Gunster, one of Florida’s oldest and largest full-service business law firms, is pleased to announce the distinguished nominees for its inaugural Florida Women in Insurance Leadership Awards. Winners will be announced at a luncheon on March 3rd at the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee, hosted by Gunster Government Affairs Consultant Sha’Ron James.  The luncheon is open to the public and those interested may register to attend at no charge by clicking here.

Gunster Attorney Sha'Ron James

“We are thrilled to kick off Women’s History Month by honoring women who are paving the way for a new era of female leadership in Florida’s insurance industry,” said James. “Gunster’s first-ever Florida Women in Insurance Leadership Awards recognizes women from every facet of the industry, across all lines of insurance and risks, that have and continue to make significant contributions to Florida’s insurance marketplace.”

Nominees were chosen for one of the following four categories:

  • Emerging Leader – The Emerging Leader Award recognizes an exceptional young woman under the age of 35 that has shown a clear commitment to and passion for the risk and insurance industry in Florida.
  • Leadership Pacesetter – The Leadership Pacesetter Award recognizes a woman that has taken the lead within Florida’s risk and insurance industry, within her company and/or organization and continues to set a high standard of achievement for others to follow.
  • Lifetime Achievement – The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a woman that has made a significant impact on Florida’s risk and insurance marketplace through her outstanding achievements and career contributions to the insurance industry.
  • DEI Catalyst – DEI Catalyst Award recognizes a company or organization within Florida’s risk and insurance industry that has demonstrated its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion by advancing programs and initiatives that break down barriers in the risk and insurance industry by promoting a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture.

James added, “As founder of the Florida Women in Insurance Leadership Awards, it is important to me that the many contributions women make to Florida’s insurance marketplace are recognized.”

Award nominees are as follows:

Angel Conlin
Chief Insurance Officer
Kin Insurance

Anne Bert
Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund

April Sasser
Personal Lines Advisor
Guided Insurance Solutions

Ashley Allen
SVP – Strategic Growth and Marketing Officer

Belinda Miller
Florida Office of Insurance Regulation
Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

Beth Underwood
Underwood Agency Inc.

Brooke Shirazi
Chief Underwriting Officer
UPC Insurance

Canita Gunter Peterson
Shareholder, Tax Services
Market Leader, Panama City
Thomas Howell Feguson P.A. CPAs

Christine Ashburn
Chief – Communications, Legislative, and External Affairs
Citizens Property Insurance Corporation

Dr. Cassandra Cole
Department Chair
Florida State University Risk Management

Karin Coleman
COO of HCI/President of HCPCI
HCI Group/Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty Insurance Co. Inc.

Logan McFaddin
Assistant Vice President of State Government Relations
American Property Casualty Insurance Association

Mary Katharine Lawler
Douglas M. Croley, Inc.

Maya Hill
Owner/Principal Agent
Bright Beacon Insurance, Inc.

Melissa Burt Devriese
Security First Insurance Company

Melissa Snively
Snively Insurance Agency, Inc.

Monica Richardson
Encore Claim Services

Nina Herran
Head of Commercial Department
Gil & Associates Insurance Consultants

Nina Shepard
Operations Manager
Plastridge Insurance

Paige Crider
Litigation Manager
Florida Peninsula Insurance

Petyah Pierre
Workers Compensation Analyst II
Broward County Sheriff’s Office

Dulce Suarez-Resnick
Vice President of Sales

Elana Schrader, MD
Guidewell Health/FloridaBlue

Erin VanSickle
Senior Government Consultant
Carlton Fields

Faye McKnight
McKnight Insurance Agency Inc.

Heather Mann
Executive Vice President
Aon Risk Services

Heather Stearns
LIBERTY Dental Plan of Florida, Inc.

Jamie Mendelsohn
Executive Vice President
Ashar Group LLC

Jenn Binder
Atlantic Region Property & Casualty Operations Leader
Risk Strategies

Jessica Hanson Hanna
Senior Vice President, Public Affairs
American Property Casualty Insurance Association

Karen Frost
VP, Development
Capital Health Plan

Rachel Bechtel
VP, Commercial Business Strategy & Market Solutions
Guidewell/Florida Blue

Robin Bernstein
Richard S. Bernstein & Associates Inc.

Sandra Starnes
Director, Property & Casualty Product Review
Florida Office of Insurance Regulation

Sarah Revell
AVP, Public Affairs
American Property Casualty Insurance Association

Susanne Murphy
Deputy Commissioner
Property & Casualty
Florida Office of Insurance Regulation

Tamie Moran
Underwriting Analyst and Process Manager
Florida Peninsula Insurance

Tasha Carter
Insurance Consumer Advocate
Florida Department of Financial Services

Veronica Della Porta
Managing Partner
The Della Porta Group

Virginia Austin
Director of Special Investigations
Florida Peninsula Insurance Company

Yhanique Whitely
Small Commercial Sales Manager

Yumeko Motley
Staff Counsel
American Integrity Insurance Group

The full list of award nominees can also be found here.

Florida Women in Insurance Leadership Awards serve as part of Gunster’s Leading Florida Forward initiative, which fosters meaningful dialogue and hosts a variety of programs aimed at empowering the community at large.


About Gunster

Gunster, Florida’s law firm for business, provides full-service legal counsel to leading organizations and individuals from its 11 offices statewide. Established in 1925, the firm has expanded, diversified and evolved, but always with a singular focus: Florida and its clients’ stake in it. A magnet for business-savvy attorneys who embrace collaboration for the greatest advantage of clients, Gunster’s growth has not been at the expense of personalized service but because of it. The firm serves clients from its offices in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, Stuart, Tallahassee, Tampa, Vero Beach, and its headquarters in West Palm Beach. With over 220 attorneys and 200 committed support staff, Gunster is ranked among the National Law Journal’s list of the 500 largest law firms and has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Diverse Law Firms by Law360. More information about its practice areas, offices and insider’s view newsletters is available at

Jenni Garrison
Director of Business Development & Communications


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