32nd ECFC Annual Symposium 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.



Chad J. Willett (National Speakers Association/ Screen Actors Guild) is a TEDx speaker, two time author, and creativity and innovation leader who trained at the world famous improvisational school, “The Groundlings.” He was featured in the hit films “She’s All That” with Paul Walker, “Halloween H2O,” with Jamie Lee Curtis and “Can’t Hardly Wait” with Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Chad has also worked for three fortune 500 companies (Manpower, ITT Technical Institute and the Washington Post) and is the owner/ operator of Broadway2LA Acting Studio. He leverages his acting background with his experience in working America to create one of a kind keynote addresses/ workshops for his audiences.

Chad is a member of St. Mary’s Church in German Village, Ohio and the creator of “Make Faith Matter.” He has also been involved with “Big Brothers, Big Sisters”, and a reading literacy program for adults. Finally, Chad is married to his wife Erika, and is a proud father to his baby girl, Scarlett.


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.


Ashley Gillihan 
is counsel in the Atlanta office of Alston & Bird, LLP, and a member of the firm’s Employee Benefits and ERISA Litigation Groups. Gillihan focuses his practice exclusively on health and welfare employee benefit compliance and litigation issues for employers, health plan administrators, and other health and welfare benefit plan service providers. He also has extensive experience assisting financial institutions and insurance companies who serve as health savings account trustees or custodians.


Gillihan serves as a faculty member and/or technical advisor for several health and welfare benefit plan focused organizations. He is a member of the ECFC Technical Advisory Group and the board of editors for the Benefits and Compensation Law Alert published by M. Lee Smith Publishers. He is a faculty member for the Institute for Applied Management and Law, and he was recently named a contributing author for the Flexible Benefits Answer Book published by Aspen Publishers.



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).

Candy Darr, CFC, is the Senior Manager for Creative Services and Partner Marketing for DataPath, Inc. In this role, she is responsible for the creative execution of company marketing plans and the development of marketing programs and materials to support DataPath clients. Prior to joining DataPath in 2008, Darr had worked in the marketing and advertising field for nearly 25 years, including 11 years as president and creative director for a full-service ad agency.



Ben Morris
 is President of UMB Healthcare Services. He has been with UMB for 20 years and is responsible for the direction and growth of the segment, including health savings accounts, multi-purpose debit cards and healthcare payment strategies to health plans, third party administrators, and technology companies.

Ben has been instrumental in helping to grow the HCS business to $2.6 billion in deposits and more than 1.25 million health savings accounts, along with over 6 million multi-purpose benefit cards. In addition, he also helped to launch other healthcare products such as payer to provider virtual cards and the health claims portal, HealthPay View.  

He started his career at UMB in 1998 and has worked in several different areas of the bank including Treasury Management, Merchant Services and Healthcare Services.  
Ben graduated from the University of Missouri and has his Executive MBA degree from Rockhurst University.  

In addition Ben has been an industry leader including serving as a current board member of the Employer’s Council of Flexible Compensation (ECFC). He is also a member of the American Banker’s Association HSA Council and Self-Insurance Institute of America (SIIA).  Ben is known as a thought leader throughout the country on a range of topics related to healthcare financial products and services and healthcare reform.


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.).



Erin Freiberg, JD is the Director of Compliance at Employee Benefits Corporation in Middleton, Wisconsin. Erin has over 12 years of experience in employment law and employee benefits, handling issues arising under the Fair Labor Standards Act, FMLA, ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA, ADA, Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Section 125, and others.  Prior to coming to Employee Benefits Corporation, Erin was a Compliance Attorney with a regional insurance agency and also ran her own law practice. Erin serves on the Board for ECFC and is an active member of the Governmental Relations and Interpretations Committee and Governance Committee. Her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School was earned with high honors.