We're here for you
We care about you, your business, your employees, and your success. Our experts will provide you with real solutions, and we'll do it with a smile. At Raffa, that's just who we are and how we work. At the end of the day, we're not happy until you are.
Steven K. Heger, CLU, PPC™ President
There are two things Steve loves to talk about: Work and Play.
At work, Steve is all about financial security. Yours. As the President of Raffa, Steve orchestrates a team that works with over 600 local businesses, designing and implementing a wide variety of strategic and innovative benefit programs to help companies - and their employees - become financially secure on all fronts.
If you want to catch up with Steve after hours, you'd better start peddling. And fast. He's that guy racing past you on his mountain bike. Inspired by a good challenge, Steve tackles the trails like he does everything else: with copious amounts of enthusiasm and grit. Sometimes that grit shows up on his shirt. Or in his teeth. But that won't stop him from smiling. Because whether he's navigating a twisting, turning trail or an intricate financial landscape, he's doing something he loves.
Raffa Fun Fact: Steve was the Captain of the University of Maryland Wrestling Team, a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference Champion, and an honorable mention All American wrestler. Who better to wrestle with your financials than Steve?
Jon Zeisler Vice President of Group Benefits
You know that person you can always count on to come up with a game plan? The one who's always thinking a few steps ahead of everybody else? That's Jon.
Combining his love of strategic thinking with extensive experience designing, communicating and implementing all kinds of employee benefit programs, Jon leads the Raffa team of group benefits experts, making sure they have the focus, direction and resources they need to go the extra mile (or kilometer) for every single client. Yep. He thinks of everything.
Always on the lookout for new partners, resources, and ways to deliver, Jon has professional licenses in eight states and is an active member of the National Association of Health Underwriters, Maryland Association of Health Underwriters, and the Society for Human Resource Management. In other words, if there's something you need, he's probably already working on it.
Raffa Fun Fact: If you want to track Jon down when he's not at work, you'll need to grab a parka - and some gloves. Despite his warm demeanor, Jon is drawn to all things frozen. If he's not skiing or hiking around various mountains, you'll find him camped out at the ice rink, cheering on his son's high school hockey team. If you're looking for someone who knows how to stay cool under pressure, Jon's your guy.
Sharon Tiger Vice President of Business Development
Want to know the definition of a "people person?" Meet Sharon. Curious, smart, and outgoing, she has a knack for turning everyone she meets into a lifelong friend - including her clients. And with over 20 years in the industry, she's made a whole lot of friends!
Sharon's passion for her work is twofold. Not only does she love helping people, she's passionate about all things business. Combining her deep industry knowledge with her savvy business sense, Sharon has become an expert at building strategies to help organizations attract and retain the critical talent they need to meet the demands of their growth objectives. Want to know how? Just ask. She'll tell you all about it. She may even break into song.
A networking aficionado, Sharon is an ambassador for the Tech Council of Maryland, a host of Piranha Tank, and an active volunteer. In other words, if you haven't seen Sharon out in the community yet, it's only a matter of time.
Raffa Fun Fact: If you feel like you're seeing double, you just may be. Sharon has an identical twin sister who was born exactly one minute before she was. True to form even today, Sharon doesn't waste any time following up. She's got your back.
Jeyalene Baron Financial Advisor / Benefit Consultant
Jeyalene isn't just a wealth of knowledge, she's a bundle of positive energy. She jumps out of bed in the morning excited to be the best she can be— and to help her clients do the same.
With a deep understanding of what her clients need, Jeyalene uses a full-circle approach to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. From designing benefits programs that help employers attract and retain talent, to assisting with plan implementation and enrollment, to ensuring full and complete compliance, she's there every step of the way.
What fuels Jeyalene's enthusiasm? Personal connection. She loves getting to know people and helping them navigate the ever-changing healthcare landscape.
Responsive and dedicated, Jeyalene has a talent for explaining complex benefits concepts so that both plan providers and participants are able to understand their options and make well-informed choices. The best part? She does it all year long.
Raffa Fun Fact: An accomplished piano and flute player, Jeyalene's a regular one woman band. Her impeccable timing, sharp mind, and soothing tone have made many a client sing her praises. Whether she's composing an email or a tune, Jeyalene is sure to hit all the right notes.
Eduardo Gimenez, CFP®, AIF® Vice President of Retirement Plan Services
Ed's not one to sit on the sidelines. He'd rather be in the game - and on the forefront of whatever he's doing. Which is probably why he continues to be recognized as a Financial Times 401 Top Retirement Plan Advisor year after year.
Innovative to the core, Ed puts his expertise and enthusiasm into action to design high-quality, cost-effective, employee benefits packages and develop well-administered retirement plan programs for a huge range of for-profit and non-profit organizations.
Helping clients manage plan risk and expenses while improving plan performance and preparing employees for a confident retirement is Ed's middle name. Okay. Not really. But it might as well be. He loves it that much.
Don't believe us? Go catch one of Ed's seminars. He regularly gives educational presentations to plan sponsors on best fiduciary practices, investment due diligence, and preparing employees for retirement. For fun.
Raffa Fun Fact: If Ed sounds like a winning choice, that's because he is. A certified racquetball instructor and pro, he's also taken home numerous regional and state trophies. So in addition to helping you take your finance game to a whole new level, he can also serve up some great racquetball advice. And he can do it in English or Spanish. Now that's game.
Matthew Roberts Director of Raffa Group Benefits
Matthew is the type of person who likes to work hard and dig deep.
A big picture thinker, he uses his technical and industry knowledge to create benefit strategies to take his clients where they need to go, both today and into the future.
Matthew is a fan of high-level conversations, complex problem solving, and out-of-the-box solutions. He specializes in helping businesses reduce the direct costs of health and disability insurance, lower the indirect costs associated with absenteeism and presenteeism, and improve the overall health of their organizations. And he does it all while making sure everyone is fully compliant with federal and state statutes.
A straight shooter who always does his homework, Matthew works with clients on everything from strategic planning to alternative funding arrangements to employee engagement. He would love to talk to you about any of these things and more. Seriously. Just give him a call.
Raffa Fun Fact: An outdoor enthusiast, Matthew's always willing to go the extra mile -- or thousand. Especially if it involves fresh mountain air. His travel adventures have taken him all kinds of amazing places, including Yellowstone, Mt. Rainier, and the Scottish Highlands. Need someone to help your business reach new heights? Matt's your man.
Jennifer Conners Office Manager
A masterful multi-tasker, Jennifer makes juggling multiple things at once seem downright effortless. From operations to accounting to client proposals to case management, Jennifer does it all. Sometimes simultaneously. And always with a smile.
A certified details fanatic, Jennifer doesn't miss a thing. Her rapid response rate and continuous commitment to service, quality, and process improvement keeps everyone at Raffa on their toes— and on track.
Raffa Fun Fact: As determined as she is efficient, Jennifer expertly handles anything that comes her way. Back in the day, someone handed Jennifer a trombone. Yep. She soon became her school's only female trombone player. These days, she doesn't need to toot her own horn. Her co-workers happily do it for her.
Christy Bonnewell Senior Account Manager
Need someone to swoop in and lasso all of your complex benefits needs into one neat and tidy bundle? Christy's organizational wizardry will help you get your employee benefits plan-- and your desk-- in order. A regular benefits connoisseur, she loves helping her business clients set up shop and watching them take off. Christy has a thorough understanding of insurance products and a magical way of explaining them so it all makes sense.
Raffa Fun Fact: When she's not cooking up the perfect benefits package for her awesome clients, she's likely in the kitchen creating a culinary masterpiece. A former pastry chef, Christy once constructed a 4-foot replica of the Eiffel tower, completely out of icing. Go ahead! Toss your complex benefits questions her way. For Christy, it's a piece of cake.
Jim Van Eperen, CLU Vice President of Raffa Insurance Services
Jim's the kind of guy who like to tackle big things.
Known for his relentless dedication to his clients, he's helped build an elite practice specializing in business succession planning, estate and legacy planning, and executive benefit strategies.
Jim has a passion for getting to know each of his individual clients and crafting custom solutions just for them. He's been recognized for his holistic approach in helping solve complex business planning needs within the context of personal financial goals. He especially loves working with family businesses and closely held entities.
He also loves a good underdog story. A long-time champion for diversifying the financial services field as a career opportunity for women, Jim launched a Women's Advisory Board (WAB) to help achieve that goal. Made up of 20 female business leaders in the greater Washington, DC area, the WAB fostered financial education for women and financial literacy for middle school girls. Hundreds of local girls graduated from Financial Literacy Education Programs taught by WAB members. A definite win-win!
Raffa Fun Fact: If want to call Jim a cheesehead, have at it. Just make sure you're wearing sunglasses. A die-hard Green Bay Packers fan, he's likely to reward you with a 500-watt smile. If you're curious about Jim's level of dedication to his work, rest assured. He is just as fervently committed to his Raffa team as he is to his Packer team. In other words, he's as loyal as it gets.
Kate Diffenderfer Financial Advisor/HR Consultant
Kate's the kind of gal who never lets you down. Solid, fun, and reliable, she's as quick with a laugh as she is with a solution.
A former HR generalist and business owner herself, Kate uses her background and experience to quickly assess complex HR issues and determine the best ways to address them. Intelligent and inquisitive, she'll ask all of the right questions until she gets it right.
What makes Kate's day? Putting together the perfect combination of HR support and benefits administration tools to help businesses achieve their goals.
Raffa Fun Fact: Outgoing, social, and hilarious, Kate makes a friend everywhere she goes. In mere seconds, Kate can transform a new acquaintance into an old-school BFF. Whether she's behind you in line at the grocery store, chatting with you on the phone, or problem solving at her desk, Kate will win you over.
Rick Carr Financial Strategist
There are people you like and there are people you trust. Rick is both of these people rolled into one. With over 34 years of industry experience, Rick hasn't just been around the block a few times. He's memorized every square inch of it.
Rick works with business owners and individuals to help them build secure financial futures, both at work and in life. An expert in many areas, he is especially knowledgeable when it comes to personal insurance planning, executive benefits, business transitions and individual life insurance.
Down-to-earth, smart, and highly adaptable, Rick has seen many changes and evolutions in the sector over the years and has skillfully adjusted to all of them. At the end of the day, he's not satisfied simply helping his clients keep up. He wants to help them thrive.
Raffa Fun Fact: At the end of the day, Rick's idea of fun is heading to the gym for a good, old-fashioned workout. Hardworking and loyal, when he commits to something, it sticks. Whether it's to his clients, his great-grandkids, or his beloved Terrapins, Rick is as dedicated as it gets.
James Strother, AIF® Financial Advisor
Want to know what gets James fired up? Results. What kind of results? Yours.
James knows every business has a unique set of needs. And he loves digging in and figuring out what those are. With an emphasis on results, transparency, and engagement, he develops a thorough understanding of the specific goals of each of his clients, then designs effective strategies to achieve them.
His multi-dimensional approach allows him to help businesses address the full employee cycle: from attracting quality candidates, to retaining top talent, to helping ensure long-term financial success, for the organizations themselves and the teams behind their success.
Through intense learning and listening, James works closely with plan sponsors and participants to identify issues, examine potential shortfalls, and adopt the optimal blend of programs to create successful retirement plans.
From big concepts to small details, James is able to take complex strategies and synthesize them down into an easy-to-understand individualized blueprint for each and every client.
Raffa Fun Fact: Born in Colombia, South America, James was adopted as a child. A pay-it-forward kind of guy, he's gone full circle by adopting a Colombian-born child into his family, adding to his happy crew. Some might say that's going above and beyond, but we know it's just James being James.
Edward Owen, AIF®, PPC™ Retirement Plan Specialist
Eddie is a regular one stop shop of information and skills. In other words, he takes care of everything. From conducting proactive retirement plan reviews to assisting with implementation and educating participants on how to get started, Eddie is all in.
Need a fiduciary process to keep you in compliance? He's got you covered. Investment scoring and benchmarking? Eddie's on it. Information for your employees on how to get the most out of their retirement benefits? Consider it done.
Eddie cares deeply about his clients - and making sure they see results. Not only does he work with employers to design a retirement plan that helps accomplish their business goals, he also educates participants so that they understand the true value of those plans. Youthful, outgoing and friendly, he has a knack for connecting and communicating with employees across the generational spectrum.
Raffa Fun Fact: A true millennial, Eddie's talents are wide-ranging. After a mean game of hockey or lacrosse, he can hop inside and build you a computer. Or beat you at Super Mario. He even knows how to juggle. Want to work with someone who can do it all? Get in touch with Eddie.
Marsha Cantler Account Manager
Think no one likes working with spreadsheets and formulas? You haven't met Marsha. She loves this stuff!
Marsha's brain is always on, and she's constantly thinking about ways to improve processes. Her extensive industry experience in individual and group life, disability, long-term care, health, and investments, gives her a deep understanding of what her business clients need. A hard worker and information-gathering master, she's an expert at putting together in-depth proposals and renewals that are accurate, timely and easy to understand.
Raffa Fun Fact: If you run into Marsha out and about, she just might have a pool cue in her hand. A bit of a billiards buff, she loves to sink that perfect corner shot. With a sharp eye for details and an ability to look at things from many different angles, Marsha's a great fit for the game. And for Raffa.
Nikki Poole Account Manager
Nikki's a do-it-all kind of gal. A quick-thinking problem solver who recognizes the significance employee benefits can make for business owners and their employees, Nikki loves coming up with quick and efficient solutions to help her business clients offer competitive healthcare plans while meeting their organizational goals.
A multi-tasker by nature, she can handle a client request with one hand tied behind her back. Maybe even two.
Raffa Fun Fact: After hours, Nikki doesn't just run the house, she decorates it as well. A creative designer with a keen eye for detail, Nikki will not only make sure your benefits plan does what you need it to, she'll make sure it looks good, too.
Ashley Dronenburg Account Manager
Want someone who will go the distance for you? Meet Ashley.
A perennial early riser, Ashley is up solving client problems before most of us are even awake. Never one to commit halfway, Ashley goes the extra mile to drive value for her business clients every single day. As compassionate as she is dedicated, Ashley is able to put herself in her clients' shoes and come up with effective solutions to make sure her small groups get big results.
Raffa Fun Fact: Ashley's talents are as diverse and interesting as her clients. When she's not logging miles as a long distance runner, she can be found in her kayak or on her motorcycle. Think the right benefits solution is out of reach? Ask Ashley. She'll find a way.
Janet Hughes Senior Analyst
When it comes to making things happen behind the scenes, Janet is a regular magician. Think you've stumbled upon something that can't possibly be done? Poof! Janet will find a way.
Determined, organized and quick on her feet, Janet has a magical way of pulling everything together for her large group clients. Not only will she make it all look easy, she'll also make it easy to understand. Whether it's a proposal request, renewal information, enrollment materials, or employee benefit summaries, Janet has you covered.
Raffa fun fact: Janet is as adventurous as she is hard-working. Ideally, she'd love to be granted the power to fly. Until then, she'll continue to hone her soaring skills via parasailing, zip-lining, and helping her clients rise to the top.
Chris Payette Senior Analyst
You don't have to see Chris to know he's hard at work. Like any great behind-the-scenes person, he's not into fanfare. He just always comes through when you need him to.
A methodical thinker and problem solver, Chris is an expert at collecting, organizing, and analyzing data. He's also a pro at figuring out exactly what information his clients need and how to deliver it in a clear and easily digestible format. Need someone to help put all of the pieces in place? Chris will solve the puzzle.
Raffa fun fact: In addition to being good with numbers, Chris also has a way with words. If he's not digging around in databases, he's just might be penning the perfect paragraph. Talk about versatility! From A to Z, Chris can do it all.
Sherlyn Jeyasekeran Analyst
If Sherlyn was a draft pick, he'd get snapped up in the first round. Disciplined, accurate and creative, he's definitely a got-your-back kind of guy.
As hard-working as it gets, Sherlyn loves putting together top-notch proposals, presentations and summaries for his clients. Always a team player, he also jumps in to assist with the marketing, renewal, and underwriting processes.
But Sherlyn doesn't stop there. When he's not pumping out client projects, he's serving on the Raffa Wellness Committee, helping his coworkers achieve their wellness and fitness goals.
Raffa fun fact: It takes a balanced, steady hand to spin a basketball on one finger. And lots of determination. Sherlyn has both. Oh, and did we mention he can juggle, too? Go ahead, toss a bunch of things his way. Sherlyn never drops the ball.
Wendy Perez Administrative Assistant
Wendy is that person who is always ready to jump in and help out. A Do-It-Yourself by nature, she's the one you can count on to come up with just the right fix.
Whether she's working with clients in person or behind the scenes, Wendy knows just how to keep things running smoothly. Want to schedule a meeting? She's on it. Need help with an application? She's got you covered. Looking for a status update? She's already sent it.
Quick, curious, and crafty, Wendy loves learning new things and taking on new challenges. Almost as much as she loves working at Raffa.
Raffa Fun Fact: Wendy's organizational skills extend well beyond the office. Turns out, her event planning skills are also legendary. As is her flawless execution. Whether she's planning a mind-blowing birthday bash, a solo cross-country move, or a critical client meeting, Wendy doesn't miss a trick.
Josh Payette IT
Raffa's resident IT whiz kid, Josh not only possesses infinite technological know-how, he also has killer design skills. Which pretty much makes him our resident unicorn as well. A problem solver by nature, Josh uses his endless energy and powerful programming powers to keep our various systems running at full throttle— so we can help our clients to do the same.
Raffa Fun Fact: Can you believe he also plays bass guitar? We can't either. But it's true! Not only can Josh solve that seemingly unsolvable technical issue, he can also provide a cool bass riff while we sing his praises.