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Executive Management Team

Roles & Biographies

President & Chief Executive Officer

Dennis Drent

Dennis Drent

President & CEO

Provides the vision for the company, and instills our mission to provide pet owners the ability to make optimal healthcare decisions for their pets.

“I consider my job to be the CEO or ‘Customer Experience Observer.’ VPI strives to be transparent, caring, trustworthy and easy to do business with. Everything we do boils down to how our customers are experiencing us. We need to earn their business every day. This is the filter through which I do my job.”

With more than 30 years of management and leadership experience, Drent previously served as senior vice president for Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, OH, and as a partner with Ernst & Young LLP in Dallas, TX. He, his wife and two children share their home with their two miniature dachshunds, Willie and Charlie.

“I once asked my wife how much we would spend in veterinary care to save our dogs. Willie is clearly the alpha male of the household and she didn’t answer my question relative to him so we skipped to Charlie, who is a lover and would choose a hug over food even if he was starving. The look in my wife’s eyes when she thought about our dogs being catastrophically ill made me realize why I love going to work everyday.”

Vice President of Underwriting & Chief Veterinary Medical Officer

Carol McConnel, DVM, MBA

Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA

VP of Underwriting & Chief veterinary Medical Officer

Maintains VPI’s long-standing connection to the veterinary community, ensuring that our products and services work optimally for customers and their veterinarians.

“I unexpectedly developed allergies to animals while in small animal practice. I decided I could still contribute to my chosen profession and improve companion animal health through practice management and now, pet insurance. I no longer cure pets one by one, but hopefully empower pet owners to make optimal health care decisions for their pets.”

After working as a practicing veterinarian at Wilmington Animal Hospital in Delaware, Dr. McConnell worked for Priority Veterinary Consultants, providing practice management consulting to veterinarians around the country.

“One of my favorite moments as a practicing veterinarian was walking a pet back to the front of the hospital to her owner. When they see each other again, there is elation on both of their faces; the energy between them is almost palpable. I call this the ‘magic moment,’ and it is what those of us here at VPI try to preserve…to enable more pets to receive the treatment they need, so they can be reunited with their pet owners.”

Vice President of Operations & Chief Information Officer

Jonathan Kass

Jonathan Kass

VP of Operations & Chief Information Officer

Makes sure VPI’s systems and operations are running smoothly to guarantee maximum efficiency for customers.

“My job is to ensure we deliver on our promises and our customers’ expectations to be easy to work with. Whether they call us on the phone or visit us on our Web site and use our customer portal, we strive to provide the level of care and transparency our policyholders deserve. The goal is to continuously improve our customers’ experiences.”

Prior to joining VPI, Kass spent more than 20 years in engineering and information technology, most recently as the senior director of information technology at PacifiCare Behavioral Health. He and his wife are raising three children along with a red footed Tortoise named George, and a Yorkie-Pekingnese mix named Teddy.

“Teddy recently joined our family as a puppy after Mickey, our 14 year old Chihuahua, passed. With Mickey, we experienced all the joys of a pet’s lifetime — he was always there, a part of our family, even before we had our kids. We also experienced many of the challenges that a pet’s illness can bring to a family — challenges that remind me every day how important it is that we be here when our customers need us. With Teddy, we’re excited to be experiencing those joys again, seeing life through the eyes of a puppy.”

Chief Financial Officer

Michael Funck

Michael Funck

CFO

Ensures the financial stability of VPI and the benefits serving customers.

“Our role in the Financial department is to maintain financial stability and to ensure that we’re always here to pay our policyholders’ claims and to continue to protect their pets.”

A California native, Funck enjoys traveling abroad with his wife and three children. He is a proud pet parent of a rabbit named Snowball and two tropical fish.

“One of our favorite morning rituals is feeding Snowball. She has an aversion to hardwood floors, so she waits from inside her carpeted room and peeks out at us from the doorway, waiting for her breakfast treats. She likes to dance around our feet, excited for her morning blueberries or carrots. It’s a good way to start off the day.”

Vice President – General Counsel & Corporate Secretary

Phil Grevin

Phil Grevin

VP – General Counsel & Corporate Secretary

Establishes VPI’s compliance with the Department of Insurance, and makes certain we are treating our customers fairly.

“One of my greatest responsibilities is to make sure we do business in a legal and ethical way. This means our customers are dealing with a company they can trust. We may not be insuring their life, health or their home, but we know their pets are an important part of their families.”

Grevin served as corporate counsel at State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and was previously in private practice. He and his wife are raising their three children, a Bernese Mountain dog, Cheyenne, a Russian tortoise named Charlie and two guinea pigs, Wilbur and Max.

“One of my favorite memories of Cheyenne took place during a visit to the apple orchards. We thought she would enjoy the ‘great outdoors,’ but discovered that the orchards prohibited pets. I tried to talk the owners into making an exception; halfway through my speech I saw Cheyenne blitzing through the many trees and patrons; she’d broken loose from my wife. My son and I chased her around the orchard with no luck. Eventually, she became exhausted and we were able to grab her leash. This image still brings laughter to our hearts.”

Director of Marketing

Brent Otey

Brent Otey

Director of Marketing

Develops and manages all marketing programs for VPI’s business-to-business and direct-to-consumer channels, as well as overseeing policyholder retention efforts.

“We create materials such as magazine ads and veterinary brochures that communicate to customers the importance of working with their veterinarians to provide optimal pet healthcare for their companions. It’s our goal to give our customers a consistent experience and an understanding that they can trust VPI to address their pet’s needs.”

A graphic design and marketing veteran of nearly 20 years, Otey previously served as creative manager at VPI during the first five years of his tenure. Prior to joining VPI, Otey held senior graphic designer positions for both profit and non-profit organizations.

“We had a cat named Steve, who decided one day to eat a dime. The dime had to be surgically extracted to save his life. Unexpected things can happen and our pets have a tendency to surprise us with their ingenuity. Since Steve was insured by VPI, my wife and I didn’t think twice about the cost; VPI reimbursed nearly all of our expenses. It wasn’t a great experience for Steve, but my family definitely learned the value of VPI.”

Director of Web Marketing

Nilam Nalamwar

Nilam Nalamwar

Director of Web Marketing

Translates VPI’s value and strengths online through partnerships, advertising and petinsurance.com. Oversees Web sales to bring financial peace of mind to America’s pet lovers.

“Helping bring awareness of the value of pet insurance to the pet loving world is very important to our team. Because we believe in our products, we strive each and every day to help meet consumer needs through messaging, accessibility and usability. Ultimately, we want to ensure that our customers have an easy and seamless online experience from beginning to end.”

Prior to joining VPI, Nalamwar was a senior consultant with Deloitte & Touche. In her tenure at VPI, she has served as a Program Manager in the Strategic Initiatives Office, as well as heading up the Claims unit, providing a broad understanding of VPI’s business.

Like many VPI employees, Nalamwar is a pet lover and finds herself drawn to large dog breeds, mostly due to many large breeds’ happy demeanor and rough-and-tumble nature.

Senior Director of Operations & Customer Care

Debbie Carter

Debbie Carter

Senior Director of Operations & Customer Care

Establishes the highest level of care is provided to customers through the best possible service.

“We’re impacting the customer experience—it’s all about the person we have on the phone at any given moment. It’s not a body of policyholders, it’s one customer at a time. I encourage my team to find ways to go above and beyond when helping customers.”

Carter has more than 20 years of accounting and operations experience working for companies such as Tenet Health Systems and Med Partners. She and her husband are raising their menagerie of four children and three pets in Southern California.

“We have two cats and one Labrador retriever. The most fascinating thing to me is how well the cats adapted to the kids running up, down and around the house. The cats don’t move out of the way, they lay in the middle of the walkway without a care in the world. It’s amazing how much our pets trust us when they become part of the family.”

Director of Group Accounts

Deana Lycett

Deana Lycett

Director of Group Accounts

Offers VPI products through the Voluntary Benefits and Partnership channels.

“It is my privilege to oversee the department that offers the VPI products through employers, associations and partners. We help to ensure that Human Resource directors, association managers and partners have a unique product to offer to protect all members of the family.”

Lycett spent the majority of her career in Information Technology, as a consultant and department manager before assuming responsibility for Group Accounts.

“Growing up I had a golden retriever named Sean. He did not realize that he was a dog, however, and every night attempted to sleep in my twin bed. He would ignore the fact that I was already in the bed and that my head was on his favorite spot — my pillow!”

Director of Human Resources

Howard G. Cardon

Howard G. Cardon

Director of HR

Hires, develops and rewards employees to ensure the high quality of care our policyholders expect and deserve.

“My job is to partner with management in finding and selecting the best talent — then partnering with all employees in developing, rewarding and engaging them to be highly motivated and productive. We’re fortunate at VPI to have a dedicated Human Resources, Organizational Development & Training, and Facilities staff of professionals who continually focus on improvement and growth.”

Prior to joining VPI, Cardon was a senior Human Resources executive with The Walt Disney Company, Orange County Register, and Knight Ridder, Inc. He started at VPI as a Human Resources consultant, and after several months in that role — where he was schooled in the different aspects of VPI’s business, was offered the position of director.

A Southern California native, Cardon has traveled widely. His last work assignment took him to the Bay Area for seven years. He and his wife are now “empty nesters” and are happy to be back in Orange County where they live with their little Shih Tzu, Bailey.

“Bailey knows no strangers; he’s always excited to meet anyone. A smart bright, and energetic little guy, he keeps Mrs. Cardon running all day while I’m at work.”