Our Staff

We believe a company is only as good as its people.


Avalon’s team of more than 120 employees are insurance experts and have been thoroughly trained to understand the special nuances of your industry. Our staff has decades of experience in managing your surety and insurance needs.


Executive Team and Corporate Management


James Zuhlke

James Zuhlke, Executive Chairman

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Jim entered the insurance business in 1976 and has since formed several publicly-traded companies. He assisted Avalon in completing our management buyout in October 2009. Jim obtained his Bachelor of Business Administration and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Wisconsin.

Lisa Gelsomino

Lisa Gelsomino, President/CEO

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Lisa is a founding partner/owner of Avalon, having established our New York office. Based at our corporate office since 2002, she was promoted to President/CEO in 2008. Lisa received her MBA from Northwestern University, with focuses in Marketing, Management and International Business, and her Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Illinois University. She is currently pursuing ARM and CPCU insurance certifications.

Michael Brown

Michael Brown,
Executive Vice President & East Coast Divisional Vice President

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Based in Boston, Mike is a founding partner/owner of Avalon. As Executive Vice President, Mike oversees sales, marketing and national account activities. He is also the Divisional Vice President of the U.S. East Coast. He holds two bachelor’s degrees from Purdue University in Economics and Psychology.

Christine Wade

Christine Wade, Assistant Vice President – National Accounts

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As one of Avalon’s first employees, Chris has more than 20 years of experience and helped open our Chicago office. In her current role, Chris and her staff provide dedicated service to multiple large companies. She also supervises Avalon’s Centralized Bond Unit (CBU), which assists customers in managing Customs Bonds.

Nathan Baylor

Nathan Baylor, Vice President – Operations & Information Technology

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One of Avalon’s owners, Nathan joined the company in 2002. He currently oversees all information technology development, maintenance and helpdesk support, in addition to surety claims and underwriting. Nathan obtained a bachelor’s degree in History and English from Valparaiso University.

Terrie Sapronetti

Terrie Sapronetti, Vice President – Underwriting

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Terrie has more than 30 years of experience in transportation insurance. As one of Avalon’s first employees, she helped open our Los Angeles office. In Terrie’s current role, she oversees all of Avalon’s underwriting functions.

Dave Huck

Dave Huck, Vice President - Finance

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Dave joined Avalon in 2010 and is currently the company’s Controller, overseeing Accounting, Accounts Receivable and Billing. He obtained an MBA with a concentration in Finance from Roosevelt University and a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Loyola University. He also holds a CPCU designation.

Denise Chipman

Denise Chipman, Vice President – Human Resources

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Denise is a founding partner/owner of Avalon and has worked for the company in many different capacities. She currently oversees Human Resources and Transportation Claims, in addition to being responsible for overall company efficiencies. Denise holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Northern Illinois University.

Regional Management based in the Eastern United States


Michael Brown

Michael Brown,
Executive Vice President & East Coast Divisional Vice President

mbrown@avalonrisk.com |   VCard

Based in Boston, Mike is a founding partner/owner of Avalon. As Executive Vice President, Mike oversees sales, marketing and national account activities. He is also the Divisional Vice President of the U.S. East Coast. He holds two bachelor’s degrees from Purdue University in Economics and Psychology.

Kathy Schricker

Kathy Schricker, Regional Vice President – Boston

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Kathy joined Avalon in 1999 and is actively involved with several trade associations in the East Coast. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Indiana University.

Wanda Sample

Wanda Sample, Regional Vice President – New York

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Wanda joined Avalon in 2002 after working for a national customs broker/freight forwarder and has more than 25 years of experience in the customs broker and freight forwarder arenas. Working closely with the logistics community, Wanda is a board member of several trade associations. She has an MBA from Clarkson University.

Regional Management based in the Southern United States


Kevin Sarsfield

Kevin Sarsfield,
Senior Vice President, International Development

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Through decades of experience in the logistics industry, Kevin has developed extensive relationships within the Miami logistics arena, as well as international sales and new product research for Avalon. He oversees the activities of Avalon’s Southern Division and is a founding partner/owner of Avalon.

Grant Goldsmith

Grant Goldsmith, Divisional Vice President - Southern Division

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Grant has more than 20 years of insurance and transportation experience. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy, a master’s degree from Seton Hall University, and a Marine Diploma from Lloyd’s of London. He also holds CIC and CRM designations and is pursuing a Certified Property & Casualty Underwriter designation.

Leslie Carril

Leslie Carril, Regional Vice President – Miami

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Leslie joined Avalon in 1998 and is one of our first employees. Fluent in Spanish, she maintains a strong relationship with Avalon’s customers in the Miami region, as well as trade associations throughout Florida and Latin America.

Lisa Vranich

Lisa Vranich, Regional Manager

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Overseeing the Atlanta/Charleston region, Lisa coordinates sales expansions in the southern division and beyond. Her strong knowledge of the insurance and logistics industries allows her to develop tailored programs for customers.

Regional Management based in the Midwestern United States


Lisa Hennessy

Lisa Hennessy, Regional Vice President - Chicago

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Coming Soon.

Regional Management based in the Western United States


Keith Sanchez

Keith Sanchez, Divisional Vice President - Western Division

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Keith is a founding partner/owner of Avalon and is now Vice President of our Western Division. He is also a past instructor at the Global Logistics Specialist program offered at California State University – Long Beach. Keith has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Accounting and Finance from Westminster College.

Andrea Lanouette

Andrea Lanouette, Regional Vice President – Los Angeles

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Andrea has more than 25 years of experience in the international transportation insurance arena and joined Avalon in September 2005. She is actively involved in the logistics industry and works closely with several trade associations in Southern California.

Deirdre Hudson

Deirdre Hudson, Regional Vice President – San Francisco

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Deirdre joined Avalon in 2002 and has more than 20 years experience in working with the logistics community in different capacities. When Avalon acquired another specialized insurance broker in the courier industry, she was instrumental in the transition and continuation of servicing courier clients.

Jaki Ferenz

Jaki Ferenz, Vice President

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In her role as Vice President, Jaki further develops Avalon’s business through continuous sales efforts, expansion opportunities and partnerships. Based in Seattle, she maintains an active involvement with several trade associations in the Pacific Northwest and nationally.