An interview in honor of International Women’s Day | Women of Acentria Insurance

Women of Acentria Insurance

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we would like to honor the many women not just in our agency, but industry-wide that are making an impact each day in our lives now and for the generations to come. Our industry has primarily been male-dominated for generations. However, at Acentria Insurance – women are an intricate part of our foundation as an organization, our leadership and the future of our agency to come. In light of this, we took some time to interview a few of our very own influencers at Acentria Insurance and are excited to honor them here by sharing some of their thoughts on Women’s History Month, women in leadership and how they have grown into the leaders they are today.

Liz Bevelacqua, Jo Chonko and Angie Ooley are a few of our women in leadership with long-term industry experience that are making an impact with Acentria Insurance and across our industry. We asked each of them the following questions to help highlight the importance of women in the workforce, all they contribute and what can be accomplished along the way.

Women of Acentria InsuranceWho is the most influential woman in your life?

“I have had a combination of women that were collectively influential.  My grandmother, my mother and my aunt are all strong ladies that I had as role models growing up.  From them, I’ve learned so much and it has shaped who I am today both personally and professionally. “Liz Bevelacqua , Senior Vice President – Personal Lines Sales

“I’ll share that my father’s mother was an astute businesswoman before her time, owning several businesses and participating in state government.  She was direct & forward-thinking and very well respected. I learned a lot from watching her, and especially how important relationships are, both professionally and personally.  She somehow managed to be a successful woman while remembering her personal priorities that gave her a balanced life. ” – Jo Chonko, Vice President – Sales Producer 

“Helen Crockett  (AKA my 2nd mother)”. The Crockett Agency was acquired by Acentria Insurance in 2019; Angie joined Acentria Insurance as part of this acquisition. – Angie Ooley, Branch Manager

How are companies like Acentria leading the charge in women’s diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

“I am so impressed with the number of women in leadership roles here at Acentria. As I meet all of them and learn their backgrounds, I am truly honored to be working with such a group of talented women.” –Liz Bevelacqua , Senior Vice President – Personal Lines Sales

“Acentria’s culture supports the opportunity for all employees regardless of their personal characteristics or traits. Women are recognized for their efforts & expertise, and this is demonstrated by the number and quality of women entrusted in the organization’s leadership roles.” – Jo Chonko, Vice President – Sales Producer 

“They are showing the world that women are very ambitious and can carry a lot on their shoulders and perform at an unbelievable level.” – Angie Ooley, Branch Manager

As a woman you wear many hats; how do you take time for self-care?

“It’s easy to put yourself last and take care of everything else first.  Over the years, I have learned to schedule my self-care time in advance.  I look at the month ahead and am deliberate about planning “me time” to rest, recharge and pamper myself.” Liz Bevelacqua , Senior Vice President – Personal Lines Sales

“Sometimes you have to say “no” to others and “yes” to yourself.” – Jo Chonko, Vice President – Sales Producer 

This can be very hard.  I have just learned to set a date with myself to take care of “me”.Angie Ooley, Branch Manager

Do you have a women’s empowerment moment that inspired you?

“Not one in particular, however when I look at how far we have come and read stories of all the trailblazers who brought us to where we are today, it makes me thankful to live in times where there is so much opportunity for women.”Liz Bevelacqua , Senior Vice President – Personal Lines Sales

“Honestly for me, it was when Acentria acquired our office and I found that so much of management were women.  This is so encouraging to know that women are respected for their accomplishments. I was very concerned when we were acquired by Acentria but it has turned out to be the best thing for our staff and the clients.” – Angie Ooley, Branch Manager

What is something you’d tell your younger self?

“People will talk you out of your dreams.  Don’t listen to them.  Follow your heart, have your own voice and never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.”Liz Bevelacqua , Senior Vice President – Personal Lines Sales Personal Lines Sales

“Be persistent but patient, have a sense of humor, and don’t fret the little things. It will all work out.” – Jo Chonko, Vice President – Sales Producer

“Never Settle.  If you have a goal don’t settle for less regardless of what other people may say.”Angie Ooley, Branch Manager

Share with us a message you’d like to tell others on International Women’s Day?

‘This quote from Serena Williams is a favorite of mine. “Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another.  We’re strongest when we cheer each other on.” ‘ – Liz Bevelacqua , Senior Vice President – Personal Lines Sales

“Each of us offers our own unique perspectives based on what we have learned and what we have experienced.  Typing yourself limits your potential.  Be the best you can be, and if you find yourself in a culture that does not support who you are, remember that sometimes you have to let go of something good to move on to something great.”Jo Chonko, Vice President – Sales Producer 

“It is great that we celebrate women and all of their efforts.  Women have so many contributions that make this company, state and country a better place.”Angie Ooley, Branch Manager

Women at all levels within Acentria Insurance, across the insurance industry and in business are making a difference each day. We hope this inspires you to continue reaching higher, lead by example and celebrate along the way.

Happy International Women’s Day!

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Rob Wagner

Executive Vice President
Southwest Florida Region

Jason Cruse

Executive Vice President
Central Florida Sales

Mitch Weinstein

Partner

As partner of Acentria Insurance, Mitch plays an integral role in mergers & acquisitions. He focuses on seeking out strategic like-minded partners and agencies, across the southeastern United States, to partner and join the Acentria family.

Mitch has over 42 years of business leadership experience that ranges from law enforcement to the finance, healthcare and insurance industries. He was instrumental in developing the nation’s first “at-risk” managed care network for physical and occupational therapy serving the worker’s compensation industry. This network paved the way for a new managed care system, based on incentives.

Mitch is passionate about giving back to the youth of his community. He is an active supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Polk County and believes in helping all young people reach their full potential. He is also the founder of Fallen First Reserve which is a non-profit organization dedicated to financially assisting those family members of First Responders killed in the line of duty and military members killed in action. Mitch also serves on the board for Fund the First.

Mary Lawless

President & Chief Operating Officer

As President and Chief Operating Officer, Mary brings over three decades of industry expertise to Acentria Insurance. With a strong focus on Mergers & Acquisitions, Mary is passionate about partnering with new agencies and leaders to continue the overall upward growth of Acentria. She works in conjunction with the CEO to lead and deliver specialized sales products, services and industry leading capabilities while implementing business and sales strategies to the Acentria sales team and carrier partners. Mary has direct oversight of all operational leaders throughout the entire organizational footprint and is responsible for operational financials and budgets.

She empowers her team members and because of it, is well respected by her peers and those she leads. Since her time with Acentria, Mary’s leadership has contributed to the agency’s exponential growth from 15 to well over 50 locations, increasing employment to over 700 team members, across the southeastern United States. Due to her leadership and contributions to the insurance industry, she has been nationally recognized as one of Insurance Business America magazine’s Elite Women and serves as a valuable member on the Executive Committee for Foundation Risk Partners, Acentria’s parent company. Prior to joining Acentria Insurance, Mary led operations for another national broker. Throughout her tenure, she has held a variety of management positions in Personal Lines, Select Business and Employee Benefits. Mary specializes in agency operations, partnerships and acquisitions and is truly passionate about developing team members to become great leaders.

When not shaping the future industry leaders at Acentria Insurance, Mary enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband, Pat and their family and friends.

Kendall McEachern

Co-Founder

Kendall was a fundamental part of Acentria Insurance. As a co-founder, he brought more than 30 years of industry expertise to Acentria, helping transform the organization into a leading insurance provider. Beloved by team members, carrier partners and clients, he oversaw more than 400,000 insured multi-family units with property values greater than $22 billion, and over four million square feet of commercial office space and real estate buildings. Kendall has received numerous industry awards to include being recognized as a National Top Producer and Agent of the Year by both Insurance Business America and Insurance Journal. Away from the office, he served as chairman for the American Heart Association, actively participated in his church and golfing, watching sports and spending time with his family. Kendall passed away in January of 2021, leaving a lasting legacy on Acentria’s culture, success, industry-wide reputation – and on all of us fortunate to have worked alongside him.

Liz Bevelacqua

Senior Vice President
Personal Lines Sales

Doreen Castro

Senior Vice President
Personal Lines Operations

Jessica Davis

Senior Vice President
Marketing & Branding

Jackie Shaw

Senior Vice President
Commercial Lines

Nathan Marks

Executive Vice President
Northwest Florida and Tallahassee

Alan Florez

Executive Vice President, National Sales

Alan leads new business growth strategies and expansion, guides the development of resources and training for Sales Producers and their partnerships with Carriers. With over 15 years of industry experience, Alan also leads the Acentria Public Risk divisions working with municipalities and government entities for their coverage needs. He was appointed to the Halifax Health Board of Commissioners December 2020 and also serves as an Executive Committee member for our parent company, Foundation Risk Partners.

Previously, Alan served as Governor Jeb Bush’s Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs and Special Assistant. He is a former member of the University of Central Florida Board of Trustees and currently volunteers his time with the Florida Council of 100, Futures Foundation of Volusia County Schools and the Community Foundation of Flagler and Volusia. Alan holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Central Florida.

Brian Stanton

Executive Vice President
West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Florida Keys

Chris Tolland

Executive Vice President
Northeast Florida Sales

Luke Wolkers

Executive Vice President
Benefits

Eric Austin

Operations Lead
Port St. Lucie & West Palm Beach

Alex Doberstein

Vice President
Benefits Resource Leader

Teresa Fillmon

Vice President
Small Business Unit

Anne Kraus

Vice President
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Kevin Mason

Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder

As Chief Executive Office of Acentria Insurance, Kevin focuses on developing insurance solutions that strengthen Acentria’s presence in the market and its commitment to client-relationships and exceptional service. With over 35 years of industry experience, he specializes in the overall growth of Acentria as is passionate about bringing new talent to the organization both organically and through mergers and acquisitions. Through his leadership and the support of the Executive Leadership team, Acentria Insurance instills a positive corporate culture which has led the agency in being recognized as a leader within our industry as a Top 100 Workplace, Employer of Choice, Best Agency to Work For and several other national and regional accolades.

Before co-founding Acentria Insurance, Kevin served as Branch Manager for another national broker. Kevin holds the prestigious title as an Agent of the Year and five-time National Top Producer. He is also a key member of the Foundation Risk Partners Executive Committee, which is the parent company of Acentria Insurance, while also serving as the National Director for Carrier Relations. In addition, Kevin oversees the Sales Leadership Council, which encompasses sales leaders across the entire FRP footprint in an effort to develop and refine shared resources while offering producer training and development programs.

Kevin received a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from the University of West Florida. He is very active in his community and served over a decade on the Board of Directors of Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation and remains as a trustee, which funds over 14 children’s charities along the Florida Panhandle. He is also a member of the Destin Chamber of Commerce, Community Association Institute and Florida Association of Insurance Agents. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys golfing, tennis, boating and spending time with his wife Laura, and their children.