Healthapalooza: Minnesota' Premier Health and Life Insurance Conference


See who is part of the line up of industry and legislative leaders speaking at Health-A-Palooza.

Richard Lett, CEO, LeClair Group

Richard Lett is the CEO of LeClair Group. He believes that paying attention to people and their needs is the key to success.

Richard brings a rich history of leadership to LeClair Group, and has a unique understanding of risk management. Richard served for 30 years with the Metropolitan Police in London, otherwise known as Scotland Yard. He was a member of SO14, Royalty Protection Services. He also planned, implemented and delivered major UK and international protection operations, including commanding the VIP Protection Operations for Central London during the 2012 Olympic Games. Richard was made a member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) by Queen Elizabeth II.

Shortly after retiring from his first career, Richard followed his American wife to Minnesota, where he has found a second career with LeClair Group. Richard is a member of several industry associations in both the insurance and the security industry.

Erik Therwanger, ThinkGreat

Erik Therwanger is one of the nation’s leading thinkers on issues of personal growth, professional development, and organizational excellence. Understanding the challenges faced by businesses striving for greater results, Erik focuses on the skills he honed in the U.S. Marine Corps, the financial services industry, and the entertainment industry, to impact growth-oriented companies and their teams.

Erik is the Founder and President of Think GREAT, LLC, a specialized consulting firm focused on accomplishing corporate goals through a unique combination of leadership, team building and sales training. Erik draws on his combined twenty years of experience in the military, an executive business leader, and dynamic presenter to help organizations achieve greater results.

As a speaker and consultant, Erik teaches individuals and businesses how they can exceed the expectations of their own potential. His strategies provide team members with the tools needed to achieve new levels of success. Erik’s interactive and entertaining style allows audiences to connect and relate as he shows them how to open new doors to success in their personal and professional lives. More than just a presenter, Erik provides consistent coaching and training to ensure that organizations exceed their expectations.

Ben Theis, Skol Marketing

In 2012, Ben Theis left the corporate world and rolled up his sleeves to get to work on his dream of going into business for himself. Ben founded Skol Marketing to help small businesses and nonprofits get found online. Ben earned a degree in Sports Marketing and Business from Minnesota State University, Mankato, possesses a love of small businesses, and has experience working directly for Google. Ben has combined his knowledge, experience, and passion to create Skol Marketing.

Dan Arland, LeClair Group

Dan has nearly 15 years of experience as a Medicare expert, having assisted thousands of people in finding the right Medicare solutions for themselves and their families. Dan is dedicated to helping agents navigate the Medicare market. As part of LeClair Dan is able to feed is passion for educating Medicare agents.

Andrea Smith, LeClair Group

As the Director of Employee Benefits,  Andrea works with existing small to medium size businesses to renew benefit plans. Additionally she works with sales to implement new business. Part of Andrea’s job is to assist in building LeClair Group’s Retail Team.

Andrea brings with her five years of experience in the insurance industry, most recently with the Cleveland Company. Andrea’s biggest strength is her ability to work with people. Andrea has a degree from the University of Minnesota.

Andrea strives to maintain a goal oriented team that works to always be the best for each other and their clients.

Tom Esselman, LeClair Group

Tom brings 20 years of experience to LeClair Group in his role as Vice President of Brokerge. His expertise includes employer group plans, voluntary benefits and business continuity planning. He has a special emphasis in working with public sector accounts. Before joining LeClair Group, Tom worked at Metlife as an Executive Benefits Consultant.

Tom strongly believes in external partnership and LeClair Group’s motto that we are “Better Together. He is instrumental in creating a strong environment for agents and their clients through his vision, knowledge and experience.

Bryan S. Derheim, Ameritas

Bryan is the Regional Managing Director at Ameritas, responsible for their Individual Dental and Vision product line. Bryan brings more than 10 years of experience to the industry and is heavily involved with the top Medicare distributors in the country.

Bryan started his career on the financial side, with U.S. Bank Wealth Management and Allianz Life. Six years ago, he was brought to the Health/Medicare industry via Security Life Insurance. An ancillary small-group carrier with an individual Dental product line. Bryan and his team re-positioned the individual product line, focusing on consumer value and simplicity for the broker. With the first consumer-approved enrollment tool, it quickly gained traction within the industry. In 2016, Ameritas purchased Security Life, to expand their individual presence. Combining Security Life’s simplicity and technology with the Ameritas’ brand and network strength, Ameritas has now become the top Senior Dental plan in the country.

Today, Bryan works closely with most of the national Medicare FMO’s and Call Centers. He is actively involved at many of the industry conferences. In addition, he has a passion for technology and thus stays connected with the Insurtech community in Silicon Valley. He believes technology will change our industry, but not replace our industry.

Bryan was born and raised in Minnesota and currently lives with his family in Shoreview, Minnesota. They like to frequent their family cabin in Duluth and enjoy spending time outdoors.

Ben Grabski, UnitedHealthcare

Ben Grabski is the Health Plan CEO responsible for UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Solutions business in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas. He is responsible for all aspects of plan performance including growth, provider network, product development, Star ratings, and affordability. UnitedHealthcare serves over 230,000 Medicare beneficiaries in these states.

Ben joined UnitedHealth Group in 2007 where he supported Optum’s international expansion efforts, and held other various finance roles within UnitedHealthcare’s Employer & Individual and Medicare & Retirement businesses. Prior to his current role as Health Plan CEO, Ben served as Vice President of Strategy & Execution for UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement’s Central Region. In this role, he supported the strategy and performance of UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Advantage business serving over 1,000,000 seniors in 14 states in Middle America. Ben delivered on quality and population health goals, resulting in 85% of members covered by plans rated greater than 4 Stars by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He also redefined how UnitedHealthcare reimburses physicians by creating a new value based incentive that rewards providers who deliver high quality care. Over 2,000 practices nationwide have been enrolled in this quality program.

Ben joined the Alzheimer’s Association board of directors in May 2018.  Ben is passionate to improve how the healthcare system delivers care and supports people with dementia, and he also supports the association’s cause to create a world without Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Ben holds a BS in Finance and a healthcare focused MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, a BA from University of Minnesota’s Ferguson School of Music, has completed Executive Education at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and international graduate studies at the Cheung Kong School of Business in Beijing and the India School of Business in Hyderabad.

Tom Lindquist, Allina/Aetna

Tom Lindquist has spent his entire career in health care and has experience leading both provider and payer organizations. Most recently he was the President of a large Medicaid health plan in South Carolina which he built from the ground up. He not only developed and led a high performing team, but through his leadership they exceeded expectations by consistently improving quality scores and health outcomes.

Before joining Molina in 2013, Tom was the president of AccentCare in Texas, a leader in home health care, where he led strategy and operations and was responsible for over 10,000 employees in Medicare, Personal Care and Hospice organizations throughout the state.

He also held leadership positions for UnitedHealthcare in Minnesota, Texas and Louisiana; Ochsner Health Plan, Inc.; and Memorial Sisters of Charity.

Tom received his MBA from the University of Houston and a BBA in Management from University of Texas at Arlington.

Kurt Small, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

As senior vice president and president of government markets for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Kurt C. Small is responsible for the organization’s government health program business as well as the individual consumer market segment.

Small came to Blue Cross in 2017 from Virginia Premier Health Plan in Richmond, Va., where he served as chief operating officer. Prior to that, he held the position of senior vice president of health plan operations for Highmark Inc., where he was responsible for all service delivery to their government and commercial members. Additionally, Small held several government and commercial executive leadership positions at Aetna over the course of a 15-year tenure.

Small earned his Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Yale School of Management and his bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary. He is a member of the Executive Leadership Council and serves as a trustee of the Winchester Thurston School.

Tom Lindquist, Medica

Tom Lindquist is responsible for directing the strategic development, customer service and operations of all of Medica’s state and federal government-related (Medicaid and Medicare) products. This includes accountability for profit and loss, product development, operations, member service and compliance for the business segments. Tom also is responsible for the organization’s relationship with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Before joining Medica, Tom held executive positions with UnitedHealth Group and served as served as a health insurance industry liaison to the Congressional Budget Office and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Tom received his MBA from the University of Houston and a BBA in Management from University of Texas at Arlington.

Amy Johnson, LeClair Group

Amy has been in the insurance industry since 2004 and brings with her expertise in working with employee benefits and supporting the group market. Returning to Minnesota after working in the VA market for the last three years, Amy has significant experience with medical, dental, vision, life and disability products, and an understanding of the increased need to offer voluntary products to round out benefit packages, including worksite options.

Michelle Wood, MedicaMichelle Wood is the Sales Relationship Manager at Medica, a regional not-for-profit health plan based in Minnetonka. Michelle is responsible for supporting FMO’s like LeClair as well as agents in the field promoting Medica’s Individual/Family and Medicare products.

Michelle has more than 14 years in the Health Insurance Industry and her range of experience gives her a unique understanding of our health care system which she uses to help clients understand insurance products.  Michelle participates in several associations including Minnesota Association of Health Underwriters (MAHU) and National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAIFA)