Our Team

All of our people have benefits and human capital consulting experience. Many of us have also held senior positions with leading organizations and insurance carriers.This gives us, and therefore our clients, valuable knowledge regarding strength, opportunities, and real world experience from carriers and organizations facing issues similar to yours. Many of our clients have a dedicated Craford team with years of industry knowledge.

Mike Craford-Craford Benefit Consultants

Mike Craford – Managing Principal

Mike Craford established the San Rafael office in 1989. Over the past 26 years, he has shaped Craford’s corporate strategy and internal culture to ensure consistent delivery of quality consulting and administrative services and sustained growth in client relationships. Earlier in his career he honed his skills in underwriting, rate making, contract negotiation and claims management at a major health insurance carrier. He has been an industry leader in identifying and being an early adopter of new technologies to drive administrative and communication efficiencies in benefit delivery. He is able to leverage his and the firm’s respect within the industry to position Craford to deliver superior financial and service results from the multitude of vendors who interface with our mutual clients.
In addition to managing the firm Mike consults to a broad range of clients from large Fortune 500 companies to smaller mid-size firms. He has extensive experience in M&A work both through Private Equity firms and corporate clients. He lead first to market initiatives in web based enrollment and administration in the late 1990’s and establishment of one of the first Private Equity Portfolio Purchasing Programs in 2004-05. He is frequently quoted in various trade publications on industry matters and emerging trends.

Representative client engagements include Safeway, Dreyer’s Ice Cream, Fluor, Sutter Health, Lockheed Martin, American Tire Distributors, Fireman’s Fund, CH2MHill, Friendly’s Ice Cream and numerous Private Equity firms. Mike attended Lewis and Clark College with a major in Communications and Journalism. He is involved in a number of professional organizations including Society of Employee Benefit Specialists, CIAB, Western Pension and Benefit Conference, and World at Work.

Mike and his wife Ardeth are the proud parents of 4 children and have resided in San Rafael for the past 30 years. In his free time he enjoys golf, water sports, snow skiing, and hiking.

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Clint Tripodi – Chief Operating Officer

Clint possesses 30 years of experience providing Human Resources and Operations support for multiple global high technology companies. He has served as Vice President of Human Resources for companies such as Hitachi Data Systems, nCUBE Corporation, Pacific Broadband Communications and Entera. In addition, Clint started his career with National Semiconductor as a first line supervisor in fabrication. In Clint’s executive roles, he focused on liquidity events, mergers and acquisitions, human resources strategies, internal communications and community relations programs. Clint serves in an advisory capacity at the board level for several for-profit and not-for-profit firms. Clint was the founder of The Pendolino Group, a leading Human Capital Management consulting firm. Clint has consulted with over 650 companies across all industry verticals in the areas of Talent Acquisition, Leadership Development, Strategic Planning, and Executive Coaching. Clint is regarded as an expert in the area of performance management cloud based systems, analytics, and configuration of process design to drive company culture.

Clint’s passion is in the development and delivery of Social and Emotional Training programs for children, schools and the community. He has taken this work and applied it to leadership development in the corporate world truly believing that leadership mastery begins from the inside. Clint is a current board member of Dovetail Learning, a ground breaking Social and Emotional Non-Profit education center pioneering curriculum for grades K-6 to enable children’s emotional self mastery.

Clint holds an MBA in Human Resources and has earned certificates in Strategic Planning from Harvard Business School and the University of Michigan. Clint has been certified in the use of visual graphic tools and advanced facilitation from the Grove Consultants, International. In addition, Clint is a certified executive coach through the Management Resources Group Leadership Executive Assessment and Sales Professional Assessment methodologies.

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Karen Butler – Chief Financial Officer

Karen has 14 years of experience managing the financial, tax, and internal operations for privately held businesses. Her work with an outside public accounting firm strengthened her technical skills in GAAP accounting, financial analysis, and tax. She is an integral part of the Craford management team where she manages the day-to-day operation in the San Rafael office as well as a member of the Executive Management Team where she is a trusted leader in the area of financial, budgeting, and business planning leadership

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Tony Williams – Director, Actuarial & Consulting Services

Designated as an Associate of the Society of Actuaries, Tony has over 15 years of experience in the insurance industry managing and implementing complex, multi-state, fully insured and ASO plans as well as the financial management of retiree welfare plans. Tony has particular expertise in the high tech, utility, and transportation industries. Prior to joining CBC, Tony was with Towers Perrin in San Francisco, where he was an actuarial consultant for the firm’s health and welfare practice.

His primary responsibilities include maintaining and growing revenue with existing customers, assisting in the development of new business, and managing the quality and work processes of the CBC technical staff.

Tony received his BA in Economics from UC Davis in 1992. Tony and his family live in Novato, California.

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Caren Lee – Director, Private Equity and Portfolio Services

With 35 years of experience in the insurance industry, Caren has spent the last 12 years primarily focused on diligence and consulting/brokerage services for private equity (PE) firms and their respective portfolio companies (portcos).

While maintaining and growing revenue from existing customers, and assisting in the development of new business, Caren was responsible for:

  • Implementation of a product based portfolio program that included 2 Private Equity Clients with 15 portcos.
    • Each portfolio company retained their own benefit design and individual contracts, while taking advantage of preferred pricing and gaining access to a dedicated national customer service team.
    • Estimated savings was 10% of overall annual spend.
  • Relationship Management for a PE firm’s vendor based portfolio program that grew to 19 portcos over a 5 year period.
    • Program provided preferential underwriting/service and superior pre-negotiated contractual provisions while allowing for separate contracts and coverage levels.
    • Estimated savings was 8%. The value achieved through increased protection is not included.

Her current duties include marketing and delivery of Craford’s integrated range of services that are specifically targeted for private equity firms and organizations with a portfolio business model. In addition to being the primary transactional contact, Caren is the internal quarterback who ensures that our seasoned staff continues to provide creative, timely and accurate results for customers in this space.

Caren earned a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara and lives with her family in Mill Valley, California.

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Susan Muris – Consultant

Susan is a Consultant with Craford Benefit Consultants in the Charlotte, NC office. She has 14 years of experience in the industry with both carriers and consulting firms. Susan’s primary responsibility is to drive long term health and welfare strategy for her clients while ensuring seamless coordination of all plan components. Additionally, her duties include vendor management, renewal marketing and negotiations, compliance, building strong wellness initiatives, and communication strategies. Susan has strong experience with complex multi-site employers under both fully insured and self-insured contracts and brings creative and collaborative solutions and strategies to her client partners.

Prior to joining Craford in 2007, Susan held an account management role with Cigna Healthcare for 2 years. She also brings experience as an Account Manager for a broker firm as well as a Sales Assistant for UnitedHealthcare. Susan is a graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a degree in International Business and Spanish.

Susan believes in the importance of providing a high level of service and enjoys building solid, long-term relationships with her client and vendor partners.

Stephen Craford – Business Development

Stephen has over 10 years of experience working in the Health Care Industry on both the carrier and broker side. He has spent his career concentrating on sales effectiveness at Hub International, Willis and Cigna. In 2012, he moved back to CA to join Craford Benefit Consultants in a business development role. Stephen focuses on servicing and growing membership of our association clients in CA and AK. He has a BA in Risk Management and Insurance from St. Johns University.

Mike Carlson – Program Manager, Builders Association Health Plan

Mike has 20 years of Insurance industry experience, ranging in responsibilities from sales representative to Vice President and public speaking/presentation specialist. The first 15 years were spent at various levels of the delivery system. As a Life, Disability and Vision Insurance rep, he was awarded sales accolades while serving as a sales representative, regional manager and vice-president. Mike’s capabilities include customer service, sales and strategic approach to revenue development.

Velma Williford, RHU, HIA, MHP, PHR - Consultant

Velma is a Consultant in our San Rafael, California office. She has 27 years of experience in the insurance industry providing benefit solutions, strategic benefit planning, and high-level customer service. Velma’s responsibilities at Craford include day-to-day servicing of clients, benefits administration, open enrollment coordination and communication, plan implementation, special project work, and being a member on the Craford legislative watch team. As an integral part of the clients’ team, she provides complex problem resolution and ongoing service and support.

Prior to joining Craford Benefit Consultants in 2009, Velma spent 2 years leading a national team of client managers at MHN (a division of Health Net), 4 years as the California Group Operations Manager with Kaiser Permanente Insurance Company, and 14 years in marketing and client management positions with brokerage consulting firms. Her combined brokerage and insurance company background bring a well-rounded insider approach to client management and problem resolution.

Velma is a graduate of the University of Phoenix with a B.S. degree in Business Management, and a Masters in Business Administration. She currently holds four professional designations, Registered Health Underwriter (RHU), Health Insurance Associate (HIA), Managed Healthcare Professional (MHP), and a Professional in Human Resources (PHR).

Lauren Wilson – Client Manager, Consulting

Lauren Wilson is a Client Manager in the Charlotte office. She joined the Craford team in 2011 and spent her first year as a Benefit Administration Specialist before transitioning into her current role. Her primary responsibilities include: serving as a day-to-day contact for clients; communication with vendors; issue resolution/problem solving; project management; and development and execution of strategy.

With 10 years of progressive experience in Human Resources Management (with a focus on employee benefits) prior to joining Craford, Lauren is able to analyze situations and challenges from the client perspective and enjoys taking a hands-on approach with communication and strategy. She received a Master of Arts degree in Employment and Labor Relations from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from West Virginia University.

Customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance to Lauren and she takes pride in engaging with clients and colleagues to build long-term sustainable partnerships.

Kimberly O’Toole – Client Manager, Consulting

Kimberly joined the Craford team in June of 2015 as our Client Manager focusing mainly on our larger accounts and association business. She brings over 13 years of experience in the insurance industry. Her background includes a unique mix of carrier knowledge, having worked for three major insurance carriers, Brokerage experience along with Benefits and HR Administration for a local business. The knowledge gained from all three sides of the insurance industry proves invaluable when considering our client’s needs.

Kimberly received her Bachelors of Science Degree in Business from Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH.

Paige Craford – Client Manager, Consulting

Paige has over 12 years of experience in the insurance industry and is well versed in all aspects of benefits management. Prior to joining Craford, Paige worked in an ERISA law firm and is knowledgeable in the field of benefits compliance. Paige brings a wealth of knowledge to our team providing best in class customer service to our clients, quoting acumen, and intermediary services between clients and insurance companies. Paige has an extensive background marketing multiple carrier and plan options for her clients and prospects. Currently, Paige manages our small group book of business as well as managing several large group accounts in the Pacific Northwest region.

Paige received her BA in Communications from Northeastern University and is a member of the Board of Portland Association of Health Underwriters.

Nick Gaubatz – Senior Technical Services Consultant

Nick joined the Craford Portland office team in early 2013 in a financial consulting role, focusing on our larger, self-insured clients. He brings with him years of carrier health underwriting experience; most recently he was with one of Portland’s regional carriers in supervisory role focusing on streamlining the underwriting process and increasing sales. In his role with Craford, Nick brings an ability to convey the technical underwriting business to our clients while working with them to streamline plan designs geared to meet the ever changing environment of healthcare while increasing their overall plan performance.

Nick has additional experience in a similar role he held working for a local Trust. In that capacity he counseled business leaders on their claims experience and provided various strategies and plan design options available, all purposed to improve their organizations benefits package.

Nick is a graduate from the Portland State University, School of Business Administration where he majored in Business Management. He is also a graduate from the Western Culinary Institute.

Nick works is a resource for all our consultants and touches a majority of our client’s financials.

Stacey Carroll – Client Manager, Administration

Stacey has 16 years of experience assisting employees and employers on a daily basis with employee benefit issues. Her deep expertise with premium billing and eligibility reconciliation provide significant cost-savings to Clients’ overall Health & Welfare budgets. Stacey’s primary responsibilities include COBRA administration, special technology projects, claims resolution, employee eligibility, customized employee communications and monthly premium billing.

Stacey has been with Craford for over 16 years on the Benefit Administration team. She currently resides in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Tracy Barker – Senior Corporate Administrator

Tracy has over 25 years of corporate executive administration experience and has been with Craford Benefit Consultants for over 10 years. Prior to joining Craford, Tracy worked in the real estate and high tech industries and has a background in account payable, call center services, membership audits and benefit administration.

Tracy serves as our Corporate Administrator in the Portland, Oregon office. Along with managing the administrative functions of the Portland office, Tracy is responsible for corporate and individual licensing, appointments, and assisting with ERISA filings on behalf of Craford clients.

Austen McGregor – Private Equity Analyst

Austen has a passion for financial markets and entrepreneurship. His past experience includes a marketing internship for a large cinema advertising company. This internship provided Austen the opportunity to work with the advertising industry’s biggest players, while learning the ropes of the industry from both a sales and marketing perspective. Austen hopes to enter the private equity industry after graduation and continue to improve on foundational skills and experience gained during his time with Craford.

Austen is currently a senior at Dominican University of California where he’s captain of the Soccer team and ICC Board Representative for the Barowsky Students Association. He will be graduating in December 2017 with a degree in Business Administration concentrating in Finance.

Tianna Brown - Operations Intern

Tianna is currently a sophomore at Dominican University of California. She is studying Business Administration, concentrating in Management, as well as minoring in Leadership. Tianna is a member of the Dominican Women’s Soccer team, and is an avid member of the Institute for Leadership Studies on campus.

Tianna has a passion for operations and human resources management. She has gained experience in these fields by working on campus as the assistant to the Barowsky School of Business Administrative Coordinator, as well as being a part of a resident advisor selector committee that hand picks resident advisors every year. This internship provides Tianna with the opportunity to help run day to day operations and helps her gain knowledge about running the operations of a company. Tianna hopes to continue to stay in the operations/ human resources management field for the duration of her college years and beyond.

Dr. David Dempsey – Medical Consultant

Dr. Dempsey is a Medical Consultant for Craford Benefit Consultants and is responsible for providing strategic medical advice. Dr. Dempsey is recognized as a leader in the medical field, having wide knowledge of quality health care programs and immense ability to provide quality care to all patients.

Dave has 35 years of experience as an Emergency Room Physician, providing swift assessment and treatment of patients in a fast-paced environment. Over the course of Dr. Dempsey’s career in emergency medicine, he has treated over 200,000 patients. This experience with a broad spectrum of medical conditions is invaluable in assisting Craford and our clients in suggested treatment courses for high risk claimants.

Dr. Dempsey has used his medical expertise as an instructor for the Advanced Trauma Life Support of the San Francisco Heart Association. Dr. Dempsey now serves as a diplomat for the American Board of Internal Medicine as well as the National Board of Medical Examiners.

Dr. Dempsey is a graduate of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and University of Nebraska Medical School, Omaha. He maintains an active role in the University of Nebraska Alumni Association and remains a lifelong Cornhuskers fan.

Dave Wilson – Retained Actuary

David has been active in the health insurance arena for over 30 years. He is recognized as a leading expert in stop-loss insurance, healthcare reinsurance, and healthcare insurance underwriting. He has been a strategic advisor to start-up and established companies in the health insurance field. He has been a business faculty member for the Society of Actuaries Intensive Seminar in Applied Statistics from 1991 through 1999 and is a frequent speaker at actuarial and insurance industry meetings.

David is the founder and President of Windsor Strategy Partners. Windsor Strategy Partners is a specialized healthcare strategy firm helping clients develop and implement strategic growth initiatives. David leads the firm’s marketing and research efforts and acts as a senior advisor to our clients and partners.

David was the co-founder and Managing Director of the Apex Management Group, a healthcare actuarial firm located in Princeton, New Jersey. Prior to The Apex Management Group, Inc., David was Principal and senior healthcare actuary at Foster Higgins, a Principal at William M. Mercer, Vice President of the Home Life Insurance Company of New York and an officer of the Great-West Life Assurance Company.

David graduated with an MS in Statistics from the University of Manitoba. He is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries.