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Done with running a company? Not quite: Tech meets insurance

Phil Edmundson led one of New England’s biggest commercial insurance brokerages for 16 years,Chris Morris for The Boston Globe

After leading one of New England’s biggest commercial insurance brokerages for 16 years, Phil Edmundson thought he was done with running a company.

He sold Boston-based William Gallagher Associates in 2015 to the global brokerage Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (The similar name was just a coincidence.) Edmundson thought he would relax and spend the millions he reaped from that deal by investing in startups.

But he’s getting back into the management game instead. He says he realized that tech entrepreneurs were having a hard time entering the insurance business, a highly regulated industry that can befuddle outsiders. So Edmundson decided to start his own “insurtech” firm, Corvus Insurance.


Corvus just unveiled a $4 million funding round led by Bain Capital Ventures, and Edmundson hopes to begin selling insurance products this spring. Corvus works as a go-between for major insurers and brokerages by offering a digital approach to limiting losses and claims, and using data analysis to come up with proprietary risk scores.

Corvus is starting out with the cargo industry, with a focus on promoting proper refrigeration for food and drug shipments. Eventually, it plans to help businesses with cyber insurance, by crunching Web traffic data, and auto insurance, by using apps to track driver behavior.

Arthur J. Gallagher allowed Edmundson to build Corvus while he wrapped up his responsibilities there; he left the insurance giant last fall. So far, Corvus has hired at least a dozen people in Boston.

Edmundson has a side hobby: He has been a bird-watcher for decades. His new venture will keep him busy, but at least he found a way to bring his two passions together. The name Corvus refers to crows and similar birds known for making tools to solve problems.


On the Larry Nassar case

Two well-known Boston deal-makers have been called in to assist with the sexual abuse cases involving Larry Nassar, the convicted physician who worked with the US gymnastics team and Michigan State University.


The university recently picked Commonwealth Mediation & Conciliation, a Boston firm led by CEO Paul Finn, to administer a $10 million fund to pay for counseling and healing services for individuals who were treated by Nassar while at Michigan State.

This will be one of Finn’s most high-profile cases, but it’s one of many. Finn, according to a 2009 Globe profile, “has brokered deals in some of the saddest, most high-profile civil lawsuits in the region,” including settlements for victims of the Archdiocese of Boston’s sexual abuse scandal and the Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island.

Meanwhile, the US Olympic Committee has hired the Boston law firm Ropes & Gray to conduct an independent investigation into decades of abuse by Nassar, who was sentenced to at least 40 years in prison in January. Former federal prosecutors Joan McPhee, a Ropes & Gray partner based in Manhattan, and James Dowden, a Boston-based partner, will lead the team.

They ran up against some unexpected complications: Several key athletes, including Aly Raisman, refused to participate in the investigation. Raisman became the latest to sue USA Gymnastics last week over Nassar’s abuse; the USOC is also a defendant. The Wall Street Journal reported that the athletes don’t trust the USOC leadership and are frustrated that their complaints about Nassar’s conduct went unheeded for so long. Raisman told the Journal: “I find it hard to believe after all this time that the USOC is genuinely concerned about anything other than the scrutiny it’s now facing.”



Globe-trotter, Scouts CEO

After a nationwide search lasting six months, Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts have hired a globe-trotting Boston resident as CEO. Denise Burgess, who has worked as an American diplomat, CNN news correspondent, and international communications consultant, takes over next week.

She replaces Patricia Parcellin, who has retired.

Burgess hopes to use her platform to inspire confidence in young women.

“I believe America is facing a critical juncture in the development of our cultural norms, particularly those that relate to women and girls,” she said in a statement.

With 32,000 Girl Scouts and 15,000 volunteers, GSEMA is the 10th-largest Girl Scout Council in the United States. Burgess was chosen for her ability to “help get the message out that Girl Scouts delivers the best leadership development experience for girls in the world — one that is designed with, by, and for girls. She will serve as an ambassador in promoting Girl Scouts as a safe, inclusive space where girls can take the lead,” Tricia Tilford, board chair and president, said in a statement.

Most recently, Burgess was resident country director for the Carter Center, the nonprofit started by former president Jimmy Carter, leading a field operation monitoring elections and focusing on human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Before that, she served 16 years in Foreign Service at the Department of State. She received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Princeton University and a master’s of science in communications management from Syracuse University.



A reunion of sorts

After a decade as a key executive in Bank of America’s marketing operation, Kelly Fredrickson is heading back to ad agency life.

Fredrickson was just named president of MullenLowe’s Boston office, where she’ll lead a team of about 500 people.

She’ll take over for Geoff Cottrill, who left in 2017 after about a year in the role. Cottrill, a former Converse marketing executive, has since taken a job in Atlanta at Coca-Cola, where he worked from 1996 to 2005.

Fredrickson’s arrival at MullenLowe will represent a Modernista! reunion of sorts. She worked closely with MullenLowe’s Dave Weist and Tim Vaccarino at the now-defunct Boston ad shop, before joining BofA in 2008. (Modernista! shuttered in 2011.)

The Boston office is the largest one in Interpublic Group-owned MullenLowe’s group, and works with a number of well-known clients, including JetBlue, Royal Caribbean, and Burger King.

Fredrickson, who starts her new job in April, said in a statement that she was impressed by MullenLowe’s internal chemistry and innovative thinking.

“When I was approached for this job, I evaluated the agency just as I would have if they were pitching the bank’s business, and they had everything I would want in an agency,” Fredrickson said.

“The team has incredible agency, passion, and strong momentum right now.”


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