Speaker Bios

Wayne Chopus

Welcoming Remarks

Tuesday, April 2

IRI Officers Panel

Thursday, April 4

Closing Remarks

Thursday, April 4

Wayne Chopus

MODERATOR

President & CEO, Insured Retirement Institute

Wayne Chopus is President and CEO of the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), the leading association for the entire supply chain of insured retirement strategies. The association champions retirement security for all through leadership in advocacy, awareness, research, the advancement of digital solutions, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within a collaborative industry community.

Upon joining IRI in 2019, Chopus initiated a reorganization to amplify the association’s longstanding strengths and position it to take on new challenges. Under his leadership, IRI has advanced several critical advocacy objectives, including two major retirement security laws and a significant consumer protection regulation for financial advice professionals.

Under his leadership, IRI also added a new strategic pillar for DEI and a unique initiative to advance digital solutions across the annuity transaction process. Chopus revised IRI’s conference and events strategy to improve member engagement and focused IRI’s research and media communications efforts to extend the association’s reach and thought leadership.

Since Chopus joined IRI, professional organizations have recognized the association’s advocacy and marketing efforts, and Chopus was named a “Top Lobbyist” by The Hill, a notable and respected Washington, D.C. periodical.

Chopus is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100 and a board member of Capital Area Asset Builders, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping low- and moderate-income individuals build financial security, savings, and wealth for the future.

Before IRI, Chopus rose to be a respected retirement income industry executive over nearly three decades with Prudential Financial and The Hartford, two of the nation’s major life insurance companies. He held executive leadership positions in sales, strategy, and business intelligence. He employed this experience to lead teams using data and technology to drive new business opportunities. He is widely recognized for his expertise in annuity product distribution and broker-dealer engagement.

Chopus lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, Caroline, and daughters, Lily and Hannah.

Dr. Wendy Borlabi

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

High-Performance Expert, Director of Performance and Mental Health, Chicago Bulls

Widely respected as an innovator in unlocking high performance in teams and individuals, Dr. Wendy Borlabi possesses expert-level understanding of the mental aspects of peak performance and works alongside the world’s top athletes to help them reframe their mindsets to reach their full potential. She is the director of performance and mental health for the Chicago Bulls where her mindset-centered philosophy to mastering your field is embedded in the team’s success and prevalent at all levels of the organization and its culture.

Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, Dr. Borlabi leads a compelling exploration of the parallels of high performance in sports and business and shares adaptable strategies organizations and individuals can implement to execute at a championship level. She breaks down what separates elite performers from super elite performers, empowers audiences to move away from a psyche in which mood is a deciding factor in achievement, and shares mindset-shifting tools and behaviors anyone can apply to address anxiety and mental barriers, make progress toward their goals, and create an environment suited to optimal productivity and innovation on the path to success.

A leading sports psychologists and performance coach plying her trade to maximum impact with the Chicago Bulls, Dr. Borlabi is also an independent consultant with the NBA and is the founder of performance psychology firm Borlabi Consulting, through which she advises organizations in any industry on teamwork, elevating mental toughness, and inspiring unwavering confidence in their teams. Previously, she served as senior sports psychologist for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), preparing the country’s top athletes for dominant performances at two Winter Olympics and one Summer Olympics. Prior to her work with the USOC, Dr. Borlabi was a senior athletic consultant at James Madison University (JMU) and spearheaded the development of the sports psychology department as a division of JMU’s athletic department.

Dr. Borlabi regularly shares her insights on mindset and high performance in leading media outlets, including ESPN, CBS Sports, CNN, and Chicago Sun-Times. In addition to serving on Under Armour’s Human Performance Council and as an advisory board member for Class Acceleration Corp, she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in sports psychology and sports management at the University of Arizona Global Campus’ Forbes Business School. Dr. Borlabi earned her B.S. in psychology from Southwestern Oklahoma State University, followed by an M.S. in kinesiology from Georgia Southern University, and a doctorate in clinical psychology from Argosy University.

Andrew Farrell

MODERATOR

Senior Vice President, Retirement Sales, Distribution, & Marketing, Retirement Division, Symetra Financial

Drew Farrell is the Senior Vice President of Retirement Sales, Distribution, and Marketing for the Retirement Division at Symetra Financial. With over thirty of broad financial services experience, he oversees the national wholesaling and distribution for Symetra’s Retirement Division. In addition, he is the President of Symetra’s institutional broker dealer, Symetra Securities Inc.

Farrell joined Symetra in 2010; he previously served as Director of Sales for the retirement division at Mass Mutual Financial Group, and has held related VP and executive level positions in the insurance and financial services industry.

Farrell attended the University of Minnesota and Regis University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts and Irish Studies. He went on to receive his MSJ, Master of Jurisprudence, with a specialization in Financial Services Law from Seton Hall Law School. He has served on the Board of Directors as Treasurer for the Washington and Alaska chapters of the Make-a-Wish Foundation and on the Board of Directors as President for LifeWire, a nonprofit dedicated to victims of domestic violence. He currently serves as a Board Member for Junior Achievement of Washington, a nonprofit that prepares young people for success in their career and in life, and as Treasurer for the Coalition for Equity in Wholesaling (CEW), a nonprofit dedicated to building a diverse wholesaler workforce and providing pathways to long-term career success.

Josh Linkner

The Music of Business

Tuesday, April 2

Josh Linkner

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Serial Entrepreneur, New York Times Bestselling Author, and Venture Capital Investor

Josh Linkner is a Creative Troublemaker. He has been the founder and CEO of five tech companies, which sold for a combined value of over $200 million. He’s an internationally recognized expert on innovation and is the author of four books on the subject including the New York Times Bestsellers, Disciplined Dreaming and The Road to Reinvention.

Josh is passionate about starting and building companies. He’s the co-founder and Managing Partner of Muditā Venture Partners – an early-stage venture capital firm — and was previously the CEO and founding partner of Detroit Venture Partners. Over the last 30 years, he’s helped over 100 startups launch and scale. Today, Josh serves as Chairman and co-founder of Platypus Labs, an innovation research, training, and consulting firm. He has twice been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and is a recipient of the United States Presidential Champion of Change Award. Josh is also a passionate Detroiter, the father of four, a professional-level jazz guitarist, and has a slightly odd obsession for greasy pizza.

Paula Nelson

IRI Officers Panel

Thursday, April 4

Paula Nelson

Treasurer & Secretary, Managing Director & Head of Strategic Growth, Global Atlantic Financial Group and Treasurer & Secretary, IRI Board of Directors

Paula Nelson, Head of Strategic Growth of Individual Markets, is responsible for exploring new markets, distribution, and products to identify the right opportunities for Global Atlantic to advance and grow. She joined Global Atlantic in 2010 to lead the organization’s annuity distribution organization. She later assumed the role of President of Retirement for Global Atlantic, responsible for the organization’s overall annuity business.

Paula has more than 35 years of experience in the financial services industry. She is on the Executive Board for the Insured Retirement Institute and the CEO Steering Committee on Consumer Issues for the ACLI, two of the industry’s leading trade organizations.

Paula joined Global Atlantic from Forethought. Previously, she had served as Chief Executive Officer and President of Transamerica Capital, Inc. and Managing Director for AEGON Financial Services Group, Inc., where she was responsible for business development with AEGON’s top institutional business partners in the United States.

Paula is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. She is Series 6, 26 and 63 FINRA registered and holds a life and health insurance license in Minnesota.

Phil Pellegrino

IRI Officers Panel

Thursday, April 4

Phil Pellegrino

Managing Director, Head of Wealth Planning & Insured Solutions, UBS Financial Services, Inc., and Chair, IRI Board of Directors

Phil joined UBS in December 2001. He is responsible for the firm’s financial planning offering, insurance and annuities platform, third party trust solutions platform, IRA, 529 and Donor Advised Funds platforms. Phil’s team of product managers, sales specialists and wealth planners support financial advisors in delivering comprehensive planning services and advice-based solutions to help clients build, protect and transfer wealth.

Before joining UBS, Phil worked for Salomon Smith Barney, a unit of Citigroup’s Global Corporate and Investment Bank, where he held home office positions supporting financial consultants and institutional money managers. Phil began his career as a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in New York.

Phil has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in finance from the College of New Jersey. He holds several FINRA securities licenses. Phil serves as the Board Chair of the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI).

Phil resides in Hoboken, New Jersey, with his wife and two children.

Corey Walther

IRI Officers Panel

Thursday, April 4

Corey Walther

President, Allianz Life Financial Services, LLC, and Vice Chair, IRI Board of Directors

As president of Allianz Life Financial Services, Walther is responsible for the business results, strategic direction, sales execution and distribution for several Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life®) product lines including annuities and ETFs into multiple channels. In this role, he leads a team of Retirement Consultants dedicated to helping advisors grow their practice by helping individuals and families achieve asset growth, sustainable retirement income, and long-term financial independence.

While at Allianz Life, Walther has held several senior leadership roles in distribution and marketing, including Chief Operating Officer for Allianz Life Financial Services. Prior to joining Allianz Life in 1998, Walther was an investment executive at RBC, where he built a successful financial planning practice focused on small-business owners and high-net-worth individuals.

Walther holds an MBA from the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management, as well as a BS from Minnesota State University Moorhead. He serves on the Board of the Carlson Consulting Enterprise, a unique management consultancy and academic program that brings the brightest student minds to bear on significant business challenges for premier companies. Walther serves as a board member at the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) and is the co-leader for the Money Management Institute (MMI) Annuity & Insurance Solutions Community. Walther also serves as a Board Member of Invest in Others, a charitable foundation that amplifies the philanthropic work of financial advisors and their firms to make a difference in communities across the United States and around the world. As an advocate for diversity, inclusion and financial literacy, he actively serves on various Allianz Life committees focused on furthering these efforts. Walther enjoys spending time with his wife, Janeen, and three children, and he is an avid runner.

Thank You To Our Sponsors

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