Our Team

Duties:  As the President/CEO of GPA, Tom has oversight over all aspects of the firm.  Tom leads the GPA team in providing state-of-the-art benefit programs, utilizing today's most advanced technology, while paying close attention to making certain all GPA clients are experiencing best in class customer service. How Tom helps GPA shine: Having been in the insurance business for over 40 years, Tom brings a wealth of knowledge to the organization and has always enjoyed creating solutions to the ongoing challenges facing employers and universities in the ever-changing benefits world. Hobbies: Tom enjoys the outdoors.  He especially enjoys swimming, kayaking, biking, golfing, skiing and snow shoeing.  He also enjoys spending time with family and friends. Favorite movie: “Fiddler on the Roof has always left an impression on me, not only for the great music but also for the wonderful storyline."

Duties:  As the President/CEO of GPA, Tom has oversight over all aspects of the firm.  Tom leads the GPA team in providing state-of-the-art benefit programs, utilizing today's most advanced technology, while paying close attention to making certain all GPA clients are experiencing best in class customer service.

How Tom helps GPA shine: Having been in the insurance business for over 40 years, Tom brings a wealth of knowledge to the organization and has always enjoyed creating solutions to the ongoing challenges facing employers and universities in the ever-changing benefits world.

Hobbies: Tom enjoys the outdoors.  He especially enjoys swimming, kayaking, biking, golfing, skiing and snow shoeing.  He also enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Favorite movie:Fiddler on the Roof has always left an impression on me, not only for the great music but also for the wonderful storyline."

Tom Garnett
President, CEO

Duties:  Joan is our Executive Vice-President, with oversight of sales, administration and customer service for our Business Services Division. How Joan helps GPA shine: Ever the optimist, Joan approaches each day with a smile on her face and encourages our staff with her enthusiastic, positive attitude. She genuinely cares about both her team members and clients, with her ultimate goal to make certain that all enjoy their experience with GPA. Hobbies: Joan is an avid reader, and generally reads a book a week, jumping between fiction and non-fiction. In addition, Joan loves entertaining and cooking for friends and family, snow shoeing, skiing, hiking, boating, fly-fishing and visiting amusement parks in search of the best roller coaster ride. Favorite movie: “My favorite movie is Out of Africa. Talk about a fiercely strong woman! It’s the true story of Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke’s adventures in British East Africa in the early 1900s and her trials and tribulation with running a coffee plantation on her own.”

Duties:  Joan is our Executive Vice-President, with oversight of sales, administration and customer service for our Business Services Division.

How Joan helps GPA shine: Ever the optimist, Joan approaches each day with a smile on her face and encourages our staff with her enthusiastic, positive attitude. She genuinely cares about both her team members and clients, with her ultimate goal to make certain that all enjoy their experience with GPA.

Hobbies: Joan is an avid reader, and generally reads a book a week, jumping between fiction and non-fiction. In addition, Joan loves entertaining and cooking for friends and family, snow shoeing, skiing, hiking, boating, fly-fishing and visiting amusement parks in search of the best roller coaster ride.

Favorite movie: “My favorite movie is Out of Africa. Talk about a fiercely strong woman! It’s the true story of Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke’s adventures in British East Africa in the early 1900s and her trials and tribulation with running a coffee plantation on her own.”

Joan Garnett
Executive Vice-President

Duties: Steve is the Vice President of our University Services division, and is responsible for the sales, administration and customer care of all University and Research facility clients. How Steve helps GPA shine: Steve's background working in the Graduate Division of a major research university, his degree in Finance, and his 20 years of insurance experience makes him uniquely qualified for this position. Hobbies: Steve enjoys spending time with his wife, golfing, traveling and listening to music. Favorite movie: “This is an easy one, no doubt it's Christmas Vacation. I’ve seen it at least 15 times and still laugh as hard as the first time I saw it.”

Duties: Steve is the Vice President of our University Services division, and is responsible for the sales, administration and customer care of all University and Research facility clients.

How Steve helps GPA shine: Steve's background working in the Graduate Division of a major research university, his degree in Finance, and his 20 years of insurance experience makes him uniquely qualified for this position.

Hobbies: Steve enjoys spending time with his wife, golfing, traveling and listening to music.

Favorite movie: “This is an easy one, no doubt it's Christmas Vacation. I’ve seen it at least 15 times and still laugh as hard as the first time I saw it.”

Steve Johnson
Vice-President of University Services

Duties: Jesus is our Director of Operations and oversees the day-to-day activities of GPA under direction of our CEO/President. He is responsible for the direct management of our Client Service Department, Accounting, Information Technology and Human Resources. How Jesus helps GPA shine: Jesus’ past work experience as an accountant, managing benefits for a top Fortune 500 company, and his extensive history overseeing client service teams serves as a solid foundation to help GPA execute their business strategy of providing exceptional customer service while helping their clients navigate the complicated world of insurance. Hobbies: Jesus enjoys spending quality time with his wife and 5 children. He loves the great outdoors, playing sports, big family gatherings, and watching a good movie at night to relax.  In addition, Jesus is an avid soccer fan and can tell you just about everything you need to know about the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, as well as every major soccer league around the world. Favorite movie: “I have three favorite films that are part of a series: Jason Bourne, Rocky III & Rocky IV. Jason Bourne is a great thriller and I wish I had his self-defense skills. I love both Rocky movies because I wish I had his stamina, and the ‘Eye of the Tiger’!”

Duties: Jesus is our Director of Operations and oversees the day-to-day activities of GPA under direction of our CEO/President. He is responsible for the direct management of our Client Service Department, Accounting, Information Technology and Human Resources.

How Jesus helps GPA shine: Jesus’ past work experience as an accountant, managing benefits for a top Fortune 500 company, and his extensive history overseeing client service teams serves as a solid foundation to help GPA execute their business strategy of providing exceptional customer service while helping their clients navigate the complicated world of insurance.

Hobbies: Jesus enjoys spending quality time with his wife and 5 children. He loves the great outdoors, playing sports, big family gatherings, and watching a good movie at night to relax.  In addition, Jesus is an avid soccer fan and can tell you just about everything you need to know about the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, as well as every major soccer league around the world.

Favorite movie: “I have three favorite films that are part of a series: Jason Bourne, Rocky III & Rocky IV. Jason Bourne is a great thriller and I wish I had his self-defense skills. I love both Rocky movies because I wish I had his stamina, and the ‘Eye of the Tiger’!”

Jesus Zuniga
Director of Operations

Duties: Dane is responsible for the creation and implementation of GPA’s client communications. From benefit guides to email campaigns, Dane’s goal is to ensure that our clients and their employees are provided with quality, comprehensive material, customized to their specific needs. How Dane helps GPA shine: Dane’s background as an account manager, as well as his BA in Communications from Cal State Fullerton, equip him with insight that allows him to effectively communicate benefits information to clients and employees. Hobbies: Dane enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, reading, exercising, listening to music, and keeping up with movies and television as time allows. Favorite movie and why: “It’s a tough choice, but I have to go with Raiders of the Lost Ark because I’m a sucker for adventure and, well, Harrison Ford.”

Duties: Dane is responsible for the creation and implementation of GPA’s client communications. From benefit guides to email campaigns, Dane’s goal is to ensure that our clients and their employees are provided with quality, comprehensive material, customized to their specific needs.

How Dane helps GPA shine: Dane’s background as an account manager, as well as his BA in Communications from Cal State Fullerton, equip him with insight that allows him to effectively communicate benefits information to clients and employees.

Hobbies: Dane enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, reading, exercising, listening to music, and keeping up with movies and television as time allows.

Favorite movie and why: “It’s a tough choice, but I have to go with Raiders of the Lost Ark because I’m a sucker for adventure and, well, Harrison Ford.”

Dane Pisano
Marketing/Communications Coordinator

Duties: Candace is responsible for managing and servicing several of our larger University accounts, including City of Hope, University of Chicago, and University of Rochester. From renewals to orientations and everything in between, Candace’s goal is to ensure that our clients and their employees are provided with the highest level of service and expertise. How Candace helps GPA shine: Candace’s warm personality and passion for helping people make her an excellent account manager. Her accounts continually praise her willingness to go above and beyond for their needs. Hobbies: Candace enjoys spending time with her three children, running half-marathons, enjoying the beach when it is warm, and watching movies. Favorite movie: “Well, I have many favorites but If I must choose one it would be Saving Private Ryan. I love all movies related to WWII.”

Duties: Candace is responsible for managing and servicing several of our larger University accounts, including City of Hope, University of Chicago, and University of Rochester. From renewals to orientations and everything in between, Candace’s goal is to ensure that our clients and their employees are provided with the highest level of service and expertise.

How Candace helps GPA shine: Candace’s warm personality and passion for helping people make her an excellent account manager. Her accounts continually praise her willingness to go above and beyond for their needs.

Hobbies: Candace enjoys spending time with her three children, running half-marathons, enjoying the beach when it is warm, and watching movies.

Favorite movie: “Well, I have many favorites but If I must choose one it would be Saving Private Ryan. I love all movies related to WWII.”

Candace Nicholson
Senior Account Manager

Duties: Kendra is a senior account manager in our Business Services division. She is responsible for marketing, renewal negotiations and employee communications. Kendra also manages and mentors current and new account managers, ensuring GPA’s client service-oriented values are always consistent. How Kendra helps GPA shine: Kendra’s 16 years of account management experience afford her an extensive knowledge of the industry, allowing her to effectively communicate a wide range of benefits information to clients and employees. This experience allows her to establish trusted relationships with our clients, both old and new. Hobbies: Kendra enjoys spending time with her two daughters whether it’s attending school functions, playing in the pool with them, or taking vacations. Favorite movie: “I have always enjoyed Alfred Hitchcock movies and the Twilight Zone series. From a young age, I guess I was always interested in science-fiction, suspense, and psychological thrillers. They often conclude with an unexpected twist, and usually a moral.”

Duties: Kendra is a senior account manager in our Business Services division. She is responsible for marketing, renewal negotiations and employee communications. Kendra also manages and mentors current and new account managers, ensuring GPA’s client service-oriented values are always consistent.

How Kendra helps GPA shine: Kendra’s 16 years of account management experience afford her an extensive knowledge of the industry, allowing her to effectively communicate a wide range of benefits information to clients and employees. This experience allows her to establish trusted relationships with our clients, both old and new.

Hobbies: Kendra enjoys spending time with her two daughters whether it’s attending school functions, playing in the pool with them, or taking vacations.

Favorite movie: “I have always enjoyed Alfred Hitchcock movies and the Twilight Zone series. From a young age, I guess I was always interested in science-fiction, suspense, and psychological thrillers. They often conclude with an unexpected twist, and usually a moral.”

Kendra McInnes
Senior Account Executive

Duties: Nick is responsible for sales within our Business Services division. He specifically focuses on selling health insurance plans to small groups as well as individuals, assessing how GPA’s wealth of knowledge and services can best serve that individual or business. How Nick helps GPA shine: Nicks’ caring personality and experience in the health insurance industry allow him to thoughtfully present GPA’s products and services in a way that lets the potential client know their interests come first. Hobbies: Nick enjoys spending time with his family and friends. He enjoys cycling, walking, reading, and writing, and loves studying the U.S. political arena. Favorite movie: “My favorite movie is There Will Be Blood because of its realistic portrayal of that time period in history, and because my favorite actor, Daniel Day Lewis, plays the lead role.”

Duties: Nick is responsible for sales within our Business Services division. He specifically focuses on selling health insurance plans to small groups as well as individuals, assessing how GPA’s wealth of knowledge and services can best serve that individual or business.

How Nick helps GPA shine: Nicks’ caring personality and experience in the health insurance industry allow him to thoughtfully present GPA’s products and services in a way that lets the potential client know their interests come first.

Hobbies: Nick enjoys spending time with his family and friends. He enjoys cycling, walking, reading, and writing, and loves studying the U.S. political arena.

Favorite movie: “My favorite movie is There Will Be Blood because of its realistic portrayal of that time period in history, and because my favorite actor, Daniel Day Lewis, plays the lead role.”

Nick Garnett
Account Executive

Duties: Communicating with UC and Chapman visiting scholars, processing their enrollments and waivers. Logging incoming commissions. Assisting other account managers when needed. How Kahla Helps GPA shine: I’ve worked in many office settings, many of them in a customer service based industry. I like to go above and beyond to ensure the client is always taken care of and content. I am eager to learn more and take on new responsibilities, so that I may assist those in the office as much as I can. Hobbies: My favorite pastime has always been cooking and baking; I hope to one day write my own cookbook with recipes both new and old. I love going to the theatre and concerts. Although infrequent, I love taking road trips and exploring new places. Favorite movie: My favorite movie has changed throughout the years, but my go-to will always be Funny Girl. Barbra Streisand’s portrayal of real life Ziegfeld girl, Fanny Brice, is something I could watch over and over! I’ve seen the movie tons of times and still get excited at that first, “Hello, gorgeous.”

Duties: Communicating with UC and Chapman visiting scholars, processing their enrollments and waivers. Logging incoming commissions. Assisting other account managers when needed.

How Kahla Helps GPA shine: I’ve worked in many office settings, many of them in a customer service based industry. I like to go above and beyond to ensure the client is always taken care of and content. I am eager to learn more and take on new responsibilities, so that I may assist those in the office as much as I can.

Hobbies: My favorite pastime has always been cooking and baking; I hope to one day write my own cookbook with recipes both new and old. I love going to the theatre and concerts. Although infrequent, I love taking road trips and exploring new places.

Favorite movie: My favorite movie has changed throughout the years, but my go-to will always be Funny Girl. Barbra Streisand’s portrayal of real life Ziegfeld girl, Fanny Brice, is something I could watch over and over! I’ve seen the movie tons of times and still get excited at that first, “Hello, gorgeous.”

Kahla Grams
Account Manager

Duties: Diane supports and works with the visiting scholar population of our 8 University of California campuses as well as Vanderbilt University.  She assists the visiting scholars and their dependents with insurance plan benefit questions, enrollment and billing. Diane’s goal is to help the visiting scholars and their dependents select coverage that suits their needs and fits their budget while staying in the U.S.A. How Diane Helps GPA shine:  Diane’s background as a Corporate Trainer and Account Manager provides her with a passion to work with people.  Diane is open and affable, allowing her to effectively communicate benefits information and important document details to the visiting scholars and dependents she serves. Hobbies:  Diane enjoys spending time with her family in Oceanside, CA. She enjoys going to the beach as often as possible, reading and watching the local news. Diane loves to be aware and informed about her local community, Orange County and Los Angeles.  She also enjoys visiting art museums and all the great shopping centers in Southern California. Favorite Movie: “There are so many great movies, from Comedies to Action Movies, but I am a romantic at heart and have to say – Gone with the Wind. A Romance in the middle of a war! And then there is of course Clark Gable!” 

Duties: Diane supports and works with the visiting scholar population of our 8 University of California campuses as well as Vanderbilt University.  She assists the visiting scholars and their dependents with insurance plan benefit questions, enrollment and billing. Diane’s goal is to help the visiting scholars and their dependents select coverage that suits their needs and fits their budget while staying in the U.S.A.

How Diane Helps GPA shine:  Diane’s background as a Corporate Trainer and Account Manager provides her with a passion to work with people.  Diane is open and affable, allowing her to effectively communicate benefits information and important document details to the visiting scholars and dependents she serves.

Hobbies:  Diane enjoys spending time with her family in Oceanside, CA. She enjoys going to the beach as often as possible, reading and watching the local news. Diane loves to be aware and informed about her local community, Orange County and Los Angeles.  She also enjoys visiting art museums and all the great shopping centers in Southern California.

Favorite Movie: “There are so many great movies, from Comedies to Action Movies, but I am a romantic at heart and have to say – Gone with the Wind. A Romance in the middle of a war! And then there is of course Clark Gable!” 

Diane Sims
Account Manager

Duties: Michelle is responsible for our University of California postdoc accounts as well as working with several visiting scholar accounts, including the University of Pennsylvania. She is the main contact for postdocs and their administrators for questions regarding benefits, enrollments, billing and more. Michelle works closely with the insurance carriers to quickly resolve any issue that may impact the group or an individual, in addition to processing monthly eligibility files and billing. How Michelle helps GPA shine: Michelle is customer service orientated and seeks to give her clients the best service possible. Her friendly voice and demeanor make the postdocs she serves (many of them international) feel at ease with the complexities of insurance. Her exemplary work ethic and desire to create positive relationships with carriers and campuses make her a valued part of the GPA team. Hobbies: Michelle enjoys the outdoors and adventures. Whether it’s hiking, stand-up paddling or bike rides, she enjoys these activities most when she can experience them with her family and explore new places. Favorite movie: “I love too many to pick one! It's between Forrest Gump, the Harry Potter series, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

Duties: Michelle is responsible for our University of California postdoc accounts as well as working with several visiting scholar accounts, including the University of Pennsylvania. She is the main contact for postdocs and their administrators for questions regarding benefits, enrollments, billing and more. Michelle works closely with the insurance carriers to quickly resolve any issue that may impact the group or an individual, in addition to processing monthly eligibility files and billing.

How Michelle helps GPA shine: Michelle is customer service orientated and seeks to give her clients the best service possible. Her friendly voice and demeanor make the postdocs she serves (many of them international) feel at ease with the complexities of insurance. Her exemplary work ethic and desire to create positive relationships with carriers and campuses make her a valued part of the GPA team.

Hobbies: Michelle enjoys the outdoors and adventures. Whether it’s hiking, stand-up paddling or bike rides, she enjoys these activities most when she can experience them with her family and explore new places.

Favorite movie: “I love too many to pick one! It's between Forrest Gump, the Harry Potter series, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

Michelle Smith
Account Manager

Duties: Valerie is an account manager in our Business Services division, working with clients both small and large. She is heavily involved with day-to-day operations for her accounts, from compliance questions to enrollment processing, and maintains strong carrier relationships in order to better position our firm and valued clients come renewal time. Valerie’s goal is to assist the client and their employees to ensure that benefits administration is handled flawlessly. How Valerie helps GPA shine: Valerie has been in the insurance industry for 20+ years. Her experience in Underwriting and account management, organizational diligence, time management and open communication skills allow her to excel at managing all aspects of her various accounts. Hobbies: Valerie enjoys spending time with her husband, four children and friends, vacationing, gardening, listening to music, and watching television series on Netflix. Favorite movie: “50 First Dates is my favorite movie. I like and believe the concept that every relationship should be treated as brand new every day.”

Duties: Valerie is an account manager in our Business Services division, working with clients both small and large. She is heavily involved with day-to-day operations for her accounts, from compliance questions to enrollment processing, and maintains strong carrier relationships in order to better position our firm and valued clients come renewal time. Valerie’s goal is to assist the client and their employees to ensure that benefits administration is handled flawlessly.

How Valerie helps GPA shine: Valerie has been in the insurance industry for 20+ years. Her experience in Underwriting and account management, organizational diligence, time management and open communication skills allow her to excel at managing all aspects of her various accounts.

Hobbies: Valerie enjoys spending time with her husband, four children and friends, vacationing, gardening, listening to music, and watching television series on Netflix.

Favorite movie:50 First Dates is my favorite movie. I like and believe the concept that every relationship should be treated as brand new every day.”

Valerie Sprong
Account Manager

Duties: Gretchen is responsible for invoicing several of our University clients, reconciling carrier invoices, and administering COBRA continuation coverage. She also provides excellent customer service for many of the COBRA participants she manages and University department heads she works with. How Gretchen Helps GPA Shine: Gretchen’s extensive background in accounting and customer service allows her to successfully communicate with her clients and clearly answer questions related to billing, enrollments & benefits.  Hobbies: Gretchen speaks German & Spanish, enjoys oil painting, hiking and volunteering at her local church. Favorite movie: “Casablanca because it’s one of the only movies I can watch over and over, and I like Humphry Bogart.”

Duties: Gretchen is responsible for invoicing several of our University clients, reconciling carrier invoices, and administering COBRA continuation coverage. She also provides excellent customer service for many of the COBRA participants she manages and University department heads she works with.

How Gretchen Helps GPA Shine: Gretchen’s extensive background in accounting and customer service allows her to successfully communicate with her clients and clearly answer questions related to billing, enrollments & benefits. 

Hobbies: Gretchen speaks German & Spanish, enjoys oil painting, hiking and volunteering at her local church.

Favorite movie:Casablanca because it’s one of the only movies I can watch over and over, and I like Humphry Bogart.”

Gretchen Schumann
Billing Manager

Duties: Daniel is responsible for maintaining and updating GPA's proprietary administrative tools which help us manage many of our day-to-day client eligibility and payroll file processes. He is also our Systems Administrator for all web server and database interfaces. How Daniel helps GPA shine: Daniel has over 20 years of experience in web development and web services administration. Daniel's skill set includes: IIS, MS SQL Server, SQL, .NET, ASP, SOA, T-SQL, C#, JavaScript, JQuery, XML, CSS, and HTML 5. Hobbies: Daniel enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, reading, playing drums and catching the latest blockbuster movie when time allows. Favorite movie: "The Shawshank Redemption jumps to mind first. Andy Dufresne gets sent to prison for over 20 years for a crime he didn't commit and after being broken time after time, he finally decides enough is enough. Favorite quote: ‘Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of s--- and came out clean on the other side.’"

Duties: Daniel is responsible for maintaining and updating GPA's proprietary administrative tools which help us manage many of our day-to-day client eligibility and payroll file processes. He is also our Systems Administrator for all web server and database interfaces.

How Daniel helps GPA shine: Daniel has over 20 years of experience in web development and web services administration. Daniel's skill set includes: IIS, MS SQL Server, SQL, .NET, ASP, SOA, T-SQL, C#, JavaScript, JQuery, XML, CSS, and HTML 5.

Hobbies: Daniel enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, reading, playing drums and catching the latest blockbuster movie when time allows.

Favorite movie: "The Shawshank Redemption jumps to mind first. Andy Dufresne gets sent to prison for over 20 years for a crime he didn't commit and after being broken time after time, he finally decides enough is enough. Favorite quote: ‘Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of s--- and came out clean on the other side.’"

Daniel Magallanes
Senior IT Developer/Systems Administrator

Duties: Aaron works extensively with the data analysis side of our visiting scholar and postdoc accounts, which includes invoicing, waiver processing, and digital file preparation. How Aaron helps GPA shine: Aaron thoroughly enjoys working with computers and technology. His experience working with data, analytics, and digital documents allows him to keep the technical side of our administrative services running smoothly. Hobbies: In his free time, Aaron enjoys hiking, working out, writing, studying ancient languages, and reading (history related books).  Favorite movie: “Gladiator because I love movies about ancient history. Although the overall historical accuracy of this film is absolutely horrendous, the cinematography is fantastic and the plot is great. I have to admit, I've seen it over a dozen times.”

Duties: Aaron works extensively with the data analysis side of our visiting scholar and postdoc accounts, which includes invoicing, waiver processing, and digital file preparation.

How Aaron helps GPA shine: Aaron thoroughly enjoys working with computers and technology. His experience working with data, analytics, and digital documents allows him to keep the technical side of our administrative services running smoothly.

Hobbies: In his free time, Aaron enjoys hiking, working out, writing, studying ancient languages, and reading (history related books). 

Favorite movie: “Gladiator because I love movies about ancient history. Although the overall historical accuracy of this film is absolutely horrendous, the cinematography is fantastic and the plot is great. I have to admit, I've seen it over a dozen times.”

Aaron Yota
Data Analyst