers coverage questions. Rick is a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and is a former Vice President of the Professional Insurance Agents of Rhode Island. He was a former Board member for the Gencorp Insurance Charitable Foundation, has coached several youth sports organizations and was formerly President of a local town council and chairman of the Board for a regional waste water treatment facility. Rick is a graduate of Curry College. He enjoys the beach, deep sea fishing and vacationing during his time away from the office.
Joseph F. Vasko
Director, Retirement Administration
Joe Vasko has more than 20 years of experience in the design and administration of all types of employer-sponsored retirement savings plans, including 401(k), 403(b), profit sharing and defined benefit. His consultative approach to plan evaluation, selection and design ensures a program that’s customized to each client’s specific needs. Before joining the firm in 2011, Joe served as a Senior Pension Consultant for 12 years at American Fiduciary Corporation, a third party administrator located in Needham, MA. In that role, Joe worked with many local financial advisors and CPAs to provide retirement plan services to more than 600 businesses. In addition, he has participated in numerous financial seminars geared towards educating local business owners on the tax-favored benefits of sponsoring a qualified retirement savings plan. Joe received his Master’s in Business Administration from Kansas State University with a primary focus in the area of Accounting and Finance. He is an active member of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA) and is currently working towards a specialized designation as a Certified Pension Consultant (CPC) and Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent (ERPA).
Senior Vice President, Employee Benefits
Cathleen joined the firm in 2009 as an employee benefits consultant and now serves as Senior Vice President, Employee Benefits. She brings more than two decades of brokerage expertise, in-depth knowledge of Affordable Care Act compliance, and extensive experience with consumer-driven plans to her role, assisting employers with benefit strategies tailored to their unique needs. Cathleen graduated from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. She currently serves on the Legislative Affairs Committee for Rhode Island Business Group on Health.
Chad Bjorklund, CIC, CRM
Executive Vice President, P&C
Chad Bjorklund’s responsibilities include select client management and new business development with a focus on non-profit organizations and privately-held middle market companies. He helps protect his clients’ assets through risk identification, insurance program design, insurance coverage analysis, contract review and implementation of loss control resources. Chad works to reduce his clients’ total cost of risk utilizing the risk management process. Chad joined the firm in 2005. A graduate of Bryant College with a BS in Finance, he holds both the Certified Risk Manager (CRM) and Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designations. Chad is an active member in the community. He serves as Board Treasurer for The Kent Center, Board Member of Horizon Healthcare Partners (HHP), member of Rotary International, Education Committee Member for LeadingAge RI and Board Member of The Gencorp Insurance Charitable Foundation.
James R. Borah, CLU, ChFC, CEBS
Executive Vice President, Employee Benefits
Jim Borah joined the firm in 2012 with more than twenty years of experience in the insurance industry. In his role, he provides employer groups throughout New England with comprehensive benefit analysis, communication and compliance solutions, as well as healthcare reform guidance. Previously, Jim was President of Borah Associates, Inc., where he was responsible for the design, implementation and administration of employee benefit plans.
Jim has been an active member of Rhode Island’s brokerage community for many years, previously serving as President of the Rhode Island Business Health Advisors Council and as a member of the Leadership Council of the Rhode Island HealthCare Reform Commission, Rhode Island Benefits Exchange Expert Advisory Board, Government Affairs Committee of the Small Business Association of New England, and the BCBSRI Broker Advisory Committee. Jim has also served on various state committees to help shape the direction of the health insurance market in Rhode Island, including the 2007/2008 Insurance Market Merger Task Force and the 2008 Health Hub RI Stakeholder Committee.
For ten years, Jim discussed employee benefit issues with Frank Coletta as a regular guest on the Sunrise Show on WJAR Channel 10 and continues to contribute frequently to the local media. He graduated from Connecticut College with a BA in Economics and attained his Certified Life Underwriter (CLU) and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designations in 1994. Jim earned the prestigious Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) designation, sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, in 2012, and has also obtained the Group Benefits Advisor (GBA) and the Retirement Plans Associate (RPA) designations.
Christine Brunnschweiler joined Hilb Group New England in 2017 as an Account Executive. Her roles and responsibilities include developing and maintaining strong client relationships, managing open enrollments, and negotiating policy contracts. She resolves escalated employee matters and acts as a resource for client wellness programs. Previously, Christine worked as a Senior Account Manager with the Employee Benefits Division for Northeast Series of Lockton Companies LLC in Massachusetts where she coordinated plan implementation activities with clients and insurance carriers. She also prepared and delivered client renewal proposals and helped to develop employee communication materials.
Christine holds a BA from Syracuse University where she majored in Information Studies and earned a Certificate in Human Resource Management from Bryant University. She holds a life and health insurance producer license and is currently pursuing her CEBS designation.
Executive Vice President, Marine
Randy Carnahan manages The Hilb Group’s Marine Insurance division, responding to the insurance requirements of marine contractors, and developing commercial marine programs for shipyards, marinas and dealers, boat builders, as well as for operators of passenger vessels, tugs, and barges . Randy’s maritime expertise came through both education at NY Maritime and through hands-on work with complex marine enterprises. His background includes managing marine claims at Johnson & Higgins of New York, including liability, hull, and cargo losses. Randy’s deep knowledge of the marine industry, strong client advocacy, and relationships with preeminent marine insurers bring an important and highly specialized resource to Hilb Group’s clients.
Suzanne D’Amato, Esq.
Employee Benefits Attorney
Suzanne D’Amato joined the company in 2015 as an in-house ERISA and Employee Benefits Attorney. Suzanne assists Cornerstone clients in navigating legal and compliance issues relating to their employee benefit plans, including Affordable Care Act compliance.
Prior to joining Cornerstone, Suzanne served as General Counsel to a technology company in the recruitment advertising space, where she oversaw the development and administration of an OFCCP compliance solution and advised company executives on day-to-day legal matters. Previously, Suzanne was an ERISA Associate in the Compensation and Benefits group of two New York City law firms, where her practice focused on employee benefits and qualified retirement plans, including the drafting, implementation, operation, and termination of plans; plan qualification; plan administration; and ERISA litigation involving the representation of multi-employer pension and welfare funds in benefit claim and collection actions.
Suzanne holds a B.S. in Health Systems Management from University of Connecticut and a J.D. from University of Connecticut School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in the State and Federal courts of Connecticut.
Paul J. Damiano, CPCU
Executive Vice President P&C
After operating the Damiano Agency for 38 years Paul J Damiano joined The Hilb Group of New England in July 2019. Concentrating his efforts in the construction industry, including surety, together with real estate developers and owners he has developed a clientele of mid-sized commercial accounts. He seeks to provide the broadest coverage possible at the most cost-efficient insurance program to his clients. In addition to the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation he also has or held the Accredited Advisor of Insurance (AAI) and Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designations. He is a graduate of Boston University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree.
Melinda E. Diffily, J.D.
Compliance Specialist, Employee Benefits
Melinda Diffily joined Hilb Group New England in March 2017 as a Compliance Specialist responsible for assisting clients with compliance issues related to their employee benefit plans. Previously, she worked at Boston Financial and State Street Bank in their Wealth Management Anti Money Laundering compliance department. Melinda holds a B.A. from Syracuse University and J.D. from Roger Williams School of Law.
Evan M Gilden, CIC, CRM
Senior Vice President, P&C
Evan Gilden entered the insurance industry in 2009 after graduating from the University of Rhode Island. He provides a technical approach to commercial insurance design for clients with property and casualty exposures. Evan’s clients range from those with commercial real estate portfolios to manufacturing clients throughout Southern New England. He utilizes aspects of risk management and alternative risk financing to develop custom insurance programs for his clients. Evan is an active member of the United Way of Rhode Island Young Leaders Circle, previously serving as an executive committee member. He serves as a Director on the Board of Robert Potter League for Animals in Middletown, Rhode Island.
Ellen Bohn Gitlitz, M.SC, MLIS
Executive Vice Present, P&C
Ellen heads up the Technology and Life Sciences Practice Group for Hilb Group New England and is responsible for accounts ranging from small start-ups to public companies and divisions of multinational corporations. Ellen focuses on the technology segment, which includes high tech, life sciences, medical devices, and clean technologies. She also has many clients in manufacturing, construction, not-for-profit, retail, and other industry segments. The key to Ellen’s success has been her ability to quickly grasp what her clients do and the implications for their insurance coverage. Ellen’s background has encompassed work in both high tech and life sciences, along with a Master’s degrees in Nutritional Biochemistry and Accounting. Ellen has been involved in a number of charitable organizations during her career. She has been on the regional board of directors of the Anti-Defamation League, has been involved in the Joslin Diabetes Center, and loves to travel.
Senior Vice President, P&C
As a Senior Vice President, Cristie Hanaway brings over 31 years of experience delivering insurance and risk management services to her clients. Her insurance practice focuses primarily on Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Facilities & Home Care Agencies, Real Estate & Condominium Associations and Affordable Housing Entities. Cristie has held the Certified Insurance Counselor designation since 1990. In addition to her thirty plus years of professional experience, Cristie serves as Chairperson the Rhode Island Governor’s Insurance Council, is a past chairperson of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, the Professional Insurance Agents of Rhode Island, and Visiting Nurse Home Care and is a present Member of the Board of Directors of Freedom National Bank. Prior to her insurance career Cristie was a Paralegal/Investigator in antitrust and consumer protection with the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General.
G. Charles Hand
Charles Hand has over 35 years of experience as a licensed insurance broker/agent. Over those years, Charlie has specialized in large complex account sales and marketing. He has worked with hundreds of businesses and their coverage needs. For the past 17 years, Charlie has brought his skills to the firm’s wholesale underwriting. Charlie leverages his knowledge, experience and long-term carrier relationships into performing books of business for his retail agents. Charles attended New York University, University of Rhode Island and Bryant College.
Christopher Iannotti, CRIS
Assistant Vice President, P&C
Christopher A. Iannotti is an Assistant Vice President. Having joined the firm back in 1989, he brings over 20 years of commercial insurance and surety experience to his clients. Chris is a graduate of LaSalle Academy and Bryant College and has earned the Construction Risk & Insurance Specialist (CRIS) designation.
Senior Vice President, Employee Benefits
Kevin has over 25 years of experience in the health insurance industry. He began his career at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, where he was responsible for the retention of large employer groups and municipalities, before joining the firm 13 years ago. At Hilb, Kevin is responsible for developing and retaining a large book of benefit clients.
Kevin is skilled in all aspects of alternative funding arrangements and underwriting methodologies. He has designed and implemented award-winning worksite wellness programs for many of his clients and is a credentialed health reform (PPACA) specialist.
Kevin is a member of the Rhode Island Business Group on Health, the National Association of Life Underwriters
Jeff McKernan, CIC, CRM
Account Executive/Marketing Manager, P&C
Jeff McKernan is the Property and Casualty marketing and underwriting associate responsible for placing new accounts and remarketing existing accounts to our various insurance carriers. He also works directly with his own clients as an Account Executive to custom design plans in a creative and cost-effective manner. Jeff joined the firm in 2008 after receiving his BS in Business Administration from The University of Rhode Island.
Jeffrey D. Minuto
Vice President, Employee Benefits
Jeff Minuto joined the company in 2013 with more than 10 years of industry experience. In his role as Vice President of Employee Benefits, Jeff leverages his market knowledge, claims review experience, and healthcare reform expertise to assists employers with tailored benefit strategies based on their unique employee populations and needs. He is part of the company’s Long Term Care Practice Group at Hilb.
Jeff began his career in 2002 at Mastors & Servant Ltd., where he spent three years focused on property and casualty and surety bonds. He then worked for five years in the banking industry as a commercial lender before rejoining Mastors & Servant in 2009, when he became a part of the agency’s Employee Benefit team, specializing in Long Term Care, Construction, Manufacturing, Not for Profit, and Technology. In 2010, Mastors & Servant was purchased by USI Insurance Services LLC.
Jeff attended the University of Rhode Island. He is currently pursuing the designation of Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) through the Wharton Business School. Jeff is actively involved in the Jimmy Fund, HRM-RI, Rhode Island Health Care Association, Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, Massachusetts Senior Care Association, and the National Association of Health Underwriters.
Robert J. Nagel
Executive Vice President, P&C
Bob Nagel brings over 25 years of experience delivering insurance and risk management solutions to his clients. He approaches new business production and client service with a deep technical expertise and a high level of enthusiasm. Bob directly services large commercial accounts, custom designing and regularly reviewing a client’s insurance plan and providing counseling on coverage and exposure. Bob joined the firm in 1997 and received his BS in Finance from the University of Rhode Island in 1986.
Brian Rossi, AFSB, MBA
Executive Vice President, Surety
Brian M. Rossi is Executive Vice President, with primary responsibility for growth of the firm’s New England Construction Division, including operations, client services, business development, and relationship management. He specializes in planning, facilitating, and optimizing his clients’ surety relationship, and brings more than 25 years of insurance and surety industry experience to the role. Prior to joining the firm, Brian was Divisional President of Allied North America’s New England operation. Brian spent the first eighteen years of his career with Travelers, and in 2002, was Surety Branch Manager of the company’s Boston Construction Services Group, where he was responsible for portfolio management, marketing, and strategic planning. Brian holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees from Western New England College, and has achieved his Associate in Fidelity and Surety Bonding professional designation.
Samuel B. Slade
Managing Director, Employee Benefits
Sam Slade joined Hilb in 2020. In his role, he works directly with employer groups as well as leads the Employee Benefits team.
Slade is an industry veteran who has been delivering consultative advice and services for most of his career. He joins Hilb with extensive experience in all aspects of employee benefits, including underwriting, plan design, communications, compliance, and analytics, with a particular focus on alternative funding and self-insurance. Most recently, Slade served as Vice President of the Employer Segment at BCBSRI, where he worked to help the company evolve its self-insured capabilities and realize record growth over the past four years. Previously, he was the Employee Benefits Practice Leader for USI in Rhode Island after selling his own firm, Bluff Head Enterprises, to the company in 2011. Slade’s career started with The Travelers.
As an Account Executive, Sandra Smith assists large groups with benefit solutions to support their businesses’ missions. Sandra develops and maintains strong client relationships, manages open enrollments, and negotiates policy contracts. She also resolves escalated employee matters and acts as a resource for client wellness programs.
Joining Hilb Group New England in 2000, Sandra previously held roles as Director of Individual Clients Services, Client Service Advisor and Account Manager where she served as the first point of contact for benefit issues ranging from ongoing account administration and claims resolution to coverage option review and communication of benefit changes.
She holds a life and health insurance producer license.
Medicare Supplemental Insurance Advisor
Jim Soucy joined the company in 2012. As a Medicare Supplemental Insurance Advisor, Jim educates clients about the Medicare system and assists them in choosing the supplemental plans that best suit their needs, a dynamic process that evolves from year-to-year.
Jim is certified by the National Social Security Advisors as well as America’s Health Insurance Plans.
He began his insurance career as a 401(k) investment advisor after earning his bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Rhode Island. Jim and his family are active with the Rhode Island Chapter of the ALS Association.
Stevra A. Soucy
Senior Account Manager, Employee Benefits
Stevra Soucy joined the firm in 2009 as a Benefits Administration Specialist. In January 2016, Stevra became a Senior Account Manager for small groups with between one and 25 employees. In this role, she is responsible for conducting renewal meetings and presenting and advising clients on benefit plan options. She also conducts employee open enrollment meetings and provides assistance to clients with cafeteria plans, FSAs and HRAs.
Stevra has 25 years of experience in employee benefits, with particular expertise in 401(k) plan administration and compliance testing. Prior to joining Cornerstone, she served as a Senior Pension Analyst at Abacus Benefit Consultants and was a Retirement Plan and 401(k) Specialist at WPR. Stevra received a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Boston College.
Matthew Sweet joined the firm in 2009 as an Account Executive. In this role, he assists clients in understanding their unique exposures and developing a tailored insurance plan to proactively address them. Before Hilb, Matthew worked as a sales representative for Guardian Life Insurance Company. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in business administration from Bryant University. Matthew has earned the CLCS designation and is currently in the process of obtaining his CIC.
At Hilb, Tarmey partners with clients on benefit offerings that strategically align with their organizational goals, financial objectives, and workforce characteristics. With his strength in innovative, long-term solutions to mitigate escalating expenses, Tarmey deepens Hilb’s cost containment capabilities.
Tarmey comes to Hilb with over twenty years of experience in the insurance industry. At CBIZ, he was responsible for client advisory services for insurance and consulting clients as well as a third-party administrative book of business. Previously, Tarmey was a founder and partner of Primarily Care, Inc., where he and his team developed unique client solutions, including a product known as Hybrid Funding that saved clients millions in health insurance costs while preserving the value of their benefits. He is licensed in Health, Life and P&C, and holds an MBA from Bryant University with a focus on Finance.
Bill Warburton, CIC
For over 40 years, Bill Warburton has negotiated for his commercial lines clients with innovative solutions to meet their risk management needs and stay within budget. His areas of specialization include: cyber liability, law firms, including errors and omissions, high-valued homes, including waterfront, non-profits, and foreign exposures. Bill holds his Certified Insurance Counselors (CIC) designation and has a Providence College degree in Economics. Long active in the insurance community, he has chaired insurance councils for CNA, Beacon Mutual, and Continental Insurance. Bill is also a Past President of the Independent Insurance Agents of RI, Past State National Director, and was a Chair of the Governor’s Insurance Council.
Bradley J. Wilson
Vice President, Retirement Administration
Bradley Wilson advises clients on all types of employer sponsored retirement savings plans, including 401(k), 403(b), profit sharing and defined benefit. Prior to joining Cornerstone, Bradley served as a Senior Retirement Plan Consultant with Lamoriello & Co., Inc. for over twenty years and, previously, spent a decade as Vice President of Retirement Plan Services at Wall Street investment firms E.F. Hutton and Dean Witter Reynolds. He graduated with a B.S. in Accounting from Providence College and attended the Master’s in Taxation program at Bryant College. Bradley is a member of the Mal Brown Club and the Providence College Athletic Hall of Fame.