Key Executives is pleased to announce the Top 25 CEOs of Connecticut for 2024. As one of the original 13 colonies, Connecticut has a rich history as a thriving center of business and industry. 

In fact, it’s well known as a global leader in investment and asset management. These top CEOs represent not only the investment sector but also insurance, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, technology, and more.

One recipient honored this year is Vlad Coric, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Biohaven who also serves as an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. Another honoree is Maria Sainz, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Hyperfine, a medical device company that created the world’s first FDA-cleared portable MRI system. John Romano, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Tronox, and Steven A. Cohen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Point72, are two other notable individuals included in this year’s list. 

From asset management to medical device manufacturing, this year’s awardees were selected due to their leadership experience and unique accomplishments throughout their careers. These business titans are leading the way toward future business expansion in Connecticut and beyond. Please join us in recognizing the accomplishments of the Top 25 CEOs of Connecticut for 2024.


1. Ben Pajak
Chief Executive Officer, HealthPlanOne

Ben Pajak is the CEO of HealthPlanOne, a Medicare and health insurance organization established in 2006. HealthPlanOne has grown to nine locations serving members in every state. In his role as CEO, Pajak helps advance HealthPlanOne’s mission of finding customers the right plan to meet their healthcare needs.

Prior to leading HealthPlanOne, Pajak led Willis Towers Watson’s individual marketplace efforts in both the employer and direct-to-consumer spaces for a decade. An experienced and widely respected healthcare insurance executive, Pajak was integral in acquiring and leading several companies in the fast-growing senior healthcare segment. Pajak received his bachelor’s and MBA from the University of Hartford.


2. John Romano
Co-Chief Executive Officer, Tronox

John Romano currently serves as Co-Chief Executive Officer of Tronox and is a member of the company’s board. Tronox is a producer of high-quality titanium products and is known for its operational and technical experience. The company employs more than 6,000 employees across six continents as one of the largest titanium dioxide producers in the world. 

Romano’s previous roles include executive vice president, chief commercial and strategy officer, senior vice president, and president of the company’s Pigment and Electrolytic operations, as well as executive vice president of Tronox Incorporated. He has held various senior sales and marketing leadership positions at Tronox and its predecessor companies since 1988. Romano holds a bachelor’s in accounting from Oklahoma State University.


3. Nick Stanage
President & Chief Executive Officer, Hexcel Corporation

Nick Stanage has served as Director, Chief Executive Officer, and President of Hexcel Corporation since August 1, 2013. He became Chairman of the Board on January 1, 2014. Hexcel Corporation is a public industrial materials company that develops and manufactures structural materials. Hexcel was formed from the combination of California Reinforced Plastics, Ciba Composites, and Hercules Composites Products Division. The company sells its products in commercial, military, and recreational markets for use in commercial and military aircraft, space launch vehicles and satellites, wind turbine blades, sports equipment, and automotive products.

Prior to joining Hexcel, Stanage was president of the heavy vehicle products group (including both commercial vehicle products and off-highway products) at Dana Holding Corporation, and served as vice president and general manager of the Commercial Vehicle Group at Dana. Stanage held positions of increasing responsibility in engineering, operations, and marketing with Honeywell Inc. including vice president of integrated supply chain and technology for the Consumer Products Group, and vice president and general manager of the Aerospace Group’s Engine Systems and Accessories Division from January 2005 to August 2005. 


4. Steve Cohen
Chief Executive Officer, Point72

Steven A. Cohen is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Point72, a global multi-strategy asset management firm that invests in multiple asset classes and strategies worldwide. Cohen founded S.A.C. Capital Advisors in 1992 and converted his investment operations to the Point72 Asset Management family office in 2014. The firm later transitioned to become a registered investment advisor and began accepting outside capital in 2018. 

Cohen leveraged his lengthy career in the public markets to found Point72 Private Investments, which offers global venture capital and growth equity strategies. He began his investing career at Gruntal & Co., where he managed proprietary capital for 14 years before starting his own investment business. Cohen received a bachelor’s in economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. 


5. Catherine Stempien
President & CEO, Avangrid Networks

Catherine Stempien was appointed to the position of President & Chief Executive Officer of Avangrid Networks, Inc. in February 2021. In this role, Stempien oversees Avangrid's eight electric and gas utilities, serving approximately 3.3 million customers across New York and New England. She is also responsible for regulatory affairs, asset management, and planning for Avangrid Networks, Inc.

Previously, Stempien served as president of Duke Energy Florida. She also held various executive roles at Duke, including senior vice president of corporate development and various leadership positions in the company’s legal department. Stempien holds a J.D. from Boston University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in government from Dartmouth College. She also completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.  


6. Kristie Juster
Chief Executive Officer, Conair

Kristie Juster is a global Chief Executive Officer with experience in designing and building sustainable growth strategies and organizations. In January 2024, Juster was appointed President and CEO of Conair LLC. Conair is an international designer, manufacturer, and marketer of branded personal care and small kitchen appliances, cookware, hair brushes & accessories, cosmetic bags, and travel accessories.

Juster brings over two decades of experience to her role. Previously, she held the role of CEO of Kimball International, one of the world’s leading omnichannel commercial furnishings companies. Prior to being CEO, Juster was on the Board of Directors of Kimball International, serving for over 7 years combined. Juster is currently also serving on the Board of Directors of Trex Company, Inc. Juster held multiple executive roles over her 23-year career at Newell Brands, overseeing divisions that included brands such as Levolor, Kirsch, Calphalon, Sharpie, Graco and Expo. She holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management from Cornell University.


7. Kara Raiguel
President and Chief Executive Officer, Gen Re

Kara Raiguel is President and Chief Executive Officer of General Re Corporation and joined the group in 2016. Gen Re, a Berkshire Hathaway Company, is a Life & Health and Property & Casualty reinsurer with a network of more than 40 offices. 

Previously, Raiguel spent 16 years in Berkshire Hathaway’s Reinsurance Division in Stamford, CT, where she prospected reinsurance and insurance opportunities and priced loss portfolio transfers and acquisitions. During this tenure, she was responsible for Guard Insurance Group, the Division’s India reinsurance portfolio, and Berkshire Hathaway’s financial guaranty insurer, BHAC. Raiguel also established a California Workers’ Compensation portfolio for the National Liability & Fire Insurance Company. Raiguel began her career in 1994 with CIGNA Property & Casualty in Philadelphia. She obtained an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Ursinus College and is a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society.


8. Anthony Guzzi
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Emcor Group

Anthony (Tony) J. Guzzi is Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of EMCOR Group, Inc., a Fortune 500® leader in mechanical and electrical construction, industrial and energy infrastructure, and building services. It comprises 100 or more operating companies, has approximately 180 locations, and employs more than 38,000 people.

Prior to joining EMCOR, Guzzi was president of the North American Distribution and Aftermarket Division of Carrier Corporation, a manufacturer and distributor of commercial and residential HVAC and refrigeration systems and equipment and a provider of aftermarket services and components of its own products and those of other manufacturers in both the HVAC and refrigeration industry. Previously, Guzzi served as an engagement manager with McKinsey & Company. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree with the highest distinction from The United States Military Academy at West Point in 1986. Guzzi earned his MBA from Harvard Business School with distinction in 1993.


9. Michele Trogni
Chief Executive Officer, Zinnia

Michele Trogni is Chief Executive Officer of Zinnia, a firm that provides life and annuity insurance technologies and digital services. A global business leader in banking and financial services, Trogni is a recognized technology innovator. She is currently a Deutsche Bank Supervisory Board member, where she advises on technology, innovation, and risk. 

Previously, Trogni was executive vice president of consolidated markets and solutions for IHS Markit, where she led a portfolio of businesses that deliver data insights, analytics, and technology solutions to financial markets, engineering, and technology companies. She spent the majority of her career at UBS, where, among other roles, she served as the firm’s Group CIO and Head of Operations. Trogni graduated from Northumbria University with an undergraduate degree in accounting and business management.


10. Chris Lafond
Chief Executive Officer, Insurity

Chris Lafond is the Chief Executive Officer of Insurity, a provider of cloud-based software for insurance carriers, brokers, and MGAs. With over 400 cloud-based deployments, Insurity is trusted by top P&C carriers and top MGAs nationwide. Insurity is a portfolio company of GI Partners and TA Associates.

Lafond began his career in 1987 and has 37 years of experience. He leverages his experience and expertise to empower insurance organizations to quickly capitalize on new opportunities with intuitive, analytical insurance software. Before joining Insurity, Lafond was an EVP and CFO at Intralinks, a Synchronoss Business, and before that, an EVP and CFO at Gartner. Earlier in his career, he worked as an investment assistant with JP Morgan. Lafond graduated from Columbia Business School with an MBA in finance and accounting and from the University of Connecticut with an undergraduate degree in economics.


11. Dennis LeStrange
Chief Executive Officer, Bluecrest

Dennis LeStrange joined BlueCrest as Chief Executive Officer in June 2019. Bluecrest, first established in 2018, employs over 1,600 people worldwide and provides comprehensive enterprise printer, parcel, and software solutions. He has over 20 years of senior executive management experience in the mail equipment and services industry.

Before becoming CEO of BlueCrest, LeStrange led Neopost’s Small and Mid-Sized Equipment Division. In addition, LeStrange served as Neopost’s president and chief executive officer for Neopost USA and COO of Neopost North America. His other prior roles include executive positions with IKON North America, A-Copy, and Savin Corporation. LeStrange has a degree in accounting and business administration from SUNY Empire State College, and he is chairman emeritus of the Advisory Board at Pennsylvania State University Great Valley—School of Graduate Professional Studies.


12. Patrick Millot
Chief Executive Officer, Laticrete International

Patrick Millot joined Laticrete International Inc. as Chief Executive Officer in August of 2020. For over 65 years, Laticrete has been committed to the research and development of innovative installation products, building a reputation for quality, performance, and customer service.

Millot most recently served as CEO of Abrasives and Composites Systems at Saint-Gobain, a manufacturer of high-performance materials and building products. In this position, he led a division overseeing 12,300 employees from 88 sites in 30 countries. Before being promoted to Systems CEO, Millot served as president of the Ceramic division, and previously as vice president of corporate planning, strategy, and finance of the High-Performance Materials sector. Millot started his 24-year career at Saint-Gobain in finance and strategy before being promoted to general manager of the Reinforcement Division. He earned an engineering degree from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris and holds a master's in economics, an LL. M. in International and European law, and graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure.


13. Sedarius Perrotta
Chief Executive Officer, Shelf

Sedarius Perrotta is the Chief Executive Officer of Shelf, which offers organizations a secure way to incorporate LLMs to scale their knowledge, boost agent performance, and improve customer satisfaction. In this role, he is working to transform knowledge management through automation and AI. Perrotta has 17 years of experience and began his career in 2007.

Perrotta held several roles at Shelf, including head of innovation and director of knowledge management, before becoming Chief Executive Officer. Before joining Shelf, he was vice president of products at Neuron Global. Perrotta graduated from Georgetown University with an undergraduate degree in new and small business management.


14. Frank Lee
Chief Executive Officer, Photronics

Photronics is a semiconductor photomask manufacturer first established in 1969. In May 2022, Frank Lee assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer and joined the Photronics’ Board of Directors. He had previously been appointed president in March of the same year.

Prior to joining Photronics in 2006, Lee served as chief executive officer of NSMC. His career also included roles at Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel, and Soliconix. He was vice president of operations at Texas Instruments-Acer (a TI/Acer joint venture) in Taiwan and has held leadership positions at TSMC-Acer and UMC, both in Taiwan. Lee holds a bachelor’s in nuclear engineering from Tsinghua University and a master’s and Ph.D. in Materials Science from the University of Cincinnati.


15. David Levenson
President and Chief Executive Officer, Limra

David Levenson is President and Chief Executive Officer of LIMRA, LOMA, and LL Global. In this capacity, he leads a large association of life insurance and financial services companies, representing more than 1,200 financial services companies in 71 countries. Lirma celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016 and continues to evolve its research and development programs. 

Prior to joining LL Global, Levenson was a principal at Edward Jones and served on its management committee from 2015-2018. He was responsible for all products distributed through its network of 17,000 advisors in the U.S. and Canada. Before 2012, Levenson was president of wealth management at The Hartford Financial Services Group, responsible for the firm’s annuity, individual life, mutual fund, and retirement plan businesses. He also served as president and CEO of Hartford Life, KK in Tokyo, where he led the largest annuity provider in Japan. Levenson holds his bachelor’s of science from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, his MBA from Columbia Business School, and a doctorate in business administration from The School of International Corporate Strategy at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, Japan. 


16. Scott Drozd
Chief Executive Officer, FCP Euro

Scott Drozd is the Chief Executive Officer of FCP Euro. First established by Harry and Kathy Bauer in 1986, Drozd helped transform FCP Euro from a small brick-and-mortar auto parts store into an online organization that generates $200 million in annual sales. Drozd’s decades of leadership have allowed FCP Euro to stay true to its founding values and mission of selling high-quality replacement parts for European vehicles.

As the CEO, Drozd is responsible for overseeing the organization's growth and strategic planning, marketing, and financial strategy. His background includes various positions at FCP Euro, including COO, before assuming the role of CEO. He graduated from the University of Connecticut with an undergraduate degree in communications. 


17. Vlad Coric
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Biohaven

Vlad Coric is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Biohaven, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of treatments in key therapeutic areas. Within the pharmaceutical industry, Coric has expertise in therapeutic areas, including neuroscience, virology, oncology, and immuno-oncology, and has been involved in multiple drug development programs.

Since July 2001, Coric has served as an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. He previously served as the inpatient chief of the Yale Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit, director of the Yale Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Research Clinic, and president of the Connecticut Psychiatric Society. Coric completed his internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital and residency training at the Yale Psychiatry Residency Training Program, where he also served as the program-wide chief resident for the Yale Department of Psychiatry, and chief resident on the PTSD service at the West-Haven Connecticut Veterans Administration Hospital. 

Coric earned his medical degree from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and was an honors scholar in neurobiology and physiology at the University of Connecticut, where he received his bachelor’s degree. He has also authored more than 65 peer-reviewed publications. 


18. Steve Culmone
President and Chief Executive Officer, Ashcroft

Steve was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Ashcroft in 2011 following a 20-year track record of leadership roles within the company. Ashcroft Inc. manufactures gauges, thermometers, switches, transducers, transmitters, data loggers, calibration equipment, and isolators for pressure measurement, monitoring, and control.

Since 1990, Culmone has served in a variety of management positions, becoming an executive board member in 2000 as senior vice president of Global Operations. Culmone’s industry knowledge, expertise, and personal commitment to standards of care and excellence have positioned Ashcroft to better serve its customers. He began his career at C. Cowles in 1983, where he served seven years as quality manager and vice president of operations. Culmone earned his MBA from Quinnipiac University and his bachelor’s in business management from Fairfield University. His affiliations include Bridgeport Regional Business Council, Manufacture CT, CBIA, and Vistage.


19. Matthew Gelles
President and Chief Executive Officer, NEFCO

Matthew Gelles is the President and Chief Executive Officer of NEFCO, a family-owned and operated construction supply company that provides a wide range of products and services to a wide variety of professional contractors. His leadership enables NEFCO to provide localized, contractor-centric services, including extensive industry expertise, large local inventories, dependable job site delivery, turnkey engineering services, and specialty fabrication and assembly of construction materials.

Gelles has worked at NEFCO in various positions, first as a warehouse employee in 2007 and then as a sales and marketing intern in 2009. Before becoming CEO in 2022, he served as Executive Vice President. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a master’s in industrial distribution and from Syracuse University - Martin J. Whitman School of Management with an undergraduate degree in supply chain management, entrepreneurship, and emerging enterprises. 


20. Saqib Islam
Chief Executive Officer, Springworks Therapeutics

Saqib Islam was appointed Chief Executive Officer of SpringWorks Therapeutics in 2018. He has been a founding member of the company’s executive team since its launch in 2017 and previously served as its chief financial officer and chief business officer. Islam has over 25 years of international business management experience and an extensive background in the healthcare banking sector, having held managing director positions in the investment banking divisions of Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Securities.

Before joining SpringWorks, Islam was chief business officer at Moderna Therapeutics, where he oversaw critical aspects of the company’s growth. Prior to Moderna, Islam served as executive vice president, chief strategy, and portfolio officer at Alexion Pharmaceuticals, executing the company’s corporate growth strategies and contributing to its assessment and management of global operations. Islam currently serves on the Board of Directors and Audit Committee of Passage Bio. He is also a member of ARS Pharmaceuticals’ Compensation Committee and Board of Directors. Islam received his bachelor’s degree from McGill University, graduating as a Faculty and University Scholar, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.


21. Ed Malaspina
President and Chief Executive Officer, HAI Group

Ed Malaspina is the President and Chief Executive Officer of HAI Group, a family of companies founded by and dedicated to housing. Malaspina helps lead the company in its efforts to promote sustainable and affordable housing through insurance, risk management, online training, and research to meet the needs of over 1,400 housing organizations and more than 15,000 housing professionals across the nation. A 30-year affordable housing industry veteran, Ed is a Certified Public Housing Manager, licensed insurance producer, Certified Insurance Counselor, excess and surplus lines broker, licensed claims adjuster, real estate broker, and a Governance Fellow with the National Association of Corporate Directors.

Joining HAI Group in 1991, Malaspina has served the company in a variety of leadership roles. Prior to becoming the Chief Executive Officer in 2018, he served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. He graduated from Albertus Magnus College with a master’s in business administration and from the University of Hartford with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering.


22. Peter Arn
Chief Executive Officer, Rom Technologies

Peter Arn is the Chief Executive Officer of Rom Technologies, a company founded in 2013 in Brookfield, Connecticut. By remotely connecting clinicians and patients across the country, ROMTech delivers enhanced diagnostics and quicker postoperative recovery at a decreased cost. As an experienced entrepreneur, Arn has driven ROMTech’s core initiatives from day one, including product development, hiring, fundraising, and more. 

Prior to joining ROMTech, Arn served in various executive roles at several early-stage companies, including OriginOil, LIFERA Inc., and GoChuckGo. He has raised more than $20 million in startup funding, developed robust sales channels, and piloted multiple startups to profitable exits. 


23. Ranjan Mishra
Chief Executive Officer, PCR Financial Aggregation

Ranjan Mishra began his professional career 28 years ago. Today, he is the Chief Executive Officer of PCR Financial Aggregation, a provider of financial aggregation solutions to the wealth and investment management industry. With over 20 partnerships with wealth-tech firms, the company delivers aggregated data directly into the industry’s reporting, portfolio management, account, and CRM systems.

Mishra first got his start in 1996 as an executive of settlements at Citigroup. From there, he went on to IL&FS, before eventually rising to SVP of GRM and special projects at Intertrust Group, his most recent position before joining PCR Financial Aggregation. Mishra graduated from Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research with a PGDBM in finance and from the College of Vocational Studies, Delhi, with an undergraduate degree.


24. Maria Sainz
President and Chief Executive Officer, Hyperfine

Maria Sainz is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Hyperfine, a medical device company that created Swoop®, the world’s first FDA-cleared portable MRI system. She brings over 30 years of experience in the medical device industry and has served as a valuable member of Hyperfine’s Board of Directors since the company’s Nasdaq listing, including on the Audit and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committees. As President and CEO of Hyperfine, Sainz will lead the commercial expansion of the Swoop portable MRI system™ so it can continue lowering bars to medical imaging globally. 

Sainz has held president and CEO positions at multiple medical device companies during her industry tenure, including AEGEA Medical, which was acquired by CooperSurgical in 2021, Cardiokinetix, and Concentric Medical, which was acquired by Stryker in 2011. Sainz graduated from Thunderbird School of Global Management with a degree in business.


25. Michael Kalen
Chief Executive Officer, Covr Financial Technologies

Michael Kalen brings his experience in fintech, insurance, and venture capital investing to Covr Financial Technologies. Headquartered in Hartford, CT, with offices in Boise, ID, and Houston, TX, Covr innovates the insurance industry through data-driven insights and choice of coverage options.

Most recently, Kalen was a senior executive with Aquiline Capital and led one of its businesses, Futurity First Financial Corp, to a market leadership position in life and annuity distribution. Before joining Aquiline, Kalen was a senior leader at the Hartford Financial Group, leading the US life insurance and European Annuity businesses for seven years. Prior to joining Hartford, he was a senior executive and sales leader at Prudential Financial, where he held a variety of senior roles, including SVP of insurance and estate planning at Prudential Securities. Kalen is a CLU and ChFC and a graduate of the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s in management and Columbia University with an MBA in finance.