Leadership

The skill and experience of The DeChristopher Team is at the heart of the value we provide to our clients. When you hire The DeChristopher Group, you hire a benefits team with years of experience. Many have exceptional backgrounds working for carriers, consulting agencies and in customer service. Our team partnership approach ensures that experts across the full range of benefits will be closely involved in your program.
  • Michael DeChristopher

    Michael DeChristopher, CFP
    Michael is President and founder of The DeChristopher Group.

    Since 1995, Michael has led the expansion and growth of The DeChristopher Group, a recognized strategic employee benefits broker and consulting firm serving companies in the Washington DC metro area. His primary focus is to deliver the strategic objectives of the company which includes managing and reducing employer costs, enhancing employees’ experience, and optimizing benefits administration.

    Michael began his career working as an Investment Counselor. As he continued to gain success in his career, he founded The DeChristopher Group. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Finance from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Besides being a licensed employee benefits professional, he is also a licensed investment advisor. Michael enjoys sailing, fishing, golfing, traveling, and coaching youth football. Michael is married and has three teenage children.

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  • Nikki Petrazzuolo Whitaker, M.A.

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    Nikki Petrazzuolo Whitaker, M.A.
    Nikki is Executive Vice President at The DeChristopher Group.

    Nikki shapes the strategic marketing, operational, and development direction of The DeChristopher Group. With more than 10 years of employee benefits administration and public policy experience, she draws on proven leadership to drive company growth and ensures DeChristopher Group solutions improve employer and employee engagement.

    Nikki’s specializations include the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), ERISA, COBRA and alternate funding. Nikki provides high-level consultancy and guidance to clients based on legislative updates, product and marketplace changes, audit readiness and technology solutions. Nikki is a Spanish speaker who directly assists clients with a dual language need. Nikki customizes written communications and conducts Open Enrollment meetings in English and Spanish.

    Nikki is a Certified Healthcare Reform Specialist® and a member of SHRM. She received her Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service and her Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University. Nikki is the Braddock District Representative of the Fairfax County Community Action Advisory Board (CAAB) helping to reduce poverty and homelessness in Northern Virginia. She is also an avid basketball fan, dedicated to the Georgetown Hoyas and New York Knicks. She enjoys spending time with her family and practicing Bikram yoga.

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  • Lucia Fan, GBA

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    Lucia Fan, GBA, CHRS®
    Lucia is Senior Consultant and Compliance Officer at The DeChristopher Group

    For the past 30 years, Lucia has worked within reputable and fast growth, culture-driven organizations. Her industry experience spans health care and employee benefits consulting, affinity direct marketing, product strategy and branding, quality assurance, and financial services. Her role bears responsibility in working with large employers by providing them with solutions, controls and compliance oversight. Lucia has been able to significantly improve organizations’ bottom line and deliver spot-on ACA and ERISA compliance guidance to many clients. This background coupled with Lucia’s passion for being a client and employee advocate perfectly aligns with The DeChristopher Group’s mission to positively impact the lives of others.

    Lucia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communication and Business Administration from The University of Maryland. She mains certifications in the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist® (CEBS) and Certified Health Care Reform Specialist (CHRS®) program.

    Lucia also publishes Benefits Spotlight, a monthly newsletter which highlights compliance, marketplace developments, and regulatory changes. Born in Hong Kong, Lucia immigrated to the US with her family at a young age. She is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese. In her spare time, she volunteers as an English instructor, providing free English lessons to refugees and immigrants in the Northern Virginia area. Lucia enjoys cooking and watching cooking channels, abstract painting, interior design and spending time with her family. She is married has four nearly grown boys.

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  • Shannon Joy

    Shannon Joy
    Shannon is Senior Account Manager at The DeChristopher Group.

    Shannon is Senior Account Manager at The DeChristopher Group.
    As a licensed Health and Life broker and consultant, Shannon has over 10 years’ experience in the account management and employee benefits arena. Whether meeting with business owners or C-Suite executives to help create that perfect employee benefits package or educating employees on how to best choose and utilize their benefits, Shannon has seen and done most, if not all of it.

    Shannon enjoys employee engagement and public speaking and therefore excels in partnering with large employers to assist in their open enrollment communication needs, conducting Lunch and Learns to educate employees and ensuring a positive employee experience. Shannon provides a decade of experience communicating employee benefits with a deep and broad knowledge of employee benefit plans and the corresponding regulations.

    The best way to utilize Shannon’s skill set is to pair her with key accounts that often have complex needs as she is an effective problem solver and tackles any challenge with the right attitude. Her past sales, customer service, renewal and account management experience has helped accelerate The DeChristopher Group’s client retention rate. One thing that will become evident quickly when working with Shannon is she is a person that enjoys creating relationships and values the importance of a mutually respectful partnership.

    Shannon is married has two teenage children. Depending on which day you talk to Shannon she may very well tell you that the true love of her life is her dog Gibby. Shannon loves sports, does extensive traveling with her daughter for softball and son for soccer. Shannon holds a degree from Radford University and is a lifelong Redskins fan. She also happens to love the Washington Capitals. Shannon grew up in Prince Georges County Maryland and currently resides in Virginia. Shannon says once she retires you will be able to find her sipping red wine by the ocean.

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  • Danielle Murray

    Danielle Murray
    Danielle Murray is Account Manager at The DeChristopher Group.

    With more than eight years’ experience specializing in customer service, human resource management, benefits data management, benefits administration/payroll migration and builds, Danielle has become both a generalist and a specialist in her field. Much of her past experience involved serving as an HR Specialist/Project Manager for a variety of clients and Federal Government contracts. Benefit plan data is often managed manually from multiple sources and in multiple locations such as legacy system databases, excel spreadsheets and outdated HRIS software. Our clients have benefited from Danielle’s deep understanding of the myriads of payroll softwares, HRIS systems and databases. She has been instrumental in the set-up, migration, and installation of many benefit administration software solutions.

    Danielle has a proven track record of dedicated service to numerous key accounts. She provides technical support and benefits data management oversight to clients throughout the year and at renewal time. Danielle has a wealth of knowledge with different HR Associations, specifically Professional Employment Organizations (PEO).

    Danielle brings superior customer service as well as an excellent work ethic to the team. Having been a former Division I athlete she is a great team player and very loyal to the mission. Danielle graduated right down the street from George Mason University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Public Administration. She is a sports fanatic, loves her New York Yankees and is a huge college football fan. She and her lab mix, Bailey, never miss a Hokie football game.

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  • Brigitta Toruno

    Brigitta Toruno
    Brigitta is Bi-Lingual Communications Specialist at The DeChristopher Group

    Brigitta delivers strategic, customized and effective benefits communication throughout the year. Her busiest time of year is during renewal season where many groups seek out her bi-lingual skills and knowledge in employee benefits. Brigitta is an engaging pubic speaker and delivers effective and practical communication. Brigitta is also the lead trainer on topics such as sexual harassment awareness, cultural diversity, workplace inclusion and other topics.

    Brigitta is a bilingual native of the Washington, DC area. The daughter of an Argentine father and Ecuadorian mother, her native language is Spanish. She received her Bachelors of Science degree in Business Administration from Averett College and successfully completed the Minority Business Executive Program from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

    When not at work, Brigitta is on the board for numerous organizations such as the George Mason University Women in Business Initiative and Devotion to Children, a Northern Virginia-based organization dedicated to providing services to needy children under the age of six.

    Brigitta and her daughter also offer mother/daughter entrepreneur workshops to organizations such as the Girl Scout’s Encuentro de Chicas Latinas.

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  • Margaret Redd, MPH, CHES

    Margaret Redd, MPH, CHES
    Margaret Client Services Manager at The DeChristopher Group

    Margaret is the latest addition to our team. She oversees the eligibility and enrollment department where her primary goal is to ensure clients who utilize one of our proprietary benefits administration portals are receiving the highest level of service. Our eligibility and enrollment team is an integral part of our organization as clients often rely on us to assist with daily enrollment transactions.

    Margaret has worked as both a Service Manager and an Account Manager within the firm. Because of her unique experience, she provides a high level of customer service to clients in all situations. Margaret received her Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Masters of Public Health from Lynchburg College and is also certified as a Health Education Specialist (CHES). She is passionate about social justice and has done extensive research into homelessness and its relationship with the environment. Margaret is also an avid reader and writer. She has extensive experience in program planning and implementation. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and cat, Millie, as well as baking, crafting, and shopping.

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Field Experts

  • Mary B. Andersen, CEBS, ERPA, QPA

    Mary B. Andersen, CEBS, ERPA, QPA
    Mary is ERISA Compliance Consultant at The DeChristopher Group

    Mary’s role is critical and vital in a highly regulated benefits environment. To quote Mary, “ERISA compliance is like a big jigsaw puzzle. You may have all the pieces but the challenge is putting the puzzle together correctly. I help clients put the puzzle together.” Mary’s career spans decades of experience as an employee benefits professional in the corporate world and as a consultant. She is the go-to person for Forms 5500 preparation and other ERISA requirements.

    Mary was a Principal at the Vanguard Group where she built a department dedicated to providing ERISA consulting services. Mary also spent 12 years at Coopers & Lybrand, now known as PriceWaterhouseCoopers, where she was jointly responsible for developing and building a national compliance review practice. She has been a frequent speaker at employee benefit professional symposiums and has written numerous articles on compliance-related issues. Mary serves on the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA) Reporting and Disclosure Committee, which keeps abreast of government employee benefit reporting and disclosure breaking news and technical releases in addition to closely monitoring legislative and regulatory actions.

    Mary is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Math. She is a member of the CEBS charter class and holds ISCEBS fellowship designation. Mary also holds ERPA and QPA designations.

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  • Joe Spagnola, MA, J.D.

    Joe Spagnola, MA, J.D.
    Joe is HR Policy and Legal Consultant at The DeChristopher Group

    Joe partners with our clients to promote and teach HR Professionals best practices in HR and employment practices. He has trained and counseled many clients to ensure appropriate and efficient administration of policies that have complex regulatory requirements such as FMLA, ADA, COBRA and more. He has also collaborated with Benefits Administrators to ensure effective administration of clients’ benefit plans.

    Some of Joe’s areas of expertise include HR best practices, HR policy design, developing complaint employee handbooks, provide quality control measures, employee law, employee relations, leave administration and conflict resolution.

    Joe received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from James Madison, his M.A. in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations from Saint Francis University. He received his J.D. from Charlotte School of Law.

    Joe is fluent in Spanish and coaches soccer at every youth level including NCAA divisions I and III.

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Departments

Account Management: TDG provides a dedicated Account Management team to all clients. The Senior Account Managers and Account Managers are all degreed professionals with experience in HR administration, Employee Benefits, PEO’s, Payroll, Complex Benefits, Portal Migrations, Financial Analysis, Alternate Funding, Strategic Planning, Open Enrollment, Claims Resolutions, DOL Audit Support, Carrier Audit Support and ACA Compliance.

Service Management: The TDG Service Department is dedicated to the transactional support to clients of all sizes. Servicing clients on multiple portals, payroll systems and carrier locations, the Service team provides daily support for employers ensuring that employee benefits are active and functional in a timely fashion. The Service team also provides direct support to claims resolutions, billing inquiries and benefits guidance.

Project Management & Virtual Support: TDG has a Project Management team that provides the support and training to employers needed in the virtual age. The Project Managers build, upgrade and integrate multiple portal solutions offered by TDG. The Project Management team also provides direct training and support for employers and employees within various virtual spaces.

 

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