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
Partner, Executive Chairman


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
Senior Advisor


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
Partner, President and CEO


Mike is a founding partner/owner of Avalon. Mike opened Avalon's office in 1998. He later served as Senior Vice President, Sales and most recently as Avalon’s Executive Vice President where he oversaw sales and marketing activities nationwide as well as Avalon’s Eastern and Midwest Divisions, National Account and Marketing Departments. He holds two bachelor’s degrees from Purdue University in Economics and Psychology.

Keith Sanchez

Keith Sanchez
Partner, Executive Vice President – Growth


Keith is a founding partner/owner of Avalon.  As Executive Vice President of Growth,  he oversees the company’s the National Sales and Marketing efforts and will continue to oversee Avalon's Western Division offices. 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.

Nathan Baylor

Nathan Baylor
Partner, Executive Vice President – Operations


Nathan is a partner/owner of Avalon who joined the company in 2002. He is currently responsible for Avalon’s technology, surety underwriting and claims, and overall operational efficiency. Nathan holds an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Change Management from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Arts from Valparaiso University.

Terrie Sapronetti

Terrie Sapronetti
Partner, Executive Vice President – Underwriting


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.

Denise Chipman

Denise Chipman
Partner, Executive Vice President – Human Resources


Denise is a founding partner/owner of Avalon and has worked for the company in many different capacities. She currently oversees Human Resources as well as our training and development team. She is responsible for overall office operational needs at our headquarters in Elk Grove Village and helps coordinate our compliance and efficiency initiatives. Denise holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Northern Illinois University.

Kimberly Wakeman

Kimberly Wakeman
Vice President – Regional Operations & Government Affairs


Kimberly has an extensive background in the global logistics arena. She has spent the last 30 years working with some of the largest logistics companies. She spent over 20 years with CEVA Logistics and was responsible for implementing and directing strategies designed to expand the company’s Global Customs and Trade Services revenues.

Dave Huck

Dave Huck, Vice President - Finance


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.

Christine Wade

Christine Wade
Assistant Vice President – National Accounts


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.

Regional Management based in the Eastern United States

Kathy Schricker

Kathy Schricker, Regional Vice President – Boston


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


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

Christie Brush

Christie Brush, Regional Vice President - Southern Division


Christie joined Avalon in 2007 as an account executive. She has over 30 years of experience in the logistics community in different capacities. With an extensive knowledge of our bonds and insurance, she is able to take on complex risks and provide solutions to our clients.

Leslie Carril

Leslie Carril, Regional Vice President – Miami


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


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


Lisa has been with Avalon over 10 years. She has supervised Avalon’s Centralized Bond Unit and MGA’s underwriting team for Avalon’s CTL and P&C programs. As the RVP for Avalon’s Midwest territories she is responsible for business and account management.

Regional Management based in the Western United States

Andrea Lanouette

Andrea Lanouette, Regional Vice President – Los Angeles


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


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


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.