17:26 PM

American Family Insurance announces leadership changes

Jessie Stauffacher, Telisa Yancy take top positions across insurance group


The American Family Insurance group is naming new leaders and adapting its leadership structure as part of its ongoing transformation. 

The American Family Insurance group is naming new leaders and adapting its leadership structure as part of its ongoing transformation and focus on providing customers with insurance products and services that meet their needs and preferences.

Jessie Stauffacher, president and CEO of CONNECT, powered by American Family Insurance, and Telisa Yancy, chief operating officer (COO) of American Family Insurance, will be promoted to top leadership positions reporting directly to President and CEO-elect Bill Westrate, who will succeed retiring CEO Jack Salzwedel on Jan. 1, 2022.

Stauffacher will serve in the new position of exclusive and independent agency president. Yancy will become president of American Family Direct, succeeding Fabian Fondriest, who will also retire at the end of 2021.

These and other changes, which will begin in July, bring further alignment through best practices, efficiency and scale to better serve customers across the five insurance companies that comprise the American Family Insurance group: American Family Insurance; CONNECT, powered by American Family Insurance; The General; Homesite; and Main Street America
Insurance Co. Because the group sells multiple brands in all 50 states through a variety of
channels including American Family agents, independent agents, call centers, partners, and
online, the organization is uniquely positioned to attract a wide swathe of customers, while diversifying geographic and product risk.

“American Family’s approach to our operating companies has always been a balance of providing autonomy so they can build on their success by doing what they do best, while taking advantage of our scale to create consistencies and efficiencies across our group of companies to deliver strong value and service to our customers,” Westrate said. “These leadership changes reflect that thoughtful evolution.”

New leaders for agency force, direct channels 

Stauffacher’s new role brings together oversight of sales and products through American Family exclusive agency owners as well as Main Street America products sold through independent insurance agents.

“Our agency force is second to none in serving customers,” Westrate said. “While operating separately, our exclusive and independent agency channels have similarities we can capitalize on. Now is the right time to bring them together under a strong and proven leader.”

Yancy will lead the companies that sell directly to customers through partners, call centers and online – CONNECT, The General and Homesite.

“Telisa is a driven, passionate and inspirational leader,” Westrate said. “She understands customers, products, how to drive growth, and how to generate profitable results. Her consumer expertise and her ability to work with partners make her the ideal choice to lead our direct companies.”

Other leadership changes and retirements will result in new presidents leading the direct operating group companies:

  • Sharena Ali will move from her COO role to become CONNECT president.
  • Tiku Raval, COO at The General, will become president.
  • Troy Van Beek, currently American Family direct chief financial officer, will become Homesite president.

Chris Listau will continue to be president and CEO at Main Street America.

New positions reflect efficiency, customer focus 

Three additional leadership positions with oversight across similar functions at the group’s operating companies have also been created: Chief marketing officer, chief underwriting officer and chief partnerships officer. These positions will further align operations to deliver industry-leading service and efficiency to a broad customer base.

  • Filling the new position of chief marketing officer for the group is Elicia Azali, currently chief revenue officer at The General. Azali will lead the marketing and customer functions across the enterprise.
  • Filling the new position of chief underwriting officer is Andrew McElwee, who’s now COO at Homesite. McElwee will lead insurance product underwriting across the group.
  • Filling the new position of chief partnerships officer is Tony Scavongelli, currently serving as both chief legal officer and chief partnerships officer at Homesite. In this expanded role, Scavongelli will focus on growing partnerships for all companies.

“These changes continue to drive our strategy forward, building an inclusive culture and further aligning our group of companies for collective growth, customer focus, efficiency and success,” Westrate said. “I, and other leaders, will continue to support these talented colleagues as they transition into their new roles.”


About the American Family Insurance group

 Based in Madison, Wisconsin, American Family Insurance has been serving customers since 1927. We inspire, protect and restore dreams through our insurance products, exceptional service from our agency owners and employees, community investment and creative partnerships to address societal challenges. We act on our belief in diversity and inclusion by constantly evolving to meet customer needs and preferences. American Family Insurance group is the nation’s 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group, ranking No. 254 on the Fortune 500 list. The group sells American Family-brand products, primarily through exclusive agency owners in 19 states. The American Family Insurance group also includes CONNECT, powered by American Family Insurance, The General, Homesite and Main Street America. Across these companies the group has more than 13,200 employees nationwide.