College School Deans

Workers’ compensation professionals from all sectors are dedicating their valuable time to develop and support the initiative. None more so than those who have agreed to serve as Dean to one of our schools of discipline. Due to the workloads involved, each school has two Deans, who serve with equal responsibility for the development of the overall curriculum in their respective areas. These Co-Deans are:

School of Claims

Beth Goede – Director of Strategy and Optimization with The Hartford.

Beth Goede is a Director with the Strategy and Optimization team. She began her career by reviving and managing a failing vascular surgical practice before shifting her focus to medical case management and workers’ compensation claims. Beth has more than 24 years of workers’ compensation (WC) claims experience and in the past 10 years, she has led innovative and cost-effective strategies for WC & Disability in the areas of compliance, pandemic management, vendor accountability, claim and clinical process optimization, claim & medical management. She is passionate about the biopsychosocial (BPS) model and how each stakeholder in workers’ comp and disability play a pivotal role in whole person recovery. She is both PGAP certified and co-developed a patented behavioral coaching program designed to mitigate BPS risk factors, improve function and prevent delayed recovery, chronic pain and protracted disability. In addition to her extensive industry experience and education, she recently earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, magna cum laude from Purdue University Global in 2021. 

You may view Beth’s LinkedIn Profile Here.

Julie Bandy – Casualty Claims Manager at CBCS, Inc.

Julie Bandy is a Claims Manager with CBCS in Dubuque, IA. Julie has been a part of the insurance industry for the last 26 years. Beginning her career in the health field, she moved her focus to workers’ compensation 18 years ago. During that time, she has developed extensive knowledge in the trucking and manufacturing industries. Three years ago, Julie stepped into the Claims Manager role where she focuses on the operations of the workers’ compensation department.  She leads the department in developing efficiencies for the adjuster and supervisor teams in regards to compliance, vendor relationships, and the customer experience. During Julie’s career she has earned the AIC, AINS and AIC-M designations. In addition to her industry education, she also holds a degree in Psychology from Loras College in Dubuque, IA. 

You may view Julie’s LinkedIn Profile Here.

School of Humanities

Dawn Hays, CPCU, SCLA, AIC – Workers Compensation Claims Supervisor, UFG Insurance

Dawn Hays is the Supervisor of Workers Compensation Claims for UFG Insurance in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She has over 25 years of claims management experience, and a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of Iowa. Currently, her leadership is focused on an initiative to evolve claims handling from a transactional process to a holistic service driven relationship between employees, employers and medical teams.  She is a subject matter expert, having participated in numerous conference presentations across the nation for the last 15 years providing empowerment through education to various stakeholders in the workers compensation partnership.  Some of the most rewarding opportunities of outreach have been provided through service to the Vaughan Institute at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business and Gamma Iota Sigma; the Heartland Center for Occupational Health and Safety at the University of Iowa College of Public Health; and the University of Iowa Pomerantz Career Center’s Career Leadership Academy. Upon conferment of the Charter Property and Casualty Underwriter designation, Dawn made a commitment to uphold the canons to continually maintain and improve her professional knowledge, to improve the function of the insurance mechanism, to raise the professional and ethical standards of the industry as well as elevate the profession of workers compensation claims to one known for wellness driven outcomes. 

You may view Dawn’s LinkedIn Profile Here.

Melissa Steger – Associate Director of Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Insurance at The University of Texas System

Melissa Steger is the Associate Director of Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Insurance for The University of Texas System (the UT System). Melissa is responsible for administering the self-insured workers’ compensation program for academic and health institutions of the UT System. The program includes a certified workers’ compensation health care network and claims handling through a third-party administrator with close oversight by the UT System. She is also responsible for administration of the self-insured unemployment compensation insurance fund. Melissa has extensive experience with the public, private and regulatory sectors of the workers’ compensation insurance industry. Melissa earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in 1993 and her Master of Public Administration in 2003. She holds a Certified Risk Manager (CRM) designation from the National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research. Melissa is the 2021-2022 President of National PRIMA and served two terms on the Texas PRIMA board of directors. She received the 2016 Texas PRIMA Risk Professional of the Year award, the Servant Heart Award in 2019, and the 2020 Chapter Service Award. 

You may view Melissa’s LinkedIn Profile Here.

School of Legal

Stuart Colburn – Shareholder/Attorney at Downs & Stanford

Stuart Colburn is a shareholder of Downs & Stanford. He is board certified in workers’ compensation law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Stuart was the founder and first Chair of the State Bar of Texas Workers’ Compensation Section. He co-authors the Texas Workers’ Compensation Handbook published by LexisNexis and serves on the executive committee of the LexisNexis Advisory Board for Larson’s on Workers’ Compensation. Stuart served as a contributing editor for the Texas Insurance Code Annotated and was a contributor for The Complete Guide to Medicare Secondary Payer Compliance. Stuart is active in the education of attorneys, adjusters, and employers regarding workers’ compensation. He is certified by the Texas Department of Insurance as a continuing education provider. A sought-after speaker, Stuart has delivered over a thousand speeches nationwide regarding workers’ compensation. He has served as the course director for numerous programs including the Texas State Bar’s Advanced Workers’ Compensation Seminar and Texas Workers’ Compensation Forum. The Texas Bar CLE Staff awarded Stuart the “Standing Ovation Award” recognizing his efforts, commitment, and leadership. He received the Comp Laude Award by for his contributions as a defense attorney. Stuart has served on the Texas State Bar Committee for MCLE and will serve as the Chair of the MCL Committee for the State Bar of Texas in 2022. 

You may view Stuart’s LinkedIn Profile Here.

Ya’sheaka Williams, Esq. – Partner, Quintairos, Prieto, Wood, & Boyer, P.A.

Ya’Sheaka Williams is a lawyer with 18 years’ experience, a Board Certified attorney in Workers’ Compensation by the Florida Bar and a Martindale Hubbell Preeminent AV rated attorney. She is a Partner at Quintairos, Prieto, Wood, & Boyer, P.A. based in Tampa FL. She is skilled in trial advocacy, risk assessment and avoidance, management of legal team including attorneys and staff, legal budgeting, and with extensive experience in settlement negotiations and claim resolution. She is a Certified Workers Compensation Instructor, with certification provided through the Florida Department of Financial Services. She has prepared training materials and presentations for lectures on various Workers Compensation topics. She received her Juris Doctor from Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport, Florida in 2003 and a Bachelor of Arts from Brenau University Women’s College, Gainesville, Georgia in 2000, graduating with majors in conflict resolution and pre-law. Florida Super Lawyers magazine named her a Rising Star in the areas of Insurance Coverage and Workers Compensation respectively. She received the Comp Laude award for Defense Attorney in November 2021. Bloom awarded her with the Women Leading the Way in Workers’ Compensation Award and the Exceptional Defense Attorney Award.

You may view Ya’Sheaka’s LinkedIn Profile Here

School of Medical Management

Dr. Elizabeth Frenzel, MD, MPH, FACOEM – Medical Director Injury Management Organization, Inc., Former Director of Employee Health & Well-being, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Elizabeth Frenzel, MD, MPH, FACOEM is Medical Director at Injury Management Organization, Inc. (IMO). Previously, she held a variety of leadership roles at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston TX for more than twenty years. During that time she served as Director for Employee Health & Well-being, Division of Human Resources. In that role she supervised the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program to optimize patient-centered processes and drive innovation through continuous quality improvement initiatives and cost containment strategies. Since March 2020 she led the COVID-19 Pandemic response for Employee Health. She was a Professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases, Infection Control and Employee Health, Division of Internal Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Frenzel graduated from Duke University with a BS in Zoology, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine with a Doctor of Medicine, and from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health with an MPH in Occupational Health. She served residencies in Ophthalmology, Anesthesiology and Occupational and Environmental Medicine and was Board Certified in Occupational Medicine in 2003.

You may learn more about Elizabeth Here.

Dr. Les Kertay, Ph.D., ABPP, FIAIME – Senior VP for Behavioral Health, Axiom Medical

Dr. Les Kertay, Ph.D., ABPP, FIAIME, is a clinical psychologist with over 45 years of clinical experience, and over 20 years of experience in the disability and workers’ compensation arena. In that capacity he has held both frontline and leadership positions, and has served as an industry consultant. Currently he is Senior VP for Behavioral Health for Axiom Medical, working with the team on his passion for delivering meaningful behavioral health solutions in a work setting, and he is Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Dr. Kertay graduated from Western Michigan University with a BA in Communication Arts and Sciences, completed his doctoral program at Georgia State University, and is board certified in Clinical Psychology with the American Board of Professional Psychology, He is a strong proponent of worker-centric clinical care, and has published and presented widely on biopsychosocial issues in return to work, medical/psychological comorbidities, and the value of focusing on behavioral health in disability and workers’ compensation. In addition, he been involved with the AMA Guides publications and the ACOEM Guidelines and has served on committees related to developing medical guidelines.

You may view Les’ LinkedIn Profile Here.

School of Regulatory / Legislative

Abbie Hudgens – Administrator Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

Abbie Hudgens is the Administrator of the State of Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and was previously the risk manager for Nashville/Davidson County and risk/ benefits manager for Knoxville. She has been the national president of the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC), Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators (SAWCA), and Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA). She was also president of the Knoxville Risk Management Society, a member of the Tennessee Advisory Council on Workers’ Compensation, and chairman of the Board of HC 21, an East Tennessee employer led healthcare coalition. Ms. Hudgens was awarded the IAIABC Frances Perkins Award for Innovation and Progressive Leadership in Workers’ Compensation and Social Security in 2015 and WorkCompCentral’s Comp Laude Award for Industry Leadership in 2017. As she has long advocated that those in workers’ compensation should “believe in better,” she is excited about this new approach for workers’ compensation professionals to both increase their knowledge and contribute to the improvement of the U.S. workers’ compensation system. 

You may view Abbie’s LinkedIn Profile Here.

Albert Betts, Jr. -Executive Director, Insurance Council of Texas

Albert Betts is the executive director of the Insurance Council of Texas. Prior to joining ICT, he was a partner at the law firm of Thompson Coe Cousins and Irons, LLP, practicing in the firm’s Insurance law and Governmental and Legislative Advocacy Group. While there he served as general counsel for ICT and represented other insurance related clients at the Texas Department of Insurance and the Texas legislature. In 2005, he was appointed by then Texas Governor Rick Perry as the first Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation for the State of Texas, and reappointed in 2007. He served as Commissioner from 2005 through 2008. Prior to being appointed Commissioner, he served as Chief of Staff for the Texas Department of Insurance. 

You may view Albert’s LinkedIn Profile Here.

Paul H. Sighinolfi – Senior Managing Director, Ametros

Paul H. Sighinolfi is the Senior Managing Director at Ametros, providing thought leadership, leading regulatory and policy initiatives, and providing meaningful strategic direction and insight.

Prior to Ametros, Paul was the Executive Director and Chairman of the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board. Previously, he was a partner at Rudman & Winchell, where he was a member of the firm’s litigation department and directed the workers’ compensation practice group. In his practice he represented both plaintiffs and defendants, and coauthored Maine Employment Guide: Workers’ Compensation.

Paul was a member and Chair of the Board of Bar Overseers, an appointment by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Paul was also appointed to the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, where he was the Fund Chair. He is a fellow of the American Bar Association, College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, was on the Executive Committee of the Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrator, and served on the board of the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). He is a member of the Research Board of the WCRI and is Vice President of Kids’ Chance Maine. Paul earned an AB in Philosophy from St Anselm College a MA from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and a law degree at the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America, Washington, D. C. He is married to Vickie Sidou MD.

You may view Paul’s LinkedIn Profile Here.

School of Return to Work

Ryan Guppy, CDMS – Director, Work Disability Prevention at Linea Solutions, Inc.

Ryan Guppy is the Director of Work Disability Prevention at Linea Solutions and Principal Partner with Vocational Recovery Partners, LLC. His experience spans two decades in workers’ compensation specializing in work disability prevention and mitigation, vocational rehabilitation and return-to-work, interdisciplinary chronic pain management, psychosocial interventions, and leadership.  Most recently, Ryan led the design, implementation, and management of innovative evidence-based work disability prevention and mitigation interventions for a large state fund that produced historically positive human and financial outcomes. He is a Certified Disability Management Specialist (CDMS) who currently sits on the IAIABC’s Work Disability Prevention and Return to Work committee and was the past President of the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals –Washington Chapter. In 2017 he received the Washington Governor’s Leadership in Management Award. 

You may view Ryan’s LinkedIn Profile Here.

Dr. Ilana Lehmann – Vocational Services Specialist – Education Specialist at Washington State Labor and Industries

Ilana Lehmann is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and a member of the Council on Rehabilitation Certification Ethics Committee. Prior to earning her Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Education from Southern Illinois University, Dr. Lehmann worked as a psychotherapist in both inpatient and outpatient settings; Her previous research regarding the employment of people with disabilities has explored employment barriers due to employer practices, such as the use of pre-employment testing, as well as social policies, including federal and state statutes. In 2009, she received a research award for her publication concerning the unintended consequences of the Family and Medical Leave Act on the employment of people with disabilities. She has presented at national and international conferences on a variety of topics related to improving employment for people with disabilities. She has taught both online and in the classrooms at various universities. She is a published author both academic and recreational. Dr. Lehmann is bossed around by her cat, Captain Kirk, and a corgi named Susie Derkins.

You may view Ilana’s LinkedIn Profile Here.

School of Risk Management

Bill Zachry – Board Member, California State Fund

William Zachry has long been a thought leader in the workers’ compensation industry. He served as the group vice president of risk management for Safeway/Albertsons from 2008 to 2016, where he was also vice president of corporate workers’ compensation from 2001 to 2008. Prior to that, he was Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer for StellerNet from 2000 to 2001; Vice President of Claims for the Zenith Insurance Company from 1998 to 2000; and was Senior Vice President of Claims for C.E. Heath (HIH, Care America Compensation) from 1987 to 1998. He was appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to State Fund’s Board of Directors in 2010, and reappointed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014. Zachry was also a member (and Chair) of the California Fraud Assessment Commission from 2000 to 2009 and a board member of the California Self-Insurers Security Fund from 2002 – 2016. Zachry was awarded the RIMS Richard Bland Award for legislative and regulatory advocacy in 2005; the RIMS International Risk Manager of the year in 2014; the CCWC Tim East Award (Workers Compensation Professional of the Year) 2016; and the Work Comp Central David J. DePaolo Summa Comp Laude with highest honor award (for injured worker and worker’s compensation system advocacy) in 2020. He graduated in 1982 with a BS in Business Administration from San Francisco State University.

You may view Bill’s LinkedIn Profile Here.

James Curbeam, CPCU, ARM, AIC – Director of Risk Management, Baltimore County School District  

James Curbeam, CPCU, ARM, AIC, is the director of risk management for the Las Vegas Valley Water District. He holds a B.S. in finance from Creighton University and an executive MBA from the University of Nebraska Omaha. James has served in the following industry leadership roles: President, Nevada Chapter of RIMS; President, Nebraska Chapter of RIMS; and President of the Las Vegas CPCU Society. James is also a founding member of the American Association of Water Distribution & Management, which was formed as a Thought Leadership Lab for risk management in the water industry. He also was named the 2019 PRIMA Risk Manager of the Year.

You may view James LinkedIn Profile Here.

Amalia Sanchez – Risk Manager, City of Culver City, California

Amalia Sanchez is the Risk Manager for the City of Culver City in California and resides in Los Angeles. After completing her undergraduate degree, she was given the opportunity to join the risk team at The Getty Museum where she developed the knowledge and skills in loss control, insurance, and claim management. Since then, Amalia has worked for a number of reputable organizations in different industries which have contributed to her knowledge of workers’ compensation, general liability, litigation and importance of customer/stakeholder service. Amalia has served on the board for the National Latina Business Women Association-National, National Latina Business Women Association-Los Angeles, and Hispanic Risk and Insurance Association. Amalia holds a Bachelor of Art in Sociology and Communication Studies and a Master in Public Administration. Amalia seeks to be an agent of change for her community and underserved communities, and create unforeseen opportunities for others.

You may view Amalia’s LinkedIn Profile Here.

School of Stakeholders

Patti Colwell – Manager of Workers’ Compensation, Southwest Airlines

Patti Colwell is the Manager of Workers’ Compensation for Southwest Airlines. In her role, Patti is responsible for the on-the-job injury care of the company’s more than 59,000 employees. Patti brings over 30 years of experience with Southwest Airlines and 22 years of workers’ compensation industry experience to her current position. Her responsibilities are as unique and varied as the employees and company for whom she serves. She is continually challenged to develop and implement innovative and cost-effective strategies, including both pre-loss and post-loss initiatives. This requires that she understand the job demands associated with each position within the airlines and communicates effectively with management and employees throughout the organization. It also entails forming strong relationships with brokers, insurance carriers, third party administrators, and other service providers who work diligently on the company’s behalf. Patti knows the value of strong partnerships and her management style in dealing these outside resources is frequently credited with much of the program’s success. In 2015, Southwest Airlines was awarded the National Underwriter’s Excellence in Workers’ Compensation Risk Management Award and also nominated for the Comp Laude Employer Award. In 2016, Patti was a Comp Laude Honor Roll Recipient.  

You may view Patti’s LinkedIn Profile Here.

Dr. Tyrone Spears, WCCP, ARM, IPMA-SCP – Division Chief, City of Los Angeles

Tyrone Spears began his workers’ compensation career over 20 years ago at ESIS as a Claims Examiner Trainee and quickly moved into a Claims Examiner role, and later became a Senior Claims Examiner. Tyrone then worked for Sempra Energy as an administrator overseeing workers’ compensation, short/long term disability, and FMLA. He also worked as a paralegal prior to entering into the claims world. Currently, he is the Division Chief of Workers’ Compensation for the City of Los Angeles. He oversees all Workers’ Compensation programs for the City of Los Angeles. Tyrone holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management, Executive MBA in Management, and a Doctorate in Theology. Professionally, he holds the Workers’ Compensation Claims Professional (WCCP) designation, and Associate in Risk Management from the Insurance Educational Association and is certified by the Department of Industrial Relations, Self-Insurance Plans, as a Workers’ Compensation Administrator. Also noteworthy, Dr. Spears is the President and CEO of Hazel’s Hands, a nonprofit to provide resources, services, and leadership to meet the emerging needs of at-risk youth and their families in our communities. His vision is to support, empower, and progress positive change.

You may view Tyrone’s LinkedIn Profile Here.

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