Joan Cleveland, Chair
President & CEO
SWBC Life Insurance Co.

Joan Cleveland leads SWBC Life Insurance Company, strategically identifying new markets and implementing innovative distribution methods and product offerings. She employs her Six Sigma analytical skills to drive process improvements to enhance the overall customer experience. As a skilled senior executive with more than 30 years of proven leadership and deep experience in the financial services industry, Joan is adept at leveraging her expertise and creativity to integrate products, distribution, and marketing plans for the benefit of the consumer, the customer, and the company.

Joan is a frequent industry speaker and media spokesperson. She is the Chair of LIMRA’s Strategic Marketing Issues Committee, as well as Vice-Chair and President, Board of Directors of the Consumer Credit Industry Association. She is also a member of the Governing Board of Directors of Make-A-Wish of Central and South Texas..

Joan holds her Agent licenses for Life, Accident, and Health with appointments throughout all 50 states and has multiple FINRA securities licenses. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration as well as the Chartered Life Underwriter®, Chartered Financial Consultant®, Registered Employee Benefits Consultant®, and Certified Long-Term Care Professional designations.

Keith Jones, Vice Chair

Senior Counsel
National Life Group

Keith Jones is Senior Counsel responsible for state government affairs at National Life Group. He is an active participant in many industry trades and organizations, including ACLI, LICONY, VCIA and TALHI. He also serves as a board member of the Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine life and health insurance guaranty associations. Keith is a member of the Federation of Regulatory Counsel and a former faculty member of the International Center for Captive Insurance Education.

Keith graduated cum laude from Vanderbilt University and from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, where he served as an Executive Board member for the Hale Moot Court Honors Program and was awarded the Mason C. Brown Award for commitment to justice and trial advocacy skill. Keith served as a judicial extern in the chambers of the Honorable Napoleon A. Jones, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Prior to joining National Life Group, Keith was in private practice. He represented clients in the insurance industry with respect to regulatory compliance, governance, policy forms, reinsurance arrangements/transactions and mergers and reorganizations. He has also represented clients before state and federal regulatory agencies and advocated on behalf of clients before legislators, committees and administrative agencies. Keith is licensed to practice law in Vermont, Massachusetts and Washington, DC.

David Rose, Secretary
Assistant Vice President-State Government Relations

As an accomplished government relations attorney and lobbyist, David has over 25 years experience navigating legislative and regulatory matters at all levels of government. Prior to joining MetLife in 2018, David was a Partner at Wilson Elser and oversaw the Firm's Government Relations practice in Connecticut for seven years, during which time he represented MetLife. David’s government service includes four years as an Assistant Counsel to three New York State Governors, as well as five years serving as Senior Counsel to two Speakers of the Connecticut House of Representatives. At MetLife, David works on the State Government Relations team where he is responsible for legislative and regulatory matters impacting MetLife's products in Texas, as well as Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Washington State, in addition to numerous other compliance jurisdictions.

Michael Hickey, Treasurer
Regional Director

Michael Hickey is the Regional Director for Aflac.

Mark Williams, Immediate Past Chair
Senior Vice President - Investments and Compliance Officer
National Farm Life Insurance Company

Mark Williams is the Senior Vice President - Investments and Compliance Officer for National Farm Life. He has been with NFL for 16 years; prior to that he was a financial examiner with the Texas Department of Inurance. He has a BBA in Finance and an MBA from Tarleton State University.

Jason Broussard
Vice President, Compliance Life and Annuity
American National Insurance Company

Jason Broussard is the Vice President, Compliance Life and Annuity, Corporate Relations and Compliance, for American National Insurance Company in Galveston, Texas, where he is responsible for compliance initiatives relating to life insurance and annuity business.

Eric Dupont
Vice President, Government Affairs
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

Kari King
Director of Government Relations

Kari King is the Director of Government Relations with USAA Insurance. Her previous experience as General Counsel for the Texas House of Representatives Judiciary Committee provides insights into the state and makes her well versed for this critical role. Kari graduated from Southern Methodist University with a B.A. in Political Science and holds her Master's and Juris Doctorate from St. Mary's University School of Law.

Fred Makonnen
Regional Director

Fred Makonnen is the Division Vice President for Equitable. He is a retirement plan sales executive with over 20 years of experience in the Tax Exempt DC market with extensive background in K-12, Higher Ed, Government and Healthcare niche. He supports the many men and women at Equitable who have dedicated their lives to educating educators and other employees across the public sector about their retirement. Their collective effort as an organization instills confidence in employees across all demographics and job classifications, so they can make informed decisions about their financial future.

Ted G. Kennedy
Vice President & Co-Head, US State Government Affairs

Ted Kennedy has over 31 years of experience in the financial services arena. Having served a term with Citicorp N.A., Mr. Kennedy is in his 29th year with American International Group, Inc. His office is in Austin, Texas where he holds the position of Vice President & Co-Head, US State Government Affairs. Mr. Kennedy manages the company’s state level governmental affairs issues for the Western United States with a focus operationally on the company’s life insurance and annuities lines. He participates in the drafting of legislation, provides expert testimony before legislative and regulatory committees, plans internal strategy and manages ongoing activity. He frequently represents the company before national associations where he regularly conducts educational seminars.

Mr. Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law. He is a member of the Association of Life Insurance Counsel and board member of the Texas Association of Life and Health Insurers, the Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies and the Hawaii Insurance Council. In addition, Mr. Kennedy manages the company’s guaranty association activity and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Texas, New York, Florida, Georgia and Washington guaranty funds.

Barry Koonce
Vice President, Chief Government Affairs Officer
American Fidelity

Barry Koonce is Vice President, Chief Government Affairs Officer for American Fidelity Corporation. A lifelong Oklahoman, Barry represents American Fidelity’s interests before federal, state and local elected officials, regulatory bodies, governmental entities, trade associations and other organizations communicating American Fidelity positions that advance the interests of the company, its employees and customers. He has been with American Fidelity for over 22 years.

Barry represents American Fidelity on several national and state insurance industry boards, committees and working groups. Prior to joining American Fidelity, he served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma, after serving as an Assistant General Counsel with the Oklahoma Department of Insurance. Barry is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where he earned both a BBA in Accounting and a Juris Doctor degree. He and his wife, Trish have 3 daughters and reside in Norman.

Dwayne McGraw
Chief Actuary

Dwayne McGraw serves as Chief Actuary for FDLIC, which is based in Texas. He has over twenty years of actuarial experience in the insurance industry and as an actuarial consultant to insurance companies. In his current role, Dwayne provides actuarial leadership for pricing, product development, implementation, in-force management and compliance accountabilities related all insurance products for Funeral Directors Life.

Dwayne is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and is member of the American Academy of Actuaries. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics from Virginia Tech, an M.S. in Mathematics from Northeastern University and returned to the Pamplin School for his MBA. Dwayne's research uses behavioral economics principles to examine how mortality salience influences  consumer purchases of insurance products and how grief influences expenditures on funeral services.

Skip Braziel
Vice President, Government Affairs

Skip Braziel is the Vice President of Government Affairs for Prudential. He has over 20 years of experience advocating, coalition building and problem solving at the local, state and federal levels.

Before joining Prudential, Skip served as Vice President of State Regulation and Legislation for the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) in Washington, D.C. During his career, Skip has served as Assistant Vice President, State Government Relations for MetLife, Inc. in New York City and Washington, D.C., Vice President of State and Local Government Relations at LaSalle Bank Corporation in Chicago, Illinois, and Vice President & Community Relationship Officer at JPMorgan Chase in Chicago, Illinois.

Skip is a native of San Antonio, Texas and currently resides in Dallas, Texas with his wife, Erica Annise. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of Texas at Austin, an M.A. in History from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and a J.D. from Southern Methodist University School of Law.

Pati McCandless
VP, Government Relations
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas

Pati McCandless is vice president of government relations at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX). She is an attorney and government relations executive with extensive policy and legal experience in the managed care industry at the state and federal level. In her career she has developed policy positions, driven advocacy, and delivered speeches and participated on panels for industry forums focused on healthcare reform and managed care legal issues. She is adept at analyzing proposed legislation and assessing potential impact on healthcare organizations and knowledgeable of managed care and government program operations.

Gil Valdes
Governmental Affairs VP
New York Life

Gil Valdes serves as Governmental Affairs Vice President for New York Life. He is primarily responsible for monitoring and evaluating state legislative and regulatory proposals covering all life insurance, tax and market conduct issues in all 50 states. He has led NYL’s Issues Management Process, a management tool used to establish the company’s position and lobbying strategy on a wide range of legislative and regulatory issues. Externally, he has chaired both the Florida and Texas Life Insurance State Trade Associations and currently chairs several industry-wide substantive committees and task forces.

Prior to joining New York Life, Mr. Valdes was the Director of the Human Services Division for the New York City Council, the local legislative branch of government. In that role, he managed a staff of over 25 attorneys and policy analysts and acted as one of the Speaker’s key advisors. He was primarily responsible for reviewing all legislation, legal documentation and oversight prepared by the Division’s multiple legislative committees.

Mr. Valdes started his career with a private law firm, as a Litigation and Corporate Associate representing major Lain American banks and companies in the U.S. and abroad. In that role, he spent several years arguing a wide range of cases and motions in the Federal Court system.

Brent Thompson
Legal Counsel

Brent Thompson is Legal Counsel for Croy-Hall Management, Inc., near Fort Worth, Texas. Croy-Hall Management is a family-owned holding company that operates four small-size life and health insurance companies: Southwest Service Life Ins. Co. (stipulated premium); Regal Life of America Ins. Co. (legal reserve); Capitol Security Life Ins. Co. (stipulated premium); and United Assurance Life Ins. Co. (stipulated premium).

Brent graduated from Willamette University College of Law in Salem, Oregon, with a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in 1992. After law school, he represented individuals and businesses in civil matters in his home town of Anchorage, helping make a nubbin of Alaska Supreme Court labor law precedent along the way. Desiring to live in a smaller land with more hot weather, Brent moved to Texas and was admitted to practice there in 1999. He joined Croy-Hall Management as its general counsel in 2013.

Suzanne Loomis
Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel

Suzanne Loomis is Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel with Primerica Life.