Chairman of the Board
Michael Young has served as Director since December 2018 and is the Founding Partner of Cottingham Capital since January 2017. From March 2016 to January 2017, Michael was Managing Director and Co-Head of Global Trading at GMP Securities Toronto. From July 2012 to March 2016, Michael worked as Managing Director and Head of US Equity Trading at GMP Capital USA in New York and was previously a Director at Nuverra and ICC Labs.
Executive Vice President, Corporate Development and Director
Damian has extensive experience investing in and operating consumer and commodity related businesses. He was one of the Founders and CEO of Bona Vida (animal health CBD platform) before its acquisition by Better Choice Company, and consolidation with TruPet.
Prior to Better Choice, Damian was a Partner at Albaron Partners – a middle market investment firm focused on the cannabis and healthcare sectors. Damian has more than a decade of Wall Street investment experience managing over $2.5Bn in capital, having previously worked at Bain Capital, King Street, Silver Point and Magnetar.
Damian has an MBA and B.S. Econ, both from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
Michael Close is the Chief Executive Officer of CHOICE Administrators where he is responsible for two health insurance programs: A multi-carrier private health insurance exchange, CaliforniaChoice, and the nation’s first ancillary benefits exchange, ChoiceBuilder. Mr. Close previously served as the Chief Operating Officer for The Word & Brown Companies where he oversaw information technology, marketing, and strategic business development. He worked closely with the business units to ensure strategic alignment between corporate short-term and long-term strategic goals.
Mr. Close was President of Quotit Corp and HealthCompare, two national health insurance distribution platforms, before their acquisition by National General Holdings Corp. in early 2017. He was also President of CONEXIS, a leading benefits administration company, before its acquisition by WageWorks in 2014. Mr. Close joined The Word & Brown Companies in 2003. His professional background makes him uniquely suited to lead CHOICE Administrators. He has an impressive career spanning more than 35 years in employee benefits and health care. Prior to joining The Word & Brown Companies, he held senior executive positions with Health Net of California and American Specialty Health. Mr. Close earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing from Ohio State University.
Jeff Davis has been as a member of the Board of Directors since March 15, 2019, and is the Founder and CEO of Molio Inc., a venture-backed, creative and media analytics agency. Prior to being CEO, Jeff worked in several roles at Procter & Gamble for a total of 23 years, where he spent time in numerous product sectors (consumer-packaged goods, pharmaceuticals and beauty). After retiring from Procter & Gamble in 2009, Jeff became director and CEO of Orabrush Inc., which was acquired by DenTek Oral Care, Inc. in 2015. Jeff is currently a member of the board of directors for Fabric, Curza, Dermaflage, the Hale Centre Theatre, and the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah.
Clinton Gee has been the Chief Financial officer for all of The Word and Brown Companies (the Word & Brown General Agency, CHOICE Administrators, and California Rx Card Program) since June of 2006. In addition, Clinton oversees Information Technology, Human Resources, Security & Compliance, Legal, Marketing, and Strategic Business Development.
Clinton graduated from California State University, Chico, with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Computer Science. Clinton also is a Certified Public Accountant and a Licensed Life and Health Agent in California. Before joining The Word and Brown Companies, he worked as Vice President of Finance and Vice President of Sales for Nationwide Insurance Companies; Vice President of Finance, Vice President of Operations, and Vice President and Controller at CalFarm Insurance Company; Vice President of Finance for Foundation Health Plans. In addition, he worked as an Audit Manager for KPMG where he managed audits of various manufacturing, retail and distribution customers.
As Chief Financial Officer, Gee directs and manages annual audited financial statements for all of The Word & Brown Companies, including: tax returns for all companies; annual and five-year budgets/plans; financial forecasts; cash flow projections; trust reconciliations; accounts payable; cash receipts and process; commission processing; payroll; Lean Six Sigma; internal controls; monitoring debt covenants; incentive compensation programs; trustee for the 401k plan; profitability monitoring for all companies; and banking relations.
Clinton Gee is a member of the American Institute of Public Accountants, the California Association of Certified Public Accountants, and the National Association of Health Underwriters. He has also been recognized with the “Golden Eagle Award for Outstanding Career Management” from the National Association of Health Underwriters. His other accomplishments include receiving a Yellow Belt from Six Sigma and attending the University of Michigan School of Management’s Business Process Re-engineering class.
Lori Taylor is a highly sought after marketing veteran with a special focus on direct response. During her 20 years at RR Donnelley (the largest direct marketer in the United States), she won the Direct Marketing Association’s prestigious Gold, Silver, and Bronze Awards. She has also been named a Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer and Forbes Top 20 Female Social Media Influencer. Lori has managed direct marketing activity for Fortune 50 accounts, including Proctor and Gamble. She has been instrumental in the launch of national brands including Tide, Crest White Strips, Charmin, Puffs, and IAMS. She played a key role launching a customer loyalty program for Kroger, the largest grocery store chain in the United Stated. If that wasn’t enough, Lori helped to raise over $4 billion for Disabled Veterans of America, building a base of over 10 million donors, while collecting donations $5 at a time while also servicing large mailers such as Publisher’s Clearing House, North Shore Animal League, Vitamin World, GNC, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Most recently, Lori founded REV Media Marketing, a unique direct marketing agency that specializes in integrating media channels including email, search engine marketing, social media, and traditional direct mail. She has served as a collaborative business partner or strategic business consultant to Microcenter, Klout, Fanplayr, Tony Robbins, Natalie Jill Fitness, Kevin Harrington, Disabled American Veterans, Jane Fonda, Urban Zen (Donna Karan’s foundation), Pick The Brain, COPS television Series, American Institute for Cancer Research, and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to name a few, before launching her pet project TruPet llc in 2014 which was recently just honored by INC 500 as the #39th fastest growing in America.
John M. Word, III
John M. Word III is renowned for transforming the California insurance broker’s role in the small group health benefits marketplace through his pioneering technological and marketing advances since 1972. Mr. Word founded the Word & Brown General Agency in 1984 to market and distribute health plans through California’s huge brokerage community; by 1986, the company was recognized as the largest independent small group health distributor in the nation. That same year, the company launched the nation’s first COBRA administration operation, sensing that employers needed assistance and qualified support with federal COBRA laws. CaliforniaChoice®, a groundbreaking enterprise empowering small business employees to select from multiple health plans within one program, was launched in 1996.