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Media Contact: Nicole Vasile
Director of Communications


Joel Wood promoted to President; Catherine Richardson promoted to COO; internal promotions announced

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (The Council) today announced that SVP of Government Affairs, Joel Wood, who has lobbied on behalf of Council members for the past 30 years, will succeed Ken Crerar as President of the organization, effective January 3, 2023. Catherine Richardson, The Council’s SVP of External Affairs & Sponsorship, will be promoted to the newly created role of Chief Operating Officer. Crerar will continue to serve as CEO and will be focused on supporting the leadership transition and acting as a strategic advisor in areas where his institutional knowledge and industry experience are most valuable. Crerar will also work on initiatives surrounding the Council brand, culture and future direction of The Council Foundation.

“In close consultation with our Board, I’ve developed a succession plan that allows the most experienced members of this team to step up and lead The Council into the future, as I take on a more strategic leadership role. This plan creates the continuity that is vital to The Council’s success, while opening up new opportunities for the next generation of leaders who will move the association forward,” said Ken Crerar, President/CEO of The Council.

Joel Wood has long been the voice of The Council’s Government Affairs team and has successfully advocated on behalf of its members, working to pass critical legislation in support of their business. He has also been a trusted advisor to Crerar and The Council Board over the past 30 years, and has been instrumental in the growth and success of the organization over this time. Through recessions, regulatory shifts, and changes in The Council community, Wood has leveraged the trust he has built with Council members to gain an understanding of what is most important to them on any given issue. He first came to Washington D.C. to work as a press and legislative director for Rep. Don Sundquist (R-Tenn.) before joining The Council in 1993.

“Very few professionals are lucky enough to serve in their dream position, at an organization they love, alongside colleagues they so admire for nearly 30 years,” said Wood. “It’s been a privilege to work with Ken for the past three decades and witness The Council adapt and grow into one of the most successful and dynamic associations in D.C. and across our industry. I’m thrilled to help lead this talented group as we begin a new chapter for our organization.”

As a former broker, Catherine Richardson is continuously looking to the future to make sure The Council is well-positioned to help its members pursue new opportunities, withstand industry headwinds and support their clients. Over the past 9 years, The Council’s Sponsorship program has tripled in size under Richardson’s leadership. She has also helped to establish infrastructure that is necessary for The Council and its Board to ensure the future sustainability of the broader membership community. Richardson joined The Council in 2013 from member firm Rutherfoord (a Marsh McLennan Agency company) where she was a business development executive and government contracting practice leader. She previously served as clerk of the Armed Services Committee for the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Over the last 15 years, I have witnessed the brokerage industry respond to unprecedented change, creating new ways to serve their customers and fuel innovation,” said Richardson. “I’m thrilled to take on this expanded role and work with our talented team to both anticipate and respond to the evolving needs of our members in the future.”

The Council will draw from its full strength across all departments to ensure continuity and a smooth leadership transition. A number of internal promotions were also announced in concert with the succession plan and as part of a thoughtful, deliberate approach to develop top talent and grow the organization from within.

  • On the Advocacy & Policy teams, Joel Kopperud will be promoted to SVP of Government Affairs, Blaire Bartlett will be promoted to VP of Government & Political Affairs and Katie King (formerly Oberkircher) will be promoted to VP of Health Policy & Strategy. Luca Vallada was promoted to CouncilPAC Manager earlier this fall.
  • On the Membership team, we are pleased to share that Brianne Spellane, who previously served as Managing Editor of Leader’s Edge will take on a new role as Director of Membership, reporting to Ken Haltenhof. We intend to announce our new Director of International in the coming weeks.
  • Julia Ruiz’s title will change to VP of Strategy & Leadership Resources to reflect the valuable contributions she makes to The Council outside the Academy.
  • Lindsay Dames will be promoted to VP of External Affairs & Sponsorship.
  • Katie Consoli, who previously served on our Membership team, was recently promoted to Director of Leadership and Management Resources.

The same team that has brought The Council so much success in recent years is poised to build on this momentum and help its member firms raise the bar for success in 2023.

The Council is always looking for thoughtful, motivated professionals who can bring new ideas and unique perspectives to our organization. Visit our web site to meet The Council team or to learn more about working at The Council.