Moderators, Speakers and Panelists
Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation
On June 13, 2018, Governor Greg Abbott appointed Cassie Brown as Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation for a term set to expire on February 1, 2019. TDI’s Division of Workers’ Compensation regulates the workers’ compensation system in Texas, ensuring injured workers receive the necessary benefits to quickly return to work, and that workers’ compensation costs are kept at a reasonable level for Texas employers.
Cassie Brown served as deputy commissioner for Regulatory Policy at the Texas Department of Insurance since 2011. Previously, she served as a policy advisor to Governor Rick Perry.
Brown received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from St. Edward’s University and attended the Governor’s Executive Development Program at The University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs.
Albert Betts, Jr.
Executive Director, Insurance Council of Texas
Albert Betts, Jr. has served as executive director since March 31, 2014. Prior to joining ICT, he was a partner at the law firm of Thompson Coe Cousins and Irons, LLP, practicing in the firm’s Insurance Law and Governmental and Legislative Advocacy Group. While there, he served as general counsel for ICT, and represented other insurance related clients at the Texas Department of Insurance and the Texas Legislature.
In 2005, he was appointed by then Texas Governor Rick Perry as the first Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation for the State of Texas, and reappointed in 2007. He served as Commissioner from 2005 through 2008. Prior to being appointed Commissioner, Betts served as Chief of Staff for the Texas Department of Insurance.
Overall, Betts has nearly 25 years experience as a lawyer, public policy administrator, and in executive management. He is also co-editor of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Handbook and is a frequent speaker to insurance, risk management, and employer groups on property and casualty insurance and workers’ compensation issues.
He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law, and has been a licensed attorney since 1991.
Senior Vice President, Product Development & Marketing Preferred Medical
Mark Pew, senior vice president of product development and marketing for Preferred Medical, is a passionate educator and agitator. Known as the RxProfessor, Mark is focused on the intersection of chronic pain and appropriate treatment, particularly as it relates to the clinical and financial implications of opioids, benzodiazepines and other prescription painkillers, along with the evolution of medical marijuana. He is a strong champion for the workers’ compensation industry to #CleanUpTheMess, a movement he created to drive attention to the importance of individualized appropriate treatment for injured workers. Mark is a vocal advocate of the BioPsychoSocialSpiritual treatment model.
With more than 35 years of experience in property and casualty, healthcare and technology, Mark has been the mastermind behind solutions that transform the way the workers’ compensation industry navigates utilization management and treatment, particularly in the area of opioids and other potentially high-risk medications.
Mark is a popular speaker at workers’ compensation, insurance and healthcare conferences around the country and frequently provides continuing education sessions to carriers, self-insured employers and third party administrators. Since 2012, Mark has presented educational content more than 500 times to more than 41,000 people in 41 states and the District of Columbia. He is also an accomplished writer, regularly blogging and tweeting and with many articles published in national magazines. His blog was recognized in 2016, 2017 and 2018 as a WorkersCompensation.com “Best Blog.”
Mark received the WorkCompCentral Magna Comp Laude award in 2016 and the IAIABC’s Samuel Gompers Award in 2017.
Partner, Burns Anderson Jury & Brenner, L.L.P.
Originally from Amarillo, TX Jason moved to Austin in 1986. He graduated from the University of Texas in 1993 with a B.A. in History. He graduated from the Texas Tech School of Law in 1996 and returned to Austin to begin practicing Worker’s Compensation Insurance Defense. Jason is a Partner with BAJB and has been with the firm for 13 years. He is Board Certified in Worker’s Compensation Law and has 22 years of experience representing Insurance Companies and Self-Insureds in all facets of Worker’s Compensation law, including benefit and medical disputes before the Division of Worker’s Compensation and State Office of Administrative Hearings.
Shareholder, Downs • Stanford, P.C.
Stuart Colburn is an attorney and shareholder of Downs Stanford, P.C. Mr. Colburn manages the Austin, Texas, office, where the firm maintains a Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission Austin Board Service. He is board certified in Workers’ Compensation Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Colburn is the firm’s representative at Workers’ Compensation Commission meetings and for any legislative endeavors. Specializing in Workers’ Compensation, Mr. Colburn has extensive experience in all phases of dispute resolution before the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission and in district courts across the state.
Mr. Colburn is extremely active in the education of both adjusters and employers, and is certified by the Texas Department of Insurance as a continuing education provider. A sought-after speaker, Mr. Colburn has delivered more than a hundred speeches regarding Workers’ Compensation.
James M. Loughlin
Partner, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, L.L.P.
James M. Loughlin is a partner in the law firm of Stone, Loughlin & Swanson. Mr. Loughlin’s practice consists primarily of representing workers’ compensation insurance carriers in indemnity and medical benefits disputes, regulatory compliance matters, subrogation, and complex claim consulting. He also represents employers in employer liability claims and workers’ compensation health care networks and political subdivisions in the drafting and review of network contracts as well as network formation and regulation. Mr. Loughlin has worked in private practice since 1996 and is board-certified in workers’ compensation law by the Texas Board of Legal specialization since 2004. From 1996 – 2004, he practiced at Wilson Grosenheider & Jacobs. In 2004, he became a founding partner of Stone, Loughlin & Swanson. Mr. Loughlin has an AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards. He is a member of the Austin Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas, and a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. From 2010 – 2016, he served as a member of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization Workers’ Compensation Law Advisory Commission. Mr. Loughlin graduated from Baylor University School of Law, where he was an editor for the Baylor Law Review, a member of the Order of Barristers, and served as Senior Class President of the Student Bar Association. Before law school, Mr. Loughlin graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor of science degree in political science.
Director, Workers’ Compensation Claims, Texas Association of School Boards
Hiawatha Franks is the Workers’ Compensation Division Director at the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), responsible for managing the administration of workers’ compensation claims, pre-authorization, and medical bill review operation. He holds a Business Administration Degree in Business Management from Texas State University and Master of Business Administration from Walden University. Hiawatha also earned the Charter Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and Associates in Risk Management (ARM) professional designations. He began his career in claims at Texas Mutual as a workers’ compensation claims adjuster, and has served in roles of increasing responsibility throughout his 25 year career in the workers’ compensation field. During his career, he has served as a claims director for both The Hartford and American International Group, Inc. (AIG), in which he was responsible for overseeing the administration of workers’ compensation claims in numerous states.
Michael M. Albrecht, M.P., AFF., M.D.
Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon
Michael Albrecht, M.P. Aff, M.D., is a Board Certified Orthopaedic Surgeon. Dr. Albrecht has particular expertise in shoulder and knee conditions and is a Board Certified Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Subspecialist who is an advisor, consultant, and instructor in the latest and most advanced arthroscopic knowledge, innovation, skills, and techniques. Dr. Albrecht has been a practicing Orthopaedic Surgeon with Southwest Orthopaedic Group since 1999. He has expertise in the evaluation and treatment of numerous bone and joint conditions, sports injuries, state-of-the-art arthroscopic procedures, robot-assisted joint replacement, orthobiologics (such as platelet-rich plasma and stem cell therapies), trauma, and other musculoskeletal conditions. Dr. Albrecht has impressive breadth and depth of experience in Worker’s Compensation, with a large percentage of his patients being injured workers. He has experience as a Designated Doctor, peer and utilization reviewer and serves as Associate Medical Director at Texas Mutual Insurance Company, the largest Worker’s Compensation insurance carrier in Texas. Dr. Albrecht is founder and CEO of Medical Decision Review Experts, P.A., a company that provides expert opinion services, peer reviews, independent medical examinations, and utilization review oversight. He has extensive experience in determining Extent of Injury and estimating costs associated with medical treatment.
Dr. Albrecht earned several degrees, including Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin; Masters of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas; and Doctor of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Albrecht completed Orthopaedic Surgery Residency at the University of Kansas School of Medicine at Wichita, Kansas. He has been certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery since 2001 and was recertified in 2011, as well as obtaining a Subspecialty Certificate in Orthopaedic Sports Medicine in 2011. Dr. Albrecht completed Designated Doctor recertification in November 2017. He has served on the Governing Boards of several local healthcare facilities.
Member, Thornton, Biechlin, Reynolds & Guerra, L.C.
Brandi Young Prejean is a Member in the Austin office. Ms. Prejean defends insurance carriers, employers, self-insured employers and political subdivisions in employment and workers’ compensation matters. She oversees the Austin Representative Services, attends the Division’s public hearings on behalf of our clients and reports on same. Ms. Prejean also advises medical networks regarding compliance within the Texas workers’ compensation system. She is a frequent speaker at educational seminars regarding workers’ compensation matters and legislative changes in the insurance industry. Ms. Prejean graduated from Louisiana State University, B.A. in 1998, cum laude and Louisiana State University’s Paul Hebert School of Law, J.D. and Bachelor of Civil Law in 2002. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Travis County Bar Association, the Austin Young Lawyers Association, the Travis County Women Lawyers’ Association and the Young Lawyer Section of Primerus. Ms. Prejean is also a faculty member for the National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research. She has an AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating demonstrating that a lawyer has earned the highest rating available for their legal ability and professional ethics. Ms. Prejean is licensed to practice law in Texas and is Board Certified in Workers’ Compensation Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
LeeAnna Gainer Mask
Shareholder Adami, Shuffield, Scheihing & Burns
LeeAnna Gainer Mask was born in Austin, Texas. She graduated magna cum laude from Texas Tech University in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations. She received her Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1996 from Texas Tech University School of Law, where she was a Board of Regents Scholar and a member of Phi Alpha Delta, Board of Barristers, and the ATLA Mock Trial Competition Team.
Ms. Mask is a partner with Adami, Shuffield, Scheihing & Burns, P.C., in San Antonio, Texas. She has focused her career on the practice of workers’ compensation law in Texas, representing her clients in benefit proceedings at all levels state-wide, including Benefit Review Conferences, Contested Case Hearings, Appeals Panel Review, Medical Dispute Resolution proceedings, violation referrals, and judicial review.
Ms. Mask is Board Certified in Workers’ Compensation Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubble, and has been selected numerous times as one of San Antonio’s top lawyers by Scene in SA magazine. Ms. Mask currently serves as Secretary for the Workers’ Compensation Section of the State Bar of Texas. She is a frequent speaker on workers’ compensation issues, and is a member of the San Antonio Bar Association and the San Antonio Young Lawyers Association.
The Honorable Jeff Carothers
Administrative Law Judge, TDI Division of Workers’ Compensation
Jeff Carothers is an Administrative Law Judge in the San Antonio Field Office of the TDI-DWC. He is a 1997 graduate of St. Mary’s University School of Law and is licensed to practice law in Texas and Florida. Jeff graduated from the University of South Florida in 1993 where he majored in history. He has been happily married to his wonderful wife, Venus Prado, since 1999 and they are proud parents of their 10-year old son, Cameron.
The Morris Law Firm, PLLC
Daniel Morris is the founding partner of The Morris Law Firm PLLC. He has over 21 years of experience representing injured employees in workers’ compensation claims. Morris’ legal practice also includes representation in criminal cases, immigration claims and hearings, social security claims, family law and employment issues.
Morris is a frequent lecturer at legal conference and has annually at the Advanced Workers’ Compensation seminar and other seminars since 1995.
Morris graduated with a law degree from the University of Houston in 1995. He is a 1993 graduate of Utah State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business and Spanish.
Deputy Commissioner of Healthcare Management TDI, Division of Workers’ Compensation
Matt Zurek is a Deputy Commissioner for Health & Safety with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. He joined the Division in August 2007. In this role his responsibilities include oversight of the Division’s health care management activities, including the ongoing management of the Division’s pharmacy formulary, disability management, fee guidelines, medical fee dispute resolution, and administrative oversight of the medical quality review processes for the Division and the Division’s workplace safety programs.
Prior to joining TDI, Matt served as Vice President for Clinical Quality with HealthSouth Corporation where he provided oversight of clinical programs outpatient physical therapy centers nationwide. He was responsible for clinical and regulatory policy development and compliance.
Mr. Zurek holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology/Health from Eureka College and a Bachelors of Science in Physical Therapy from University of Texas Health Science Center – Dallas.
Manager of Workers’ Compensation Services, Insurance Council of Texas
Steve Nichols is ICT’s Manager of Workers’ Compensation Services. As the program manager, he monitors regulatory, judicial and legislative developments that impacts ICT membership and represents ICT’s members before the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) and TDI’s Division of Workers’ Compensation. He also develops training and is the managing editor for all workers compensation newsletters and publications. Prior to joining ICT, Steve worked for the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission as the manager of medical dispute resolution, APA hearing administrator, and mediator. He also served 23 years in the military on active duty and as a reservist as a paralegal and military law office manager. He retired from the Navy Reserves in 2005. Steve is a graduate of the University of Maryland and Troy State University. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Politics and Government from the University of Maryland.