ES&P is proud to offer you the most committed and experienced claims specialists and attorneys in the industry.

Joshua Weisberg – Director, Risk Management Services and Senior Counsel

Joshua Weisberg is Director, Risk Management Services and Senior Counsel at Essential Services & Programs. He joined ES&P in 2014 following ten years of outside legal practice representing insurers and policyholders in general liability and insurance coverage disputes.

As Director of Risk Management Services, Josh oversees all aspects of the TPA’s claims handling functionality and broader array of deliverables connected to contractual analysis, loss control, and other affiliated operations. As Senior Counsel, he is one of ES&P’s chief claims professionals with a dedicated practice handling the most complex and serious exposures for the TPA’s clients.

Earlier in his career, Josh served as claims and underwriting counsel to various liability insurers and seconded to a Lloyd’s of London syndicate as in-house counsel. In that capacity, he was responsible for overseeing liability defense matters, drafting insurance forms, and general oversight of risk portfolios covering engineers, real estate brokers, financial planners, and other professionals.

Josh graduated from Fordham Law School in May 2005 and obtained his B.A. from Yeshiva University in September 2002. While at Fordham, Josh served as an assistant to the General Counsel for the New York State Insurance Department (now the Department of Financial Services) where he drafted advisory opinions regarding New York State’s insurance laws and regulations.

Jake Palefski – Coverage Counsel

As Coverage Counsel, Jake provides guidance to clients on a range of pre- and post-loss issues, including risk avoidance and management mechanisms, insurance coverage issues, contractor and vendor agreement wording, and claim valuation and submission. At ES&P, he also serves as an advocate and a liaison between adjusters, carriers, and other claim professionals on complex high value claims.

In his role as Coverage Counsel, Jake is adept at providing litigation monitoring and oversight, coordinating with assigned counsel to ensure that cases in suit are resolved as expeditiously and favorably as possible.

Jake joined the team in 2020, bringing with him 15 years of experience as an insurance coverage attorney and defense litigator, most recently having served as Associate Attorney at a global law firm with expertise in litigation/dispute resolution and advisory services. He received his Doctor of Law degree from Cordoza School of Law in New York, New York.

Tracey A. Nixon – Senior Claims Specialist

Tracey Nixon is a Senior Claims Specialist at Essential Services & Programs, managing liability claims within clients’ Self-Insured Retentions. She also assists management with departmental workflows, acts as liaison between vendors and ES&P, and oversees reporting obligations to carriers and clients under policy and contract rules. She is experienced in handling general liability claims for family entertainment centers, “big box” wholesale chains, supermarkets, shopping centers, and an array of other retail chains.

Tracey joined SterlingRisk in 2001 and is currently responsible for reporting claims to carriers and advocating for clients when necessary to help mitigate their exposure. She ensures that entitled coverage is afforded and assists clients through the claims process, whether first or third party. Adept at maintaining monthly loss run reports and reviewing and authorizing SIU assignments, Tracey also conducts quarterly department file reviews and coverage verifications. Among her notable accomplishments, she assisted a law firm in representing an insurance carrier in winning a $7 million recovery from a TPA who mishandled the carrier’s No-Fault claims.

Prior to joining SterlingRisk, Tracey served as a New York/Downstate No-Fault Examiner for Long Island Insurance Co./American Agents Insurance Co.; was a New York/Connecticut No-Fault/Med Pay Examiner with Prudential Property and Casualty Insurance Co.; and began her career in 1988 with General Accident Insurance Co., where her most recent title was Claim Loss and Recovery Recordkeeper.

A Licensed Property & Casualty Broker (NY) and Independent General Adjuster (NY), Tracey received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from SUNY College at Old Westbury in 1992. Additional studies and professional accomplishments followed, including Adelphi University, Huntington, NY, Lawyers Assistant Program; certification as a Licensed Auto Liability Adjuster in CT, VT, RI, DE, MD, NH, and ME; and completing a course at American Education Institute Inc., where she received certification as a Legal Principles Claims Specialist.

Helen Behek – Senior Claims Consultant

Helen Behek is a Senior Claims Specialist for Essential Services & Programs. Her responsibilities include serving as a client advocate from the time a claim is reported until its resolution. Helen reports the claim to the necessary carriers, monitors its progress, and keeps the client informed throughout the process. When an issue arises, it is her role to resolve the claim on the client’s behalf.

Helen’s Third-Party Administrator responsibilities include managing self-insured national accounts, including municipalities, residential real estate complexes, shopping centers, parking garages, and a wholesale chain store. Several accounts are managed by Helen exclusively. Other responsibilities include conducting claims reviews for clients, typically on an annual basis.

Before joining SterlingRisk in 2013, Helen served as a Senior Claims Examiner with Hereford Insurance Company. She began her career in 1982 at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company as a Claims Examiner before moving on to positions at Public Service Mutual Insurance Company, Lancer Insurance Company, The Hartford Insurance Group, and Geico Insurance Company.

Helen received her Associates Degree in Insurance Banking and Real Estate from Nassau Community College in 1982. A Licensed Arbitrator with Arbitration Forums Inc., she holds a New York State Brokers License in addition to a General Adjusters License in New York; Florida; Georgia; Arizona; Nevada; and Texas.

Linda M. Vanella, Esq. – Claim Attorney

Linda Vanella is a Claims Attorney at SterlingRisk, where she resolves claims and cases seeking the most cost-effective outcome on behalf of clients. She typically investigates claims through store follow-ups, analyzes claims regarding risk transfer, and recommends settlement to the client when appropriate.

A practiced personal injury defense attorney, Linda joined SterlingRisk in 2016 and works closely with defense counsel in various states monitoring the status of cases and participating in strategy sessions. She also participates in mediations which often lead to the settlement of claims.

Linda began her legal career in 1995 as a Law Intern in the Town Attorney’s Office, Hempstead, New York. She went on to serve as Deputy Town Attorney in Hempstead before serving as an Associate at Sobel & Kelly, P.C., in Huntington, New York. Subsequent positions included In House Defense Counsel with St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance as well as St. Paul Travelers, and Associate with Greenfield, Pusateri and Ruhl, Uniondale, New York. Before joining SterlingRisk, Linda was Of Counsel from 2010 to 2016, engaged in court conferences and depositions for law firms in various venues.

An alumnus of St. John’s University, Linda received her Bachelor of Science in Finance from St. John’s College of Business Administration and completed college in three years, graduating summa cum laude in 1994. She went on to receive her Juris Doctorate from Hofstra University School of Law in 1997.

Steven A. Markowitz, CSP, ARM, ALCM – Vice President of Loss Control

Steven A. Markowitz is Director of Risk Control at SterlingRisk, where he develops and implements comprehensive loss control and risk management programs for clients to reduce claim frequency and severity. Steven also provides safety consulting services and technical support to clients, working to identify exposures with significant loss potential, evaluate loss trends, and develop safety management and loss control programs.

Since joining SterlingRisk in 2010, Steven has contributed risk control expertise to several primary lines of business, including Property, where he most often evaluates exposures and controls associated with fire suppression systems; Workers’ Compensation, where he evaluates loss runs for trends and identifies loss leaders; General and Products Liability, evaluating exposures and offering recommendations on physical hazards backed by written support and guides for improvement; and Auto Liability, offering comprehensive evaluations from fleet safety exposures and controls to DOT programs.

Steven began his professional career in 1980 at Consolidated Laundries, Inc. as Manager of Occupational Health and Safety. He later joined St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company (1985-1999) where his titles included Senior Representative, Risk Management Services, and Account Specialist, Loss Control Services. In 1999 he served as Manager, Loss Control Field Services, at RSKCo, and prior to joining SterlingRisk was Senior Risk Engineering Consultant with Zurich Services Corporation from 2000 through 2010.

Steven received his Bachelor of Arts degree from City College of New York before attending New York University, where he graduated in 1980 with a Master of Arts in Occupational Safety and Health. His professional designations include Certified Safety Professional; Associate in Risk Management; Associate in Loss Control Management; BCSP – Safety Trained Supervisor; and NYS Certified Safety Consultant.

Joanna Strzalka — Senior Claims Consultant

Joanna Strzalka is Senior Claims Consultant at SterlingRisk, administering third-party bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury claims directly on behalf of clients within specific self-insured retentions. She is responsible for acting as the primary contact between clients and insurance carriers and handles claims from inception to conclusion.

At SterlingRisk, Joanna utilizes vigorous negotiation skills to settle high exposure claims within the client’s authority and expectations while simultaneously protecting clients against potential exposure. She attends and oversees trials when necessary; utilizes strong technical coverage background to convey and interpret coverage position letters to clients, producers and brokers; and oversees billing of defense counsel and other third-party vendors. Recognized for her superior customer service skills, Joanna provides strategic claims guidance and reviews policies, contracts, and other pertinent documents to assess potential risk transfer and issue tender letters when necessary.

Prior to joining SterlingRisk in 2019, Joanna served as Senior Claims Director at Chubb Insurance Company from 2017-2019. She began her career in 2003 with Liberty Mutual Group before moving on to Magna Carta Insurance Company in 2005 as Senior Claims Examiner.

Joanna graduated from Queens College, CUNY, where she made the Dean’s List and received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Business and Liberal Arts in 2002. Among her many accomplishments and honors at Queens College, Joanna was a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society, Sociology Honor Society, and Business and Liberal Arts National Honor Society. She was specially selected by the Queens College faculty for the Business and Liberal Arts Honors Program and nominated by Queens College faculty for the Sociology Scholarship.

Dennis Sturtz – Vice President, Director of Workers' Compensation

Dennis Sturtz is Vice President/Director of Workers’ Compensation at SterlingRisk, responsible for all workers’ compensation audit reviews and client audit preparation.

As the in-house workers’ compensation resource at SterlingRisk for more than two decades, Dennis lends support to a variety of workers’ compensation-related issues. In addition to keeping abreast of changes in workers’ compensation law on a state-by-state level, he is most often called upon to perform workers’ compensation premium recovery for SterlingRisk clients and prospects; answer complex workers’ compensation questions; provide producers with relevant workers’ compensation information on prospects; review all workers’ compensation submissions, renewals, and audits; and obtain pertinent experience modification information.

Dennis is familiar with all NCCI rules as well as the rating board rules for those states not associated with NCCI. Recognized as “the authority” on class code analysis for workers’ compensation, he is equally adept at understanding, evaluating, and correcting experience modification ratings.

Prior to joining SterlingRisk in 2005, Dennis was employed at a workers’ compensation recovery firm performing audits and aiding in premium recovery. From 1990 – 1998, he was the owner of a Tropicana Juice Distributorship, increasing the business threefold and selling it as two separate distributorships. From 1972 – 1990, Dennis worked in the automobile leasing business, eventually managing and purchasing a family business which he sold in 1990.

A graduate of Georgia State University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Accounting/Marketing, Dennis is a licensed insurance broker.

Stevi Sanderowitz – Vice President, Litigation Analytics / Claims Counsel

Stevi Sanderowitz is Vice President, Litigation Analytics/Claims Counsel at Essential Services & Programs and lends her legal and claims expertise to some of ES&P’s largest clients, including retail, food/beverage, hospitality, manufacturing, real estate, nonprofit, entertainment, construction, professional services, transportation, and warehousing companies. Stevi also works with outside counsel and ES&P’s insurance carrier partners to obtain optimal outcomes and contain costs for ES&P clients. She has helped clients address and successfully navigate insurance coverage issues arising from highly challenging and unprecedented exposures, including COVID-19, civil unrest/riot activity, and electronic transfer fraud/cybercrime activity.

At ES&P, Stevi helps clients reduce overall claims costs and add efficiency to the claims management process by leveraging litigation, legal spend, reserves, and claims data analytics. Stevi also provides clients with guidance concerning risk transfer strategies and other loss control techniques. In addition, she monitors emerging legal and legislative trends and provides guidance on appropriate measures to address new developments.

Prior to joining SterlingRisk, Stevi served as an attorney at two prominent national defense law firms where she litigated complex claims in state and federal courts as well as arbitration/mediation. She received a J.D. from New York Law School, cum laude in 2011, and a B.B.A from Pace University summa cum laude in 2008. While in law school, she was a judicial extern for Hon. John M. Leventhal in the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Second Department. She also served as a staff editor for the New York Law School Law Review.

Stevi is admitted to practice law in New York State, the Southern, Eastern, Western, and Northern U.S. District Courts of New York, and the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition, Stevi is a licensed New York State Property and Casualty Insurance Broker and designated Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU). Stevi is an active member of DRI and serves as Chair of Construction Law Subcommittee of the Insurance Law Committee.

Lia Krautmanis – Associate General Counsel

Lia Krautmanis is Associate General Counsel for Essential Services & Programs (ES&P), responsible for legal and regulatory affairs for the organization. She ensures compliance with a range of corporate and insurance regulations, including licensing and cyber-security and data privacy protocol. Lia also provides strategic legal advice on a variety of business transactions, including all aspects of insurance law, litigation management, corporate governance, commercial transactions and contract negotiations, and employment-related matters.

Lia also serves as Associate General Counsel of SterlingRisk, one of the nation’s top independently owned insurance brokerage firms. Prior to joining SterlingRisk in 2013, she worked at an entertainment law firm in Manhattan, advising and representing clients in contract negotiations, defamation and breach of contract claims, technology transactions, and IP licensing and ownership matters.

Lia received her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School. While at Brooklyn Law School, she was Associate Managing Editor of the Journal of Law & Policy and was awarded the CALI Excellence for the Future Award in Advanced Legal Research. Lia graduated from Boston College with a B.A. in Communications and International Studies, where she was also a full-scholarship member of the Division I varsity volleyball team. In 2016, Lia was selected as an IBANY Emerging Leader by the Insurance Brokers’ Association of the State of New York.

Lia is currently admitted to practice law in the states of New York and New Jersey. She is also a licensed P&C Insurance Broker and holds a CPCU designation.

Marci Waterman, Esq. – President, Sterling Analytics

As President of Sterling Analytics, Marci Waterman oversees a team of skilled attorneys and paralegals who help companies manage legal expenses through a reliable and consistent process of review and analysis.

Responsible for the review of over two billion dollars in legal invoices annually, Marci brings more than two decades of legal practice to Sterling Analytics. Her rich background in law, business, consulting, and strategic sourcing helps ensure progress, process, and profitability on every engagement. She regularly participates in webinars on third-party legal bill review and is an instructor for the firm’s Continuing Legal Education class teaching ethics billing practices to attorneys.

Marci also serves as Chief Operating Officer of SterlingRisk — one of the nation’s top independently owned insurance brokerage firms — where she oversees the company’s activities, helps set strategic goals, and manages business infrastructure across all departments to achieve maximum results.

Prior to joining Sterling Analytics, Marci was a New York City prosecutor in the Major Narcotics Unit serving as a felony trial attorney in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. She successfully argued in front of the Appellate Division numerous times and was also a recurring commentator on Court TV, focusing on the death penalty sentencing phase of high-profile crimes.

A longtime supporter of not-for-profit charitable organizations, Marci serves on numerous charity boards, is the Immediate Past President of WIZO NY, and was recently named to the East End Power List for her charitable endeavors and contributions to the region’s business community. She is a Phi Kappa Beta graduate of Binghamton University and received her J.D. with distinction from Brooklyn Law School.

David Sterling – CEO, SterlingRisk

David Sterling is CEO of SterlingRisk, where he leads an organization comprised of 250 professionals in seven regional offices across the United States. He is highly regarded within the insurance industry and equally respected for his philanthropic support of numerous worthy causes.

David joined SterlingRisk in 1978, after having studied Risk Management and Insurance at the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Finance from Hofstra University. He became President and CEO in 1987, transforming SterlingRisk into one of the nation’s leading privately owned insurance brokerages. Since that time the company has grown more than ten times in size. A published author and frequently quoted source on insurance topics in such leading publications as The New York Times and Time magazine, David also lectures on insurance and taught at the American Management Association.

In addition to insurance and risk management expertise, David has extensive experience in cyber security issues and related exposures, having insured financial institutions and high-tech companies for most of his career, including consulting on one of the first data breaches that exceeded 40 million individuals. He continues to consult on every facet of coverage design and claims handling for almost every industry touched by cybercrime.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, David tirelessly gives back to the community. He is vice president of the board of the Nassau County Police Reserves and has served on the advisory board of the Federal Drug Agents Foundation, the Homeland Security Foundation, and the Suffolk County Police Reserves. He sits on the board of the UJA Federation of New York, where he chairs the Government Relations Committee, Long Island; is the Treasurer of the American Friends of Rambam Hospital; and serves on the Board of Advisors at The Florence and Robert A. Rosen Family Wellness Center for Law Enforcement & Military Personnel and Their Families at the North Shore-LIJ Health System.