Our power comes from our people. Rich in the intellectual capital necessary to support the businesses and families we serve, they are the core of everything we do. Our associates put their extensive industry knowledge to work every day, digging deep to understand your business, your challenges, and your risk profile. We believe in business segmentation, ongoing education, and the pursuit of both personal and professional goals.
Simply stated, we believe that empowered employees best serve our clients.
The Difference Makers
W. Douglas Russell
Doug Russell is President of Core Assurance Partners. Doug is responsible for the firm’s management and overall strategic growth initiatives.
For more than 30 years, clients and carrier partners have trusted Doug for his sound risk management advice and advocacy. He is a consultative and trusted advisor committed to creative insurance solutions most beneficial to his client’s business objectives. Additionally, Doug has participated in many insurance company national advisory boards. In this leadership capacity, Doug has participated in the evolution of product design and delivery, as well as influencing client service models. He has earned a reputation as a solution-oriented partner to the clients, employees, and insurance companies with which he is engaged.
Doug is a graduate of the University of Richmond, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Economics.
Doug is a resident of Virginia Beach, VA. He is a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where he has served on the church vestry as Finance Chairman, Junior Warden, and Senior Warden. He has served on the boards of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, Access College Foundation, Town Point Club of Norfolk, the American Red Cross, Virginia Symphony, the Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic, Princess Anne Country Club and the Hampton Roads Partnership.
Executive Vice President
Zack Brandau is Executive Vice President of Core Assurance Partners. Zack leads the daily operations of the firm and is also responsible for overseeing client relationships.
Zack has been in the insurance business for more than 10 years and is respected throughout the industry for his real estate-related insurance and risk management expertise. He has served clients throughout the U.S. and globally in the design and implementation of complex insurance and risk management programs. Prior to founding Core Assurance, Zack was Senior Vice President with a national brokerage where he co-chaired the company’s National Real Estate Practice. He has been recognized for his sales success and leadership; achieving local, regional and national awards for new client growth and retention. Zack is an innovative and forward-thinking leader committed to service excellence, transparency and advocacy for all Core Assurance clients.
Zack is a graduate of George Mason University, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Marketing.
Zack is a resident of Virginia Beach, VA. He currently serves on the board of The Virginia Gentlemen Foundation and Junior Achievement of Hampton Roads.
Betty Becraft serves as Accounting Associate at Core Assurance Partners. In her role, she works with the firm’s carrier partners for client billings and commissions. She also has the important task of reconciling receivables and payables.
Betty began working with E. L. Creech in 1983 as their bookkeeper. Prior to her employment with Creech, she worked for Holiday Inn across various locations including Chicago, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Betty’s more than 30 years of experience working with the Hampton Roads Community makes her an invaluable asset to the team.
Betty has maintained a Virginia Property and Casualty license since 1984.
Betty has been a resident of Virginia Beach, VA since 1974. She has been married to her husband for 40 years and has 2 children and 3 grandchildren. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, gardening, reading, and the warm and sunny weather of the Tidewater area.
Cammie Trapp serves as a Client Associate at Core Assurance Partners. She is responsible for enhancing client relationships, interacting with clients to resolve day-to-day needs, and performing account analysis.
Cammie has been in the insurance industry for 20 years. Beginning with an independent agency in Virginia Beach, VA, she learned the business by mentoring under a Personal Lines Manager before joining Creech Insurance in 2002. She is committed to providing excellent service to her clients and building long-lasting professional relationships in our Private Client Practice.
Cammie obtained her Virginia Property & Casualty Insurance License within months of graduating high school and also holds a real estate license in the state of Virginia, adding to her expertise in the Hampton Roads residential market.
Cammie is a longtime resident of Virginia Beach, VA and now resides in Chesapeake, VA. She enjoys maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, cooking, philanthropy, and entertaining friends and family.
Catherine Duncan serves as Client Associate at Core Assurance Partners. She is responsible for enhancing client relationships, interacting with clients to resolve day-to-day needs and performing account analysis.
Catherine has been in the insurance industry for more than 30 years. She began her career with a reinsurance company in Toronto, Canada before relocating to the Hampton Roads area. She then worked for a local agency where she held various commercial insurance positions including claims and service.
Catherine is a resident of Virginia Beach, VA. She enjoys sending time with friends and family, traveling, gardening and the outdoors.
Client Relationship Leader
Christie Nichols serves as Client Relationship Leader at Core Assurance Partners. Christie is responsible for ensuring all client expectations are met and exceeded, transitioning and training of colleagues, and also serves as a point of contact for several clients of her own.
Christie has been in the insurance industry for more than 19 years. She began her career as a part-time filing assistant at a local independent agency and navigated her way through various aspects of the business, focusing on commercial insurance and agency leadership. Christie is committed to providing unparalleled client service and creative risk management solutions.
Christie earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University. While attending ODU, her Capstone Project research on Women’s Development gained notable attention from her peers and was nominated for publication. Christie is a Construction Risk Insurance Specialist (CRIS) and an Accredited Customer Service Representative (ACSR). She also serves as a Certified Public Notary and is certified by FEMA to serve citizens in the event of a crisis.
Christie is a resident of Virginia Beach, VA. She is an advocate of regular exercise and supports the local initiatives of locally grown and produced food.
Insurance Strategy & Operations Leader
Diandra “D” Carpenter serves as Client Strategy Leader at Core Assurance Partners. In her role, she partners with colleagues, carrier partners, and clients to provide organizational and program development and advocacy.
D has more than 16 years of experience in the insurance industry working in client servicing, production, and marketing. Prior to joining Core Assurance, she was the Marketing Leader and Executive Client Advisor for a national insurance brokerage providing consultative review and program placement. D is often called upon to review, strategize and resolve challenging and complicated insurance programs for new and existing clients. Her goal is to foster and deliver an exceptional experience for Core Assurance clients, partners, and colleagues.
D has earned many designations including her Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation. As a Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR) Instructor in Agency Management, she maintains a role as faculty with The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research.
D is a resident of Portsmouth, VA where she resides with her husband and two fur babies. She spends her free time active in her local church and enjoying new culinary experiences with her family and friends.
Marketing & Communications Leader | Surety Associate
Elizabeth Hawse serves as Marketing and Communications Leader at Core Assurance Partners. She is responsible for all aspects of marketing and both internal and external communications. In addition to her marketing responsibilities, Elizabeth serves as Surety Associate and is charged with management and oversight of the firm’s surety practice.
Elizabeth has been in the insurance industry for more than 10 years, beginning her career as a surety account manager. Prior to joining Core Assurance, she was a regional marketing manager for a national broker, responsible for the promotion of risk management and surety in the Mid-Atlantic region. While in that position, she was appointed as the firm’s sole marketing liaison for both the National Construction Practice and National Surety Council. Elizabeth is committed to delivering exceptional client experiences by creating dynamic tools for her colleagues and uniquely positioning the firm through strategic branding.
Elizabeth earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Maryland. She has received extensive training from the William J. Angell Surety School.
Elizabeth is a resident of Alexandria, VA. In addition to spending time with her husband and two young children, she is a lover of travel, culinary arts, and all things design.
Director, Maritime & Legal Affairs
Hara Gisholt serves as the Director of Maritime & Legal Affairs of Core Assurance CR Marine. She is responsible for identifying new opportunities for the firm, fostering strategic relationships and overseeing internal legal matters relating to the marine practice of the company.
Prior to joining Core Assurance CR Marine, Hara served as a Vice President at one of the world’s largest ship registries for twelve years where she led the global legal team and created collaborative relationships with worldwide private and public owners as well as ship financiers. Hara has authored several articles published in publications such as Marine Risk International and Offshore Investment and has presented at various industry conferences.
Hara earned her law degree (J.D.) from Hofstra University School of Law and has been a member of the New York State Bar since 2005. She was later admitted to the U.K. Roll of Solicitors in 2010. She is a New York-licensed P&C broker. Hara is on the board of directors of the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce where she serves as Treasurer and on the board of directors of New York Maritime Inc. (NYMAR).
Hara is a resident of New York City. She enjoys spending family time with her husband and their two young boys as well as traveling for leisure, particularly to her native country, Greece.
Jessica Mueller serves as Client Associate at Core Assurance Partners. She is responsible for enhancing client relationships and interacting with clients to resolve day-to-day needs and perform account analysis.
Jessica has worked in the insurance industry for 18 years. In that time, she has developed and maintained relationships with top insurance companies, enabling her to provide clients with outstanding products and services.
Jessica earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Old Dominion University.
Jessica is a resident of Virginia Beach, VA. In addition to spending time with family and friends, she enjoys shopping for antiques and working in her garden.
Client Relationship Leader, Private Client
Judy Thow serves as Client Relationship Leader at Core Assurance Partners. She is responsible for the development and care of client relationships within our Private Client Practice.
Judy has been in the insurance industry for over 30 years. She began her career with Creech Insurance as the receptionist, and through years of various positions in the agency, she made her way to managing the personal insurance department. Judy enjoys building strong professional relationships with her clients and is committed to providing her clients with excellent client service.
Judy has earned the Accredited Customer Service Representative (ACSR) designation and maintains a Virginia Property and Casualty License.
Judy is originally from Lynchburg, VA and has been a resident of Virginia Beach for more than 35 years. In addition to spending time with her husband, children, and friends, she enjoys spending her free time kayaking and walking, she also enjoys living near the beach.
Kathy Morris serves as Administrative Assistant at Core Assurance Partners. She oversees daily operations such as licensing and client correspondence. Additionally, she assists the Private Client Practice with insurance renewals and endorsements.
Kathy had been with Creech Insurance for 20 years prior to the formation of their partnership with Core Assurance in 2018.
Kathy is a resident of Norfolk, VA. She is a member of St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church and has two daughters who attend St. Gregory the Great School and Maury High School Medical Program. In her spare time, Kathy enjoys being by the pool, on the beach, or in the mountains.
Client Associate Assistant
Kim Powis serves as Client Associate Assistant for Core Assurance Partners. She is responsible for assisting the firm’s Client Associates with daily service needs to ensure that client expectations are exceeded.
Kim has more than 30 years of experience in the insurance industry. She began her career with a national insurance carrier before transitioning to a local agency. There, she held a variety of positions in the personal insurance, commercial insurance, and accounting departments before joining Creech Insurance in 1998.
Kim has earned the Accredited Customer Service Representative (ACSR) designation and maintains a Virginia Property and Casualty License.
Kim is a resident of Virginia Beach, VA. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, cooking and being active outdoors.
Evelina Domanski (Lina) serves as a Client Associate at Core Assurance Partners. Her primary responsibilities are building and refining client relationships by performing account analyses and interacting with clients in their day to day needs.
Lina began her insurance career at a national risk management brokerage in 2014 prior to joining Core Assurance. Lina is committed to updating her product knowledge and delivering reliable service with clear and consistent communication with clientele.
Lina earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Russian from Old Dominion University. She maintains a Property and Casualty Insurance license in the state of Virginia.
A native of Croatia, Lina considers Virginia Beach her second home and is fond of the natural beauty of the area. Lina serves the Hampton Roads community in several philanthropic roles and is markedly proud of being able to protect children’s rights as a Court Appointed Special Advocate with the Virginia Beach Juvenile Domestic Relations Court System.
Melody Barnes serves as a Client Associate at Core Assurance Partners. Melody is responsible for enhancing client relationships and interacting with clients to resolve day-to-day needs and perform account analysis.
Melody has been in the insurance industry for over 10 years, starting her career in the personal insurance sector at a local independent agency. She honed her skills and transitioned to commercial insurance in 2012. Melody is committed to fully understanding the businesses she serves and to building lasting professional relationships.
Melody earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from George Mason University.
Melody is a lifelong resident of Virginia Beach, VA. In addition to spending valued time with her family and friends, Melody enjoys living an active lifestyle and serving the community in various philanthropic efforts.
Michele Curtis serves as a Client Associate at Core Assurance Partners. Michele is responsible for enhancing client relationships and interacting with clients to resolve day-to-day needs and perform account analysis, she is also committed to exceptional customer service.
Michele has worked in the insurance industry for more than 30 years, beginning her career with a top insurance company in the northern Virginia area, where she held various commercial insurance positions in the claims department and as a commercial underwriter. She relocated to Hampton Roads in 2004 and transitioned to the agency side of the business working for a handful of local large insurance brokers. She has developed and maintained relationships with multiple insurance companies, enabling her to provide clients with outstanding products and services.
Michele maintains a Property and Casualty Insurance license in the state of Virginia and earned the professional designation Associate in Insurance Account Management (AIAM).
Michele is a resident of Chesapeake, VA. In addition to spending time with family and friends, she enjoys traveling, hiking, biking, long walks with her dog, gardening and arts and crafts. She is also active in the local Porsche Club of America of which she enjoys volunteering in events to benefit the local community.
Director of Finance
Neal Wellons serves as the Director of Finance for Core Assurance Partners. Neal is responsible for overseeing the financial operations, reporting and decision making for the firm.
Neal has held leadership roles in the financial service and insurance industries for more than 25 years, beginning his career as an auditor for a public accounting firm. Before joining Core Assurance, he led accounting and finance operations for a credit union and a mutual fund company. Neal is committed to strengthening the company’s financial position and maintaining accurate and informative financial reporting.
Neal is a graduate of Virginia Tech, where he obtained degrees in both Accounting and Finance. He is a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the state of Virginia.
Neal resides in Virginia Beach, VA, and grew up in Portsmouth, VA. He enjoys spending time with his family and watching sports, especially his beloved Hokies.
Roxanne Sayre serves as Controller and Finance Leader at Core Assurance Partners. Roxanne is responsible for all finance-related operations.
Roxanne has been in the insurance industry for 10 years. Prior to joining Core Assurance Partners, Roxanne led the financial operations team for a national insurance brokerage firm regionally.
She is a graduate of Western Michigan University, where she received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting.
Roxanne is a resident of Chesapeake, VA. She is a Detroit, MI native but enjoys living near the beach with significantly warmer weather. Roxanne and her husband like spending as much time as possible outdoors and traveling with their two dogs.
Executive Administrative Assistant
Sheri Bond serves as Executive Administrative Assistant for Core Assurance Partners. Sheri is responsible for administration, communications, and information/technology systems throughout Core Assurance offices.
Sheri has been in the insurance industry for more than 25 years, beginning her career in claims and continuing in commercial insurance. Sheri serves as a Certified Public Notary.
Sheri is a resident of Virginia Beach, VA. She is a California native and enjoys living near the beach. Sheri enjoys spending time with family and her two teenage daughters.
Solach Burch serves as Client Associate at Core Assurance Partners. She is responsible for enhancing client relationships, interacting with clients to resolve day-to-day needs, and performing account analysis.
Solach has been in the insurance business for more than 23 years. Beginning with an independent agency in Hawaii, she learned about the industry and made her way to Hampton Roads. Solach has earned the respect and admiration of her peers, insurance companies, and her clients for her integrity and dedication to service excellence.
Solach holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Information Systems from the University of Nebraska, and a Master of Science in Management from Florida Tech. She has also achieved a Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR) designation from the National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research.
Solach is a resident of Suffolk, VA. She enjoys biking long distances, hiking in the mountains, and running to maintain her energetic personality.
Thomas Rutherfoord III
Thomas Rutherfoord serves as Associate at Core Assurance Partners. He is responsible for business development and strategic client relationships.
Thomas began his insurance career with various internships for the Markets and Hull & Machinery Divisions at brokerages in London, England and Bergen, Norway. After that, he started working for a global insurer in New York as an underwriting analyst for the Construction & Energy Commercial Casualty Division. Thomas then moved into the company’s Risk Management Division as a Casualty Practice underwriter. There, he learned the craft of risk underwriting and client management skills, shepherding key relationships with contractors and spearheading large CCIP/OCIP programs. Thomas eventually became an Associate Underwriting Team Lead, leading a team of six and managing a portfolio of legacy and new clients.
Thomas attended Sewanee: The University of the South, majoring in English Literature, and Richmond University in London, majoring in Business Administration: Finance, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude.
Thomas now works and resides in New York City, where he also is involved with Toastmasters: Talk of the Towers and various community service activities, like City Harvest and the Wall Street Run & Heart Walk. Thomas belongs to New York’s Union League Club and enjoys golf, running, biking and football.
Trey Braithwaite serves as Associate at Core Assurance Partners. He is responsible for business development and cultivating long-term strategic client relationships.
Trey utilizes his more than 23 years business experience, 12 years in the insurance industry, to develop and place innovative insurance solutions for middle to large market companies, addressing complex domestic and international exposures. Prior to Core Assurance, Trey was Vice President of a national firm, heading up the Hampton Roads office where he was responsible for all aspects of developing business and maintaining client relationships. He is well respected in the marketplace and is committed to being innovative and client-centric. Trey clients have ranged from large real estate operations, global distributors, construction, complex government contractors, and maritime-related risks.
Trey is a graduate of Old Dominion University, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science, Summa Cum Laude, in Management.
Trey is a resident of Virginia Beach, VA. He has served on the Boards of the Hampton Roads Global Commerce Council, Princess Anne Country Club and the Virginia Beach Assembly and is involved in other valuable community initiatives such as diabetes research, autism support and disadvantage adults & youths.
Will Russell serves as Associate at Core Assurance Partners. He is responsible for business development and strategic client relationships.
Prior to joining Core Assurance, Will worked as a risk advisor for a regional insurance broker. He has worked in Italy and London building key relationships and knowledge geared towards the future of the maritime insurance industry.
Will is a graduate of Hampden Sydney College, where he received his Bachelor of Science, Cum Laude, in Economics. He currently holds a Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLSC) designation and is currently working towards a Certified Marine Insurance Professional (CMIP) designation. Will completed the Cincinnati Insurance School New Producer Program as first in his class. He is a member of The Future Leaders of the Virginia Maritime Association and has been instrumental in the design and implementation of the Maritime Leadership Certificate Program which will produce its inaugural graduating class in 2020.
Will is a resident of Virginia Beach, VA. When he is not with his wife, family, or friends, he can be found enjoying the outdoors. His past times include boating, surfing, hunting, and golf. Will is involved in numerous local organizations and believes in giving back to the community he serves. He serves on the Future Generations Board of Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, as well as the boards of the Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic, the Virginia Gentlemen Foundation, and the Virginia Beach Surf and Rescue Museum.