Board Members

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.

Shaun Jackson
Executive Director, Risk Management
Panda Restaurant Group, Inc.

Michael Simmons Vice President

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 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 Sr. Director of Risk Management for the AccentCare Inc. where he is responsible for the overseeing the risk management department. 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, Rowland Unified School District., 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 Sr. Director, Risk Management at AccentCare Inc.

FIRMA Board Member Mike Kopulsky
Michael Kopulsky Secretary

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.

Michael Kopulsky
President, Front Line Sales

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.

Heidi Bastien
Sr. Director, Risk Management
El Pollo Loco

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.

Christian Iglesias
Cristian Iglesias Board Member

Cristian Iglesias is Manager of Risk Services at The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated. In his current role, Cristian manages Analytics and Safety, and oversees the General Liability, Workers’ Compensation and Insurance programs for the company. With nearly 17 years of experience at The Cheesecake Factory, Cristian specializes in Risk Analysis, Safety Programs, Business Continuity Planning and Property & Casualty Insurance. Additionally, he managed the successful integration of Fox Restaurant Concepts and North Restaurants LLC into The Cheesecake Factory’s property and casualty programs. His previous roles with the company include working on international expansion in Global Development, Performance Development and Operations.

Prior to joining The Cheesecake Factory, Cristian worked in Finance at the Mina Group in San Francisco, CA. Cristian holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Economics from UC Berkeley and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with emphasis on Business Management, Finance and Insurance from UCLA. Cristian is currently pursuing an Associate in Risk Management (ARM) professional designation and serves on the Board of Directors for the LA chapter of the Risk and Insurance Management Society (LA RIMS). Additionally, Cristian is active in legislative advocacy for issues important to the risk management industry.

Cristian Iglesias
Manager, Risk Services
The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated

Sandy Martinez
Sandy Martinez Board Member

Sandy Martinez is the Operations Safety Manager for Food4Less / Foods Co., which is a division of the Kroger Corporation. Ms. Martinez began her career working at Kroger on the east coast and later moved to California. She has spent the last 26 years with Ralphs / Food4less, and has worked in the Risk Management Department for both divisions, handling General Liability and Workers Compensation claims, then transitioned to the prevention side of risk for Food4Less / Foods Co. She has worked in Stores, Operations, Safety, and the Marketing Department and has an in-depth understanding of the grocery retail environment as well as the need for prevention in the workplace. Ms. Martinez has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Northwood University, and a graduate of the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business, (FIM) Food Industry Management Program and holds several Safety /OSHA Certifications. She has a passion for Safety, People, Results and continues taking classes to enhance her leadership skills as well as her knowledge regarding Safety and prevention.

Sandy Martinez
Operations Safety Manager
Food4Less/Foods Co

Sarah Cato Board Member

Sarah Cato is the Sr. Manager of Risk and Insurance for Rubio’s Restaurants. In this role, Ms. Cato is responsible for developing, implementing and managing Rubio’s Enterprise Risk Management program for multi-unit restaurant operations in a three-state area. Her expertise in workers’ compensation comes from 15 years in the workers’ compensation arena working for third party administrators and carriers. She is also knowledgeable in general liability, risk transfer, contractual liability and ADA/Reasonable accommodation.

Sarah Cato
Sr. Manager, Risk and Insurance

Tami Griffin Board Member

Tami works within the Food, Agribusiness & Beverage group (FAB) as the National Practice Leader. FAB is a resource/practice group working with clients to deliver innovative industry-specific risk management solutions and services to global agriculture and “food system” industry clients. The “food system” includes input suppliers, crop/livestock producers, cooperatives, agricultural trade associations, food and beverage processors, transporters, wholesalers, restaurants, retailers, and lenders.

Tami is responsible for evaluating and delivering solutions to Aon clients within the food & agribusiness sector, including: • Assessing risk exposures not customarily covered by traditional insurance offerings; • Developing and implementing comprehensive risk management and insurance strategies; • Evaluating solutions that safeguard critical assets; • Creating solutions to control financial volatility

Tami began her insurance career in 1980 as an Audit Associate with a national insurance carrier. She later served as a Commercial Lines Underwriter for two Berkshire Hathaway companies before entering the brokerage industry in 1986. Before joining Aon in 1995, Tami was the Broking Manager for Jardine Insurance Brokers Midwest, Inc. Since joining Aon, she has held various positions including Commercial Unit Leader and Deputy Director of the Food, Agribusiness & Beverage Practice.

Tami has extensive experience in the food and agricultural industry. She provides industry-specific knowledge with an emphasis on risk identification, assessment and developing solutions for non-traditional risks such as food contamination events, bioterrorism, brand damage, supply system disruption, sustainability, volumetric loss to crop/livestock, weather, climate change, commodity price and other high-impact financial volatility risk. Tami has developed risk finance and management programs for a wide range of clients, ranging from crop & livestock production to end processing and retail facilities. She has developed association and franchise programs.

Tami Griffin, AFIS
National Practice Leader, Food System, Agribusiness & Beverage Industry
Aon Commercial Risk