39th ECFC Annual Conference Speakers




Jody Dietel is Chair and an active board member of the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC), a nonprofit association dedicated to the promotion and preservation of employer-sponsored benefit programs that facilitate employee choice and consumerism on a tax-advantaged basis. Ms. Dietel is currently involved with the association’s Government Relations and Interpretations Committee and is a member of the Technical Advisory Committee, diligently working to ensure ECFC is a vital force‒and essential voice‒in the legislative and regulatory debate shaping the future of employer-provided tax-advantaged benefit plans.

To her role as chief compliance officer at WageWorks, Inc., Ms. Dietel brings years of flexible benefits industry expertise and experience. She is the current vice president and an active board member of the Special Interest Group for IIAS Standards (SIGIS), which streamlines standards for the use of health care electronic payment systems in accordance with federal standards, and continues to serve on its List Review Working Group and Audit Committee. In addition, Ms. Dietel serves on the Board of the HSA Council of the American Bankers Association and is on the Policy Advisory Board of the American Benefits Council and active in the US Chamber of Commerce. She is also a frequent speaker at industry functions and is the only non-attorney to present at Employee Benefits Institute of America’s conferences.

Prior to joining WageWorks, Ms. Dietel was the founder and chief executive of Creative Benefits, Inc., a successful consumer-driven health care (CDHC) benefits administrator acquired by WageWorks in 2008. As Creative Benefits’ chief executive, she was responsible for the successful integration of the two companies’ people, products, and services. As WageWorks’ chief compliance officer, she helps the company navigate the maze of federal and state regulation and serves as a liaison between WageWorks and key industry groups and governing bodies. Before founding Creative Benefits, she held positions of responsibility at Prudential Insurance Company of America and the Wyatt Company (now Willis Towers Watson).

Ms. Dietel holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Bethel University (Minn.) and is an Advanced Certified Flexible Compensation Instructor (ACFCI) and COBRA administration specialist (CAS) through the Flexible Compensation Institute, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ECFC.



David Castagnetti is a legislative and political strategist with a history of delivering for clients. A trusted Democratic advisor who understands how to talk to business, he has played a critical role in shaping many significant policy issues of the past two decades.

Recognized as one of Washington’s top lobbyists by BusinessWeek, Washingtonian magazine, The Hill and Congressional Quarterly, Castagnetti’s policy expertise and political chops are well known. His forte is translating complex policies into straightforward issues, then navigating the political, legislative and regula­tory challenges that dictate outcomes. His working style is as renowned as his expertise. A strong believer in “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” client service, he has instilled that same approach at Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas, where all principals roll up their sleeves to get results. This combination of skill and work­ing style has made Castagnetti a trusted advisor to Members of Congress, Fortune 100 CEOs and executives across Washington’s business community.

Castagnetti’s career has put him at the highest levels of politics, business and government. Before helping to found Mehlman Castagnetti, he served John Kerry as the top liaison to Congress for the Democratic nominee’s presidential campaign. He earned plaudits from House and Senate Members for his briefings on campaign strategy and messaging, deft handling of political requests, and sensitive management of surrogates and speaking roles at the Democratic National Convention.

As a partner at Bergner, Bockorny, Castagnetti & Hawkins, he worked with technology leaders and innovative startups across Silicon Valley to develop and implement effective strategies to drive exports and maintain America’s lead in information technol­ogy. He also provided expert regulatory and political guidance for mergers and acquisitions, including the Delta Air Lines and North­west Airlines merger, Hewlett-Packard’s merger with Compaq, NewsCorp’s merger with DirecTV, and Travelers Insurance in its well-regarded partnership with St. Paul Insurance Company.

On Capitol Hill, Castagnetti earned a reputation for integrity and collaboration. As Chief of Staff to Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), he advised the Senator on trade, tax, transportation, technology and matters before the Finance and Environment and Public Works committees. He also served as Chief of Staff to Rep. Norman Y. Mineta (D-CA) when the Congressman was Chairman of the House Transportation Committee. A decade later, Castagnetti led a successful effort to win confirmation for Rep. Mineta as Secretary of Commerce for President Clinton and Secretary of Transporta­tion for President George W. Bush. Castagnetti is also one of the few people to serve in senior positions for Members on both the Senate Finance Committee and House Commerce Committee, as he began his career in the office of Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA).


Sage Eastman is a senior Republican strategist with two decades of policy, political and government experience. While as steeped in political campaigns as he is in congressional policy debates, Eastman is most known for his close relationships and being widely respected on both sides of the aisle and both sides of Capitol Hill.Having spent six years as a senior counselor to the Ways and Means Committee and its Members – serving variously as Senior Advisor, Deputy Staff Director and Director of Strategy – there isn’t a tax,health or trade battle that Eastman hasn’t worked. During his tenure on the Hill, Eastman was as likely to be found huddled on the House floor with senior House Republican leadership staff as he was working to bring about an unprecedented era of cooperation between the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce committees.Eastman was a key driver behind the Ways and Means Committee’s extensive work to craft the most comprehensive re-write of the taxcode since 1986,quarterbacking the effort to solicit and incorporate input from stakeholders and thought leaders.


John Hickman is head of the Alston + Bird, LLP Health Benefits Practice where he leads five attorneys devoted exclusively to new health care reform issues under PPACA, HIPAA privacy, flexible benefits, and other health and welfare benefit issues. Hickman has been a pioneer in the consumer directed health care arena and has worked closely with health plans, financial institutions and employers as well as the IRS, Treasury, and DOL in developing guidance for tax-favored health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs). Hickman has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America (Woodward/White) and Who’s Who Legal in the employee benefits area. Hickman has lectured widely and published articles on HIPAA, ERISA litigation, cafeteria and health plan issues. He is co-author of the “Cafeteria Plans Manual,” “HIPAA Portability and Privacy” and “Consumer-Driven Health Care” (published by the Employee Benefits Institute of America). Hickman is head of the Technical Advisory Committee and is on the board of the Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC). Hickman is also an adjunct professor of law at Emory University School of Law.



Nicky Brown is the Vice President, Compliance Services at WageWorks. Nicky has more than 16 years of experience in flexible benefits, compliance, consulting and management. In her previous role as the Assistant Vice President of Shared Services at CONEXIS, she had oversight of compliance, information security, vendor management, and contract administration.


Ms. Brown attended the University of Tulsa and is an Advanced Certified Flexible Compensation Instructor (ACFCI) and COBRA administration specialist (CAS) through the Flexible Compensation Institute, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ECFC. She is also a Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional (CCEP) through the Society of Corporate Compliance Certification Board. She currently serves on the board of the Special Interest Group for IIAS Standards (SIGIS).




Kevin Knopf is a Senior Technician Reviewer in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, TEGE, Health and Welfare branch working on guidance implementing the Affordable Care Act. Prior to joining the IRS in 2013, he was an Attorney-Adviser in the Office of Tax Policy at the US Department of the Treasury since 1987. He joined the Office of Benefits Tax Counsel within the Office of Tax Policy in 1992. Knopf received his JD from the University of Iowa, where he also received his bachelor’s degree in psychology. He is also a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center with an LLM in taxation. He is a member of the bar in Iowa and the District of Columbia.



Bridget Tombul is the Chief of Branch 2 in the Income Tax and Accounting Division at the IRS Office of Chief Counsel and the medical expense deduction under section 213 is one of the code sections in which Ms. Tombul’s branch specializes.  Ms. Tombul started her career in Chief Counsel in ITA, and then transferred to the Procedure and Administration Division.  After that, she spent two years working for KPMG’s National Practice, Procedure and Administration Group before returning to PA in Chief Counsel.  She then served as a Special Counsel to the Division Counsel, Wage and Investment for over eight years before returning to PA as a Senior Technician Reviewer in 2013.  Ms. Tombul has also served details as the Senior Operations Advisor for the W&I Commissioner, and as the Senior Attorney-Advisor for the Commissioner’s Chief of Staff.  She received her JD with honors from the University of North Carolina in 1996.


Richard Gano is an attorney with the Income Tax and Accounting Division at the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, providing legal advice on tax matters involving the recognition and timing of income and deductions, including on section 213. Prior to coming to Chief Counsel, Mr. Gano received his JD and LLM in Taxation from Loyola Law School.


William F. Sweetnam is the ECFC Legislative & Technical Director. Prior to joining ECFC, he was principal at the Groom Law Group, the nation’s largest employee benefits specialty law firm.Before joining Groom in 2005, he was the benefits tax counsel in the Office of Tax Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Prior to that, Sweetnam was tax counsel on the Majority Staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, under the chairmanship of Senator William Roth of Delaware. He is a graduate of Rutgers University (N.J.) and of Fordham University School of Law (N.Y.).



Katy Johnson is senior counsel, health policy at the American Benefits Council. Katy assists Council members on a wide range of health policy and issues and directs the Council’s activities with respect to health care reform, ERISA and other federal regulations impacting employer-sponsored health benefits.

Prior to joining the Council in 2019, Katy was an attorney advisor in the Office of Benefits Tax Counsel at the U.S. Department of Treasury. Before that, she served as an attorney in the health and welfare branch of the Office of Chief Counsel at the Internal Revenue Service. In these positions Katy had lead responsibilities in crafting guidance related to several employer plan sponsor provisions of the ACA. She also played a key role representing Treasury in coordinating health care guidance with the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other executive branch entities. She also provided technical assistance to members of Congress in the development of health care legislation, including measures related to health savings accounts.

Katy is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Middlebury College and graduated Stanford Law School, where she served on the managing board of the Stanford Law Review. Earlier in her career she worked at the U.S. Department of Justice, was a judicial clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and was in private law practice where she advised clients on health, retirement and executive compensation matters.


Rachel Leiser Levy is a principal in the Policy and Health and Welfare practice groups at Groom Law Group where she advises clients on a wide range of federal tax issues affecting employee benefits.  Rachel has deep technical and policy expertise with respect to health and welfare plans, cafeteria plans, fringe benefits, and tax nondiscrimination rules. Rachel regularly represents large employers, insurers, service providers, and trade associations in technical advocacy before the Departments of Treasury (and the IRS), Health and Human Services, Labor and the Office of Management and Budget.  She also advocates for clients on Capitol Hill, with a focus on the Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees.

Immediately prior to joining Groom, Rachel was Associate Benefits Tax Counsel in the Office of Tax Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. As Associate Benefits Tax Counsel, Rachel developed policies and guidance related to the taxation of employee benefits with a primary focus on implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Her work included guidance on the employer and individual mandates, the premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, IRC Sections 6055 and 6056, as well as numerous taxes on the health insurance and medical industries. She also advised the Office of General Counsel and the Department of Justice on a range of litigation related to the ACA.

Previously, as Legislation Counsel at the Joint Committee on Taxation, Rachel developed and drafted numerous pieces of pivotal employee benefits legislation including the ACA, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, and the Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008.

Rachel is a frequent speaker at conferences and has leadership positions on the DC Bar and the American Bar Association.


Shannon Finley is a founding partner of Capitol Counsel, LLC. and consultant to the HSA Council.  She brings to the firm over two decades of experience in politics and strategy in Washington, D.C. Finley is known for her strategic counsel on issues ranging from tax to health and politics. Her client base cuts across industries and includes key trade associations, Fortune 100 corporations, non-profits and issue-based coalitions.


Adam Beck is Vice President, Employer Health Policy & Initiatives at America’s Health Insurance Plans. In that role, he has led AHIP’s successful advocacy and coalition work that repealed the Cadillac Tax and lobbied for the IRS expansion of the HSA preventive care safe harbor. He joined AHIP from The American College of Financial Services where he was an assistant professor of health insurance and director of MassMutual’s Center for Special Needs, authoring a textbook on the Affordable Care Act and focusing his national lecturing and writing on the ACA’s impact on employers, agents, and brokers. A member of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey bars, he earned a law degree from Temple University, a Master’s from The American College, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from The George Washington University.