Protecting the Consumer's Future



Eugene Starks

Eugene Starks, NAHU President

Eugene Starks is a partner with Benefit Administration Services, Ltd., a full-service employee benefits TPA, consulting, and brokerage company. In 2014, Starks and his business partners launched the Acuity Group, an agency that focuses on integrating benefit administration technologies across the entire HR and employee benefit spectrum. They have locations in Little Rock, AR, Lafayette, LA, and Ridgeland and Hattiesburg, MS. He merged his independent employee benefits brokerage and consulting company, Starks & Company, Inc., with BAS in 2007.


Justin Wallin

Justin Wallin

Justin Wallin is a “marketing concept” strategist, with a passion for determining market needs, wants and opinions and translating them into effective messaging strategies. Wallin has delivered strategic direction to hundreds of political candidates, organizations and non-profit organizations, statewide, city and municipal governments, global Fortune 250 firms, entrepreneurial ventures and other small and medium businesses and other organizations.

Wallin’s research, commentary and analysis are regularly featured on radio and television programs such as CNN, BBC and Fox News as well as publications including Politico, Roll Call, Campaigns & Elections, Public CEO and Inside Politics with Nathan Gonzales. He has lectured at the University of Southern California, Pepperdine University, Loyola Marymount University, California State Universities and Hillsdale College and has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in marketing. He is a regular speaker throughout the nation on matters of strategy, marketing and messaging.


After driving worldwide strategy and marketing programs in the technology industry early in his career, Wallin was a founder of the re-launched, historic Columbia Yacht Corporation. The racing boats he built span the globe, and one captured a first-in-class win in the Pacific Cup race from San Francisco to Hawaii. He sold his stake in the company in 2008.

Wallin received his MBA with an emphasis in marketing and strategy from the University of Southern California, and his BA (Philosophy) from Whittier College. Wallin is a USC Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics Fellow.


Marcy Buckner

Marcy Buckner

Marcy M. Buckner, J.D., is the senior vice president of government affairs with the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU)

Marcy M. Buckner, J.D., is the senior vice president of government affairs with the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU). In this role, Marcy manages the association’s government affairs team, including the monitoring of activities of all state legislatures, insurance departments, and intergovernmental organizations to coordinate efforts to advance the interests of professional health insurance producers. In addition, she serves as the association’s liaison to federal agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Treasury. Marcy is also the staff liaison to NAHU’s legislative management team, Legislative Council, and Legislative Council working groups.

Marcy received her Juris Doctor from New England School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts, and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

When she’s not in the office or traveling the country speaking at healthcare symposiums, Marcy spends time introducing her rescue Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Harrison, to city life.


Mike Madrid_scaled

Mike Madrid

Mike Madrid is a communications expert and a nationally recognized expert on Latino voting trends. He graduated from the Edmund G. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in 1997, where he wrote his senior thesis on Latino politics and the perspective that politicization of emerging Latino voter groups in Southwestern states was unique in American history. The work focused largely on a critical assessment of professor Peter Skerry’s work “Mexican Americans: The Ambivalent Minority” and addressed questions surrounding the experience of Mexican American politicization as a choice between the pursuit of an aggrieved racial minority or a more typical assimilative integration into the broader political and social culture of the United States.

The completion of his thesis at Georgetown University in Washington DC on Latino voters became the basis for his pioneering work on Latino communications and outreach strategies in California, Texas, Florida and nationwide. He has served as the press secretary for the California Assembly Republican leader and as the political director for the California Republican Party. In these roles, Madrid played a key role in pioneering Latino outreach and communications strategies.


In 2001 he was named as one of America’s “Most Influential Hispanics” by Hispanic Business Magazine. He is a regular commentator on Latino political issues in statewide and national media publications.

Since 2000, Madrid has also developed an expertise in local governments in California. He served as the public affairs director to the League of California Cities. In that role, he was instrumental in the passage of Proposition 1A (The Local Taxpayer Protection Act), a historic achievement that constitutionally protected local government revenues from state raids. The measure received 84% of the vote—one of the highest percentages in California history.

In 2011, Madrid helped develop the Leadership California Institute, an organization dedicated to educating and training future California leaders.

Madrid is the editor and publisher of California City News, a news site dedicated to “the best politics, policy and practices of local government in California.”


Tepring Piquado, PhD_scaled

Tepring Piquado, PhD

Experienced Policy and Research Scientist with a demonstrated history of working in government and non-profit in areas of cognitive neuroscience, education, and military health. Skilled in Policy Analysis, Research Design, and Data Analysis. Strong Leader with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Neuroscience from Brandeis University and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Computer Science from Georgetown University.


Troy Underwood Headshot


Troy Underwood

Troy is a seasoned and respected technologist in health benefits.    He recently sold his company,  benefitsCONNECT,  and has focused on lifestyle improvements for prevention and reversal of chronic diseases. 

During his tenure in the benefits world and at the height of the Affordable Care Act, Underwood focused on the business of healthcare and could sum up the nation’s health insurance crisis with two words: better diet.

Troy joined Preventia Group to help employers save money and increase employee productivity through efficient wellness programs and connected coaching for lifestyle and mental health. 

Christin Deacon

Chris Deacon

Christin Deacon is a healthcare thought leader that brings with her a wealth of experience in both public and private sector. Driven by her passion to change the healthcare system to truly benefit patients and payers, she focuses on bringing solutions and agency to self-funded and Government sponsored health plans. Prior to starting her own agency, VerSan Consulting, Deacon ran one of the largest health plans in the country for the State of New Jersey, covering over 820k lives consisting of public sector employees, teachers, and uniformed professionals. First as a Deputy Attorney General and then Special Counsel to the Governor, Deacon exercised her legal dexterity in a variety of capacities, from complex transactions to appellate litigation. As a 4C employee in the Wilmington, Delaware office, Deacon returned to her roots where she began her legal career as a bankruptcy attorney barred in DE, PA, and NJ.

Deacon has been credited with saving the State of New Jersey hundreds of millions of dollars during her tenure with the health plan. From creative procurement methodologies to forward thinking contractual arrangements and guarantees to population health initiatives, Deacon has been described as a public sector entrepreneur that was always trying to improve the quality and affordability of healthcare for members and employers.

Deacon graduated from Rutgers Law School in 2008 and the George Washington University in 2005 with a degree in International Affairs.

Faith Borges

Faith Borges

CAHIP Legislative Advocate - has years of experience as a Legislative staffer. She most recently served as Legislative Director for Assembly Member Catharine Baker. During her tenure in that position, she sent many bills to the Governor’s desk, including bills on employment development, health care, transparency of government bodies, transportation, business and professions, and privacy, all of which were signed into law. 

Prior to her position in the Assembly, Faith worked for two senators, Senator Ted Gaines and Senator Anthony Cannella. With experience serving for years in both houses of the Legislature, she is a policy and strategy expert. 

Faith earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She focuses on the firm’s insurance, public entity liability, employment, special district and JPA governance, budget, and workforce development clients. 

Marshall Allen

Marshall Allen

Author - "Never Pay the First Bill: And Other Ways to Fight the Health Care System and Win"

My book, "Never Pay the First Bill: And Other Ways to Fight the Health Care System and Win," shows individuals and employers how they can push back against the high cost of health care. It's led to Allen Health Academy, which takes the principles of the book and communicates them through an engaging series of health care literacy videos for consumers. The videos are currently in production.

My stories have been featured by the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, The Today Show and other outlets. Speaking engagements include AcademyHealth, the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Michigan Hospital Association, the National Patient Safety Foundation and Stanford's Medicine-X.

Before journalism, I spent five years in full-time ministry, including three years in Nairobi, Kenya. My Master's degree is in Theology. I am currently working as an Assistant Regional Inspector General with the Office of the Inspector General - HHS.

Dawn McFarland

Dawn McFarland

Dawn McFarland is the Founder and President of M & M Benefit Solutions Insurance Services.  She has found a passion as an agent who helps individuals, especially Medicare eligible, navigate choosing how they receive their health care.  Dawn volunteers as a community educator for the Alzheimer’s Association and currently serves as the VP of Legislation for the State of CA Agents and Health Insurance Professionals, recently awarded the National Association of Health Underwriters State Legislative Achievement Award. 

She also serves on the Medicare Advisory Council for NAHU, soon to be Vice Chair for the NAHU Leadership & Development Committee, and is a member and Past President of the LAAHU board of directors.  Dawn is the proud recipient of the NAHU Distinguished Service Award 2021.

You can connect with Dawn on social media or visit


David Smith

David Smith

David C. Smith is the senior vice president of Eben. A native of Banner Elk, North Carolina, he is a graduate of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1991 and completed his law degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law’s competitive Evening Program in 1999 while working full-time.

He began his career in the early 1990’s as policy and research advisor to Lieutenant Governor Dennis A Wicker, where he was responsible for drafting North Carolina’s Small Group Health Insurance Reform laws. He remains actively involved with the NC Department of Insurance on issues effecting employers and agents within the state. From 1997 until 2002, David worked with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina in numerous capacities in the sales and marketing division. David practiced law on a full-time basis from 2002 until 2009.


Today David directs our compliance matters and assists with our risk management strategies for larger clients. In addition, he spearheads strategy and data analysis for the agency’s self-funded clients. He is widely acknowledged as a national authority on employee benefits, including ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA Privacy, Wellness, and the Affordable Care Act. David has authored articles in national magazines on the impact of the privacy rules, wellness regulations, PPACA Compliance issues and strategies for agencies to be prepared for new regulatory requirements, and is frequently quoted in numerous media outlets on these topics. David authored the top compliance article in Employee Benefit Advisor for 2014.

He also has been recognized nationally for his public speaking, winning the William G. Wetzel Excellence in Public Speaking Award for 2011, and is a very active member of the National Association of Health Underwriters, serving in leadership positions at the local, state and national levels for the organization. David has been certified by NAHU as a Specialist in the Affordable Care Act, Worksite Wellness, HIPAA Privacy & Security and Self-Funded Health Plans, having not only completed the necessary educational requirements for each, but also by co-authoring three of the certification programs.

David was named the 2013 Health Plan Advisor of the Year by Employee Benefits Advisor Magazine, and has recently been named to the Hot 100 Insurance Professionals for two consecutive years by Insurance Business America. He was recognized for his lifetime contributions to the North Carolina Association of Health Underwriters in April 2014 when he was given the Frederick W. Joyner Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor.

Bill Hepscher

Bill Hepscher

Bill Hepscher has worked as a “Health Care Consumerism” Advocate for 15 years. Bill is the Founder of The Canadian Medstore, Florida’s premier provider of affordable international prescription medication.

Fueled by a vision that all Americans should have access to safe, affordable medication, The Canadian Medstore opened its first storefront location in Zephyrhills, FL, in 2003. The Canadian Medstore now has six locations throughout the State of Florida and serves thousands of clients from all across the US. Bill currently serves as Director of Sales and Marketing for Rx Manage, working closely with health insurance brokers, benefit consultants and C-level executives to implement cost effective alternatives to traditional prescription drug benefit models.

Bill is considered an expert in the field of international Rx fulfillment and has been quoted or featured by several media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, CNBC and Kaiser Health News. Bill Hepscher is a NAHU member and currently serves as the Florida AHU HUPAC Chair. Bill is a past recipient of the FAHU Emerging Leader Award and FAHU Presidential Citation Award. Bill lives in Tampa, Fl with his wife and two beautiful daughters.

Stephanie Berger

Stephanie Berger

Stephanie Berger is the President of Centered Insurance Solutions in Camarillo. She began her career in insurance at one of California’s largest general agencies, where she was instrumental in building their middle market department. Since 2007, her passion is helping employer groups in California find affordable health care coverage, customized to their needs. All her clients are kept current with stringent insurance mandates, technology resources and mandated trainings. Stephanie advocates regularly on behalf of California healthcare consumers in Sacramento and in Washington DC. Her agency is passionately committed to achieving universal health care in California.

Stephanie is actively involved with the industry’s trade organization, the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU). She has served numerous roles at the local, state and national levels. Stephanie was the youngest elected president of the California chapter, and proudly served from 2017-2018. Stephanie was a founding member of the association’s first Women’s Leadership Summit. The first summit is 2019 was sold out and registration tripled the following year. She currently co-chairs NAHU’s Professional Development Council, and serves on the National Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force.

Jessica Altman

Jessica Altman

Jessica Altman comes to Covered California from Pennsylvania, where she currently serves as the Commonwealth’s insurance commissioner, regulating the fifth-largest insurance market in the nation.

Altman brings a wealth of experience and knowledge from serving as chair of the Pennsylvania Health Insurance Exchange Authority and having led the establishment of Pennie, Pennsylvania’s state-based marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

Altman will step into this new role following the planned departure of Peter V. Lee, Covered California’s founding executive director, who has led the organization since its inception more than a decade ago.

Marie_Waldron - CA Assemblywoman Marie Waldron

CA Assemblywoman Marie Waldron

Marie Waldron has been actively involved in her North San Diego and Southwest Riverside region for two decades. As a local business owner for 25 years, she understands the economic impacts of burdensome government regulations on taxpayers and small businesses. 

Elected to the California State Assembly in 2012, Marie Waldron serves as Assembly Republican Leader. She is known as a strong advocate for patient access to health care, opioid/substance use and mental health treatment. She is a member of the Mental Health caucus, the Prevention Support Team of Mental Health Systems-North Inland Community Prevention Program, and has served on the Assembly Health Committee, the Select Committee on Health Care Delivery & Universal Coverage, and the Select Committee on Infectious Disease in High Risk Communities. 

She is currently serving on the Stanford 5 Year Initiative on Neuroscience, a working group to foster communication between policymakers and researchers regarding mental health, addiction and opioid drugs. Marie is a former member of the San Diego County Opioid Task Force, and has been honored as "Legislator of the Year" from both the CA Life Sciences Association and the California Chronic Care Coalition.


Prior to her election to the Assembly, Waldron served for 14 years on the Escondido City Council fighting for public safety, budget stability and neighborhood revitalization. Waldron served as Escondido’s Deputy Mayor, on the Board of Directors for the North County Transit District, the city’s representative to the League of California Cities, the Regional Solid Waste Association Board, and Escondido’s Investment subcommittee. 

Marie has owned and operated Waldron Enterprises LLC, Top End Tees Screen-printing and Apparel in Escondido for over 25 years. She has also been a member of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Business Association and many other groups. She served four years as Honorary Chairman of the California Business Advisory Council, which advocated on behalf of California’s small businesses to Congress.

Active in the San Diego region, Waldron is a founding member of the San Diego chapter of CWLA (California Women’s Leadership Association), and is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary.

Previously, Marie worked her way up to Operations Manager for NBC Sports in New York, handled commercial operations for Times Mirror Cable TV in San Diego and worked with New York Mets Promotions department and holds a degree from St. John’s University and has done graduate work at UCSD and SDSU. 







Back to Top