Board Members

FIRMA President
Kurt Leisure Chairman

Kurt Leisure has been a Risk Management professional in the restaurant industry since 1987. With 30 years of industry experience, Kurt has effectively implemented aggressive, innovative and measurable claims reduction and strategic insurance programs.

Kurt graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics in 1985. He began his career in the insurance industry and built his initial career with Restaurant Enterprises Group, Inc. In 1999 Kurt joined The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated and is currently the Vice President of Risk Services/Assets Protection.

P: 818-871-3097

Shaun Jackson Board Member
Shaun Jackson President
Shaun Jackson is the Executive Director of Risk Management for Panda Restaurant Group, the world leader in Asian dining experiences and parent company of Panda Inn, Panda Express and Hibachi-San. Over the last 20 years he has led the Risk Management Departments of many other restaurant companies in many states across the US, including the publicly traded California based chicken chain El Pollo Loco. Others include El Torito, Acapulco, Chevys, Marie Callender’s and Perkins and food manufacturers Real Mex Foods and Foxtail Foods. In his current role he also oversees the Internal Audit arm of the company. His past experience extends to the retail world and includes oversight of Human Resources and Benefits functions for multi-state and multi-unit companies. Shaun is the President of FIRMA (Foodservice Industry Risk Management Association) and takes an active role in the risk community with various educational groups and advisory boards.
Michael Simmons Vice President

Michael W. Simmons has been a risk management professional for the last 32 years. Mr. Simmons is currently the Director of Risk Management, Safety & Police for the Riverside Community College District. In this role, Mr. Simmons is responsible for the overseeing the risk management, claims, safety, and security mission for the 5th largest community college district in California. In his career, he has served in several risk management, safety, and claims management capacities in the restaurant, retail, and insurance industries. His more notable past employers include The Automobile Club of Southern California, American Stores, Inc., Albertsons, Inc., Lowes Home Improvement Warehouse and El Pollo Loco, Inc.

Mr. Simmons holds the Associate in Risk Management (ARM) and RIMS Certified Risk Management Professional designation. He is also a Certified Schools Risk Manager (CSRM). Mr. Simmons holds a Master’s degrees in Organizational Management and the Administration of Criminal Justice. He is also the past Chairman, President, and co-founder of the Foodservice Industry Risk Management Association (FIRMA) with over 1,500 members. Mr. Simmons’ prior speaking events include the California Workers’ Compensation and Risk Conference, California Schools Risk Management Joint Powers Authority, California Workers’ Compensation Forum, Risk Insurance Management Society, and the National Restaurant Association.

Michael W. Simmons, ARM-P, RIMS-CRMP, CSRM
Director, Risk Management, Safety & Police Services
Riverside Community College District

Ron Gray Treasurer

Ron Gray has been in the Risk Management field since he graduated with a Finance Degree from California State University, Fullerton. Mr. Gray is currently the Director of Risk Management for the Rowland Unified School District where he is responsible for the overseeing the risk management, claims, District Patrol and safety. Throughout his career, Mr. Gray has worked in Risk Management for a variety of industries from restaurants, healthcare and education. He has worked for Carriers, Third Party Administrators and Employers. His past employers include The Claim Jumper Restaurants, AccentCare Inc., and Sedgwick CMS.

Mr. Gray holds the Associate in Risk Management (ARM), Certified Risk Manager, (CRM) and RIMS Certified Risk Management Professional designation. He is a co-founder of the Foodservice Industry Risk Management Association (FIRMA) with over 1,500 members and is the current Treasurer. He has also held the President and Treasurer roles for the Orange County Chapter of RIMS. Mr. Gray’s prior speaking events include the California Workers’ Compensation and Risk Conference, Risk Insurance Management Society, National Conference as well as Local Chapter levels.

Ron Gray, ARM, CRM, RIMS-CRMP Director, Risk Management Rowland Unified School District

FIRMA Board Member Mike Kopulsky
Michael Kopulsky Board Member

A pioneer in the areas of plastics manufacturing and post-consumer recycling for 30 years, Michael Kopulsky became President of Front Line Safety in 2008. He has worked with his team to more than double the size of Front Line Safety since his arrival. Utilizing his vast experience in pioneering new products and industries, he is recognized for partnering with his clients to pioneer solutions in the ever challenging workplace of Foodservice.

Michael is a Graduate of UCLA (class of 1980) and spends his non-work hours helping residential summer camps flourish with the goal of fostering independence and verbal communication among young people. His proudest accomplishments are his two adult children Craig and Tracy who his wife Ronni and he learn from every day.

FIRMA Board Member John Pierson
John Pierson Board Member

John Pierson is Vice President and Client Executive for Woodruff-Sawyer. He leads the overall brokerage support and works closely with clients at a strategic level to analyze program effectiveness and create strategies to meet each client’s specific risk & insurance objectives. This includes day-to-day service needs as well as the primary responsibility for the negotiation and placement of the P&C insurance program.

John joined Woodruff-Sawyer in 2011 and has over 35 years of experience in both the broker and carrier side. John has extensive experience working with industry segments such as hospitality/retail, technology/life science, and manufacturing. John also has expertise in complex placements such as high deductible/retention programs.

John earned his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fullerton in 1980, holds the ARM and CPCU designations and is currently a member of the Orange County Chapter of RIMS. He is based in Woodruff-Sawyer’s Southern California office.

Heidi Bastien Board Member

Heidi Bastien has been in the risk, human resources, safety and claims management roles since 2003. Ms. Bastien is currently the Senior Director of Risk Management with El Pollo Loco, Inc., a Southern California-based quick service restaurant chain. In this role, Ms. Bastien designs and implements risk management programs and loss control initiatives that substantially reduce the loss profile for the company. Ms. Bastien specializes in business continuity training, security, workers' compensation, general liability, enterprise risk management, safety programs, loss control, loss analysis, training, litigation, risk transfer, media event preparation and claims system implementation.

Dean Uyeda Board Member

Dean started his career in 1988 with Safeco Insurance Companies, handling environmental claims and bad-faith litigation. He spent 10 years as a Risk Manager for various companies including Lam Research, Rockwell International, Global Crossing, and Computer Sciences Corporation. Prior to Marsh, Dean was a Vice President, Account Executive with Aon for 10 years.

Dean Uyeda is a client executive in Marsh’s Los Angeles office working closely with clients to address risk and insurance issues. He is knowledgeable in risk issues associated with various industries, including defense contracting, employee outsourcing, semiconductors, telecommunications, restaurants, and food, agriculture & beverage. He’s responsible for developing and managing client relationships, leading / managing teams to execute client strategies, and identifying resources within Marsh to resolve issues and enhance strategic growth for clients.

Lisa Peterson Board Member

Lisa Peterson is an attorney in the Orange County and Los Angeles Offices of Goldberg Segalla, LLP, practicing primarily in Employment and Labor and General Liability practices with a focus on restaurant, retail and hospitality entities. She has extensive experience handling employment claims involving wrongful termination, retaliation, DFEH, sexual harassment, and discrimination, as well as wage and hour claims before the Labor Commissioner. Lisa also provides general employment consulting services, including reviewing and drafting employee handbooks, conducting independent investigations on claims, and providing sexual harassment trainings.

Peter Liivoja Board Member

Peter Liivoja has been a California risk professional for over 30 years, serving organizations in the restaurant, grocery, staffing/PEO, and manufacturing industries. He’s been recognized for possessing strong operational savvy and a bottom line focus, skilled at aligning risk management strategies to achieve overall business objectives. Additionally throughout his career, Peter has absorbed increased responsibilities in the area of human resources and employment practice risk management, serving at the executive level for both public and private companies.

Peter is a co-founder of the Foodservice Industry Risk Management Association (FIRMA), a California-based association with 1,500+ members. Peter earned a Finance degree at Long Beach State University, coupled with a minor in Economics.

Jenifer Kienle General Counsel

Jenifer Kienle serves as General Counsel to FIRMA. Jenifer is a partner in the Orange County office of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith and Chair of the firm’s OSHA Safety & Health Practice. She is an experienced trial attorney with expertise in defending national and California commercial enterprises in general liability and OSHA related matters.