50 benefit technology innovators, part 2

The Dig|Benefits Technology Innovator Awards recognize 50 visionaries who are driving technology innovation, overcoming organizational and technology barriers, deploying leading-edge technology, and shaping benefit technology regulation and policy. The awards were open to benefit plan sponsors, benefit technology company executives, benefit advisers, brokers and consultants and others on the leading-edge of technology development, adoption and deployment.

To select the winners, the editors asked readers for nominations, consulted with industry experts and called on their own industry knowledge. They selected individuals who are making breakthroughs in digital benefits platforms, health insurance alternatives, private exchanges, retirement and robo-advising, financial wellness tools, digital health and wellness tools, advancesin digital employee engagement platforms, and benefits and workplace analytics.

Winners were honored at the Dig|Benefits conference May 19-20 in Austin, Tex.

Here is part two of the inaugural list. The 25 winners are listed in alphabetical order.

Linda Keller

Title: COO

Organization: HUB International

Achievements: Keller is responsible for implementing HUB’s national employee benefit initiatives, improving client deliverables and maximizing efficiencies with the goal of providing excellent service to clients and improving their bottom line. In 2015, she was named one of the “Most Influential Women in Benefit Advising” by Employee Benefit Adviser.

Denise King

Title: Senior benefits director, Americas

Organization: Medtronic

Achievements: Denise has partnered with Jellyvision since 2011 to offer ALEX®, an interactive benefits communication platform, to Medtronic employees.The platform explains open enrollment, 401(k) and retirement benefits, how to make the most of a high-deductible health plan, and benefits changes related to the Affordable Care Act. At open enrollment for 2016, Denise and her team relied on ALEX as part of their multifaceted benefits communication strategy to help integrate and onboard 13,000 new U.S. employees acquired in the Covidien acquisition. The benefits team was focused on figuring out how to harmonize Medtronic and Covidien benefits in a way that would be sustainable for nearly 38,000 people instead of 25,000. Denise relied on technology to carefully and thoughtfully communicate benefits changes to all employees, new and old, and Medtronic took the task head on and broke their employee population into groups with separate open enrollment windows so they could better focus on helping and supporting all employees.

Rishi Kumar

Title: Founder

Organization: Kashable

Achievements: As an MIT computer scientist and former derivatives trader on Wall Street, Rishi combined the engineering techniques he developed in analyzing big data with cutting-edge financing and underwriting to create a cloud-based solution that enables instant access to affordable on-demand credit broadly available to every American worker. The result is Kashable, a company that is in the vanguard of a new age in financial wellness benefit technology. Kashable crunches data from a variety of sources, primarily relying on an employee’s job profile and the profile of the employer group, and supplementing it with traditional credit bureau reports. Kashable’s technology is currently deployed nationwide by private exchanges, ben-admin systems, PEOs, benefit brokers and HSA/401(k) plan sponsors and administrators.

Roger Lee

Title: Co-founder and CEO

Organization: Captain401

Achievements: Roger co-founded Captain401, an online platform that helps small businesses set up 401(k) accounts for their employees, in 2015. The idea came as a result of him trying to offer a 401(k) program for his growing workforce as co-founder of startup company, PaperG, which makes ad design software for brands, agencies and publishers. The Captain401 system, which connects directly with a firm’s payroll provider, automates the tedious data entry process and handles the filing of legal forms. Earlier this year, the company closed a $3.5 million seed round of financing. Roger was named among the honorees of “Forbes 30 Under 30” in 2014.
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Kristin Lewis

Title: Senior director, ACA product management

Organization: Equifax

Achievements: Lewis leads the innovation and development behind Equifax’s Affordable Care Act Management Platform, an award-winning solution that helps employers determine eligibility for healthcare benefits, comply with the ACA regulations and meet reporting requirements. She works closely with employers across the nation to design and implement solutions that optimize ACA compliance, and with top legal advisers and government agencies to clarify and interpret key ACA regulations.
Mike Levin

Mike Levin

Title: Co-founder and CEO

Organization: Vericred Inc.

Achievements: Along with co-founder Dan Langevin, Mike launched Vericred in 2014 with a vision of creating a centralized continuously verified database of health provider information that can be used for applications ranging from provider directories to credentialing. The company was named a finalist in Robert Wood Johnson Foundation / U.S. Health and Human Services Provider Network Challenge in April 2015. The startup also recently closed a second seed round raising $3.1 million, which will be used to expand the company’s data services and offerings while scaling its sales efforts.

Cynthia Loh

Title: Head of business development

Organization: Betterment

Achievements: Cynthia is the general manager for Betterment for Business and responsible for Betterment’s turnkey 401(k) service that includes personalized investment advice for all plan participants. In the Betterment for Business platform, which officially launched earlier this year, participants enrolled are invested in a globally diversified portfolio of index-tracking exchange-traded funds and benefit from personalized advice in a goal-based investing framework. The Betterment platform currently serves more than 130,000 retail customers. Previously, Cynthia was the director of sales and business development at ZocDoc, a based health tech startup. In that role, Cynthia led the team in creating and selling ZocDoc for Business, the firm's employer offering addressing a $600 billion market.

Brad Mandacina

Title: Assistant vice president, director of HR technology and outsourcing

Organization: Lockton

Achievements: As the head of Lockton’s HR technology and outsourcing practice, Brad is responsible for a team of 16 associates and supporting clients both big (48,000 employees) and small (48 employees). Among his achievements in his role is the launch of Marketplace Analysis Tool (MAT), an interactive online tool designed to help account teams help employers explore their options when it comes to private exchanges, benefits administration systems and Affordable Care Act reporting vendors. He is a Fellow ISCEBS and has secured numerous industry designations through the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists.

Brendon McQueen

Title: CEO and founder


Achievements: As CEO of, a platform that enables global companies to offer student loan payments as an employee benefit, Brendon has secured strategic clients of all sizes — from Fortune 500 companies to tech startups — and has raised $8.2 million to date from investors, including MassMutual Ventures LLC and Wildcat Venture Partners. is one of the nation’s leading student loan management platforms and has organized more than $2 billion in outstanding loans since launching in 2013.

William Mehus

Title: CEO

Organization: CieloStar

Achievements: In 1988, Mehus founded Cielostar, and its predecessor, OutsourceOne, where he remains executive chairman. Cielostar provides benefits administration outsourcing services and technology solutions. It offers employer solutions, including online enrollment and electronic data interchange, aggregated billing and reconciliation, COBRA/HIPAA and retiree administration, FSA and pre-tax administration, and employee service center. The company also provides consumer driven solutions, which include online voluntary product offerings with credit card premium payment; and My Kydos, an online platform integrating wellness, personal heath record management, and a health benefits marketplace. William aims to continue to push the use of technology as the means to bring new products and services to the market in the most efficient manner possible while respecting the distribution systems that have been used in financial services for decades.

Lynn Nagel

Title: Vice president of product development

Organization: WageWorks

Achievements: Lynn is responsible for overseeing the design and development of the original and new versions of the WageWorks EZ Receipts app, a free mobile app (available for Apple, Android and BlackBerry) that enables WageWorks participants to easily reference account information and submit claims and receipts on the go. The app increases engagement with employee benefits because it meets users on a platform that they are already frequently engaging with: mobile.

Derek Newell

Title: CEO

Organization: Jiff

Achievements: As the CEO of Jiff, Derek has led the company’s rapid growth in customers, offerings and partnerships. The enterprise health benefits platform now integrates with more than 50 health benefits solutions and has partnered with well-established HR consultancies, including Mercer and Willis Towers Watson, for product offerings.

Isaac Oates

Title: Founder and CEO

Organization: JustWorks

Achievements: Isaac began Justworks, an HR and payroll management company, in 2012 after his own run-in with clunky HR processes at his previous startup, Adtuitive, an ad platform that was acquired by Etsy in 2009. JustWorks manages compliance with all local, state and federal regulations, including payroll tax filing, 1099 filings, state and federal unemployment insurance, and worker’s compensation insurance. JustWorks also offers employment practice liability insurance and, for businesses with more than 50 employees, ACA compliance. The company has raised roughly $53 million in funding to date.

Rebecca Palm

Title: Co-founder and chief strategy officer

Organization: copatient

Achievements: Rebecca created copatient after finding that patients weren’t paying their medical bills because they didn’t understand them. She built the company, technology and HIPAA compliant platform, saving consumers more than $1 million in 2015 on their medical bills. In 2016, copatient expanded its services to include B2B services, offering copatient as an employee benefit to brokers, TPAs, employers and health plans. Copatient has more than 15,000 users on the platform and is growing rapidly.

Richard Pfadenhauer

Title: President

Organization: Paylogix

Achievements: Richard launched Exchange Builder, a cloud-based, employer-specific benefits exchange — a platform designed for small employer groups that enables agents and brokers to create a customized marketplace for the communication, enrollment, consolidated billing and benefit administration of both core and voluntary employee benefits. Exchange Builder brings the small group market back into focus for both brokers and carriers alike making these cases expedient and profitable.

Mary Pigatti

Title: CEO

Organization: Retrofit

Achievements: Mary was tasked with bringing Retrofit’s technology-enabled, personalized weight-management benefit program to the masses by pivoting the company from a direct-to-consumer to a business-to-business organization. Under her watch, 90% of Retrofit’s total clients have lost weight, and 68% have kept the weight off 18 months later. Employers who implemented Retrofit also report increased employee happiness and performance and decreased health-related costs.

Dr. Vidya Raman-Tangella

Title: Head, UnitedHealthcare Innovation Center of Excellence

Organization: UnitedHealthcare

Achievements: Vidya has helped launched, develop and improve several digital platforms including: UnitedHealthcare Motion, a new wellness program that provides employees with wearable devices at no additional charge and enables them to earn up to $1,460 per year by meeting certain goals for the number of daily steps; Baby Blocks, a free online and mobile healthy-baby initiative that uses gamification to provide expectant and new mothers with incentives and tips on health behaviors and access to care; and ScriptHub, a mobile app for iPhone and Android devices that enables all consumers to better manage their medications. Prior to her role at UnitedHealthcare, she held a senior management position at Johnson & Johnson, where she led the design of integrated and tailored health and wellness solutions for employers and health plans.

Jeff Ruby

Title: Founder and CEO

Organization: Newtopia

Achievements: In 2008, Jeff founded Newtopia, a personalized health company that leverages genetic testing and behavior science to build highly personalized disease prevention programs for at-risk employees that go beyond traditional wellness programs. He is the face of the company, often presenting at conferences and meeting with large employers across the United States. Previously, Jeff was co-founder and chief operating officer of Cleveland Clinic Canada.

Elaine Sarsynski

Title: Executive vice president

Organization: MassMutual Retirement Services

Achievements: Since taking the helm in 2008, Sarsynski has led her division through years of record-breaking sales growth, asset management growth and customer satisfaction. Her work has garnered her numerous industry awards, including by 401kWire as one of the top 100 most influential people in the American retirement industry. Elaine also is CEO of MassMutual International LLC and a director of several MassMutual subsidiaries, including MassMutual Asia Limited and MassMutual Life Insurance Company (Japan).

Stuart Schulman

Title: Principal

Organization: Buck Consultants LLC/Xerox HR Consulting

Significant achievements: Stuart has spent the last four years serving as account executive and providing pension actuarial consulting services to Buck clients, as well as working on the development of sophisticated modeling tools to help Buck clients manage their pension risk. He was instrumental in the development of Pension Risk Navigator, an interactive plan management tool that enables clients to monitor the effectiveness of their retirement program in real time, specifically targeting their unique concerns. The tool enables the client to set specific, measurable goals based on the current state of the organization’s pension plan, as well as the impact of strategic actions in light of an uncertain future. The interactive Pension Risk Navigator will monitor progress over time, show the likelihood of achieving the client’s customized goals, and let them know whether they’re still on course.

Alex Tolbert

Title: Founder and CEO

Organization: Bernard Health

Achievements: Alex oversees all operations at Bernard Health and launched BerniePortal in 2008, two years after founding BernardHealth. Initially, the platform was designed for his agency’s own employer-clients. Over the ensuing six years, BerniePortal was incubated with Bernard Health's clients, always with an eye towards spinning it out into its own company. Alex recognized the amount of paperwork related to benefits and saw that employers wanted 24/7 access to a cloud-based platform that streamlined all HR services. He licensed the software through brokers nationwide in 2014, and the platform is now the first human resource information system that includes benefits with which ADP is integrating. BerniePortal is now used by brokers across the country and hosts over 400 employers and more than 20,000 employees who actively use the system.

Michael Troup

Title: CEO

Organization: Forsite Benefit Partners and myInertia

Achievements: Michael founded Forsite Benefit Partners in 2004 and has developed it into a forward-thinking employee benefits agency with high client retention rates and a reputation for delivering innovative solutions for cost containment. One of those solutions was founding a wellness company, myInertia, in 2008, aimed at motivating physical activity for the agency’s benefit clients that transitioned into an online wellness platform used by brokers and employers across the country and Canada. The program — which includes health kiosks, aggressive employee education and support, and easy, central hub syncing for activity tracking devices — has boasted substantial increases in participation numbers that have driven measurable health changes.

Leslie Vander Gheynst

Title: Director of HR and recruiting

Organization: Keller Williams

Achievements: With the collaboration of a benefits broker and a technology company, Leslie launched a private exchange platform for the 100,000 Keller Williams real estate associates across the U.S. Recently, her team incorporated ConnectedHealth's My Thrive Score tool within their exchange platform, which offers employees a personalized credit score of their health and financial security. The idea was to provide Keller Williams agents with additional information that would help them take a more holistic approach to their benefits.

Marnie Vaughan

Title: Global benefits manager

Organization: Severn Trent Services

Achievements: Marnie manages the Severn Trent Services benefits program, where she is responsible for health and welfare plans, retirement plans, wellness and health promotion programs, compliance, and benefits communication. In her role, she has outsourced benefits administration activities to reduce workload on HR staff and drive higher value activities in the organization; introduced a variety of global wellness and health promotion programs; and developed innovative benefits communication strategies, including social media, personalized and interactive tools.

Dayne Williams

Title: CEO

Organization: PlanSource

Achievements: Under Dayne’s leadership, technology company PlanSource has experienced significant growth: Year-over-year revenue rose by 51% in 2015, the second consecutive year with greater than 40% ARR gains, while reaching nearly 10,000 employers and over 3.5 million consumers on the PlanSource platform. He also has advanced the use of benefits technology in 2015 by driving several product innovations. These include a mobile app that gives employees quick and easy access to their benefits, an ACA solution for employers navigating the maze of regulations; two major software releases with enhancements that streamline the administration of employee benefits; and new tools for educating and engaging employees, an educational video library and HR services. He was recognized last year for his accomplishments and visionary management style by the Institute for HealthCare Consumerism, which presented him with a CEO leadership award.

See more

Click here to see part 1 of the Dig|Benefits Technology Innovator Awards.