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Team Members

Harold Knight

Harold Knight, ARM, Board of Directors.  Harold has over 40 years of commercial insurance experience and was the founder of H.J. Knight International Insurance Agency, Inc. back in 1987. 

After serving his country in the US Navy, Harold began his insurance career with Liberty Mutual in a sales capacity supervising claims management and loss control services for large corporations like United Technologies.    After five years with Liberty Mutual, Harold was recruited by Allstate Insurance Company where he served as Northeast Production Manager in charge of commercial insurance mergers and acquisitions managing over 150 agents.

In 1981 Harold moved from the carrier side to the brokerage world working as a producer and manager for Frank B. Hall, HRH and Jardine of Boston.  In this capacity, Harold worked and consulted on many fortune 500 companies such as Chrysler Corporation.  Harold’s expertise was in various industries inclusive of construction, transportation and real estate. 

In 1987, Harold took his talents in house and started his own agency (H.J. Knight International Insurance Agency, Inc.) where he served as President from inception through late 2012.  Harold continues to be a vital part of Knight International serving on its Board of Directors helping to shape and guide the success of the agency.

Harold attended the University of Maryland and Northeastern University.  He currently holds his property, casualty, health, life and insurance advisor license.

Richard Penni

Richard (Dick) Penni, Board of Directors.  Dick approaches each new business challenge with his intrinsic flair for innovation, creative problem-solving and measured risk taking to drive bottom line improvements and shareholder return.

Dick has been in the insurance industry for 40 years, beginning his career as an underwriter and underwriting manager with Commercial Union Insurance Companies.  After six years of learning and addressing the needs of so many insureds, Dick believed he could better serve and focus on strategic solutions from the brokerage side.  Dick joined the Boston Insurance Center (BIC) as a producer in 1968 and eventually ascended to Chairman and Chief executive Officer up until the agency was acquired by Arthur J Gallagher & Co (AJG) in 1988.  BIC was a well-known and respected regional insurance agency specializing in creative and innovative risk management solutions. It was this unique approach that made them so desirable for acquisition.  Dick continued his career as Area President for AJG, the third largest brokerage firm in the world and later served as Area Chairman up until his retirement in 2003.  In his tenure at AJG, Dick was also a part of the corporate nationwide mergers and acquisitions team.

Dick holds a Bachelor of Arts from Boston College and a Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter, Chartered Life Underwriter and Associate in Risk Management designation from the National Insurance Alliance and Insurance Institute of America.  Dick taught as an insurance and risk management instructor for 15 years at Northeastern University and sat on the Agents Advisory Committee for both Atlantic Mutual and Crum and Forster Insurance Company.  Dick also served as Director for the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Association as well as Chairman of the Marshfield Insurance Advisory Board.

Dick is a great addition to Knight International adding tremendous value in leadership, management, growth and acquisitions as well overall insurance knowledge and strategic approach.

Jeannette Lanza

Jeannette Lanza, President.  Jeannette has over 20 year of insurance experience, specializing in traditional and alternative insurance programs for small, medium and large clients in various industries.  Jeannette’s diverse background encompasses all three facets of the insurance industry; retail, wholesale and underwriting.  These facets have also incorporated many aspects of the insurance process inclusive of account services, production, marketing, accounting and management.  It is this background which has given her the expertise, knowledge and perspective in running such a productive and successful agency.

Jeannette’s lengthy career in the insurance industry includes past tenures as an Account Manager with Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., an Underwriter with FM Global, a Wholesale Broker with Thomas E. Sears, a Producer with Amity Risk Management Services and now Principal of Knight International.

Jeannette currently holds her property, casualty, health and life license

Matt Lanza

Matt Lanza, ARM, CRM, CIC, Executive Vice President. Matt has over 20 years of diverse insurance experience. Prior to joining Knight International, Matt was as an equity partner for 7 years at Amity Insurance where he started and operated the Risk Management division.

Matt began his career in 1990 with Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., after graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in Business Administration. At Gallagher Matt started as a sales executive and worked his way up to Area Executive Vice President. During his fourteen-year career with this company, Matt spent the first 2 years abroad working at Lloyds of London learning the design and implementation of alternative insurance products. Since then, Matt has specialized in this market space (captives and alternative funding products). His expertise and insurance knowledge allows him to work closely with his clients to manage risk and improve profitability. Matt works with a wide range of industries varying in size and operations. Matt’s success is attributed to understanding his client’s needs, bringing them creative and cost effective solutions and providing high levels of service.

Matt also holds an Associate in Risk Management designation from the Insurance Institute of America and a Certified Risk Manager and Certified Insurance Counselor designation from the National Insurance Alliance.

Burton Palmer

Burton Palmer, Controller. Burt began his career with Charles T. Main, Engineering in 1979 serving as an Accounting Specialist on Power Plant construction. A few years later, Burt entered the banking industry as a Reconciling Supervisor with Bank of New England which was later purchased by Fleet Bank. As Burt’s tenure grew so did his duties and responsibilities; finishing his banking career as a Community Bank Analyst specializing in branch consolidations and cost reduction. Once the Fleet Bank merger was complete Burt moved back to Boston and became the Accounting Supervisor then on to Assistant Controller and Assistant Vice President at MacIntyre, Fay and Thayer Insurance Agency in Norwell, Mass. where he was able to increase the bottom line by streamlining costs and implementing proper investment strategies. After 14 years with MF&T, Burt joined the Knight team in 2013 where he continuous to apply his strong business management, accounting and analytical skills.

Burt is a graduate from Suffolk University with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Accounting.

Daniel Sheehy

Daniel Sheehy, Vice President of Employee Benefits. Dan has over 30 years in the insurance industry. Prior to joining Knight International He joined the Amity’s Benefits team back in September 2005 as an Equity Partner. Prior to joining Amity Dan served as Vice President and Managing Partner of the New England practice for a $30 million privately held brokerage firm where he was instrumental in designing and implementing complex and creative employee benefit programs. Over the years, Dan has also held Consulting, Sales and Marketing positions for large national insurance carriers including the position of National Sales director for Blue Cross Blue Shield. In such roles, Dan was responsible for sales and client management, as well as corporate profitability.

A sampling of the clients that Dan has sold and/or managed include: New Balance Athletic Shoes, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts; Russell Reynolds Associates; Quebecor World; Private HealthCare Systems; Intertek Testing Services; TJX/ Marshalls; NEC America; Manufacturer’s Industrial Relations Association (Taft/Hartley); Independent Insurance Agents of America; Colgate Palmolive; Bear Stearns; Paine Webber; Chase Manhattan Bank; Pitney Bowes; and Canadian Imperial Bank.

Dan is known for his strong technical background (which includes a period of time as a technical consultant for Mercer) and his intense focus on delivery of outstanding client service. Dan graduated from Colby College, Waterville, Maine, with a B.S. in Economics and Business and a minor in Mathematics and Russian.

Dan also has his HIAA designation and holds a property/casualty, health, life and series 6 licenses.

Ruth Gillan

Ruth Gillan, Director of Employee Benefits. Ruth has been a Senior Consultant for 30 years in the Health and Welfare arena. She has expertise in all product lines; including, but not limited to Medical, Dental, Disability and Stop Loss coverage. Specifically, Ruth and her team assist both fully insured and self-insured clients in the areas of negotiating benefit pricing, providing market analysis of products, evaluating managed care access and cost effectiveness. She has spoken nationally on Consumer Driven Healthcare products such as Health Savings Accounts, Health Reimbursement Arrangements and the impacts of PPACA (Patient Protection Affordable Care Act).

Ruth manages Knight International’s Employee Benefits Municipal and Taft Hartley Division that oversees the servicing of more than 30 funds throughout the country. Ruth works closely with the National Labor Alliance of Health Care Coalitions on product development and has the exclusive endorsement as broker for of the NLA Advantage Stop Loss product. Knight International is also endorsed by the New York Labor Health Care Alliance for Voluntary Life and Accident programs.

Before joining Knight International Ruth spent eight years with GBG Consulting developing and servicing Taft Hartley funds throughout the country as well as the corporate marketplace. Ms. Gillan also worked for Provident Life and Accident as a Disability Specialist, Guy Carpenter as a Reinsurance Intermediary and Rogers Benefit Group representing national carriers such as Principal Financial Group, Met Life and Aetna.

Ruth graduated from University of Massachusetts and is a member of the National Association of Health Underwriters. She has served on the Board of Directors for Brookline High School’s 21st Century Fund, a nationally recognized foundation for School Initiatives and PALS Children’s Chorus. Ruth is further developing her insurance credentials in the health and welfare industry by working towards a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) and is a member of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Ruth holds both her health and life license.

Laurel Scotti

Laurel Scotti, Senior Consultant. Recently retired as a Fund Administrator from the Administrative District Council, Laurel brings over thirty years of experience working with Taft Hartley Funds. Her Chicago career included Fund Administration with The Bricklayers, Teamsters and Zenith Administrators.  Laurel also served as the Vice Chair of the Midwest Employee Benefit Fund Coalition.  Laurel assists the Knight Benefit Team with the administration requirements of stop loss coverage and the implementation of policies and procedures for Knight’s Taft Hartley clients.

Laurel attended Hunter College in New York City.

Sharon Van Pelt

Sharon Van Pelt, Senior Account Manager. Sharon has over 30 years of experience in employee benefits administration. Prior to joining Knight International, Sharon spent six years with GBG Consulting Services as the Client Service Manager and twenty two years with Corcoran and Associates as a Senior Benefit Administrator.

Sharon’s product knowledge, communication skills and commitment to customer service and client relations is what drives her success.

Sharon received her Associates Degree from Fisher College in Business Administration.

Samantha Desmond

Samantha Desmond, Administrative Assistant. Samantha’s role is to assist the service team in the underwriting, marketing and servicing process of new and renewal business for both the property casualty and employee benefits division. Samantha also provides administrative support to Knight International’s management team.

Prior to joining Knight International, Samantha worked for Boston Mutual Insurance Company for over 10 years as a case coordinator. Samantha’s strong people skills, team dedication and high commitment level to customer service is what makes her an asset to any organization.



Chris Petrie

Chris Petrie, CLCS, Account Executive. Chris specializes in commercial property and casualty insurance. He comes to Knight International with a strong background in finance and investment trading. Most recently, he served as a financial consultant for R.M. Petrie Associates, working with small to mid-sized banks to better manage their construction portfolios. This work with commercial lenders to identify and control their financial liabilities has given Chris a strong understanding of the risk management process which will prove to be valuable to his clients. Prior to that, he spent eight years with the Boston investment firm Cowen and Company as an equity sales trader.

Chris is a graduate of Hobart College in New York, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and currently holds his Property and Casualty license as well as his Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist Designation from The National Underwriter Company.

René Lombardo

René Lombardo CISR, AU, AIS, AINS, Account Manager. René has over 15 years of commercial insurance experience. Prior to joining Knight International, René worked 11 years with Philadelphia Insurance Company as a Senior Account Executive. It was there where she serviced and helped grow a forty million dollar commercial book of business made up from various industries nationwide. René also spent the early part of her career working with RTW as a workers compensation claims coordinator where she laid the foundation of understanding claims, subrogation and litigation management. René’s industry experience and vast insurance knowledge makes her a valuable part of the Knight Risk Management team where she will continue providing superior service and creative cost effective solutions.

René is a graduate from Bridgewater State College and currently holds her Property and Casualty license as well as insurance designations including; Certified Insurance Service Representative, Associate in Commercial Underwriting, Associate in Insurance Services and Associate in General Insurance.

Tiffany Hannula

Tiffany Hannula, Customer Service Representative. Tiffany started in the insurance industry in 2012 with Reliant Financial Group as an Agent/Operations Manager specializing in life, disability, annuities and financial planning. She joined the Knight International team in 2015 where she will be focusing her skills in commercial property and casualty insurance. Tiffany is committed to building long-term relationships with her commercial clients and underwriters while providing comprehensive insurance programs tailored to meeting her client’s risk. Tiffany will be responsible for addressing the day to day operations of her book, identifying partner markets, negotiating policy terms and conditions and providing proactive and reliable service.

Tiffany is a graduate from Suffolk University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration degree with a concentration in Finance and currently holds her Property and Casualty, Life, Health, Series 6, and Series 63 licenses.