Senior Leadership

Roy E. Wright

President & Chief Executive Officer

Roy Wright joined IBHS in 2018 with more than 20 years of experience in insurance, risk management, mitigation, and resilience planning. Convinced that the continuing cycle of human suffering that strikes families and communities in the wake of severe weather can be broken, Roy leads a team of scientists and risk communicators who deliver strategies to build safer and stronger homes and businesses. IBHS’ real-world impact enables the insurance industry and affected property owners to prevent avoidable losses.

Roy joined IBHS from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) where he served as the Chief Executive of the National Flood Insurance Program, led the agency’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, and directed the resilience programs addressing earthquake, fire, flood, and wind risks. In these roles, he guided several programs that promote a risk-conscious culture, enable faster disaster recovery, and address long-term vulnerabilities to life, property, and well-being in communities across the United States. Prior to joining FEMA in 2007, Roy worked in public and private sector roles with Coray Gurnitz Strategy Consulting and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

A native of California, Roy earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Azusa Pacific University and a Master of Public Administration from The George Washington University.

Debra T. Ballen

General Counsel & Chief Risk Officer

Debra Ballen joined IBHS in 2008 as the general counsel and senior vice president of public policy. In this capacity, she is responsible for all of IBHS’ legal matters and oversees a number of important public policy initiatives, including building codes, adaptation, community resilience, and economic incentives for mitigation. In addition, she serves as the organization’s corporate secretary and manages member relations.

Prior to her work with IBHS, Ms. Ballen was the executive vice president of public policy management for the American Insurance Association (AIA). She developed and implemented policy for AIA’s priority federal and state public policy issues.

She also serves on the Advisory Committee for the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado and has participated on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) High Level Advisory Board on Financial Management of Large Scale Catastrophes. She is a frequent speaker about the broad benefits of mitigation and has testified before Congress and state legislatures on these matters.

Ms. Ballen graduated with a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. She also has received the CPCU designation.

Anne D. Cope, Ph.D., P.E.

Chief Engineer

Dr. Anne Cope is the senior vice president, research and chief engineer at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. She is responsible for overseeing the FORTIFIED building standards program as well as developing and guiding the research programs at the IBHS Research Center in Richburg, South Carolina. She leads IBHS’s team of engineers, scientists and others who conduct research about the performance of full-scale homes and commercial structures, building materials and construction practices during natural catastrophe conditions, including hurricanes, wildfires, severe thunderstorms, and hail storms, and implement in real-world communities through IBHS’s FORTIFIED program. Prior to joining IBHS in 2009, Dr. Cope was a project manager and structural engineer with Reynolds, Smith & Hills, Inc., designing projects for NASA, Department of Defense and commercial launch operations. Dr. Cope’s research encompasses topics ranging from the full-scale simulation of wind effects on buildings to detailed studies of the vulnerabilities of buildings to natural hazards and the development of damage prediction models. She is also a proud veteran of the United States Army. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Clemson University, and her doctorate from the University of Florida. She is a registered professional engineer in Florida and South Carolina.

Alister Watt

Chief Product Officer

Alister Watt joined IBHS in 2018, bringing 25 years of strategy consulting and management experience across public and private sectors. Alister has worked in financial services, risk management, broadcast media, and fast-moving consumer goods.

As the Chief Product Officer, Alister leads the efforts to translate IBHS’ top-tier science into action. In addition to his enterprise-wide leadership role, Alister is responsible for several critical IBHS program areas, including FORTIFIED, media, product design, and technology.

Mr. Watt has led large and small teams across the U.S., Europe and former Soviet Bloc. In these diverse roles, Alister brought structure to problem-solving, creativity to developing solutions, and rigor to implementing change. Prior to his work at IBHS, Alister’s career has spanned independent consulting, consulting for Accenture, Coray Gurnitz Strategy Consulting and Acquisition Solutions, and project management for Mars, Inc.

A Scot by birth, Alister earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Aberdeen, and subsequent to emigrating to the U.S., he earned a Masters of Business Administration from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College.

Executive Leadership Team

Susan Baxter Gibson

Treasurer & Managing Director of Corporate Operations

Susan Baxter Gibson joined IBHS in 2010 as the finance manager and has since been promoted to vice president of finance. Under the direction of the CEO, the vice president of finance directs, monitors, coordinates, interprets and administers all functional activities related to accounting, finance, budgeting, cash management and financial analysis.

Susan came to IBHS with more than 20 years experience as a CFO in the healthcare industry. Susan served as CFO at the Visiting Nurse Association of the Treasure Coast, Baptist Hospital Homecare, Gulfside Regional Hospice and Health Systems Solutions, a publicly traded software company. Susan earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting at the University of Central Florida before earning her master’s degree in business at UCF. She is also a certified public accountant.

Tanya Brown-Giammanco, Ph.D.

Managing Director of Research

Dr. Tanya Brown-Giammanco joined IBHS in 2010 and is a vice president and director of hail research at the Research Center. She is the South Carolina Wind and Hail Underwriting Association hail chair at the lab. Her responsibilities include providing engineering leadership on hail, wind, water, and roofing-related research projects. Her research focus is on hailstone formation, hail impact testing, wind-flow characterization and testing, instrumentation, and field measurement and damage assessment studies. Prior to joining IBHS full-time, Dr. Brown-Giammanco was an engineering consultant for IBHS and LNSS & Associates.

Dr. Brown-Giammanco was a National Science Foundation – Integrative Graduate Education Training Fellow while completing her Ph.D. in Wind Science and Engineering at Texas Tech University. Her dissertation topic was “Development of a Statistical Relationship between Ground-Based and Remotely-Sensed Damage in Windstorms.” While at Texas Tech, she was an instrumental member of their field research teams, leading a team in thunderstorm and tornado intercepts during VORTEX 2, participating in hurricane intercepts with the Texas Tech University Hurricane Research Team, and conducting numerous post-disaster damage assessments. Dr. Brown-Giammanco also holds a master’s degree in Water Resources Science and a bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric Science from the University of Kansas, and served as a teaching assistant and academic advisor while at KU. She is currently appointed as a Faculty Associate at Texas Tech University to continue serving with the Texas Tech University Hurricane Research Team.

Brown-Giammanco Curriculum Vitae

Christopher Flynn

General Manager of the Research Center

Chris joined IBHS in 2017 as plant and operations manager. Chris previously worked at Parker Hannifin, where he was the business team leader for custom drive systems and plant manager for both the SSD drives and energy grid tie divisions—as a result, he has a wealth of experience and expertise in keeping complex projects moving forward, and working with engineers and fabricators.

Chris has an MBA from Indiana University and a bachelor’s degree in architectural design and construction management from Bowling Green State University.

Ian Giammanco, Ph.D.

Senior Director of Product Design & Lead Meteorologist

Dr. Ian Giammanco is Senior Director of Product Design & Lead Meteorologist at the IBHS Research Center. His responsibilities include providing leadership in instrumentation design and data collection, wind-flow characterization and multi-hazard testing including hail and wildfire, field programs, and provides guidance on weather and climate issues within the public policy program. He is also serving a 3-year term on the American Meteorological Society’s Committee on Weather and Climate Financial Risk Management. Dr. Giammanco has more than a decade of meteorological field research experience, serving as the field coordinator for the IBHS Characteristics of Hail Field Program, which began in 2012, the Texas Tech University Hurricane Research Team, and has participated in numerous severe thunderstorm and tornado research projects, including VORTEX 2. His research interests include boundary layer wind flow characteristics in a variety of conditions, severe convective storms, tropical cyclones, and measurement and instrumentation systems. He is also a technician-licensed amateur (HAM) radio operator with the call letters W5WWX.

Dr. Giammanco received a bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric Science from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2002, where he was also a pitcher for their NCAA baseball team. He also holds a master’s degree in Atmospheric Science, as well as a Ph.D. in Wind Science and Engineering both from Texas Tech University. He also completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at Texas Tech University examining the wind flow characteristics of tropical cyclones. During his doctoral studies he was appointed as a National Science Foundation – Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training Fellow, and served as an intern at NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division in Miami. In addition to his position at IBHS, he is currently appointed as an Adjunct Faculty Research Associate at Texas Tech University.

Giammanco Curriculum Vitae

Michelle Harvey-LeBlanc

Senior Director of Member Engagement

Michelle Harvey-LeBlanc joined IBHS in 2008. Michelle has more than 15 years of senior executive administration experience and is a polished professional with exceptional communication and interpersonal skills. She began her career with an international travel company and then worked for both American Express and Sony Music Entertainment, managing travel arrangements for VIP clients and senior executives, including negotiating hotel and airline contracts.

Michelle went on to serve as an executive assistant to C-suite officers at a number of high profile organizations, including the NBA Corporate Offices where she handled international projects and maintained key company databases. She was born and raised in Great Britain where she graduated from East Surrey College with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Fred Malik

Managing Director of FORTIFIED Products

Fred Malik is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the FORTIFIED suite of programs, which seek to improve property resilience to natural disasters on a local, regional and national level. Since taking over the program in 2009, Fred has led FORTIFIED’s expansion to include existing residential, new residential and light commercial building standards. Under his leadership, FORTIFIED has quickly become the national building standard for resilience. With more than 20 years of construction experience and an M.B.A. from Virginia Tech, Fred has established himself as a recognized mitigation expert. He is a featured speaker on resilience and its value and practicality at conferences across the country. Fred is married and lives with his family in Florida.

Brian McElhoe

Senior Director of Technology

Brian has more than a decade of experience in all facets of Information Technology including strategic planning, leadership, budget management, project planning and vendor management, as well as various aspects of Network and Systems Management. Prior to joining IBHS in 2015, Brian worked at Lend Lease and was the Infrastructure Manager at ScentAir Technologies.

Chuck Miccolis

Managing Director of Commercial Lines

Chuck Miccolis provides engineering and technical support for commercial building–related hazard mitigation initiatives. He is the lead engineer for the Institute’s FORTIFIED Commercial standards, a voluntary commercial construction criteria that focuses on building resiliency and mitigating losses from natural and man-made hazards. He works with IBHS colleagues, member companies, and industry trade organizations on program development, mitigation, field research, and testing at the IBHS Research Center.

Prior to joining IBHS, Mr. Miccolis was in the commercial property insurance business for more than 20 years. He was with FM Global for 18 years, and most recently with XL Global Asset Protection Services. He served as wind team technical specialist, senior loss prevention specialist, and senior property appraiser. He conducted detailed loss prevention surveys of industrial, commercial and institutional properties to obtain construction, occupancy and fire protection details, and to determine exposures. Mr. Miccolis created and prioritized Highly Protected Risk (HPR) mitigation recommendations and loss scenarios for a variety of natural and man-made risks and hazards. He improved and developed facility emergency preparedness and response plans for clients. He reduced potential business interruption for clients by identifying and quantifying their various time element exposures. He also volunteered as co-coordinator and sector team leader for the Greater Tampa Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Mr. Miccolis earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of South Florida.

Susan Millerick

Senior Director of Media

Susan joined IBHS in 2017 as director of public affairs. She is a high-energy communications leader with deep expertise in media relations, as well as marketing and internal communications. Susan manages IBHS media relations and works on social media and other projects aimed at both public and internal audiences.

Prior to joining IBHS, Susan worked for health insurer Aetna, where she held several key communications positions since 2002. She began her career as a reporter working for newspapers in Connecticut, and worked in communications for Cigna Healthcare and Northeast Utilities. Susan earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Boston College.

Murray Morrison, Ph.D.

Managing Director of Research

Dr. Murray Morrison joined IBHS in 2011 as a research engineer, after being a visiting researcher at the IBHS Research Center as part of a collaboration between the University of Western Ontario, FM Global and IBHS. His areas of expertise include wind tunnel measurements and techniques, boundary layer turbulence, wind induced loads on structures and full-scale structural testing. Prior to joining IBHS, Dr. Morrison worked on numerous research and industrial contracts involving wind loads on full structures and cladding elements at the Boundary Layer Wind tunnel at The University of Western Ontario. He also worked as a technology coordinator at the Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes where he continued development and implementation of the laboratory’s multi-million dollar pressure loading system, instrumentation and data acquisition equipment.

Dr. Morrison earned his doctorate from the University of Western Ontario in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, focusing on the failures of residential wood frame structures when subjected to full-scale realistic wind loading. This research has led him to participate in damage surveys in partnership with Environment Canada following severe thunderstorm wind events in Southwest Ontario. Dr. Morrison also earned his master’s in mechanical and materials engineering from the University of Western Ontario, focusing on turbulence and bluff body aerodynamics.

Morrison Curriculum Vitae

Barbie Simonson

Senior Director of Human Capital

Barbie joined IBHS in 2017, bringing more than 20 years of experience in human resources. She previously worked in the health care field and with Home Depot, and most recently with the Tampa Jewish Community Centers & Federation. She is a skilled professional with expertise in employee relations, change management, coaching and mentoring, strategic planning and administration compliance.

Barbie has an MBA from Webster University, a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Flagler College, and a wealth of HR-related credentials.