Conversation Panelists

The Wharton Risk Center is hosting a series of conversations examining different topics at the intersection of insurance and climate change throughout the second half of 2021. We are pleased to have the following people join as panelists and moderators. Learn more about the series here.

Patricia Born, PhD is the Midyette Eminent Scholar in Risk Management and Insurance in the Department of Risk Management/Insurance, Real Estate and Legal Studies at Florida State University’s College of Business. Her research interests include insurance market structure and performance, and the management of catastrophic risks.  She has published in leading insurance academic journals, including Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Journal of Risk and Insurance, Journal of Regulatory Economics, Columbia Business Law Review, and the Journal of Business and Economic Statistics.  Born is a member of the board of the American Risk and Insurance Association and serves on the editorial board of the Risk Management and Insurance Review and Journal of Insurance Issues. She also serves as chair of the Florida Panhandle District Long Term Care Ombudsman Council.

Andrew Carrier is Chairman of the Lloyd’s Tercentenary Research Foundation.  He joined he joined MS Amlin as Chief Underwriting Officer in September 2020.  He has over 35 years of experience in the global insurance market. Previous positions were with Everest Re Group with responsibility for all reinsurance operations outside of the Americas, with Argo Group in Bermuda where he was Chief Underwriting Officer, and with the Kiln Group at Lloyd’s where he was Active Underwriter of its flagship syndicate.  He is an associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute and a graduate of Cambridge University.

Kristina Dahl, PhD, is a senior climate scientist for the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In her role, she designs, executes, and communicates scientific analyses to make climate change more tangible to the general public, and to policymakers. Her research focuses on the impact of climate change, particularly sea level rise and extreme heat, on people and places. Prior to joining UCS, Dahl was the associate director of a school-wide climate change initiative at Rutgers University, and provided scientific guidance as a course scientist for the American Museum of Natural History’s Seminars on Science program, a set of online courses geared toward K-12 educators. She also served as a science communicator for Al Gore’s Climate Project, delivering presentations on global warming for K-12 students and adult learners. Dahl received a BA in Earth sciences from Boston University and her PhD in paleoclimate from the MIT/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program.

Lloyd Dixon is a senior economist at the RAND Corporation and director of the Kenneth R. Feinberg Center for Catastrophic Risk Management and Compensation at RAND.  His expertise is in insurance, compensation, and liability issues.  He has examined the prevalence of flood insurance across the country and, following Hurricane Sandy, assessed the costs and benefits of a flood insurance affordability program for New York City.  He recently completed a study characterizing the risk management practices of state and local government and their implications for FEMA’s Public Assistance program.  For California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, he investigated the impact of changing wildfire risk on California’s residential insurance market.  Following the September 11th terrorist attacks, he described and evaluated the complex web of insurance, charity, government, and tort payments that provided assistance to individuals and businesses harmed in the attacks, and has examined the incentives that potentially responsible parties have to provide assistance in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. He is currently analyzing options for a federally backed pandemic risk insurance program and investigating the impact of compensation funds on post-disaster litigation.

Lynn M. Fisher, PhD, is Deputy Director, Division of Research and Statistics at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). As the Deputy Director, Fisher is responsible for using economics, research, and data analytics to enhance FHFA’s regulatory policy, supervision, and oversight.  Fisher joined FHFA in 2019 from the American Enterprise Institute where she was a Resident Scholar and Co-Director of the Housing Center. Prior to that, she was the Vice President of Research and Economics at the Mortgage Bankers Association and served on the faculty of the University of North Carolina, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Washington State University. She received her PhD in Business Administration from Penn State University, where she concentrated in real estate finance and microeconomics.

W. Craig Fugate served as President Barack Obama’s FEMA Administrator from May 2009 to January 2017. Previously, he served as Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Emergency Management Director from 2001-2007 and Governor Charlie Crist from 2007-09. Fugate led FEMA through multiple record-breaking disaster years and oversaw the Federal Government’s response to major events such as the Joplin and Moore Tornadoes, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Matthew, and the 2016 Louisiana flooding.  Fugate set a clear and compelling vision, mission, and priorities for FEMA and relentlessly drove the Agency to achieve better outcomes for survivors.  FEMA’s effectiveness in dealing with more than 500 Presidentially-declared major disasters and emergencies under Fugate’s leadership restored the faith of the American people in the Federal Government’s ability to respond to disasters.  Prior to his tenure at FEMA, Fugate was widely praised for his management, under Governor Jeb Bush, of the devastating effects of the 2004 and 2005 Florida hurricane seasons.  He currently provides senior level advice and consultation is the area of disaster management and resiliency policy through Craig Fugate Consulting LLC, and also serves as the Chief Emergency Management Officer at One Concern.

Kelly Hereid (1)

Maryam Golnaraghi, PhD, is the director of climate change and environment at The Geneva Association whose members are CEOs of the largest insurance companies worldwide. She leads strategic initiatives to innovate and scale up industry’s contributions as risk managers and investors to transitioning to a resilient low-carbon economy.  From 2004 to 2014, she was the chief of disaster risk reduction program at the World Meteorological Organization, where she headed up and built an international program the supports governments with the development of national policies, institutional and operational capacities in climate and disaster risk management.  In 1997 Golnaraghi founded and served as the CEO of Climate Risk Solutions, Inc. a risk analytics and advisory firm, headquartered in Boston, where she delivered innovative climate-risk assessment and risk management solutions to companies in the energy, agriculture and financial sectors and the U.S. government.  Golnaraghi serves on a number of executive and advisory boards of governments, companies, Centres of Excellence and multi-lateral organizations, and is a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.  In 2020, she was included in a list of ‘Most Influential on Climate Change’ by InsuranceERM and among the top 100 influencers in the world on topic of “Resilience” by The Leaders’ Magazine.  She holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University, an MS in Applied Physics and a PhD in Physical Oceanography from Harvard University.

Kelly Hereid

Kelly Hereid, PhD, CCRMP, is the director of catastrophe R&D at Liberty Mutual in the Corporate Enterprise Risk Management group.  Previously, she was a research scientist at Chubb, starting in reinsurance with Chubb Tempest Re in 2012 and moving to the primary side natural catastrophe unit in 2018. She specializes in climate change, non-modeled perils, and emerging risks. Hereid is a board member of the International Society of Catastrophe Managers (ISCM), chair of the ISCM Education Committee, member of the Reinsurance Association of America (RAA) Catastrophe Management Conference planning committee, and serves on the Advisory Council for the University of Texas – Austin Geology Foundation. She has a PhD in Geological Sciences from the University of Texas – Austin, focusing on climate science, and a BA in Geology and Biology from Carleton College in Minnesota.

Alice Hill

Alice Hill is the David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment at the Council on Foreign Relations. Her work at CFR focuses on the risks, consequences, and responses associated with climate change.  She previously served as special assistant to President Barack Obama and senior director for resilience policy on the National Security Council staff where she led the development of national policy to build resilience to catastrophic risks, including climate change and biological threats. Prior to this, she served as senior counselor to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in which she led the formulation of DHS’s first-ever climate adaptation plan and the development of strategic plans regarding catastrophic biological and chemical threats, including pandemics. She currently serves on the boards of the Environmental Defense Fund and Munich Re Group’s U.S.-based companies.  In 2020, Yale University and the Op-Ed Project awarded her the Public Voices Fellowship on the Climate Crisis.  Hill’s books include Building a Resilient Tomorrow (2019) and The Fight for Climate after COVID-19 (Fall 2021.)

Matthew E. Kahn, PhD, is Provost Professor of Economics and Spatial Sciences at the University of Southern California. His research focuses on urban and environmental economics. He recently served as the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Economics and Business at Johns Hopkins University and the Director of JHU’s 21st Century Cities Initiative. He has taught at Columbia, the Fletcher School at Tufts University, UCLA, Harvard, Stanford and the National University of Singapore. Recent books include “Adapting to Climate Change” (Yale University Press, 2021); “Blue Skies over Beijing: Economic Growth and the Environment in China” (joint with Siqi Zheng, Princeton Press, 2016); “Climatopolis” (Basic Books, 2010); and “Green Cities: Urban Growth and the Environment” (Brookings Institution Press, 2006).

Alex Kaplan is executive vice president of Alternative Risk for Amwins Group, the largest wholesale insurance distributor globally. He leads the development and execution of innovative risk transfer solutions, such as parametric insurance, that transform financial risk across all segments of society. Kaplan is also responsible for developing new products and capital sources for Amwins, its retail customers and their clients.  Prior to joining Amwins, Kaplan was Head of Swiss Re’s North America Public Sector Solutions unit. In this role, he assisted governments and international financial institutions in their management of financial risks, helping society create effective responses to major challenges, including natural catastrophes and climate change, while transforming the industry’s approach to these risks. Over the past five years, he has helped move over $2 billion USD of taxpayer exposure into the private market. He holds a patent for a parametric windstorm insurance mechanism design and was featured in National Geographic’s Years of Living Dangerously for his expertise on insurance solutions to address climate-related risks.

Benjamin J. Keys, PhD, is the Rowan Family Foundation Professor of Real Estate and Finance at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He studies issues related to household finance, mortgage finance, real estate, applied econometrics, labor economics, and urban economics. Prior to joining the faculty of the Wharton School, Keys taught at the Harris School of Public Policy and co-directed the Kreisman Initiative on Housing Law and Policy at the University of Chicago. Previously, he worked as a staff economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in the Division of Research and Statistics. Keys is a Faculty Research Fellow of the National Bureau of Research, a member of the Academic Research Council of the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute, and a Faculty Fellow of the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received a BA in Economics and Political Science from Swarthmore College and an MA and PhD in Economics from the University of Michigan.

Carolyn Kousky

Carolyn Kousky is Executive Director at the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also directs the Policy Incubator.  Dr. Kousky’s research examines multiple aspects of disaster insurance markets, disaster finance, climate risk management, and policy approaches for increasing resilience. She has published numerous articles, reports, and book chapters on the economics and policy of climate risk and disaster insurance markets, and is routinely cited in media outlets including NPR, The New York Times, and The Financial Times, among many others. She is the recipient of the 2013 Tartufari International Prize from the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. She is the vice-chair of the California Climate Insurance Working Group, a university fellow at Resources for the Future, a non-resident scholar at the Insurance Information Institute, and a member of the Roundtable on Risk and Resilience of Extreme Events at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. She has a BS in Earth Systems from Stanford University and a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University.

Michael LaCour-Little, PhD, is Senior Director, Economic and Strategic Research, at Fannie Mae. He joined Fannie Mae in 2016 as Director – Economics. Previously, he was Chair of the Department of Finance at California State University – Fullerton, where he is now Professor Emeritus. Prior to a ten-year stint in academia, he worked for decades in banking at Wells Fargo and Citibank, including their mortgage companies. He continues to serve on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals and is the author of dozens of peer-reviewed papers on topics in housing economics and real estate finance. He earned his PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and undergraduate and MBA degrees at the University of California.

Samantha Medlock is senior counsel for the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, leading the Committee’s work to advance adaptation, resilience, and preparedness, including the wider adoption and enforcement of codes and standards to advance sustainability and reduce loss of life and property. Medlock led development of the Climate Crisis Action Plan for Congress on climate science, resilience, public health, national security, and financial risk. She joined the Committee from a private sector role in climate risk management, insurance, and finance. Previously, she was senior advisor in the Obama White House, coordinating across the Executive Office of the President and the administration to reduce the risks and costs of climate change and disasters, including managing the White House Climate Insurance Partnership. She has more than 25 years of experience in environmental, land use, and disaster law and policy supporting governments, business leaders, and public/private partnerships.

Edward Mishambi serves as senior vice president and Chief Risk Officer-Europe at RenaissanceRe, leading RenaissanceRe’s European risk management framework.  He also leads RenaissanceRe’s group activities related to managing relationships with rating agencies.  Prior to joining RenaissanceRe, Mishambi worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Bermuda and with Deloitte in East Africa.  A Rhodes Scholar, he attended Oxford University and graduated with an MSc in Environmental Change and Management.  He is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA) and is the Policy Committee Chair of the Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers (ABIR). He received his BSc (Honors) in Quantitative Economics from Makerere University.

Michael Peterson, PhD, is the inaugural Deputy Commissioner of the Climate and Sustainability Branch for Commissioner Ricardo Lara at the California Department of Insurance. In this role, Peterson is leading multiple initiatives to reduce climate risk and increase resilience, including partnering with the United Nations Principles for Sustainable Insurance to develop the California Sustainable Insurance Roadmap, envisioned to pave the way for innovative risk management, insurance and investment solutions that reduce climate risks and protect natural ecosystems. This is the first time the United Nations has partnered with an American state to create a sustainable insurance strategy and action plan. Prior to his current position, Peterson was a policy consultant in the California State Senate, focusing on climate change, natural resources, air quality, and energy policy. Peterson earned a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MA at Western Washington University.

Brian Powell is the Director of the Mitigation Resources Division at Alabama Department of Insurance. The Alabama Department of Insurance (ALDOI) is the regulator of the sale of insurance in Alabama, working diligently to balance the needs of consumers with the needs of a competitive insurance industry.  The Mitigation Resources Division at ALDOI fills a need of working to provide resources and expertise to the insurance industry and consumers in the ever-expanding space of disaster mitigation and disaster preparedness and response. It is organized into 4 sections: The Strengthen Alabama Homes Program, Private Flood, Community Resilience and Disaster Preparedness and Response. Powell holds an MBA from Auburn University.

Serena Sowers

Serena Sowers is a vice president and senior client manager in Swiss Re’s Public Sector Solutions division, based in Washington, DC.  Public Sector Solutions works to build a more resilient society by creating effective responses to major global challenges, including natural catastrophes, climate change, healthcare, food security, infrastructure, credit, and longevity.  Sowers works with government entities at the sovereign and sub-sovereign levels to identify risks and develop customized risk transfer solutions. She is passionate about building strong, resilient, and inclusive communities by enabling individuals, governments, and businesses to recover and respond to shocks and stressors.  Prior to working at Swiss Re, Sowers worked as a management consultant, serving as a trusted advisor for governments, non-profits, and Fortune 500 companies across industries. She has extensive experience developing and implementing customer-focused strategies, shaping market entry and growth strategies, and tailoring products to meet customer needs. Sowers received her MA in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a BA in Political Science from Yale University.

Craig Stewart leads national work on disaster resilience and climate change at the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), the industry association representing the property and casualty insurance industry in Canada. IBC’s members employ over 122,000 Canadians and paid out $9.8 billion in property claims in 2016, primarily due to severe weather and wildfire.  Previous to his work with IBC, Stewart directed the Ottawa Bureau and Arctic program for WWF Canada, handled pandemic liaison, trade liaison and humanitarian donations for GlaxoSmithKline (Canada) Ltd., directed a $60 million federal/provincial/territorial program at Natural Resources Canada to elevate the Canadian geospatial industry and founded the Miistakis Institute at the University of Calgary. He is the author of two atlases on the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, British Columbia and Montana.

Swenja Surminski, PhD, is Deputy Director and Head of Adaptation Research at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, part of the London School of Economics and Political Science, overseeing social science research projects on climate adaptation, loss and damage of climate change, and disaster risk finance with a geographic scope ranging from the UK to developing countries. She is a contributing author to the IPCC and the EU Science for Disaster Risk Management Report, and lead author of the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment. She works closely with industry and policy makers and was appointed Visiting Academic at the Bank of England in 2015 to work on the regulator’s first report on climate change (PDF). Prior to joining LSE in 2010, Surminski spent more than ten years in the insurance industry working on climate and risks management.  She was a Fulbright Scholar in the U.S., studying Ecological Economics and International Relations at the University of New Hampshire. She received a PhD in Political Science from Hamburg University for her work on ‘Climate Change and the Insurance Industry’ in 2002.

Craig Tillman

Craig Tillman is president of RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Inc., focused on modeling natural hazards as well as quantifying their effects on the range of exposures at risk.  He leads a dedicated team of scientists with specialties ranging across oceanography, meteorology, wind engineering, structural engineering and earthquake risk.  He is also president of RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation which supports advanced scientific research in atmospheric risks, the development of risk mitigation techniques to safeguard communities, and efforts that reduce the economic turmoil following disasters.  Tillman currently serves on the Board for the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), and is a member of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), the International Society of Catastrophe Managers (ISCM) and the CAS Institute (iCAS).  He holds an MA in Mathematics, as well as the Associate in Reinsurance (ARe), Associate in Risk Management (ARM), and Certified Catastrophe Risk Management Professional (CCRMP) designations.

Raghuveer Vinukollu

Raghuveer Vinukollu, PhD, is a senior vice president for Natural Catastrophe Solutions at Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. (“Munich Re”) based in Princeton, NJ.  He is a member of the Strategic Products team and leads the Nat Cat Solutions group focusing on development of innovative products designed to cover various natural catastrophe exposures, either through traditional reinsurance structures or private label approaches. He is a passionate advocate for climate adaptation and resiliency with emphasis on the role of insurance and public private partnerships in building resilient communities. He has a PhD in Land Surface Hydrology.

Nancy Watkins

Nancy P. Watkins is a principal and consulting actuary in Milliman’s San Francisco office. She leads the Milliman Climate Resilience Initiative specializing in climate resilience, insurtech and catastrophic property risk. At the forefront of innovation in flood risk, her team provides state-of-the-art tools, technology, and analysis to insurers, reinsurers, and stakeholders in the flood insurance space. She serves as lead consultant on NFIP Risk Rating 2.0 and provides strategic advice and support to FEMA. Widely known as a thought leader in the areas of property insurance availability and affordability, Watkins also serves on the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s Climate Insurance Linked Resilient Infrastructure Finance Working Group to pilot climate adaptation financing for emerging markets and least developed countries.  She received the American Academy of Actuaries Outstanding Volunteerism Award for her participation on the Flood Insurance Work Group.

Eric Wilson

Eric Wilson is a Deputy Director with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency (MORC), where he oversees climate adaptation policies and programs in land use and buildings. The MORC leads New York City’s efforts to ensure all New Yorkers thrive in the face of the multiple and compound impacts of climate change today and into the future through science-based analysis, policy development, capacity building, and robust engagement.  Wilson and his team collaborate with multiple partners to identify fiscally responsible and socially equitable approaches to the long-term climate challenges facing the city’s buildings and neighborhoods. He coordinates with academic partners, community organizations and public agencies to define New York City’s policy approaches to reduce exposure to climate risks, including those posed by sea level rise, extreme heat, and powerful storms.

Simon Young, PhD, is Global Lead for Parametric Innovation in Willis Towers Watson’s Climate and Resilience Hub, based in Washington DC.  He leads the Hub’s work in the innovative collection, modelling and use of hazard and risk data in risk management tools and risk financing instruments to bring greater resilience to sovereigns, other public institutions, and the private sector, as well as at the individual and community level.  Young is a recognized global leader in the development of parametric insurance instruments, encompassing technical design, risk transfer structuring, and real-time trigger calculation and pay-out delivery.  He has unparalleled experience in managing implementation of parametric insurance programs from multi-country risk pools to micro-insurance, and from pandemic risk to natural ecosystem perils.  Young played a leading role in the development, implementation and operations of the three mature multi-country parametric insurance risk pools (CCRIF SPC in the Caribbean & Central America, PCRIC in the Pacific, and ARC in Africa) as well as developing various other innovative parametric insurance programs and instruments predominantly in the development space and many supporting climate change adaptation.

The Wharton Risk Center would like to thank The High Tide Foundation for support of this series.