Insurance Commissioner-elect Jones names his team…

Yesterday, Insurance Commissioner-elect Dave Jones announced his top appointments at the California Department of Insurance (CDI).

Jones has re-appointed senior career officials to leadership positions who have decades of insurance regulatory experience, including Deputy Commissioners Joel Laucher, Tony Cignarale, Rick Plein, Robin Baker and Sherwood Girion. He has re-appointed several senior leaders who are currently serving Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, including General Counsel Adam Cole, Deputy General Counsel Patricia Staggs, and Deputy Commissioner Byron Tucker, as well as appointing leaders who served Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, including Chief Deputy Nettie Hoge. He has also appointed key staffers who have served in his Assembly office, like Deputy Commissioners Janice Rocco and Chris Shultz.

We at Health Access, and many other health and consumer advocates, look forward to working with Commissioner Jones and his new team–we’ve appreciated our work with many of them before, in both legislative, regulatory, and advocacy positions.

Here are bios from the Insurance Commissioner-elect’s press release:

The new members of the executive staff include:

Nettie Hoge, Chief Deputy Commissioner
Nettie Hoge, on behalf of the Commissioner, will oversee all operations and policy matters at CDI. Hoge has extensive leadership experience at CDI. Prior to starting her own consulting business, which focused on issues including consumer advocacy and education, Hoge served as Policy Director in the Office of the California State Lieutenant Governor. Before that she worked in two different Deputy Commissioner positions, and as Health Policy Advisor at the CDI she advised Insurance Commissioner John Garmendi on key insurance policy issues with a special emphasis on health insurance, and developed and implemented the Insurance Commissioner’s positions on health care reform, while at the same time as managing the staff of the Consumer Services Division and the Policy and Research Division. Hoge has also spent time working as the executive director of a non-profit advocacy group for utility ratepayers (TURN) and as a legal advocate. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Washington State University and her Juris Doctor from the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Janice Rocco, Deputy Commissioner, Health Policy
Rocco comes to CDI with extensive experience in the California State Legislature, having worked there the last twelve years. Most recently Rocco served as Chief of Staff to then-Assembly Member Dave Jones. Previously, she worked as a Senior Consultant to the Legislative Women’s Caucus and also as Chief of Staff to former Assembly Member Hannah-Beth Jackson. Earlier, Rocco worked for Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties and has been involved in a number of legislative and statewide electoral campaigns. She serves on the national Board of the National Organization for Women. Rocco earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Geoff Margolis, Special Counsel and Deputy Commissioner
Margolis most recently served as a Principal Assistant to then-Assembly Member Dave Jones, handling all aspects of legislation. Previously, he worked at CDI as a Senior Staff Attorney, performing highly sensitive and very complex legal work, including litigation and legal analysis. Margolis also has significant experience working as a private attorney, on a variety of issues including insurance law, business law, entertainment and sports and law, legislative law, alternative dispute resolution, and public relations. Margolis has also served for 10 years as a Sacramento Superior Court Temporary Judge, and is a certified Mediator for the 3rd District Court of Appeals. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and his Juris Doctor from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

Michael Martinez, Deputy Commissioner and Legislative Director
Martinez comes to CDI from the international law and consulting firm Manatt, Phelps, & Phillips, LLP where he served as Manager of Public Affairs and Legislative Advocate since 2000. He represented many non-profit organizations, local governmental entities, and companies, primarily advocating on complex policy and budget issues in the healthcare, public health, technology, natural resources, and legal aid sectors. Previously he worked at a global public relations firm managing statewide campaigns. Martinez serves as Board Vice President of the Equality California Institute. He earned double Bachelor of Arts degrees from Stanford University.

Chris Shultz, Deputy Commissioner, Community Programs
Shultz will manage insurance programs that benefit under-served communities. He recently served as Legislative Director to then-Assemblymember Dave Jones. Before that, he worked as Public Affairs Director for The Ulum Group, one of Oregon ’s top five public relations and public affairs firms. Shultz previously held positions in state government as Jones’ Chief of Staff and Capitol Office Director for former State Senator Dede Alpert. He managed a $175 million education technology grant program in the administration of former Governor Gray Davis. Shultz earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from the University of the Pacific.

Patricia Tenoso Sturdevant, Deputy Commissioner, Policy
Sturdevant will focus on policy and special projects for the Commissioner. She is a recognized consumer protection lawyer with expertise in abusive insurance practices and health care law. Most recently Sturdevant served as Assistant Chief Counsel for the California Department of Managed Health Care, where she obtained a precedential ruling that health care contracts in the individual market cannot be terminated unless the health plan proves that the enrollee misrepresented his/her health history. She was formerly Executive Director and General Counsel of the National Association of Consumer Advocates in Washington, D.C. Sturdevant has extensive experience as a public interest lawyer at San Francisco firms Sturdevant & Sturdevant and Alioto & Alioto, and in Los Angeles at the Western Center on Law and Poverty. Sturdevant is President-elect of California Women Lawyers and winner of the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year Award for 2009. She earned both her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors and her Juris Doctor from the University of California, Los Angeles.

The new appointments are subject to final approval by Governor-elect Jerry Brown.

Jones has also retained the following members of the CDI executive staff:

Adam Cole, Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel
Adam Cole will advise the Insurance Commissioner and direct the operations of the Legal Division. Cole has served as General Counsel to outgoing Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner since 2007. Previously, Cole practiced law at the San Francisco-based office of the law firm Heller Ehrman, LLP where he directed complex litigation matters with a focus on insurance recoveries for California policyholders. He also served at the law firm of Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. where he represented clients in litigation against insurance companies. Cole has also represented Legal Aid societies and serves as a Board of Director of the Central Pacific Region of the Anti-Defamation League. Cole earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Yale University, magna cum laude, and his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School, cum laude.

Tony Cignarale, Deputy Commissioner, Consumer Services and Market Conduct
Since 2007, Cignarale has served as Deputy Commissioner of Consumer Services and Market Conduct Branch at CDI. He previously served as Chief of the Consumer Services Division at CDI, directing the statewide activities of the Consumer Services Division, which include the Consumer Hotline and consumer complaint investigation units. In addition to overseeing Consumer Services functions, Cignarale oversees the Market Conduct Division, which performs on-site examinations of insurer practices. Cignarale also served at CDI as an Associate and Supervising Compliance Officer. In 2004, he was the recipient of the Insurance Commissioner’s Leadership and Teamwork Award. Cignarale earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Clarkson University and his Juris Doctor from William Howard Taft University, School of Law.

Byron Tucker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications and Press Relations
Tucker was appointed to the position of Deputy Commissioner, Communications & Press Relations on December 1, 2003. He is responsible for providing strategic direction and management oversight to the Department’s Communications Office, and serves as a spokesperson to the media. Mr. Tucker previously served as Senior Deputy Press Secretary to Governor Gray Davis for three years, overseeing all media operations and strategy for Southern California. In addition to his role as senior spokesperson for the Governor, he provided management oversight to the Governor’s Los Angeles office communication staff. Mr. Tucker also served as Press Secretary and spokesperson for State Controller Kathleen Connell for four years where he coordinated all media relations and public outreach. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from California State University, Los Angeles.

Sherwood “Woody” Girion, Deputy Commissioner, Financial Surveillance
Girion has previously served as a Deputy Commissioner of the both the Rate Regulation and Consumer Services & Market Conduct Branches at CDI. Girion has more than 33 years of experience with the Department, including establishing the first Consumer Services Bureau, which eventually grew into today’s Consumer Services & Market Conduct Branch. He has also served as the Department’s Chief of the Financial Analysis Reinsurance and Technical Support Bureau, and as Chief of the Financial Analysis Division. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Sacramento and holds a Masters of Public Administration degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Rick Plein, Deputy Commissioner, Enforcement
Plein was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Enforcement Branch in 2008 and will continue to serve in this capacity. Plein has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience, having been hired as an investigator for the CDI Fraud Division in 1992. During his career at CDI, Plein has served both Northern and Southern California through a variety of assignments including Supervising Fraud Investigator, Chief Investigator-Fraud Division Headquarters, Chief Investigator-Sacramento Regional Office and Bureau Chief-Northern Region. Plein earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Fullerton.

Joel Laucher, Deputy Commissioner, Rate Regulation
Laucher has served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Rate Regulation Branch since 2009, managing the property-casualty rate review and prior approval process. He has previously worked in a variety of capacities at CDI, including as Chief of the Market Conduct and Consumer Services Divisions, as well as Chief of the Field Rating and Underwriting Bureau. He has also worked as a Commercial Lines Underwriter at the Great American Insurance Company and the Commercial Union Insurance Company. Laucher earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Robin E. Baker, Deputy Commissioner, Administration and Licensing Services
Baker has served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Administration and Licensing Services Branch since February 2010. She has over 33 years of experience in a variety of roles in state government, including two prior appointments as Chief of Administration. She also spent 16 years at the Department of Finance, working primarily as a Principal Program Budget Analyst. Baker has developed an in-depth expertise in the state’s administrative processes and procedures, state legislative and fiscal processes, fiscal and policy analysis, personnel management, and program planning and policy development. Baker earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Patricia Staggs, Deputy General Counsel
Patricia Staggs, who has served as Deputy Chief Counsel to the Insurance Commissioner for the past 3 years, will continue on in the same capacity. Staggs, who has also served as Interim General Counsel, has supervised a bureau in the Legal Division since 1989, including the Corporate Affairs Bureau, Policy Approval Bureau, Compliance Bureau, and Conservation and Liquidation Bureau. As Deputy General Counsel, Staggs manages and supervises the Legal Division, overseeing its budget, personnel, and other administrative duties. She also oversees legislative analysis and support provided to CDI’s Legislative office, and provides legal advice to Department staff and members of the public on insurance matters. Staggs earned her Bachelor of Arts of Degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and her Juris Doctor from Hastings College of Law in San Francisco.

Ioannis Kazanis, Press Secretary, Communications and Press Relations
Kazanis is the primary spokesperson for the CDI, where he also directs the day-to-day operations of the Press Office. He previously served as a Communications Advisor and the Chief Speechwriter for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. He also spent time as a Public Information Officer at the California School Boards Association and as Press Secretary to former Assembly Member Nicole Parra. Prior to that, Kazanis worked as a Special Assistant at AKT Development Corporation, a large land development company in Northern California. Kazanis also served in the Administration of former Governor Gray Davis as an Assistant Press Secretary. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of California, Davis and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, State Capitol Center.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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