Board of Directors
Retired President - H.R. Keller & Co., Inc.
Eric P. Keller graduated from Cornell University with B.A. in Economics. He joined Henry R. Keller Associates, Inc., as a sales representative and held the titles of Vice President and President over the next ten years. In June of 1982, Eric served as President and Treasurer of Goldome Premium Finance, Inc., a premium finance agency. From 1984 to 2018, Eric owned H.R. Keller & Company, Inc., an excess and surplus lines brokerage. In 2018, he sold the business to Risk Placement Services, Inc., where he served as an independent consultant facilitating transactions of acquired business for new owners.
Eric has been a member of the Board of Directors of ELANY since 2017 and currently serves as Chairman of the Association. He has served on several other Boards throughout his illustrious career including: the Insurance Premium Finance Association of New York where he was appointed Secretary and Board Member and served as President from 1981 to 1983; the Independent Insurance Agents Association of Western New York as Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Board Member and President from 1994 to 1995; IIAANY as Regional Legislative Chairman from 1998 to 2001 and as Grassroots Legislative Coordinator from 2001 to 2004; IAAC as a Board Member from 2005 to 2008; and the Professional Insurance Wholesalers Association of New York (PIWA) as Secretary and Board Member from 2011 to 2019.
Eric is a member of WSIA, PIWA and is a retired member of IIABNY.
In 2015, he received the Pioneer Award from Independent Insurance Agents Association of Western New York and in 2005, was voted Employer of the Year by the Insurance Women of Buffalo, Inc.
SVP, Chief Compliance and Privacy Officer - Ryan Specialty Group
Michael Blackshear is Senior Vice President, Chief Compliance and Privacy Officer for Ryan Specialty Group (Ryan Specialty) with responsibilities for maintaining and growing an effective compliance and regulatory risk framework for Ryan Specialty’s North American, United Kingdom, and European operations. Michael is a 30-year risk management and compliance veteran that previously served as Chief Compliance Officer for Chubb’s North American operations, where he successfully navigated the compliance framework integration and transformation during the ACE/Chubb merger. Prior to that, he served in progressively promoted senior roles at Marsh & McLennan, KPMG, and PwC, all after starting his insurance career as an underwriter trainee and insurance broker for Continental Insurance and Alexander & Alexander, respectively.
Michael was recognized by Insurance Business America Magazine in 2020 and 2021 as an influential insurance professional that shaped, transformed, and pushed the insurance industry forward with his leadership, dedication, mentorship, and vision. He has also been honored by Syracuse University, receiving the Chancellor’s Citation, the university’s most exclusive honor, in recognition of his significant career and civic achievements; and by Fordham’s Black Law Student Association, receiving the annual Ruth Whitehead Whaley Award for being a prominent alumnus in the field of compliance.
Michael received a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Syracuse University, Whitman School of Management, a Master’s in Business Administration from St. John’s University, Maurice R. Greenberg School of Risk Management, Insurance, and Actuarial Science, and his Juris Doctorate from Fordham Law School. He also received a certification in “Managing Ethics in Organizations” from Bentley College and recently completed a certification at Loyola University, Chicago at the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Institute.”
Michael serves on several advisory boards and was elected to the Board of Directors of the Excess Line Association of New York (ELANY) in 2021. He current serves as Vice Chairman and is a member of the Audit and Finance Committee and is Chairman of the Operations & Procedures Committee. ELANY is a nonprofit industry advisory association charged with the duty to facilitate and encourage compliance with the surplus lines insurance laws of New York State. In addition, Michael was recently elected as a new member of Syracuse University’s Board of Trustees.
JOHN A. BUCKLEY
President - Jencap Specialty Insurance Services
John Buckley graduated from Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH, in 1982. In 1983, he joined Moore Excess, a surplus lines wholesaler and eventually acquired the firm in 1991. Moore Excess was purchased by NIF Group in 1995 and John was named Senior Vice President and part-owner in NIF Services of New York. In June of 2006, he was named President of NIF Services of New York which was rebranded in October 2021 to JenCap Specialty.
John was appointed to the Board of Directors of Professional Insurance Wholesalers Association (PIWA) in 1989 and served as President from 1991 to 1993. He has served on the Board of the Excess Line Association of New York (ELANY) since 1994 and currently is Treasurer, Chair of the Audit and Finance Committee, a member of the Information Resources and Security and a member of the Nominations Committees.
John has been a member of NAPSLO/WSIA since 1985.
Among his many achievements, John was honored as Suffolk County Insurance Person of the Year.
Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Inc.
Lance Backer holds a BS in Finance from Towson University. Subsequent to his graduation, Lance worked as AVP-Broker/Account Manager for Aon from 1991 to 1996. A career with Willis followed and from 1996 to 2005, Lance served as Executive Vice President overseeing Large Accounts Team. In 2005, he joined Arthur J. Gallagher & Company as Vice Chairman of the Northeast Region and serves as co-director of the company’s global risk management practice to this day. In that capacity, Lance heads up a team devoted exclusively to the risk management needs of large companies.
Lance has served on several industry Boards including the Council on Litigation Management (CLM), Zurich’s advisory board. He is currently the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Excess Line Association of New York (ELANY) and served as Chairman from 2018 to 2020. He serves on the Operations & Procedures Committee, the Information Resources and Security Committees and the Nominations Committee. He holds the ARM professional designation.
Among his many achievements, Lance continues to be a top 10 producer for Gallagher maintaining some clients for over 25 years.
JOSEPH F. CALIGIURI
Senior Vice-President, National Property Practice - Jencap Specialty Insurance Services
Joseph Caligiuri is a graduate of St. John’s University, The Peter J. Tobin College of Business, where he received his B.S. in P&C Insurance and Business Administration. In 2002, Joe opened the firm Cal E&S Brokers, Inc., which was later sold to RPS. In 2009, he struck out on his own operating as President of NCC (National Coverage Corp.).
In January 2022, Joe sold his interest in NCC and maintained a limited position as a Senior Property Consultant. He now serves as Senior Vice President with the National Property Practice Group at JenCap Insurance Services. Joe is a Past President of PIWA. He was elected to the Board of ELANY in 2007 and has served as Treasurer, Vice Chairman.
He was appointed Chairman in 2012 and currently serves as Chairman of the Industry Liaison, Legislation & Regulation Committee and is a member of the Nominations Committee.
GARY A. HOLLEDERER
Gary Hollederer began his career with the Travelers Insurance Company in 1973 where he was a commercial underwriter. He joined Russell Bond in 1992 as General Manager with responsibility for oversight of all operations. Russel Bond was rebranded in October 2021 to JenCap Specialty and Gary served as President of the Buffalo office through September 2022. He is also a partner in Access Funding LLC, offering insurance premium and commercial financing, primarily through insurance brokers.
Prior to joining Russell Bond, Gary held management and marketing positions at Alexander & Alexander as well as two large retail agencies in Western New York. During that period, he represented his firm(s) on the Agent's Advisory Councils of the Royal; Continental and CIGNA. He has served as President of the Western New York Marketing Association and as Vice President of the Insurance Club of Buffalo.
Gary has held leadership positions with the Lewiston-Porter Community Alliance, Niagara Falls United Way and has served as a Director on Leadership Niagara and the Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club. In addition, he has served as a Director and President of the Rotary Club of Niagara Falls.
Gary is Past Chairman of Excess Lines Association of New York (ELANY) and currently is a member of the Board of Directors, chairs the Information Resources and Security Committee and is a member of the Legislative & Regulation Committee. He is Past President of the Professional Insurance Wholesalers Association of New York State, Inc. (PIWA) and currently chairs the Membership Committee and serves on the Legislative Committee. He served on IFG’s Producer Advisory Council and previously served on the Burlington Insurance Group Producer Advisory Council.
Gary is a graduate of the State University College at Buffalo. He is a member of WSIA’s legislative Committee and earned the Associate in Surplus Lines Insurance (ASLI) designation and is currently enrolled in the Registered Professional Liability Underwriter (RPLU) program from PLUS of which he is also a member.
Don Privett has over 40 years experience in the insurance industry. He began his insurance career in London, England, structuring and placing large and unique accounts during one of the strongest markets in Lloyd’s of London history. He was fortunate to have worked with some of the most pioneering and progressive minds in the industry during his time in London. In 1997, Don launched his own specialty wholesale company in New York, Privett Special Risk Services LLC, which he ran for 15 years before the Company was sold in 2012. Under Don’s leadership, the Company built a stellar reputation as one of the major independent specialty wholesale brokers in the United States. In 2012, he assumed the position of Executive Vice President of Worldwide Facilities, Inc., and in 2018, was hired as Managing Director of Brown & Riding Insurance Services.
Among his many achievements, Don played a crucial role in developing credit enhancement policies for many of the largest accounts in the country, helped create a terrorism market after September 11th, and has worked on some of the largest utility, energy, and property accounts in the country. He is extremely well known throughout the world markets for his extensive knowledge of policy forms and the claims process for large property and mining accounts.
Don has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Excess Line Association of New York (ELANY) since 1999. He was appointed Treasurer in 2002, Vice Chairman in 2004 and Chairman in 2005. He currently serves on the Operations & Procedures Committee and the Audit and Finance Committee. He is a Past President of the Insurance Brokers Association of New York (IBANY), a NAPSLO (now WSIA) member, and one of the founding members of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation of New York (current board member).
IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIRMAN
General Star Management Company
Jim Richardson received a BBA in Public Administration from Baruch College, CUNY, in 1980 and, subsequently, began his career as a commercial line’s underwriter with the Travelers. Jim worked as Vice President of Casualty Facultative at J.L. Kelley from 1988 to 1991 and in June of 1992, he began his long career in Surplus Lines with General Star Management Company. At General Star, Jim held several titles including Casualty Underwriter, Casualty Branch Manager in New York, Eastern Regional Manager for Primary and Excess Casualty, Western Regional Manager for Primary and Excess Casualty and currently holds the title of Vice President of the Programs Division. Jim received his ASLI designation in 1995.
Throughout his career, Jim has served on committee’s for both WSIA and PIWA and, in 2014, was appointed to the Board of Directors of ELANY, currently serving as Immediate Past Chairman. He chairs the Nominations Committee and serves on the Industry Liaison, Legislation & Regulation Committee and the Operations & Procedures Committee.
Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer, Baldwin Risk Partners
Denise brings thirty years of legal, risk, and compliance experience across the financial services sector, with a twenty-year concentration in the Insurance industry.
In her current role, Denise serves as Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at Baldwin Risk Partners (“BRP”), where she provides contractual, regulatory, and compliance guidance in connection with business strategic initiatives. As Chief Compliance Officer, Denise is responsible for designing and implementing a compliance framework to prevent, detect, and respond to potential violations of law, policies, and procedures.
Prior to her role with BRP, Denise most recently served as Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer of Marsh McLennan (“MMC”), where she led the compliance strategy, advising senior management concerning risk and compliance issues; as well as developing, leading, and managing subject matter experts in a team of more than 250 compliance professionals. Before being promoted Denise held a senior role at Marsh USA Inc. as Managing Director, Chief Compliance Officer and Regulatory Counsel, US Region.
Denise served as Compliance Director, Laws and Regulation at Willis Towers Watson for more than ten years, working on matters impacting the business around licensing, monitoring, M&A due diligence, and surplus lines regulation. She collaborated with senior business leaders to develop, implement, and enforce policies and procedures; ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations; and enhance business efficiency and client service.
Prior to focusing on the Insurance Industry, Denise worked as a corporate attorney at Sidley Austin Brown & Wood (now Sidley Austin LLP) and Jordan Burt (now Carton Fields).
Denise earned a Bachelor of Arts from New York University, a Juris Doctor from Fordham Law School, and an Advanced Certificate in Compliance from ICA International. She is admitted to practice law in New York and Florida. Denise also serves on corporate and educational advisory boards and is also an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University School of Law.
Denise currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and their two children. She contributes her time to international pro bono and charitable work using her legal skills and fluency in Spanish to volunteer in mentoring programs focused on empowering first-generation students from low-income communities. She has worked with several non-profit organizations including Imentor, Safe Passage and Lawyers for Children.
Jo Ann Peri
Area President – Risk Placement Services
Jo Ann Peri is a graduate from Fordham University where she received a B.A. in Computer Science.
In 1994 Jo Ann opened an office in NY for an insurance wholesaler. In 1995 Jo Ann purchased Cowles & Connell, Inc.
In 2014, Jo Ann sold Cowles & Connell to Risk Placement Services where she continues to manage and run the northeast profit center.
Jo Ann is a past president of PIWA and served on the board from 2005-2015.
As Area President and through her leadership, the northeast division continues to grow and has become one of Risk Placement Services largest profit centers, winning several branch awards.