Leadership Team

AEU is led by a team of seasoned professionals with extensive maritime industry experience.  The strength of our expertise is the driving force behind AEU’s commitment to provide creative, value-oriented solutions to our members and brokers.

workers talking at a container yard

Executive Team

Adele Hapworth

Adele Hapworth

Chief Executive Officer

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Adele Hapworth

Chief Executive Officer

Adele Hapworth joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 2007 and serves as Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining AEU, Adele worked at McGriff, Seibels, & Williams in the Energy and Marine Division. In 2021, Adele was one of 50 women worldwide named to Business Insurance's Women to Watch. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Goodwill Easter Seals of the Gulf Coast. Prior to her career in insurance, she worked in strategy consulting. Adele received her bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Virginia.

Favorite thing about AEU

People; AEU is a fun family with really smart, professional team members. I’m thankful to work with this team.

Passionate About

Family, traveling, cooking and reading

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Holly Chapman

Holly Chapman

Chief Financial Officer

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Holly Chapman

Chief Financial Officer

Holly Chapman joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 2004 and serves as Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining AEU, Holly worked in finance areas of Inchcape Shipping Services, Inc. and Norton Lilly International. She received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of South Alabama with a major in accounting and now serves on the Mitchell College of Business Executive Advisory Council.

Favorite thing about AEU

Family culture, great people, every employee is important to AEU’s success

Passionate About

My family and helping others

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Winchester Thurber

Winchester Thurber

Chief Commercial Officer

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Winchester Thurber

Chief Commercial Officer

Winchester Thurber joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 2012 and serves as Chief Commercial Officer. Prior to joining AEU, he held various positions in the maritime industry. Early in his career, he worked for a large global container shipping company, P&O Nedlloyd. He later joined Norton Lilly International and worked with many different waterfront employers throughout the United States, including stevedores, tug boat companies and all aspects of cargo sales and operations. He was a member of the Executive Committee for that company which was also an ALMA member. He served for three years as a Board Member for the New York/New Jersey Maritime Association. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and completed Duke University The Fuqua School of Business Executive Education’s Advanced Management Program.

Favorite thing about AEU

The relationships we have both internally and externally. It is great to positively impact our customers while working together with our internal team to do so. Our team at AEU does an amazing job working together in a fun and collaborative way to achieve positive results for us and for our customers.

Passionate About

Golf, Alabama football, and my family (not necessarily in that order)

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Managing Directors

Mike Adams

Mike Adams

Managing Director, Director of Advantage by AEU

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Mike Adams

Managing Director, Director of Advantage by AEU

Mike Adams joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 1995 as Controller. He has served AEU in management roles that include finance, underwriting and sales. He currently serves as Executive Vice President, Managing Director and Director of Advantage by AEU. Prior to joining AEU, he was employed at Smith, Dukes, and Buckalew, LLC, where he specialized in auditing, taxation and system consulting. Mike is a graduate of the University of South Alabama, is a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Mike also serves on the Board of Directors of the American Longshore Mutual Association, Ltd.

Favorite thing about AEU

The culture, the people and the industry

Passionate About

Family, spending time on the water, traveling and competing

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Brad Daroca

Managing Director

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Brad Daroca

Managing Director

Brad Daroca joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 2013 and serves as Managing Director. Brad began his career at AEU working as a claims specialist before transitioning to underwriter, where he primarily serviced the West Coast region. Prior to joining AEU, Brad worked for an international insurance carrier for five years. Brad also earned his Associate in Claims (AIC) designation in 2017.

Favorite thing about AEU

We all say it because it's so true- AEU has an amazing culture. AEU is a team of genuinely great people, and because of that we do things the right way.

Passionate About

Spending time with family, auto racing, LSU sports

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Tim Dunne

Tim Dunne

Managing Director

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Tim Dunne

Managing Director

Tim Dunne joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. (AEU) in 2012 and serves as Senior Vice President, Managing Director. Prior to his current position, Tim served as the Senior Vice President, Director of Information Systems. Before joining AEU, Tim was a Naval Aviator for 10 years, followed by 12 years of application design and installation for various software companies. He received his bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and received his master’s degree from the University of Florida.

Favorite thing about AEU

The level of expertise and professionalism throughout every area of our company

Passionate About

My family, anything that gets me near the water, and playing bad golf

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Tim Finnorn

Tim Finnorn

Managing Director

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Tim Finnorn

Managing Director

Tim Finnorn joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 1995. He serves as Senior Vice President, Managing Director. Prior to joining AEU, he worked in loss control and claims for a stevedoring company. In 1997, ALMA was created and Tim was a lead underwriter for the program from its inception. Tim received a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance and investment management from the University of Alabama.

Favorite thing about AEU

I love how we strive to “wow” our brokers and members through true teamwork in a family atmosphere

Passionate About

Boating, hunting, and sporting events with my family

Teresa Rowell

Managing Director

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Teresa Rowell

Managing Director

Teresa Rowell joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 1997 and serves as Managing Director. Prior to joining AEU, Teresa worked for a large insurance brokerage. Teresa holds her Property & Casualty license and has earned the Associate in Underwriting and Associate in Risk Management designations.

Favorite thing about AEU

Culture; the genuine caring nature of AEU leadership with AEU employees’ well-being, professional growth, and success

Passionate About

The golden rule, being outdoors and dogs

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Rob Stuardi

Rob Stuardi

Managing Director

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Rob Stuardi

Managing Director

Rob Stuardi joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 2010 and serves as Vice President, Managing Director. Prior to joining AEU, Rob had extensive experience in workers’ compensation insurance and risk management practices as the Director of Sales, Safety and Loss Control for a large property and casualty insurance company. Rob also acted as Assistant Operations and Loss Control Manager for a Southeastern fuel distributor, and was also responsible for loss control training for stevedoring, tug boats and offshore supply boats for a large stevedoring company. Rob serves as Chairman of the SCA Partners Committee. Rob received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Auburn University.

Favorite thing about AEU

Culture and the people we work with

Passionate About

My family, fishing and running

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David Widener

David Widener

Managing Director

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David Widener

Managing Director

David Widener joined AEU in 2019 and serves as a Managing Director. Prior to his current role, he was AEU's Director of Claims Advisory Services. David began his longshore career in 2003 with F.A. Richard/American Equity Risk Services, where he was a claims supervisor for eight years. He joined the U.S. Department of Labor as a claims examiner in 2011, and was promoted to District Director six months later, overseeing operations for the Houston District Office. He is a frequent speaker at Loyola Law School’s Annual Longshore Conference, Longshore Claims Association meetings, and Defense Base Act seminars. He has developed and conducted continuing legal education seminars in conjunction with Loyola Law School and the U.S. Department of Labor. David has a B.S. in finance from Louisiana State University is a credentialed mediator for the state of Texas, and has completed the John F. Kennedy School of Government's Strategic Management of Regulatory Agencies program at Harvard University.

Favorite thing about AEU

The culture; AEU provides a family atmosphere where every employee is valued, and people truly enjoy their colleagues and their work

Passionate About

My family, food, craft beer, and LSU and Saints football.

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Senior Leadership Team

Julie Bland

Julie Bland

Senior Vice President, Director of Underwriting Operations

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Julie Bland

Senior Vice President, Director of Underwriting Operations

Julie Bland joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 2006. She serves as Senior Vice President, Director of Underwriting Operations. Prior to joining AEU, Julie had many years of workers’ compensation underwriting experience with Alternative Risk & Insurance Concepts Agency, Inc.

Favorite thing about AEU

Our collaborative work environment

Passionate About

Family time, my dogs and cats, traveling and gardening

Jimmy Burgin

Jimmy Burgin

Senior Vice President, Director of Loss Control

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Jimmy Burgin

Senior Vice President, Director of Loss Control

Jimmy Burgin joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 1988 and serves as Senior Vice President, Director of Loss Control. Prior to AEU, he served as Corporate Director of Loss Control for a large stevedoring company in bulk, break bulk, and container cargo handling operations, as well as administered loss control programs for vessel crews in the marine towing industry. Jimmy is a former chairman of the Technical Committee of the National Maritime Safety Association and served two terms on MACOSH, the Maritime Advisory Committee for OSHA. Jimmy received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisiana Monroe.

Favorite thing about AEU

I like that everyone is part of the AEU team. Our company structure gives all of us an opportunity to contribute on an account-by-account basis which directly affects the success of the company overall. We feel worthwhile because we are able to use our talents and expertise.

Passionate About

Seeing persons develop within the company where their talents are used for the success of the team. Personally, I'm passionate about family, hunting, kayaking, hiking, mountains, beaches, lakes, rivers, and the Gulf of Mexico.

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Bo Gunn

Senior Vice President, Director of Information Systems

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Bo Gunn

Senior Vice President, Director of Information Systems

Bo Gunn joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 2015. He serves as the Senior Vice President, Director of Information Systems. Prior to his current position, Bo served as the Senior Software Engineer. He has 17 years of software development experience. Bo received his bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL.

Favorite thing about AEU

The people. AEU has a wonderful culture. We not only get the job done, but we have fun doing it.

Passionate About

At work, I love solving problems. I love being able to do what we can to deliver great service to our members, brokers, and employees. In my personal life, it’s got to be baseball. I have two boys who are 6 and 11 years old, and I am having a great time coaching them. It’s a lot of work, but I love every second of it.

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Amanda Knapstein

Senior Vice President, Director of Finance

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Amanda Knapstein

Senior Vice President, Director of Finance

Amanda Knapstein joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 2010 and serves as Director of Finance. She received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Rhodes College.

Favorite thing about AEU

The camaraderie of coworkers and desire to achieve common goals makes AEU a special place to work

Passionate About

Spending time with my family and participating in outdoor activities

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Leslie Lash Headshot

Leslie Castillo

Senior Vice President, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience

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Leslie Castillo

Senior Vice President, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience

Leslie (Lash) Castillo joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 2016 and serves as Senior Vice President, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience. Prior to joining AEU, she was Director of Group Communications and Advertising for AEU’s parent company and the nation’s largest distributor of specialty lines insurance, Amwins Group. Leslie has extensive strategic marketing, communications, advertising, and brand management experience and has spent most of her career in the specialty insurance industry. Leslie is a past board member of the Insurance Marketing Communications Association (IMCA). She was named to the 2019 Mobile Bay 40 Under 40 and is a graduate of the 2021 class of Leadership Mobile. Leslie holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a major in marketing.

Favorite thing about AEU

Willingness to try new things; working with a team that operates and thrives on mutual respect and humility

Passionate About

Traveling to new places, self-improvement, making product recommendations (I should’ve been an influencer), and catching a sunset

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Jack Martone

Jack Martone

Senior Vice President, AEU Advisory Services

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Jack Martone

Senior Vice President, AEU Advisory Services

Jack joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 2006, where he acts as Senior Vice President, AEU Advisory Services, and is a contributor to the AEU Longshore Insider Blog. Prior to AEU, Jack served for 27 years in the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers Compensation Programs, as Chief, Branch of Insurance, Financial Management, and Assessments and Acting Director, Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation for the U.S. Department of Labor. As Branch Chief, Jack directed the licensing and regulation of insurance carriers and self-insured employers under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Jack received his bachelor’s degree from Fordham University and his Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law.

Favorite thing about AEU

The company-wide commitment to support and give back to local communities

Passionate About

Being part of collaborative team efforts to place the company in a position to succeed and baseball

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Tim Oster

Tim Oster

Senior Vice President, Director of Underwriting

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Tim Oster

Senior Vice President, Director of Underwriting

Tim Oster joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 2007 and serves as Senior Vice President, Director of Underwriting. Tim began his career as a Claims Specialist and then transferred to the Underwriting Department in 2013 where he served as both an ALMA USL&H Underwriter as well as MEL Underwriter nationwide. Prior to his current position, Tim was the Director of ALMA Underwriting. Tim earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a minor in Management from the University of New Orleans.

Favorite thing about AEU

The culture, our organization cares deeply about each individual employee which has created a true family environment. We are extremely passionate about this business and everyone works closely together in order to provide a superior work product to both brokers and members.

Passionate About

My family, sports, the outdoors and enjoying life!

Royce Ray

Royce Ray

Senior Vice President, Director of Special Investigations/Subrogation Unit

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Royce Ray

Senior Vice President, Director of Special Investigations/Subrogation Unit

Royce Ray joined The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. in 2007 and serves as Director of Special Investigations/Subrogation Unit. Royce’s area of focus is subrogation investigation, management, and recovery. Prior to joining AEU, Royce practiced law in Mobile, Alabama for 17 years, handling litigation with an emphasis on plaintiff personal injury cases. He received his bachelor’s degree from Rice University, magna cum laude, and his law degree from the University of Alabama. Royce was admitted to the Alabama State Bar in 1990 and is a member of the Mobile Bar Association. Royce holds the Certified Subrogation Recovery Professional (CSRP) designation conferred by the National Association of Subrogation Professionals.

Favorite thing about AEU

The family atmosphere and quality of people

Passionate About

Being the best father that I can to my daughters; playing and watching sports; Alabama Crimson Tide football

Will Scheffler

Will Scheffler

Senior Vice President, Director of Claims

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Will Scheffler

Senior Vice President, Director of Claims

Will began his insurance career in 1993 when he joined a regional claims TPA. Five years later, he began working with The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. (AEU) and now serves as Senior Vice President, Director of Claims. Will has extensive workers’ compensation claims experience, with specific expertise in Longshore Act claims. He holds an adjuster’s license in Maine, Alabama, and Louisiana and is a licensed Qualified Manager in California. Will is a regular speaker at AEU events and has also spoken at the Annual Longshore Conference and Origami Risk Services conferences. Will serves on the Advisory Board for Loyola’s Annual Longshore Conference and the Client Advisory Board for Origami Risk. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Longshore Claims Association. Will earned his bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and his CPCU and AIC designations from The Institutes.

Favorite thing about AEU

The family atmosphere; we truly care about each other both professionally and personally

Passionate About

Home family time - especially when we are cooking, outdoors, dining out, or traveling. I also enjoy time with friends watching all LSU sports, college football, F1, or listening to music; often while drinking bourbon

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Kayla Tortorich

Kayla Tortorich

Senior Vice President, Claims Medical Management

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Kayla Tortorich

Senior Vice President, Claims Medical Management

Kayla Tortorich joined AEU in 2015 and serves as Senior Vice President, Claims Medical Management. Prior to joining AEU, Kayla spent more than 15 years working in the insurance industry. She has experience managing a medical bill review team, a Medicare Secondary Payer Compliance program, a Pharmacy Benefit Manager vendor, and Field Case Management nurses. Kayla received her bachelor’s degree in science and nursing from Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans and went on to earn certifications in case management, legal nurse consulting and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance. She achieved her Certification in Medicare Secondary Payer Fellow status in 2018.

Favorite thing about AEU

The people that comprise this unique company, as well as our people-centric culture, fervor for innovation, and respect for each other and those we serve

Passionate About

Family, reading, cooking, hiking/walking in nature

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Joe White

Joe White

Director of AEU LEAD

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Joe White

Director of AEU LEAD

Joe White joined The American Equity Underwriters in March 2016 with 26 years of operational safety experience. He is a Program Manager for AEU LEAD, helping members transform operational goals, primarily involving safety, into actionable plans through a structured change management process. Prior to joining AEU, Joe was a senior consultant for E.I. DuPont’s consulting division, DuPont Sustainable Solutions, where he developed safety practices using extensive research in behavioral sciences compiled over a period of nearly two decades. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has a Bachelor of Science in Safety and Risk Administration.

Favorite thing about AEU

The culture; a genuine and authentic sense of caring for others exists throughout the company

Passionate About

Learning new things, seeing new places, and meeting new people

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