Meet the Team

Brad Mueller, CLU®, ChFC®

As the Founder of Monarch Insurance Partners, Brad describes his “superpower” as distilling complex issues and products into understandable concepts, making it easy for clients to make informed decisions.  For the more than 20 years, Brad has worked alongside attorneys, family offices, investment advisors and financial planners of some of the wealthiest families in the country, advising them on insurance and wealth transfer issues.  In addition, he has advised countless business owners and professionals planning for their retirement or leaving a legacy for their families and communities.

In addition to an extended network of financial experts, Brad brings over two decades of high-level planning and insurance experience at firms such as Wipfli, CliftonLarsonAllen, Clifton Gunderson, Minnesota Life and Prudential.  He has been a main platform speaker at numerous financial and accounting industry conference, continuing education events, and various business and consumer events.

Brad stays actively involved in his industry and community as a member of the Association of Advanced Life Underwriters (AALU), the Madison Estate Planning Council, the Financial Planning Association, and the Concordia College Alumni Association (where he was also a formerly a Board of Director).

Outside of the office, Brad enjoys playing golf, fishing and hunting with his family and friends.  He and his wife, Stephanie, have three children and one spoiled English Setter.

Stephanie Moen Mueller, CLU®, ChFC®

Stephanie started her insurance career in 1988 at Prudential’s Minneapolis home office.  A graduate of Pru’s Management Intern Program, Stephanie completed assignments in underwriting, policy service, brokerage, facilities management, accounting, treasury, creative services, and internal audit. 

Switching gears after she and Brad had children, Stephanie worked as a Business Plan Manager for the SBA’s Small Business Development Center at the University of St. Thomas.  She reviewed or helped write more than sixty business plans and caught the entrepreneurial bug herself, starting an in-home daily money management service. 

This is where Stephanie’s passion lies:  at the intersection of business and personal finance.  She understands the challenges of finding customers and earning profits without letting compliance and bookkeeping make her crazy.  She has experienced firsthand the satisfaction of creating something of service and value, and the importance of protecting it from the risks we just cannot avoid in today’s world.

Stephanie holds an MBA from the University of St. Thomas, a Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) and Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designations and knows more about QuickBooks than she would care to admit.  Stephanie has lent her expertise to several nonprofits, including her local public education foundation, church, and annual city festival.  When not working with numbers, she can be found waiting for her three adult children to reply to her texts and performing improv comedy in the Madison area.

Mary Jo Galle, CLTC

Mary Jo began her insurance career with a simple goal:  to help others achieve financial security and prosperity.  With thirty-plus years’ experience in the industry she is well-versed in the intricacies of life, disability, and long-term care insurance.  At Monarch Insurance Partners, Mary Jo commands the myriad day-to-day details of managing client relationships and insurance policies. 

If you speak with Mary Jo regarding your insurance needs, you will immediately notice her expertise – and you will also notice her compassion.  Her true strength is serving as a key connector and communicator between financial professionals and the people they serve.  She is a walking example of keeping clients’ best interests in mind.

Prior to joining Monarch, Mary Jo worked with local insurance agencies, banks, and Top-10 and Top-20 accounting firms.  She holds a Certification in Long Term Care (CLTC), an Associates Degree in Insurance, and life and accident/health licenses from numerous states.

Mary Jo resides in Oregon, Wisconsin, where she has volunteered for the American Cancer Society and Make-A-Wish.  She is an avid hiker and traveler, hunting for antiques wherever those activities bring her.

Our Back-Office Specialists

SOME OF THE BRIGHTEST MINDS IN THE BUSINESS WORKING ON YOUR BEHALF

Through our independent relationship with Valmark Financial Group, we have access to an experienced support team of 100 professionals with credentials spanning multiple financial disciplines—from legal, accounting, tax and financial advisory expertise to life insurance, business insurance, and estate planning. A sample representation of the team’s credentials includes:

AN UNDERWRITING ADVOCACY TEAM

with several former insurance company underwriting vice presidents, directors and medical directors, a licensed physician, and a staff of case management, business processing and policy service specialists.

INSURANCE PLANNING SPECIALISTS AND ADVANCED CASE ADVISORS

including a team of attorneys, accountants, MBAs, Certified Financial Planners, Chartered Life Underwriters, and Chartered Financial Consultants, many of whom are FINRA Registered Principals who provide independent assessment and analysis of recommended product sets, policy management and life settlements.

Chris Bottaro

MBA
Senior Vice President, Insurance Services

Tom Love

CLU®, FLMI
Vice President of Insurance Analytics

Keith Miller

MBA, CLU®, ChFC®
Vice President of Insurance Planning

Eric Van Meter

Associate Analyst

Eric Johnson

Vice President, Underwriting

Lauren Ballantine

FALU
Director of Underwriting

Michael Michlitsch

MBA, CRPC®
VP, In Force Insurance Solutions

Mindy Shaffer

Team Lead of Concierge Services

Open

FINRA BROKER CHECK

Chris Bottaro

MBA

Senior Vice President, Insurance Services

Chris Bottaro is the Senior Vice President of Insurance Services for our partner, Valmark Financial Group. He is responsible for the vision, strategy, and execution of life insurance marketing, underwriting, new business and in force insurance solutions initiatives. Formerly, Mr. Bottaro was an Underwriting Account Executive at Lincoln Financial Group where he led a team of 25 underwriters and new business associates through strategic initiatives aimed at making the life insurance process simpler and more efficient for advisors and their clients. He has an MBA from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts and holds Series 6 and 26 registrations.

Tom Love

CLU®, FLMI

Vice President of Insurance Analytics

As the Vice President of Insurance Analytics for our partner, Valmark Financial Group, Tom Love is responsible for advanced life insurance case design, carrier and product analysis, product sales and marketing, development of analytical and educational tools, agent training and agency business development.  He brings 25+ years of extensive experience in the life insurance space with experience in a carrier home office, independent agency environment and personal production. His work has been published in industry journals such as Worth Magazine, the Journal of Financial Services Professionals, and is a two-time Editor’s Choice Award Winner for the Journal of Practical Estate Planning.  Mr. Love is also a national presenter on topics ranging from “Life Insurance Due Diligence” to “Reviewing and Evaluating the Family’s Life Insurance Holdings.” Mr. Love is author of Valmark’s Love Notes and author of several Valmark white papers. In addition to earning a BSBA in Risk Management and Insurance from the University of Georgia, Mr. Love is a Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) and a Fellow of the Life Management Institute (FLMI) and holds Series 6 and 63 registrations as wells as Ohio Life, Health and Variable licenses.

Keith Miller

MBA, CLU®, ChFC®

Vice President of Insurance Planning

Keith Miller is the Vice President of Insurance Planning for our partner, Valmark Financial Group. Keith works with the insurance planning team to provide advanced case design and sales expertise. His core areas of focus include customized wealth transfer solutions, product analysis and holistic life insurance design. Mr. Miller is a national presenter at the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU) annual conference. He received his BA from Samford University and his MBA in Finance from the University of Alabama. Mr. Miller is also a Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®), Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) and holds the Alabama Life and Health licenses.

Eric Van Meter

Associate Analyst

In his role as an Associate Analyst on the Insurance Marketing team for our partner, Valmark Financial Group, Eric Van Meter is responsible for assisting Member Firms with life insurance and long-term care insurance case design and product research. He works with insurance carriers and advisors to ensure that clients are getting the best service. He joined Valmark through its internship program, working with both the financial planning and insurance marketing teams. Mr. Van Meter holds a bachelor’s degree in Financial Planning from The University of Akron where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. He also holds his Series 7, 24, and 66 designations, and Ohio Life, Health and Variable licenses.

Eric Johnson

Vice President of Underwriting

Eric Johnson is Vice President of Underwriting for our partner, Valmark Financial Group. He is responsible for risk assessment appraisal, consultation and negotiation on behalf of Valmark Financial Group Member Offices and clients. Mr. Johnson brings more than 30 years of experience in impaired risk and jumbo case underwriting, reinsurance, sales and brokerage operations. He is a presenter at numerous industry seminars and workshops speaking on topics such as Challenging Underwriting Impairments, Jumbo Business and Brokerage Underwriting. Mr. Johnson earned his BA from Luther College and holds Minnesota Life, Accident and Health Insurance licenses. He is a member of the Association of Home Office Underwriters (AHOU) and the Twin Cities Association of Home Office Life Underwriters (TCAHOLU).

Lauren Ballantine

FALU

Director of Underwriting

As the Director of Underwriting for our partner, Valmark Financial Group, Lauren Ballantine is responsible for the technical assessment and negotiation of underwriting offers and serves as a contact for all new life business and underwriting. She is an advocate and escalation contact through every stage of the underwriting process, working to anticipate potential issues, identify the most appropriate carrier and negotiate the best possible underwriting outcome. She earned a BA in Biology and Art from the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, where she received the President’s Scholarship and made the Dean’s List. Mrs. Ballantine is a Fellow of the Academy of Life Underwriting (FALU), a board member of Twin Cities Association of Home Office Underwriters (TCAHOU), and holds Minnesota Life and Health Licenses.

Michael Michlitsch

MBA, CRPC®

Vice President of In Force Insurance Solutions

As Vice President of In Force Insurance Solutions for our partner, Valmark Financial Group, Michael leads the Valmark Policy Management Company (PMC) and Life Settlement teams. Michael is responsible for integrating strategies and solutions to maximize in force insurance business to best serve our clients. Previously, he was Manager of Practice Management at Securian Financial Services, Inc., a Senior Training Manager for Woodbury Financial Services, Inc., and Sales Manager for Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Mr. Michlitsch earned his MBA from the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas and his BA in Management and Marketing from Bethany Lutheran College. He is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠ (CRPC®) and carries the following Financial Services Designations: CFS, CIS, CFF, CES, CAS and CTS. In addition, he holds Series 7, 24 and 66 registrations as well as Life, Health, and Variable Life and Annuity licenses.

Mindy Shaffer

Team Lead of Concierge Services

As the Team Lead of Concierge Services for our back-office partner, Valmark Financial Group, Mindy serves at the subject matter expert on all things related to process and procedures for Concierge Services and also serves as the escalation point for any complex items.  In addition, Mindy works with our clients to provide excellent customer service and ensures that all life insurance cases get submitted, issued and placed in a timely and efficient manner.