Michael W. Simmons has been a risk management professional for the last 33 years. Mr. Simmons is the Vice President, Risk Management for WKS Restaurant Group. In this role, Mr. Simmons is responsible for overseeing the risk management, claims, safety, and security mission for a 285 unit restaurant franchisee encompassing six distinct concepts including Wendy’s, El Pollo Loco, Denny’s, Krispy Kreme, Blaze Pizza, and Corner Bakery. In his career, he has served in several risk management, safety, and claims management capacities in the restaurant, retail, and insurance industries including 11 years as the Director of Risk Management for El Pollo Loco, Inc. His more notable past employers include The Automobile Club of Southern California, American Stores, Inc., Albertsons, Inc., Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse and El Pollo Loco, Inc.
Mr. Simmons holds the Associate in Risk Management (ARM) and RIMS Certified Risk Management Professional designation. Mr. Simmons holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Management and second Master’s degree in the Administration of Criminal Justice. He is also a 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
Vice President, Risk Management
WKS Restaurant Group
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
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.
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 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 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 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 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.