The Richards Group is one of Vermont's and New England's top retirement and fiduciary advisors

Meet Your Employee Benefits Team


Tom Scull
Vice President

With 25+ years of experience in the Employee Benefits Industry, Tom is respected as a thought-leader when it comes to employee benefits in Northern New England.  After graduating from Trinity College in Hartford, CT, Tom received an Underwriting degree from CIGNA Healthcare. After Underwriting for Cigna, Tom joined Mercer Consulting in New York City and worked on teams handling Fortune 50 size business.  After building a strong foundation working with National Accounts at both Mercer and CIGNA, Tom and his family moved to Vermont. Tom managed Cigna's Vermont and New Hampshire Sales initiatives for several years before joining The Richards Group. Today, Tom is an Owner and plays a leadership role company-wide and drives strategy for our Employee Benefits Practice. Tom is serving his fourth term as a Green Mountain Care Board Advisor in VT and continues to advise on the Vermont Health Connect Exchange. Tom is the only Broker/Consultant Member of Cigna’s National Producer Advisory Council in NH/VT, and also serves as an Advisor to Northeast Delta Dental, Harvard Pilgrim, MVP Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont. The employee benefits teams are located throughout the region in Burlington, VT, Concord, NH, Bellow Falls, VT, Brattleboro, VT, Manchester, VT, Middlebury, VT, Hanover, NH, and Rutland, VT and they serve many of the largest employers in the Vermont and New Hampshire marketplace. 


Deb Loughlin
Director, Client Development & Marketing
Employee Benefits Practice

As part of the Employee Benefits Leadership, Deb Loughlin helps with business development and strategy.  Deb has been in the employee benefits industry for 20 years and held management positions in Vermont businesses for over 30 years.  After many years working inside a family owned business, Deb co-founded The Benefit Group of New England in 1997, merging it into a national firm in 2011. Her roots are in her passion the development of companies’ long-term benefit strategies that support sustainable budgets and promote well employee cultures.  Early in her career, Deb developed a desire to support the health of Vermont companies and spent time working with legislators, served on the board of Associated Industries of Vermont as well as industry advisory boards. In the last several years, Deb has dedicated time to the American Heart and Stroke Association; now into her fourth year working on the Go Red for Woman Executive Leadership Team, two of which she acted as co-chair, and honored with the Chrystal Heart Award in early 2018 in appreciation of her years spent encouraging and supporting employer groups with wellness culture strategies.


Ross Gibson
Director, Client Operations & Consulting
Employee Benefits Practice

Ross Gibson is a leadership and organizational development consultant and facilitator. Through The Richards Group Employee Benefits and its subsidiary, The Green Mountain Leadership Center, Ross works with organizations to help develop positive leadership growth. Prior to working as a consultant, Ross was Senior Vice President, Global Human Resources at World Learning, a global academic institution and Non-Governmental Organization based in Brattleboro, Vermont. Ross has held other several senior level positions including Vice President, Learning and Organizational Development at Charles River Labs and Vice President, Human Resources at both American Superconductor and Cambridge Neuroscience, Inc.  Ross is a certified facilitator in several of the award-winning and internationally recognized Franklin Covey courses including The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  He is active in several local and regional Human Resources and training organizations and is a past president of the Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA).  Locally in Brattleboro, Vermont, he is a Board member of the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce and the Strolling of the Heifers. Additionally, he is an advisor to the local United Way chapter and an active member of the Sunshine Rotary Club of Brattleboro.  


Lindsay Simpson
Organizational Wellness Lead

Lindsay is an all-around wellness champion - at the individual and system levels. She is responsible for the planning, development, implementation and evaluation of wellbeing initiatives for both Richards Group Clients and for internal staff. She delights in working from a research-based, holistic perspective; respecting that every group and every individual has unique strengths and passions that interact with family, workplace and community cultures. To this role, Lindsay brings over ten years of public service experience in Vermont school wellness. She is a lifelong learner, having recently completed training from WELCOA, Wellness Culture Coaching, and Coaches Training Institute. Lindsay has an M.P.H. from UNC Chapel Hill with focus on leadership and program planning and an B.A. from Middlebury College in neuroscience and teacher education. Lindsay serves as a board member and coach for Girls on the Run Vermont. In her free time, she can be found running and laughing amongst the hills of Vermont with two- and four-legged friends.

Diane Murphy
Senior Account Executive

Diane has more than 25 years of experience in employee benefits, claims management, and customer service. Diane joined The Richards Group in 1996 and has extensive knowledge in all facets of employee benefits. She provides benefit consulting services to large client groups tailored to meet their individual organizational needs and corporate philosophy. More specifically, Diane has a strong working knowledge of Health Care Reform and Defined Contribution as it relates to employee benefits. By working closely with her clients on developing long term strategies, she provides the expertise needed to stay current and enjoy many long term client relationships. Diane graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Connecticut.


Barbara Harris
Senior Account Executive
New Business Manager and Public Sector Lead

Barbara works in our Brattleboro office, supporting groups in Vermont and New Hampshire. Barbara’s primary focus is developing new client relationships and helping Clients navigate to State Exchanges. With strong public sector employee benefits knowledge Barbara handles some of Vermont's largest Supervisory Unions and Municipalities.  She helps clients with defined contribution modeling, plan design, cost containment, employee education and compliance of their health, life, disability and dental programs.  Prior to joining The Richards Group in 2004, Barbara worked in banking for 20 years, including Vermont National Bank and then Chittenden Bank. Barbara has been actively involved in the community, serving as board member of High 5 Adventure Learning and as a wish grantor for Make a Wish of Vermont. She holds the Registered Health Underwriter (RHU) professional designation from The American College. Barbara graduated from North Adams State with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and lives in Brattleboro.


Jackie Brady
Senior Account Executive
HR Services and Pharmacy Benefit Manager Lead

In 2004 Jackie joined The Richards Group as an Account Manager in Employee Benefits. She brought with her a Masters in Human Resources that serves us well working with Clients. Today, Jackie works out of our Brattleboro office and manages a book of business with many of our largest Clients while also taking a lead role in our Human Resource support service(s) and our Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) consulting. Jackie’s team works with some of our most sophisticated employee benefit accounts and brings many years of comprehensive employee benefits knowledge to work exclusively with our large group clientele.  Her expertise in the area of claims, underwriting, compliance, health care provider relations, health care reform and PBMs has successfully helped her develop and manage her clients’ overall benefits program. Prior to joining The Richards Group, Jackie worked in the banking industry specializing in underwriting.

The Richards Group-Joanna Keefe

Johanna Keefe
Senior Account Executive
Johanna leads our Rutland office, supporting businesses throughout Vermont. Johanna has a large group book of business and together with her team have a very strong knowledge base to help large, local employers compete well in the benefits space. Johanna contributes at the highest levels with extensive knowledge of health care reform, self-funding and captive arrangements. Prior to joining TRG in 2013, Johanna worked for 10 years at Thomas Insurance & Benefits in Rutland. Johanna graduated from Keene State College in Keene, NH with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and lives in Rutland.


Sharon Doward
Senior Account Executive
HRIS Benefits Administration
& Payroll Technology Lead

Sharon works out of our Bellows Falls, Vermont office and leads a team supporting some of our largest and more sophisticated Clients.  Working with many of the region's community hospital Clients and a few other large employers, Sharon brings a wealth of expertise and knowledge.  Sharon's team provides a full scope of services and deliverables to meet the unique employee benefits needs of each client.  As the Payroll and Benefits Administration space evolves frantically under the Affordable Care Act and new reporting needs, Sharon's expertise as our technology lead is imperative to both us and our Clients. She began her professional career working in workers’ compensation compliance for the State of New Hampshire for 13 years. During that time Sharon utilized her strong technology skills to help develop, test and implement an electronic data interchange program. Sharon received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University.


Patti Pileggi
Senior Account Executive
Compliance Lead

Patti joined The Richards Group In November 2015 as an Account Executive in our Rutland VT office.  Patti comes to TRG with 30+ years working in the Employee Benefits industry. Patti spent the majority of the last 30 years working in various account management positions in National Accounts at Cigna HealthCare. During her tenure at Cigna, Patti was responsible for large and complex books of businesses throughout the United States as well as mentoring new employees to ensure their success. As the internal Compliance Lead for the Benefits Department, Patti plays an increasingly important strategic role for our team(s) and Clients. Patti’s experience working with employers in various states across the country, her strong leadership & account management skills as well as her knowledge of ACA compliance make her an asset to the TRG team and our clients.

Patti has a Bachelor of Science degree from Adelphi University with a major in Psychology and a minor in Marketing. Patti received HIAA’s certificate of Managed Healthcare Professional.


Jessica Jacobs
Manager, Select Business Unit VT/NH

Jessica joined The Richards Group in April 2018 with over 15 years’ experience in health benefits. As the Manager of our Select Business Unit serving both VT and NH, Jessica is responsible for guiding small businesses through their unique employee benefit needs.

Prior to joining TRG, she previously worked for Vermont’s Health Benefit Exchange, Vermont Health Connect, as a communications manager and has held a variety of different roles in human resources, strategic planning, sales and product management at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont.

Jessica has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Champlain College and an MBA with a concentration in Project Management from Norwich University.


Betsy Ploof
Senior Account Manager

Betsy joined The Richards Group in 2011 in the role of Administrative Assistant and Office Manager with a strong background in customer service.  She obtained her Life, Health & Accident license for Vermont and New Hampshire and quickly transitioned into an Account Manager role. Betsy works in our Norwich office primarily handling new and existing Individual and Small Business accounts providing benefit plan options, and enrollment support. She also acts as the internal team resource for UBA Surveys and EBC management.   Betsy is an expert on the Vermont and New Hampshire State Exchanges and assists Sperry and Sharon as a Senior Account Manager on their books of business.  Betsy received a BA in English Literature with a minor in History from St. Michael’s College here in Vermont.

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Nicole McGrath
SBU Account Executive
Select Business Unit MA/VT/NH
Voluntary Employee Benefits Lead

Nicole joined The Richards Group in 2013 as an Account Manager working out of our Keene office. Supporting Diane and Barbara, Nicole works with groups of all size managing their employee benefits, negotiating with carriers, assisting with Human Resources on compliance issues including The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Nicole is also our liaison to the Voluntary Benefits marketplace and supports other teams in this evolving space.  Prior to joining The Richards Group, Nicole was employed as an Employee Benefits Account Executive in Keene NH for 14 years which is where she resides with her husband and two sons. Nicole holds an Accredited Customer Service Representative designation in Financial Services and is certified on the Federally Facilitated Marketplace. Nicole truly enjoys building relationships with her clients and always goes the extra mile for them.


Caitlin Caulfield
Senior Account Manager

HR Products Support, Compliance Dashboard and ThinkHR Lead
Caitlin works out of our Brattleboro office and supports Jackie's book of business as an Account Manager.  Caitlin also is our resident expert surrounding HR products and compliance tools.  With a most important book of business under Jackie's leadership, Caitlin enjoys managing all facets of benefits programs with her clients. Prior to joining The Richards Group, she worked for a large national commercial and personal insurer as a workers compensation claims adjuster. Caitlin graduated from Keene State College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. She earned her insurance designation as an Associate in Claims (AIC) from the Insurance Institutes of America in 2013 as well as a Producer's license in Life, Accident and Health.


Heidi Bourhill
Account Executive
Individual Life & Disability Products Lead

Heidi joined The Richards Group in 2017 and works in our Manchester, VT office. Heidi’s primary focus is developing new small group business in the Southern Vermont Region and servicing our Individual life and Disability clients in VT and NH areas. Heidi helps clients with contribution models, employee benefit education, Ancillary development, as well as Health insurance, Dental and Vision plan placement.

Prior to joining The Richards Group, Heidi owned her own agency and is actively involved in her community, coaching the Burr and Burton Women’s soccer team.  Heidi graduated from Saint Anselm College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a minor in early childhood education.


Emmy Hayes
Senior Account Manager, GBDS
Employee Benefits Center (EBC) Lead

Emmy joined The Richards Group in May of 2015 in the Norwich, Vermont office as an Account Manager. She graduated from Southern New Hampshire University in 2015 where she received a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration form the 3-Year Honors Program. Emmy supports both Patti and Diane on their books of businesses representing a large array of industries. She takes pride in guiding clients through all steps of project management and customizing BAAGs, EBCs, and presentations. She holds a Producer’s license in Life, Accident, and Health and recently achieved designation as a Group Benefits Disability Specialist through The National Underwriting Company.


Rachel Thompson
Account Manager
Decision Making Software Lead
Rachel joined The Richards Group in February 2016 as an Account Manager. Working out of our Rutland office, she primarily supports Johanna’s growing book of business with groups ranging in sizes from 50 to 500 lives.  Rachel also supports the benefits department with a great understanding of decision making software. She enjoys working with clients to create custom employee communication materials, such as Benefits at a Glance booklets, as well as
gathering and entering the data needed for each Client’s
Monthly Financial Report.

Rachel received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in Psychology and Sociology. She graduated Cum Laude from Castleton University in December 2015. She holds her Producer’s license in Life, Accident and Health.


Janine Tadakowsky
Senior Account Manager
Technology Advisor

Janine Tadakowsky joined The Richards Group in March of 2017 in the Concord, New Hampshire office. Janine supports Sharon Doward on her book of business which is mostly comprised of hospital groups. Janine also works closely with each of the benefits teams and their clients to assist with benefit technology needs. Janine has extensive knowledge of benefits administration platforms, employee engagement strategies and administration/reporting needs. She assists clients and the benefits team with the benefit administration review process to find the best solution to support client needs, leads implementation calls, training sessions, and acts as a day-to-day contact for troubleshooting.

Janine graduated from Colby-Sawyer College in 2007 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration. Janine has 10 years of experience in the health care industry and brings many years of extensive HR and Benefits Administration to her position with TRG. Janine also enjoys working with clients closely to educate on HR best practices. Through observation and strategic thinking, Janine offers clients guidance and the opportunity to streamline their current HR practices to be more efficient and effective.


Megan Ayers
Account Executive

Sustainability Benefit Lead
Megan joined The Richards Group in May of 2017 and works in our Burlington, Vermont office.  For several years prior to joining TRG, Megan specialized in HR and Employee Benefits for a large Burlington-based energy efficiency nonprofit.  Prior to that, Megan spent 3 years working as a corporate paralegal. With her background in HR, benefits and energy efficiency, Megan brings an expertise in sustainability green benefits and how these can uniquely add value to clients benefits and wellness programs. She supports our clients who are interested in reducing their impact on the environment or enabling employees to reduce their own carbon footprint through this innovative benefit. Megan graduated from Furman University in Greenville, SC  where she received a B.A. in History.  Megan works alongside Deb Loughlin to support our clients in Chittenden and Franklin counties.


Cassandra Crockett
Account Manager

Cassandra Crockett joins our team as an Account Manager working out of our Burlington Office and supporting Megan Bridges and Deb Loughlin. In 2013, Cassandra graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Saint Michael’s College with a major in Business Administration and a concentration in Finance.  Cassandra comes on board fully licensed in Life, Accident, and Health in Vermont and New Hampshire, with her most recent experience working for Bankers Life in South Burlington as an Insurance Agent. She has extensive knowledge of Medicare, Medicare Supplements, and Part D prescription drug plans.  Also, she earned her insurance designation as a Certified Long-Term Care (CLTC) Advisor. Cassandra is part of our Burlington Service Team and works on many of our larger accounts in our Northern Marketplace.


Katherine Pate
Account Manager

Katherine joined the Richards Group in May of 2018 in the Rutland, Vermont office. She graduated from the University of Vermont in 2018 where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Community Entrepreneurship. Katherine supports both Patti and Johanna on their books of business representing a large array of industries. Katherine works closely with Emmy and Rachel assisting with financial reporting and maintaining on-line Employee Benefit Centers for clients, along with other administrative projects to support the teams.

Katherine takes pride working with The Richards Group and their Employee Benefits team. She enjoys building relationships, meeting new people and making The Richards Group experience one that people will remember. 


Hayleigh Yates
Account Manager

Hayleigh joined The Richards Group in June of 2018 as an Account Manager and works in our Concord, New Hampshire office. Hayleigh graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from The University of New Hampshire in 2017 with a major in Equine Science. She supports one of our largest books of business with Janine Tadakowsky and Sharon Doward.  Hayleigh has a focus working with many hospitals group as well as many of our larger multi-State Clients. Prior to joining The Richards Group, Hayleigh previously worked as an Administrative Assistant at a local law firm in Concord, New Hampshire.


Kelley Knight
Account Executive
United Benefits Adviser Lead

Kelley joined The Richards Group in June of 2018 as an Account Executive. She has more than 20 years of experience in employee benefits including 16 prior years as a Senior Client Manager. In her various roles she has been able to wear many hats which has led to her diverse knowledge in employee benefits. Kelley works closely with her team to meet our clients’ needs to implement strategy in all areas of employee benefits. Her extensive knowledge includes all types of funding arrangements, negotiation of carrier renewals, RFP’s, evaluating and preparing recommendations for clients, identifying and proposing additional services to existing clients, employee education, Health Care Reform, and strategic planning. Kelley is also our liaison to United Benefits Advisors (, the Nation’s largest independent employee benefits organization. Kelley graduated from Champlain College with an Associate in Science degree. Kelley spends time in her community volunteering for programs through her church, United Way, and various fundraisers for Veterans with PTSD. 


Gail Slider
Office Manager, Employee Benefits

Out of the Hanover office and under Tom's leadership Gail helps to keep the wheels in motion for our teams across the region.  In an Administrative Support role, Gail helps to build and create synergies among our teams and help keep an organized schedule for all.  Prior to joining The Richards Group, Gail was the Office Manager and Compliance Administrator at KVO Capital Management, a hedge fund located in Hanover, NH.  Gail received a Bachelor's of Science degree in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University. 


Amanda Percival
Account Manager
Amanda joined The Richards Group in July of 2018 as an Account Manager supporting Caitlin and Jackie’s books of businesses in our Brattleboro, Vermont office. Amanda formerly worked as a Retail Sales and Customer Care Specialist at an educational non-profit based in Turners Falls, MA. Prior to her tenure in the non-profit sector, she was first introduced to the world of employee benefits as a Claims Processor and Call Center Rep in the dental department and as a Team Leader for the run out on self-insured medical policies at GE Financial Assurance Company in Greenfield, MA. She is excited to learn more about employee benefits and to help support such a strong and knowledgeable team. 

Amanda holds a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an Individualized M.A. in Theatre and English from Rhode Island College, earned in combination with a professional actor’s training certificate from Trinity Rep Conservatory in Providence, RI.