Calif. Commissioner Appoints Executive Team

March 1, 2007

California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has named his 14-member executive team at the Department of Insurance.

Earlier in February, Poizner was criticized for naming insurance industry representative, Bill Gausewitz, as his special counsel, a top legal position in his office. But Poizner said the team as a whole is balanced. The team, he said in a press release, “includes members from both political parties, both industry expertise and consumer advocacy, and a solid mix of new faces and experienced veterans from the previous administration.”

The new team includes:

New Chief of Staff/Chief Deputy Insurance Commissioner – Jim Richardson. Richardson, a Republican, will oversee all Department operations and policy matters on behalf of the Commissioner. Richardson has more than 20 years of management, administrative, and policy experience. Most recently, he was principal and CEO of Golden State Consulting, providing informational and strategic services to a variety of clients. He spent 15 years in state service where he held a number of key positions including chief of staff to the Senate and Assembly Minority Leaders and as the Chief Operating Officer of the California State Assembly.

General Counsel and Deputy Commissioner, Legal – Gary Cohen. Cohen, a Democrat, will advise the Commissioner and direct the operations of the Legal Division with responsibility for the nine bureaus: Auto Insurance Enforcement, Sacramento Enforcement, San Francisco Enforcement, Corporate Affairs I, Corporate Affairs II, Policy Approval, Rate Enforcement, Fraud Liaison, and Government Law. Cohen was appointed general counsel/deputy commissioner of the Department’s Legal Branch on April 7, 2003. He previously served as general counsel to the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for two years.

Chief Deputy of Operations– Dennis Ward. Ward, a Democrat, will direct day-to-day activities of the Department’s administration, rate regulation, consumer services, market conduct, financial surveillance and enforcement operations. He will advise the Commissioner and Chief of Staff on policy matters related to those operations. Ward has served as deputy commissioner, Administration & Licensing Services since June 2, 2003. He is a 33-year veteran of the Department, who started as an investigator in 1974, and previously served as chief of the Department’s Enforcement Division.

Deputy Commissioner, Enforcement – Dale Banda. Banda will be responsible for formulating policy and plans, organizing and directing all law enforcement and related operations statewide. He also will review and develop legislation and regulations as needed to support the law enforcement function of CDI. Banda has served as deputy commissioner of the Enforcement Branch, which consists of the Fraud and Investigation Divisions, since Feb. 15, 2005. He has more than 25 years of law enforcement experience. He began his career with the Department in 1993 as a fraud investigator, and was promoted to chief of the fraud division in May 2000.

Deputy Commissioner, Financial Surveillance – Ramon Calderon. Calderon, a Democrat, will direct the Financial Surveillance function with statewide responsibility for the Financial Analysis Division, Field Examinations Division, Actuarial Division and Troubled Companies and Premium Tax Audit. He will advise the Commissioner on a range of financial surveillance issues. He has served as deputy commissioner of the Department’s Financial Surveillance Branch since Aug. 2, 2004. In his 31 years with the Department, he developed technical expertise in insurance accounting and finance systems. His experience and familiarity with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) enables California to retain its leadership role in shaping national financial policies and standards. Calderon first joined the Department in 1976 as an insurance examiner and subsequently served as Bureau and Division Chief of Field Examinations.

Deputy Commissioner, Rate Regulation – David Diehl. Diehl, a Republican, will provide policy advice and direction to the Insurance Commissioner and Executive Staff on administrative and program policies. He will also manage and provide general direction over the operations and activities of the Rate Regulation Branch and its six rate filing bureaus located in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Diehl was appointed as Deputy Commissioner, Rate Regulation, on July 1, 2004 after a national recruitment effort. He came to the California Department of Insurance from the Maryland Insurance Administration where he served as the chief administrator for five years. He has more than 24 years of experience.

Special Counsel to the Commissioner – William Gausewitz. Gausewitz, a Republican, will provide legal advice to the Commissioner and Chief of Staff concerning the decisions on all adjudicative hearings in which the Department is a party; highly sensitive and complex legal issues such as jurisdictional issues with other agencies like the Department of Managed Health Care and the Department of Industrial Relations; legal issues arising from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners; and on any new emerging issues that would not appropriately be assigned to internal legal staff. He will serve as a member of the Executive Staff and participate in meetings and policy deliberations. He will also coordinate and direct multi-disciplinary taskforces within the Department on specific umbrella issues such as issues affecting seniors. In addition, he will be responsible for the oversight, policy direction and the day-to-day operations of the Government Law Bureau and he will be headquartered in Sacramento.

Deputy Commissioner, Consumer Services & Market Conduct – Sherwood “Woody” Girion. Girion, a Democrat, will provide advice and policy direction on consumer issues that impact upon operations and profitability, financial stability and fair conduct of the insurance industry. He will have overall management responsibility and direction of the Consumer Services and Market Conduct Divisions. Girion has served as deputy commissioner, Consumer Services & Market Conduct, since Aug. 16, 2004.

Special Assistant to the Commissioner – Jesse Huff. Huff, a Republican, will provide leadership, policy direction, and oversight for activities of the Department’s Office of Ethics & Operational Compliance, Office of Market Competition, Executive Office, Information Security Office, Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of Strategic Planning, and the EEO Office. His responsibilities will encompass issues and projects that are significant and time sensitive for the Insurance Commissioner’s intervention, and that are normally extremely sensitive and confidential in scope and nature. He will be headquartered in Sacramento.

Deputy Commissioner, Legislative Director – David Link. Link, a Democrat, will be responsible for providing policy advice on a range of topics including disability insurance expertise that will guide the Department’s policy direction for health insurance related issues; representing the Department and the Insurance Commissioner in effective collaborations with other state and federal government agencies, consumer groups and insurance industry representatives to improve disability and health insurance regulation, and consumer protection activities of the Department; representing the Department and the Insurance Commissioner at legislative hearings and advising the Legislature and Governor’s Office on behalf of the Department on all matters, concerns, issues and policies of the Department’s disability insurance regulatory functions, policy direction and health care insurance education efforts. Link is headquartered in Sacramento. Link previously served as special counsel to Sen. Liz Figueroa, and for the past 10 years, has advised on issues relating to health policy and insurance.

Deputy Commissioner, Community Relations – Richard Robinson. Robinson, a Democrat, will provide leadership and policy direction over the Community Outreach and Low Income Community Outreach programs, the Department’s California Organized Investment Network (COIN) program, the Consumer/Industry Education Initiatives, and the Low Cost Auto program. Robinson most recently served as a principal with the ERW Group LLC and Robinson Communications.

Deputy Commissioner, Communications & Press Relations – Byron Tucker. Tucker, a Democrat, will continue his duties providing expertise, advice and strategic direction regarding the Department’s public communications and press relations program; consulting with and advising the Commissioner and other members of top management on issues of interest to the public and the media; responding to sensitive inquiries/correspondence; educating members of the media and the insurance industry concerning special initiatives being considered, generated and implemented within the Department. Tucker was appointed deputy commissioner, Communications & Press Relations on Dec. 1, 2003.

Asst. Deputy Commissioner, Communications & Press Relations – Jennifer Kerns. Kerns, a Republican, will be responsible for the dissemination of program and policy information to the public, media and governmental agencies. She also consults with and advises the Commissioner and other executive level staff and communications staff on issues and responds to media inquiries. In addition, she establishes CDI information program objectives and writes and edits press materials on behalf of the Department. Jennifer serves as the Commissioner’s primary spokeswoman to the public and media. She is headquartered in Sacramento.

Deputy Chief Counsel – Connie Perry. Perry, a Democrat, will assist the General/Chief Counsel in the administration of the Department’s Legal program; has functional supervision over specific program areas within the Legal Branch; supervises the day-to-day operations of the Legal Branch, and acts on behalf of the General/Chief Counsel. Perry has served the Department for 16 years, beginning her career as a civil servant. She served as an appointee during the Garamendi administration serving in the role of Deputy General Counsel.

Rick Baum, the current chief deputy and member of the previous administration, will continue to serve as chief deputy through the end of March.

Source: CDI

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