Staff Bios

Leadership Staff

Julie Rochman

President & Chief Executive Officer

Julie Rochman joined IBHS in 2007 with more than 20 years of public affairs and advocacy experience representing major corporations, research and safety organizations, and issue-based coalitions. She is often quoted by both traditional and digital media outlets on a wide variety of topics.

Under Julie’s leadership, IBHS has become a world-class research and communications organization; significant accomplishments include creation of the unique, $40 million IBHS Research Center in South Carolina.

Prior to IBHS, Julie held senior positions at a leading Washington, D.C.-based strategic communication and advocacy firm; at the American Insurance Association; and at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. She now serves on several advisory councils and the National Fire Protection Association Board of Directors, and previously served on boards for the International Hurricane Research Center, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute, and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Julie earned a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Tulane University, and a master’s degree in American Government from the University of Virginia. She resides in Tampa.

Debra T. Ballen

General Counsel and Senior Vice President, Public Policy

Debra Ballen joined IBHS in 2008 as the general counsel and senior vice president of public policy. In this capacity, she is responsible for all of IBHS’ legal matters and oversees a number of important public policy initiatives, including building codes, adaptation, community resilience, and economic incentives for mitigation. In addition, she serves as the organization’s corporate secretary and manages member relations.

Prior to her work with IBHS, Ms. Ballen was the executive vice president of public policy management for the American Insurance Association (AIA). She developed and implemented policy for AIA’s priority federal and state public policy issues.

She also serves on the Advisory Committee for the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado and has participated on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) High Level Advisory Board on Financial Management of Large Scale Catastrophes. She is a frequent speaker about the broad benefits of mitigation and has testified before Congress and state legislatures on these matters.

Ms. Ballen graduated with a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. She also has received the CPCU designation.

Anne D. Cope, Ph.D., P.E.

Senior Vice President, Research

Dr. Anne Cope is the senior vice president of research at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s (IBHS) multi-risk research facility in Richburg, South Carolina, where she is responsible for developing and guiding the research program. She leads IBHS’s team of engineers, scientists and others who conduct research about the performance of full-scale homes and commercial structures, building materials and construction practices during natural catastrophe conditions, including hurricanes, wildfires, severe thunderstorms, and hail storms. Prior to joining IBHS in 2009, Dr. Cope was a project manager and structural engineer with Reynolds, Smith & Hills, Inc., designing projects for NASA, Department of Defense and commercial launch operations. Dr. Cope’s research has encompassed topics ranging from the simulation of full-scale wind effects on buildings to detailed studies of the vulnerabilities of buildings to natural hazards and the development of damage prediction models. She is also a proud veteran of the United States Army. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Clemson University, and her doctorate from the University of Florida. She is a registered professional engineer in Florida and South Carolina.

Brenda O’Connor

Senior Vice President, Public Affairs

Brenda O’Connor is a seasoned communications strategist with more than 25 years of public affairs and government affairs experience. Ms. O’Connor has designed and directed a wide range of advocacy, political communication and media relations campaigns for corporations, trade associations and nonprofit organizations. She joined IBHS in 2008 from the Glover Park Group (GPG) in Washington, D.C., a leading strategic communications firm, where she was a vice president in the public affairs practice directing many complex accounts for financial services and other interests.

Prior to her work at GPG, she was vice president of public affairs for the American Insurance Association (AIA), a national public policy advocacy organization for property-casualty insurance companies. Ms. O’Connor managed AIA’s regional public affairs team located in satellite offices around the country. Before joining AIA, she directed government relations efforts for the National Association for Biomedical Research. Ms. O’Connor began her career on Capitol Hill, where she held a variety of positions including staff director of the U.S. House Small Business Antitrust Subcommittee. She earned a master’s degree in public communication from the American University in Washington, D.C., and a bachelor’s degree in communications and political science from Boston College.

Timothy A. Reinhold, Ph.D., P.E.

Senior Vice President, Research and Chief Engineer

Named as an Engineering News-Record Top 25 Newsmaker in 2010 for creating the IBHS Research Center, Dr. Timothy Reinhold is a well-respected professional engineer known for developing techniques to build and retrofit new and existing structures for greater resiliency. Dr. Reinhold joined IBHS in 2004 as director of engineering and vice president after 12 years with Clemson University, where he was a professor of Civil Engineering. He was promoted to senior vice president of research and chief engineer in 2008. His professional career includes 10 years as a consulting engineer with firms in the U.S., Canada and Denmark and 5 years at the National Institute for Standards and Technology. He holds a bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech.

Dr. Reinhold has conducted research on wind effects and structural resistance for most of his professional career. In addition to directing numerous studies to determine wind loads for tall buildings and specialty structures, he has been heavily involved in research relating to the performance of housing and low buildings in hurricanes and other severe wind events. His research includes post-event assessments, model and full-scale laboratory studies, and in situ field structural testing. Dr. Reinhold serves on the American Society of Civil Engineers ASCE 7 Wind Loads subcommittee. He served for 8 years on the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) Wind Load subcommittee and is a past member of the Board of Directors for the American Association for Wind Engineering. He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Colorado, and has authored or co-authored numerous journal papers, book chapters and conference publications.

Susan Baxter Gibson

Vice President, Finance

Susan Baxter Gibson joined IBHS in 2010 as the finance manager and has since been promoted to vice president of finance. Under the direction of the CEO, the vice president of finance directs, monitors, coordinates, interprets and administers all functional activities related to accounting, finance, budgeting, cash management and financial analysis.

Susan came to IBHS with more than 20 years experience as a CFO in the healthcare industry. Susan served as CFO at the Visiting Nurse Association of the Treasure Coast, Baptist Hospital Homecare, Gulfside Regional Hospice and Health Systems Solutions, a publicly traded software company. Susan earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting at the University of Central Florida before earning her master’s degree in business at UCF. She is also a certified public accountant.

Tanya Brown-Giammanco, Ph.D.

Vice President, Research

Dr. Tanya Brown-Giammanco joined IBHS in 2010 and is a vice president and director of hail research at the Research Center. She is the South Carolina Wind and Hail Underwriting Association hail chair at the lab. Her responsibilities include providing engineering leadership on hail, wind, water, and roofing-related research projects. Her research focus is on hailstone formation, hail impact testing, wind-flow characterization and testing, instrumentation, and field measurement and damage assessment studies. Dr. Brown-Giammanco serves the IBHS representative to the RICOWI Board of Directors. Prior to joining IBHS full-time, Dr. Brown-Giammanco was an engineering consultant for IBHS and LNSS & Associates.

Dr. Brown-Giammanco was a National Science Foundation – Integrative Graduate Education Training Fellow while completing her Ph.D. in Wind Science and Engineering at Texas Tech University. Her dissertation topic was “Development of a Statistical Relationship between Ground-Based and Remotely-Sensed Damage in Windstorms.” While at Texas Tech, she was an instrumental member of their field research teams, leading a team in thunderstorm and tornado intercepts during VORTEX 2, participating in hurricane intercepts with the Texas Tech University Hurricane Research Team, and conducting numerous post-disaster damage assessments. Dr. Brown-Giammanco also holds a master’s degree in Water Resources Science and a bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric Science from the University of Kansas, and served as a teaching assistant and academic advisor while at KU. She is currently appointed as a Faculty Associate at Texas Tech University to continue serving with the Texas Tech University Hurricane Research Team.

Brown-Giammanco Curriculum Vitae

Fred Malik

Vice President, FORTIFIED Programs

Fred Malik is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the FORTIFIED suite of programs, which seek to improve property resilience to natural disasters on a local, regional and national level. Since taking over the program in 2009, Fred has led FORTIFIED’s expansion to include existing residential, new residential and light commercial building standards. Under his leadership, FORTIFIED has quickly become the national building standard for resilience. With more than 20 years of construction experience and an M.B.A. from Virginia Tech, Fred has established himself as a recognized mitigation expert. He is a featured speaker on resilience and its value and practicality at conferences across the country. Fred is married and lives with his family in Florida.

Chuck Miccolis

Vice President, Commercial Lines

Chuck Miccolis provides engineering and technical support for commercial building–related hazard mitigation initiatives. He is the lead engineer for the Institute’s FORTIFIED Commercial standards, a voluntary commercial construction criteria that focuses on building resiliency and mitigating losses from natural and man-made hazards. He works with IBHS colleagues, member companies, and industry trade organizations on program development, mitigation, field research, and testing at the IBHS Research Center.

Prior to joining IBHS, Mr. Miccolis was in the commercial property insurance business for more than 20 years. He was with FM Global for 18 years, and most recently with XL Global Asset Protection Services. He served as wind team technical specialist, senior loss prevention specialist, and senior property appraiser. He conducted detailed loss prevention surveys of industrial, commercial and institutional properties to obtain construction, occupancy and fire protection details, and to determine exposures. Mr. Miccolis created and prioritized Highly Protected Risk (HPR) mitigation recommendations and loss scenarios for a variety of natural and man-made risks and hazards. He improved and developed facility emergency preparedness and response plans for clients. He reduced potential business interruption for clients by identifying and quantifying their various time element exposures. He also volunteered as co-coordinator and sector team leader for the Greater Tampa Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Mr. Miccolis earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of South Florida.

Murray Morrison, Ph.D.

Vice President, Research

Dr. Murray Morrison joined IBHS in 2011 as a research engineer, after being a visiting researcher at the IBHS Research Center as part of a collaboration between the University of Western Ontario, FM Global and IBHS. His areas of expertise include wind tunnel measurements and techniques, boundary layer turbulence, wind induced loads on structures and full-scale structural testing. Prior to joining IBHS, Dr. Morrison worked on numerous research and industrial contracts involving wind loads on full structures and cladding elements at the Boundary Layer Wind tunnel at The University of Western Ontario. He also worked as a technology coordinator at the Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes where he continued development and implementation of the laboratory’s multi-million dollar pressure loading system, instrumentation and data acquisition equipment.

Dr. Morrison earned his doctorate from the University of Western Ontario in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, focusing on the failures of residential wood frame structures when subjected to full-scale realistic wind loading. This research has led him to participate in damage surveys in partnership with Environment Canada following severe thunderstorm wind events in Southwest Ontario. Dr. Morrison also earned his master’s in mechanical and materials engineering from the University of Western Ontario, focusing on turbulence and bluff body aerodynamics.

Morrison Curriculum Vitae

Professional Staff

Marisol Bermudez

Human Resources Assistant

Marisol Bermudez joined IBHS in 2015 as a Human Resources Assistant. She provides administrative support to the Human Resources Director on all personnel matters and assists with benefits processing.

Ms. Bermudez came to IBHS with 22 years of HR experience. She previously worked as an HR Assistant at Inspira Medical Center, Thompson & Company, and Premier Orthopaedic Associates, and as an Office Manager at Lennar Homes.

ALEX BRIGHTMAN

Systems Analyst

Alex has extensive I/T experience and expertise including end user support, infrastructure management, and systems administration. Alex earned COMP TIA A+ and ITIL certifications from Brewster Technical Center. Prior to joining IBHS, Alex worked at Key Safety Systems providing technical support.

Eljin Brown

Senior Systems Administrator, Information Technology

IBHS Research Center

Eljin has a wealth of knowledge and experience in I/T, and specializes in Windows and hardware issues. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of South Carolina and has worked for companies specializing in telecommunications, networking and back-end systems. Prior to joining IBHS, Eljin spent 13 years at Microsoft where he provided consulting and support for end users, infrastructure, and systems architecture for Fortune 50 companies.

Remington “Rem” Brown, P.E.

Senior Engineering Director

Remington “Rem” Brown joined IBHS in 2007. He works closely with the FORTIFIED programs and is also involved with other engineering-related projects. He is a registered professional engineer with more than 25 years of experience.

He most recently worked as a consultant providing design services to the structural component industry. Rem earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Clarkson University.

Alex Cary

Manager, FORTIFIED Coastal Programs

Alex is the Manager of the FORTIFIED Coastal Programs at IBHS, providing direct support to communities along the Gulf Coast and strengthening partnerships with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, St. Bernard Project and Sea Grant. Alex previously served as the Executive Director of Smart Home America and construction manager for Habitat for Humanity of Baldwin County, AL. She has been an active member of Baldwin County for more than 15 years and is a licensed home builder in Alabama. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Springfield College in Massachusetts. She serves on the Board of Directors of Smart Home America, is Treasurer of the Board of Directors for the Baldwin County Home Builder’s Association, and was recently appointed to the Alabama Center for Insurance Information and Research Advisory Board by Governor Robert Bentley.

Warner Chang, P.E.

Lead Project Engineer

Mr. Chang joined IBHS in 2008. He has worked as a structural engineer in Florida since 1994, with design and construction experience in residential, commercial, institutional and health care buildings, governmental facilities, and marine/coastal structures. His engineering experience is extensive and includes design development, interdisciplinary coordination, engineering analysis, inspection, project management, and construction administration.

Mr. Chang earned a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in civil engineering and a master’s degree from Florida Atlantic University in civil engineering with an emphasis in structural engineering. He is a registered professional engineer and a licensed Special Inspector for threshold buildings in the state of Florida.

Chris Cioffi

Commercial Line Engineer

Chris Cioffi joined IBHS in 2016 as the Commercial Line Engineer for the FORTIFIED Commercial Program. He previously worked at TLC Engineering for Architecture where he provided structural engineering design services for a variety of projects, including the design of the new St. Pete Pier and Doral Legacy Park. He also trained interns and colleagues in the utilization of design platforms. While a student at Pennsylvania State University, Chris worked as a research assistant in the Architectural Engineering Structure Lab. Among other skills and experiences, Chris has conducted structural analysis of steel, concrete, engineered wood and masonry structures; used structural analysis programs to model design and convey structural stability; and visited construction sites to analyze existing structures, monitor current construction, and determine if additional services might be needed. Along with his work on the FORTIFIED Commercial program, he consults with the Research Center team on commercial structure testing, and collaborates with the business protection unit to provide membership-focused resources.

Chris has a bachelor of architectural engineering degree with a concentration in structural engineering, and a minor in architecture studies, from Penn State.

Andy Clyde

Director of Construction, Equipment and Lab Facilities

IBHS Research Center

Andy Clyde joined IBHS in 2010 as an electrical technician responsible for maintaining and operating all electrical equipment at the IBHS Research Center. He is responsible for setting up the instrumentation for testing of buildings in the large laboratory, as well specific instrumentation used in component testing in the small laboratory.

Mr. Clyde came to IBHS after serving as superintendent of Powerworks Electric in Chester, South Carolina, where he was experienced in low and medium voltage electrical systems installations and applications. He attended New York Institute of Technology where he majored in Electronics. He is certified in OSHA medium voltage, trained in OSHA 70E/energized work, fire-stop instruction and power activated equipment.

Eddie Cranford

Electrical Technician

IBHS Research Center

Eddie Cranford joined IBHS in 2013 as an electrical technician. He is responsible for preventative maintenance, troubleshooting, and managing instrumentation inventory at the IBHS Research Center. He also assists in the setup of instrumentation for tests in the large test chamber as well as specific instrumentation used in component testing in the small laboratory facilities.

Prior to joining IBHS, Mr. Cranford was an Electrical & Instrumentation technician with InChem Corporation, an Electrical & Instrument Specialist with Cytec Engineered Materials, and an Instrument Technician with Celanese Acetate, all in Rock Hill, South Carolina. At InChem, he designed, installed, and maintained Allen Bradley PLC-5, MicroLogix, CompactLogix and Honeywell HC900 PLC control systems. He also worked under chromatography expert Dr. James F. Sprouse and assisted in maintaining and repairing gas chromatographs and other laboratory instrumentation.

At Cytec, Mr. Cranford managed and maintained process control systems and served as I/T support to solve network and workstation problems and assisted in new installations and upgrades. At Celanese Acetate, Mr. Cranford maintained process control and laboratory instrumentation. He earned an associate’s degree in Computer Engineering Technology from York Technical College and has 25 years of experience in the chemical industry. Mr. Cranford is also a HAM Radio enthusiast and electronics hobbyist. His call sign is KI4BPK.

Conrad Estes

Technician

IBHS Research Center

Conrad joined IBHS in 2015 as an Electrical & Instrumentation Technician. Conrad works with IBHS researchers to ensure proper and precise data collection during critical experiment runs as well as data analysis after projects are completed. Using his knowledge of MATLAB, LabVIEW, Arduino, and Python programming languages, Conrad seeks new ways to push the limits of data collection and analysis.

Prior to joining IBHS, Conrad worked for TBA Communications, INC., in Tampa, Florida working on portable radio systems. He was responsible for programming and maintaining all customer radio hardware/software and consulting on sales calls to ensure customers got the right system for their needs. He also participated in the design of, and handled system administration for, TBA’s wide-area radio system, which encompassed a 60-square-mile area. Before TBA Communications, Conrad worked as an inventory and logistics supervisor at both Blackwater Aviation and F.I.T. Aviation, LLC. His responsibilities included asset tracking for an extensive aircraft parts inventory while also handling purchasing and vendor conflict resolutions.

Heather Estes

Research Scientist, Materials

IBHS Research Center

Heather is a materials staff scientist based at IBHS’ Research Center. She has extensive experience in data analysis, quality control, sample management, and designing experiments. She was an analytical chemist at PRI Asphalt Technologies where she established a quality assurance program and conducted research and method development for asphalt, construction materials, and crude oil. Heather has more than 10 years of experience with asphalt chemistry, analytical chemistry and laboratory sciences.

Heather is also an experienced field scientist and has traveled abroad to conduct research projects. Her knowledge of asphalt chemistry and field work will be applied directly to lab studies at IBHS. Heather currently serves as a member of ASTM International, The American Chemical Society and the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from the Florida Institute of Technology, and is working towards a Master’s in Chemistry at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Estes Curriculum Vitae

Siavash “Si” Farvardin

Manager of Codes and Standards

Si earned a bachelor of applied science degree from the University of Louisville. He also has studied building science at Pennsylvania State University’s Housing Research Center, and wind load design at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and completed training in building and fire plans review at the U.S. Fire Academy. Prior to joining IBHS, Si worked as a Senior Evaluation Specialist at the International Code Council Evaluation Service, LLC. He also worked for the National Evaluation Service and as a Project Engineer at the Institute for Building Technology and Safety, and as a building official in Virginia.

Si brings a wealth of experience and expertise about building materials, systems and construction methods, including testing, evaluation, and standards development. He has served as an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) committee member, as a Member of a Panel of Experts that developed a standard for flood-resistant products for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and on task forces developing acceptance criteria (test methods) for evaluation and use of various building materials and systems.

Christopher Flynn

Plant and Operations Manager

Chris joined IBHS in 2017 as plant and operations manager. Chris previously worked at Parker Hannifin, where he was the business team leader for custom drive systems and plant manager for both the SSD drives and energy grid tie divisions—as a result, he has a wealth of experience and expertise in keeping complex projects moving forward, and working with engineers and fabricators.

Chris has an MBA from Indiana University and a bachelor’s degree in architectural design and construction management from Bowling Green State University.

Scott Fowler

Multimedia Production Manager

IBHS Research Center

Scott Fowler joined IBHS in 2011 as a graphic technician. Scott works at the Research Center in South Carolina and assists with various graphic assignments. He formerly worked as photography editor for the University of South Carolina student newspaper, The Daily Gamecock.

Scott earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of South Carolina. He majored in visual communications and received a minor in criminal justice.

Ian Giammanco, Ph.D.

Lead Research Meteorologist

IBHS Research Center

Dr. Ian Giammanco is a Lead Research Meteorologist at the IBHS Research Center. His responsibilities include providing leadership in instrumentation design and data collection, wind-flow characterization and multi-hazard testing including hail and wildfire, field programs, and provides guidance on weather and climate issues within the public policy program. He is also serving a 3-year term on the American Meteorological Society’s Committee on Weather and Climate Financial Risk Management. Dr. Giammanco has more than a decade of meteorological field research experience, serving as the field coordinator for the IBHS Characteristics of Hail Field Program, which began in 2012, the Texas Tech University Hurricane Research Team, and has participated in numerous severe thunderstorm and tornado research projects, including VORTEX 2. His research interests include boundary layer wind flow characteristics in a variety of conditions, severe convective storms, tropical cyclones, and measurement and instrumentation systems. He is also a technician-licensed amateur (HAM) radio operator with the call letters W5WWX.

Dr. Giammanco received a bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric Science from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2002, where he was also a pitcher for their NCAA baseball team. He also holds a master’s degree in Atmospheric Science, as well as a Ph.D. in Wind Science and Engineering both from Texas Tech University. He also completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at Texas Tech University examining the wind flow characteristics of tropical cyclones. During his doctoral studies he was appointed as a National Science Foundation – Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training Fellow, and served as an intern at NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division in Miami. In addition to his position at IBHS, he is currently appointed as an Adjunct Faculty Research Associate at Texas Tech University.

Giammanco Curriculum Vitae

Diane Graul

Administrative Assistant

Diane brings more than 35 years of administrative, travel coordination, and human resource experience to her role as administrative assistant. Prior to joining IBHS, Diane worked as a staffing coordinator with Tomlin Tested Staffing and as an executive assistant at Express Scripts Holding Company (formerly Medco Health Solutions).

Michelle Harvey-LeBlanc

Director of Administrative Support Services

Michelle Harvey-LeBlanc joined IBHS in 2008. Michelle has more than 15 years of senior executive administration experience and is a polished professional with exceptional communication and interpersonal skills. She began her career with an international travel company and then worked for both American Express and Sony Music Entertainment, managing travel arrangements for VIP clients and senior executives, including negotiating hotel and airline contracts.

Michelle went on to serve as an executive assistant to C-suite officers at a number of high profile organizations, including the NBA Corporate Offices where she handled international projects and maintained key company databases. She was born and raised in Great Britain where she graduated from East Surrey College with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

James “Jay” Harrison, II

Research Lab Technician

IBHS Research Center

Jay Harrison, a native of Chester County, South Carolina, joined IBHS in 2016. He is responsible for conducting a variety of lab tests, measuring building material/product performance and characteristics evaluations. Jay has extensive experience in quality control inspections and testing. Before coming to IBHS, he was a quality technician and NACE Level II coatings inspector at Industrial Piping Inc., where he worked with engineers to ensure that operations were performed in accordance with client and in-house standards. At Industrial Piping, his duties included welding inspection, calibrating quality control instruments, preparing and monitoring project specifications and preparing finished products to be shipped internationally. Jay also worked as an inventory control coordinator at Guardian Glass in Richburg, South Carolina.

Brent Henzi

Public Affairs Manager

Brent Henzi joined IBHS in 2011 as a communications associate. Prior to joining IBHS, Brent worked as a reporter for the online publication, the Florida Tribune, where he covered the state Legislature.

Brent graduated from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communications with a bachelor’s degree. He has also formerly worked for a daily newspaper and a magazine in Oregon.

Sandy Hightower

Executive Assistant

IBHS Research Center

Sandy earned a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of South Carolina, and has extensive administrative, customer service and project/event management experience. She has worked with several educational institutions, as well as the American Red Cross. At IBHS, Sandy provides administrative support to Research Center staff, including making travel arrangements, and managing logistics for meetings and tours.

Deborah James-Pickard

Staff Accountant

Deborah James-Pickard brought a wealth of experience in all areas of accounting, financial management and reporting when she joined IBHS in 2017. Deborah, who was born in Puerto Rico and raised in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, began her career as a junior accountant at Transducer Technology, Inc. in St. Croix. In addition to handling payroll and all accounting functions at Transducer Technology, she also assisted the controller on many special projects. Deborah later served as the Director of Finance and Administration for Legal Services of the Virgin Islands where she performed all the agency’s accounting responsibilities including grant writing and was involved in maintaining long-lasting rapport with grantors and legislators.

After moving to Tampa, Deborah was an accounting manager at Curlin, Inc. and Champions for Children before becoming the staff accountant at Octane One LLC. Deborah’s responsibilities included recording day-to-day financial transactions, reconciling various accounts, processing payroll and handling human resources duties. Deborah holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting/communications from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Laurie Jaworski

FORTIFIED Quality Assurance Manager

Laurie joined IBHS in 2015, bringing more than 30 years of construction project management and building codes administration experience. After earning her Bachelor of Building Construction degree at the University of Florida, Laurie managed historic renovations and high-end residential construction projects in Palm Beach County, Florida and gained extensive structural experience on commercial and multi-family projects in Broward, Dade and Monroe counties. Most recently, she coordinated the team of designers and contractors on a major renovation to a local landmark building in St. Petersburg, Florida.

After Hurricane Andrew, Laurie joined the Palm Beach County Building Division as a Senior Plans Examiner and also worked in the Construction Services Division at the City of St. Petersburg as a Senior Plans Examiner.

Laurie is a LEED Accredited Professional, licensed Structural Plans Examiner, a member of the Building Officials Association of Florida, an Associate member of the American Institute of Architects, and is certified as a Safety Assessment Program Disaster Service Worker (DSW) through CalEMA.

Donna Johnson

Office Systems Assistant

Donna Johnson joined IBHS in 2009 with more than 25 years of administrative experience. She is responsible for providing database support to the IBHS member relations director, assisting the office systems senior manager by acting as the liaison with office equipment vendors and suppliers, handling mailing and shipping needs, maintaining office supplies and processing publications requests. She is also responsible for providing administrative support to staff as needed. Prior to joining IBHS, Ms. Johnson worked as an administrative assistant for a local engineering firm in Tampa.

Tim Johnston

Staff Scientist

IBHS Research Center

Tim joined IBHS in 2015 as a staff scientist at the Research Center. He earned his bachelor’s degree in meteorology from Penn State, and came to IBHS with skills in programming and data analysis, and experience with instrumentation and experimentation.

Prior to joining IBHS, Tim worked as a teaching assistant at Penn State and took part in a NASA Airborne Science Program field campaign where he studied the role of atmospheric boundary layer mixing in the air quality problems of California’s L.A. Basin. He also worked on NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission as a research assistant at the University of Michigan, where he was heavily involved with data analysis related to the investigation of the structure and dynamics of the upper atmosphere of Mars.

Simon Kellogg

Art Director

Simon Kellogg joined IBHS in 2000 as the in-house graphic designer to develop and maintain the visual identity of the organization. He is the lead designer for all of IBHS’ major research reports, including Hurricane Ike: Nature’s Force vs. Structural Strength and Megafires: The Case for Mitigation. In addition, Mr. Kellogg is the designer for IBHS’ primary mode of communication with its members, Disaster Safety Monthly. He has also designed annual reports, the archive of the IBHS journal Disaster Safety Review, as well as dozens of consumer-oriented property protection brochures.

Mr. Kellogg is also responsible for the DisasterSafety.org website. He earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Florida State University.

Stephanie Lesser

Public Affairs Manager

Stephanie earned her bachelor’s degree in English and master of fine arts degree in creative writing from Florida State University. She has served as an adjunct writing instructor for Florida State University, the University of Tampa, Kaplan University and the University of Phoenix. She has also worked as a content strategist for a digital marketing agency catering to clients such as Walmart, CVS and eBay. Before joining IBHS in 2015, Stephanie was a freelance writer and editor for a range of start-ups, law firms and print publications.

Ross Maiden

Designer/Drafting Technician

IBHS Research Center

Ross Maiden is a design/drafting technician at the IBHS Research Center. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from the University of South Carolina. He has experience with data analysis and computational modeling from his work with gangway design for Perigee Partners, Inc., in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. He also has many years of experience with landscape design and installation for his family’s business in Great Falls, South Carolina.

Brian McElhoe

Director of Information Technology

IBHS Research Center

Brian has more than a decade of experience in all facets of Information Technology including strategic planning, leadership, budget management, project planning and vendor management, as well as various aspects of Network and Systems Management. Prior to joining IBHS in 2015, Brian worked at Lend Lease and was the Infrastructure Manager at ScentAir Technologies.

Amy Meakin

Public Affairs Manager

Amy joined IBHS in 2017 as Public Affairs Manager. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from the University of Arizona. Amy has spent much of her career as a technical editor and writer, specifically in the mining industry. While serving in many different capacities including project management and computer-based training program development, she worked closely with engineers and technicians to develop training documentation for optimization of maintenance and process operations at mine sites throughout the world. Amy has also worked as a contractor in the energy industry, as well as a subcontractor for an independent government agency.

Hilda Menendez

Purchasing Coordinator

IBHS Research Center

Hilda Menendez brought more than 15 years of administrative and project management experience to IBHS when she became the Purchasing Coordinator for the Research Center in 2016. She has extensive experience with purchasing operations and vendor management. She began her career as a purchasing assistant at Victory Packaging and rose through the ranks to become a purchasing manager and training facilitator. As a training facilitator, she designed and developed instructional materials for employees in all departments. Hilda, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, was also an International Coordinator for InterNET Services where she supported the company’s Hispanic North American customer base. Hilda is working toward a bachelor’s degree in business administration from York Technical College.

Susan Millerick

Director of Public Affairs

Susan joined IBHS in 2017 as director of public affairs. She is a high-energy communications leader with deep expertise in media relations, as well as marketing and internal communications. Susan manages IBHS media relations and works on social media and other projects aimed at both public and internal audiences.

Prior to joining IBHS, Susan worked for health insurer Aetna, where she held several key communications positions since 2002. She began her career as a reporter working for newspapers in Connecticut, and worked in communications for Cigna Healthcare and Northeast Utilities. Susan earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Boston College.

Gail Moraton

Business Resiliency Manager

Gail Moraton joined IBHS in 2011 as the business resiliency manager. She is responsible for the Open for Business® program, a business continuity and property protection planning tool for small to mid-sized businesses for IBHS member company employees, agents and policyholders. She formerly worked for the Mercury Insurance Group in Clearwater, Florida as a business continuity program officer and senior business systems analysts. She also worked for the company’s Brea, California and Vernon Hills, Illinois branches, where her positions included underwriting branch manager and senior underwriter. Gail is currently a member of the Greater Tampa Bay Association of Contingency Planners. She is also certified as a Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP) by DRI International.

Joel “Mark” Oliver

Machinist

IBHS Research Center

Joel “Mark” Oliver, a native of Lancaster, South Carolina, joined IBHS in 2016 as a machinist at the Research Center. Prior to that, he worked as a mechanic, machinist and maintenance supervisor, where his duties included setting up, calibrating and maintaining many different types of tools. At Velmet, Inc., Mark was responsible for machining operations for manual and Computer Numeric Control machines. While there, he performed alignment checks, inspected machine operations and was charged with detecting and responding to program errors or other unplanned situations that might impact machine operations. Mark brings a wealth of experience with the kinds of precision machines that IBHS uses to fabricate tools for scientific research.

Andrew Parmley

Technician

IBHS Research Center

Andrew Parmley, an experienced remodeling specialist and homebuilder, is a member of the carpentry team at the Research Center. He began his career as an assistant builder for a construction and home improvement company and then became an independent contractor and licensed homebuilder in South Carolina. During his career, Andrew has remodeled kitchens and bathrooms, built home additions and repaired failing residential structures. He is a skilled tradesman with experience in electrical and plumbing systems as well as carpentry.

Andrew holds an associate degree in general technology—building construction trades from York Technical College where he was named to the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Andrew joined IBHS in 2016.

Reece Plyler

Technician

IBHS Research Center

Reece joined IBHS in 2016 as a Research Center technician.

Reece has a wide variety of experience in installing and maintaining electrical and mechanical equipment in residential, commercial and industrial applications stemming from his 27 years in the fields of industrial electricity/electronics, millwrighting and welding.

Hank Pogorzelski

Applied Statistician

Hank Pogorzelski joined IBHS in 2008 as the organization’s first applied statistician. His responsibilities include planning studies, conducting surveys and compiling data relating to property losses and injuries for analysis.

Mr. Pogorzelski is also responsible for preparing written reports and graphics to communicate findings. His prior experience includes 7 years with a large distributor of computer products and services. He earned a master’s degree in economics and a bachelor’s in international relations, both from the University of South Florida.

Steve Quarles, Ph.D.

Chief Scientist for Wildfire and Durability

IBHS Research Center

Dr. Stephen Quarles joined IBHS in 2011 as the senior scientist for hurricane and high wind building durability and fire protection. He is the South Carolina Wind and Hail Underwriting Association wind and water chair at the lab. Dr. Quarles assists with research using his expertise on building performance with regard to wildfire and moisture exposures. Prior to joining IBHS, he retired from the University of California as a cooperative extension advisor in addressing the durability and in-service performance issues of wood-frame buildings, particularly those subjected to wildfires. He originally joined the university in 1985 and was made cooperative extension advisor in 2000. During 2007 and 2008, Steve also worked part-time with the California office of the state fire marshal where he developed, coordinated and served as an instructor for the educational program related to the Wildland Urban Interface (wildfire) Building Code and Standards.

Steve is a member of the American Society of Testing and Materials (and is Secretary of ASTM E05.14 Subcommittee on Exterior Fire), the National Fire Protection Association (and is a member of the NFPA Technical Committee on Forest and Rural Fire Protection) , the International Association of Wildfire Fire, the International Association of Fire Safety Science, the Forest Products Society (and is Editor-in-Chief of the Forest Products Journal), the Society of Wood Science and Technology, the American Wood Protection Association and the Association of Fire Ecology. He earned a bachelor’s degree in forestry from Virginia Tech, and later received a master’s and Ph.D. in forest products from the University of Minnesota.

Quarles Curriculum Vitae

Whit Remer

Counsel and Director of Public Policy

Whit joined IBHS in 2017 as Counsel and Director of Public Policy. He focuses on internal IBHS legal issues, as well as federal and state legislative and regulatory policy affecting building codes and standards, mitigation funding and incentives, and community resilience.

In addition to his law degree from Loyola University, Whit earned a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans and a bachelor’s degree in geography and political science from Florida State University. He is well versed in a wide range of legal and public policy issues of importance to IBHS, having most recently served as Senior Manager of Federal Government Relations for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Whit’s previous experience also includes working on climate adaptation and catastrophe recovery for vulnerable populations.

Barbie Simonson

Director of Human Resources

Barbie joined IBHS in 2017, bringing more than 20 years of human resources experience. She previously worked in the health care field and with Home Depot, and most recently with the Tampa Jewish Community Centers & Federation. She is a skilled professional with expertise in employee relations, change management, coaching and mentoring, strategic planning and administration compliance.

Barbie has an MBA from Webster University, a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Flagler College, and a wealth of HR-related credentials.

Jason Smith, Ph.D.

Research Engineer

IBHS Research Center

Dr. Jason Smith joined IBHS in 2015 as a Research Engineer. His responsibilities include establishing wind performance of building systems and components, such as roof materials and roof-mounted equipment for residential and commercial structures. Prior to joining IBHS, Dr. Smith was a Senior Catastrophe Modeler at Risk Management Solutions (RMS). At RMS, he worked to validate and establish vulnerability functions for multiple natural perils across several lines of business. Dr. Smith has experience in analytical modeling, experimental programming and controls systems.

Dr. Smith graduated from The Citadel with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. His graduate work was completed at the University of Florida where he earned a Ph.D. in structural engineering with a focus on Wind Engineering. His Ph.D. dissertation was done in conjunction with engineers from IBHS on a 1:10 scaled model of the test chamber at the Research Center, which aided in the design of certain components of the full-scale test chamber.

Tiffany Smith

Director of Public Affairs

Tiffany Smith, director of public affairs for IBHS, manages media relations and communications for several other programs, including FORTIFIED and Resilience STAR. She was a communications consultant for IBHS prior to coming on board full-time in 2014. During her 20-year career, she has worked with several top strategic communications firms and has considerable experience with the property insurance industry having been a regional public affairs director at the American Insurance Association for 6 years. Tiffany is a consummate communications professional who brings her outstanding strategy, media, writing, editing, and project management skills to IBHS. She is based in Austin, Texas.

Christine Standohar-Alfano, Ph.D.

Research Engineer

IBHS Research Center

Dr. Christine Standohar-Alfano completed her Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at Colorado State University. Her dissertation topic was “Damage Analysis and Mitigation for Wood-Frame Structures Subjected to Tornado Loading.” This research allowed her to participate in damage surveys with the National Weather Service and with a collaborative National Science Foundation–funded assessment team following major tornadoes across the U.S. Dr. Standohar-Alfano comes to IBHS with skills in programming and data analysis, and experience in severe thunderstorm field programs and post-disaster investigations.

Dr. Standohar-Alfano also holds a master’s degree in Meteorology and Physical Oceanography from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science where she was awarded an American Meteorological Society Graduate Fellowship. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Meteorology from Valparaiso University. Prior to joining IBHS full-time, Dr. Standohar-Alfano was a visiting professor in the Valparaiso University College of Engineering.

Standohar-Alfano Curriculum Vitae

Joy Stokes

Director, Member Relations

Joy Stokes joined IBHS in 2006 and is responsible for the recruitment, retention, communication, training and education of current and potential IBHS member, affiliate member and associate member companies. She works directly with members to customize introductory and topic-specific Webinars for company employees and agents. Mrs. Stokes is the contact person for any and all IBHS member inquires including those related to publications, engineering, building codes, programs, etc. She also serves as the contact person for publication reviews when members use IBHS resources and content. Mrs. Stokes is responsible for overseeing IBHS committees in general and ensuring that expected time commitments of members participating on and chairing committees are reasonable. In addition, she also ensures that there is a high level of participation among committee members.

Prior to joining IBHS, she spent 3 years working as an office manager and public relations assistant for a Tampa-area nonprofit that was the fundraising arm of firefighter, paramedics and police organizations. She earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University of South Florida.

Andy Stumpf

Machine Shop Director

IBHS Research Center

Andy Stumpf joined IBHS in 2011 as a technician at the Research Center. Andy comes to IBHS with knowledge in welding, carpentry, plumbing, wiring, and irrigation installation and repair, among many other things.

Andy earned an associate’s degree in mechanical engineering technologies at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina. He formerly worked at Lowe’s Home Improvement in Fort Mill, South Carolina, and also as a building maintenance technician at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Charlotte.

Mary Tavarez

Receptionist/Administrative Assistant

Mary Tavarez joined IBHS in July 2013 as a receptionist/administrative assistant. She manages the front desk and provides administrative functions for the FORTIFIED program, among other administrative duties. Mary has more than 7 years of administrative experience in both Tampa, FL and New York, NY in accounting, customer service, human resources, research, purchasing, and sales.

David Trull

Carpentry Team Leader

IBHS Research Center

David joined IBHS in 2013 as a Research Center technician. He assists in the creation, assembly, and movement of buildings and portions of buildings for testing at the lab.

David has extensive experience in carpentry and construction, with more than 25 years at a number of construction firms including the Carolina Building Group and 1st Quality Electric. David also owned his own flooring company, Trull Floor Covering, for 16 years.

Andrew Wright

Maintenance Technician

IBHS Research Center

Andrew Wright, a native of Heath Springs, South Carolina, is a maintenance technician at the IBHS Research Center. Before joining IBHS in 2017, Andrew worked at McClancy Seasonings where he maintained a variety of machines such as packing machines, product mixers, forklifts and aerial lifts. He also fabricated tools and calibrated scales.

Andrew spent several years as a car technician where his duties included diagnosing problems, replacing parts and identifying and repairing electrical issues. Experienced in the maintenance of an impressive array of equipment from HVAC systems to metal detectors to X-ray machines, Andrew’s certifications include forklift, CPR/AED, aerial lift, and boom truck trainer.

Mark Zehnal

Senior Roofing Specialist/FORTIFIED Program Manager

Although he became an employee in 2016, Mark Zehnal’s association with IBHS dates back to 2004 when he began collaborating with engineers and researchers on proposals that have helped to improve roofing performance. He is now the Senior Roofing Specialist/FORTIFIED Program Manager – Great Plains where he supports development of FORTIFIED initiatives in the Great Plains region. Mark also works with IBHS staff on building code initiatives and roofing-related research.

Mark received his roofing contractor license in 1987 and was working in Miami when Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida. He later became the code specialist for roofing for Miami-Dade County, ensuring that the high-velocity hurricane zone roofing codes, established after Hurricane Andrew, remained stringent and uniform.

Mark has spent 30 years in the roofing industry, as a contractor, building code compliance officer, and most recently, as director of technical services for the Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association. In that position, he helped write the 2014 Florida Roofing Code and taught continuing education seminars for building inspectors, contractors, engineers and architects. As a current member of the Roofing Technical Advisory Committee for the Florida Building Commission, Mark reviews Florida Building Code proposed code changes, clarifications and declaratory statements. Mark is a licensed standard roofing inspector in the state of Florida. He’s also a LEED Accredited Professional and a certified general contractor, building contractor and roofing contractor in the state of Florida.