Meet the Team

Meet the Team

Managing Director

Paul Blanco - LUTCF

  • Managing Director
Paul Blanco Image

6 Corporate Drive
Shelton, CT 06484

Phone: (203)513-6000
Fax: (203)513-6080
E-mail: pblanco@metlife.com

Drawn by the desire to help people become more financially secure as well as the entrepreneurial nature of the business, Paul Blanco began his career in the financial services industry as a financial services representative with MetLife in 1991.

In just two years Paul moved into management, taking over a small seven person MetLife office in Trumbull, Connecticut.  As its Managing Director, Paul oversaw an expansion of the franchise to become the industry leading firm it is today.  With 30 offices in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Barnum Financial Group has clients in all fifty states and employs over 400 people.

In recognition of his efforts, Paul became the youngest inductee into the MetLife Managers’ Hall of Fame in 2003.  In 2006, he became the youngest winner of its Top of the Tower award and in 2010 Paul became the youngest manager in MetLife’s history to reach Golden Laureate status.

A perennial top performer, Paul has qualified for eight consecutive Management Leaders Conferences and thirteen America’s Council Conferences.  He received MetLife’s prestigious Triskelion Award for outstanding management leadership in 2004, 2007, and 2010.  Paul led the team at Barnum to be recognized as MetLife’s Firm of the Year in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, and 2013.

In addition to his key role at MetLife, Paul has made substantial contributions to his industry.  He has contributed to GAMA’s Great Ideas book series and served on the GAMA Foundation’s Board of Trustees.  He has qualified for the Master Agency Award and the International Management Diamond Plus and Diamond Awards. GAMA has named his firm one of the top 100 U.S. financial agencies multiple times.

Paul has appeared on “Smart Money Radio” on WICC and WELI as well as on “The CEO Show” and WTNH’s “Connecticut Style”, providing expert advice on leadership, philanthropy, and financial services. A noted industry speaker, Paul has presented at numerous MetLife and industry events and at GAMA International’s LAMP conference.

A prominent philanthropist in his community, Paul’s ultimate dream is for 100% of his employees to give back to the community in some way.  Barnum employees volunteer in support of “Bikes for Kids”, raising funds and running events which donate hundreds of new bikes and helmets annually to underprivileged children in New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.  Through the “Backpacks for Kids” program, over 75 disadvantaged children were provided with school supplies and clothing.  Paul and his team have volunteered with KaBoom! to sponsor and construct four playgrounds in Connecticut.  He also established an annual “What the American Dream Means to Me” essay contest which offers talented children the opportunity to earn college scholarships.

Paul was named Philanthropist of the Year in 2007 by the Fairfield County Remodelers and Home Building Association and he was inducted into the Connecticut Business Hall of Fame and Junior Achievement Hall of Fame. His firm was awarded  “Best Place to Work in Connecticut” by the Hartford Business Journal in 2006, 2009, 2010, and 2011, and Fairfield County Business Journal in 2012. Barnum Financial Group also won “Best Place to Work in Rhode Island” by Providence Business News  in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.  He received the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Growth of the Year award , the Westchester County Chabad Lubavitch Corporate Leadership Award, and the Valley United Way Community Impact Award.

Paul’s passion for sports and youth in the community has inspired him to support a local football camp, little league team, adult softball team, Junior Achievement, and the “Make a Difference Day” campaign.

In 2006, Paul and his wife Mindee started Foundation for Life, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization established as a vehicle through which Barnum volunteers could provide financial support to charities throughout their local communities. Since its inception, Foundation for Life* has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support many local charities.

Paul and Mindee live in Fairfield, Connecticut with their three children, Jennee, Sydnee, and Paul and their dog Sofee.

*Foundation for Life is not affiliated with MetLife or any MetLife affiliate.

Agency Sales Directors

Joe LoPresti -  ChFC®, CLU®, CASL®, LUTCF 

  •  Senior Agency Sales Director
Joseph LoPresti Image

6 Corporate Drive
Shelton, CT 06484

Phone: 203.513.6132
E-mail: jlopresti@metlife.com

  • BS & BA – Nichols College (Specialization in Finance)
  • Earned ChFC® designation
  • Earned CLU®  designation
  • Earned CASL®  designation
  • Earned LUTCF designation
  • Registered Principal of MetLife Securities, Inc.
  • Member – National Association of Financial Insurance Advisors (NAIFA)
  • Member – GAMA International
  • Numerous Management Leaders & Chairman's Conference Qualifications

Joe is the Senior Agency Sales Director at Barnum Financial Group, An Office of MetLife. Joe started his career with MetLife 19 years ago as a Financial Services Representative gaining extensive knowledge and experience assisting individuals, families and business owners with their financial goals and objectives.

As Senior Agency Sales Director and Barnum South Market Leader, Joe leads a team of over 200 highly productive Financial Service Representatives, Advisor Coaches, Sales Managers and Agency Directors. In 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010 Joe was recognized as the number one MetLife Agency Sales Director in the country. Joe was also named by Fairfield County Business Journal as one of the top 40 leaders under the age of 40 in Fairfield County.

Joe dedicates his career to building the strongest team of Financial Service Representatives comprised of both experienced representatives who would like to take their career to the next level as well as young professionals. Joe is committed to providing the tools and resources needed to assist these highly productive, entrepreneurial Financial Service Representatives to build a successful practice within the Barnum Financial Group.

Joe also gives back to his community by coaching youth baseball and basketball, as well as contributing time and resources to several local charities and organizations. Joe serves on the Board of Directors at the Valley United Way and BFG's Foundation For Life. Joe is an avid sports fan who lives in Woodbury, CT with his wife Amy and their four children Tanner, Kassi, Carli and Hannah.

Lorraine Caggiano

  • Agency Sales Director
Lorraine Caggiano Image

90 Crystal Run Rd
Suite 101 Middletown, NY 10941

Phone: 845-703-1127
Fax: 845-692-5670
E-mail: LCaggiano1@metlife.com

Lorraine Caggiano is an Agency Sales Director with Barnum Financial Group, An Office of MetLife. She is dedicated to building an elite team of Financial Services Representatives in the Hudson Valley, New York market. Lorraine’s team is located in our Middletown, New York office and is comprised of highly motivated, experienced representatives who are driving to take their careers to new heights, as well as a host of young professionals, who are eager to learn from them.

Prior to her current position, Lorraine served fifteen years as a Vice President and Regional Sales Manager at M&T Securities in the Metro New York division of M&T Bank. Her area of responsibility encompassed the overall training and development of licensed advisors in the banking and securities department with her primary focus on supervision and operations.

Lorraine has over twenty five years of experience in the Financial Services industry. During that time, Lorraine has been a successful leader’s conference qualifying Financial Advisor and has received various awards.

Lorraine currently lives in Harriman, NY with her husband, Norbert. Her younger daughter Amanda is currently attending the University of Massachusetts and her older daughter Allyson is married and expecting her first child in June. Outside of the office, Lorraine loves spending her time cooking and reading and is a sports enthusiast. She enjoys giving back to her community by volunteering her time with various charitable organizations such as the Diabetes Foundation and Muscular Dystrophy Foundation.

Maria Conlon

  • Agency Sales Director
Maria Conlon Image

6 Corporate Drive
Shelton, CT 06484

Phone: 203.513.6322
Fax: 203.513.6080
E-mail: mconlon1@metlife.com

  • BS – University of Connecticut
  • Licensed to sell Life, Accident and Health Insurances, Series 6 & 63 Securities Licenses
  • Member of the Alumni Association of Connecticut
  • Leader's Conference Qualification

Maria is an Agency Sales Director with Barnum Financial Group, An Office of MetLife. As an Agency Sales Director, Maria is dedicated to building a highly productive team of Financial Services Representatives. She is committed to providing the tools and resources needed to assist these Financial Service Representatives to build a successful practice within Barnum Financial Group.

Maria played for the University of Connecicut women's basketball team and helped lead the team to three Division I National Championships. In addition, Maria was the Head Coach of the Women's Basketball Team at Southern Connecticut State University and led them to win the National Championship in 2005.

Maria resides in Derby, CT with her husband Carmine and daughter Layla. She has s deep commitment to her community and is a volunteer for a number of charitable organizations.  Maria is the president and founder of the Maria Conlon Humanitarian Donor Advised Fund at the Valley Community Foundation. She is also a board member for the Foundation for Life, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the people and families within our community.

 

George Gerhard III

  • Agency Sales Director
George Gerhard Image

565 Taxter Road - Suite 625
Elmsford, NY 10523

Phone: 914.272.2242
Fax: 914.963.8014
E-mail: ggerhard@metlife.com

George is an Agency Sales Director. In this role, he has dedicated his career to building the best team of Financial Services Representatives comprised of both experienced representatives who would like to take their career to the next level as well as young professionals.

George began his career at Barnum in 2002 as a student intern, and joined the firm as a Financial Services Representative in 2005. Since starting his career at Barnum, George has consistently earned top honors, which lead him into a leadership role. He was named “Rookie of the Year” Barnum's award for top new associate of the year. Because of his production, compliance and ethical standards he qualified for MetLife’s prestigious Leaders Conference for five consecutive years.

He is a member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), the industry’s premier association of Financial Professionals, a member of The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) and also a member of GAMA International, the association for field leaders in the insurance, investment, and financial services industry.

George was selected as a 2011 winner in Fairfield County Business Journal, 40Under40. This award recognizes creative young professionals, all under the age of 40, who are dedicated to personal and professional development. In December 2010, George was recognized as a FIVE STAR Wealth Manager with CT Magazine. This is a prestigious award that is given to only seven percent of professionals in a given industry and market area. He was chosen as a result of being ranked one of the highest in overall satisfaction based on research with clients, peers and industry leaders.

George is a graduate of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance.

George lives in Milford, Connecticut.

Michael Kane

  • Agency Sales Director
William Hite Image

565 Taxter Road - Suite 625
Elmsford, NY 10523

Phone: 201.398.7440
Fax: 201.398.7450
E-mail: mkane@metlife.com

Michael Kane is an Agency Sales Director with Barnum Financial Group, An Office of MetLife. He has dedicated  his career to build an elite team of Financial Services Representatives.  Michael’s team is comprised of both highly productive, experienced representatives who are driving to take their career to new heights, as well as a host of young professionals, who are eager to learn from them.

Prior to Joining the Barnum family, Michael was a Financial Representative with New England Financial. He holds his 6, 7, 63, 65 Securities licenses and licensed to sell Life and Health Insurance. He is a member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) the industry’s Premier Association of Financial Professionals. In 2007, he graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Financial Management. He remains a member of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association.

With a passion to better others, an excellent client service model and a hearty work ethic, Michael has qualified for Leader’s Conference 4 times and has become an integral part of the Barnum leadership team.

Michael is married to wife Mara and they reside in New Jersey. In his spare time, he enjoys golf, tennis, traveling and cheering on the VT Hokies Football Team.

Joe Kotula - LUCTF

  • Agency Sales Director
Joseph Kotula Image

200 Crossings Boulevard, Suite 200
Warwick RI 02886

Phone: 401.243.8800
E-mail: jkotula@metlife.com

Joe is an Agency Sales Director for Barnum Financial Group and is the Market Leader for Rhode Island. As a seventeen year veteran of MetLife, Joe has held various roles including financial services representative and  financial planner. Currently, he manages an office of over fifty representatives where he endeavors to provide the necessary resources for the success of his team and their clients. He has been a perennial management leader's qualifier and is routinely ranked as one of the top Agency Sales Directors in the MetLife distribution. In 2008, Joe won Barnum Financial Group's Management Award of Excellence. Additionally, he is a member of NAIFA and GAMA International and has qualified for the GAMA platinum award. His FINRA registrations include Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Joe earned his Bachelor of Science from Arizona State University.

In support of philanthropy, Joe and his office have been active in a variety of charitable events including Foundation for Life's Bikes for Kids program at Pawtucket Red Sox games, St. Anthony's Food Shelter in Providence, and the Marines' Toys for Tots Program.

Within a short sixteen months of BFG acquiring the Rhode Island market, Joe's strong leadership resulted in a nomination for Providence Business News One of the Best Places to Work in Rhode Island, 2011.

Joe is married and has one daughter with his wife, Catherine.

Marc Markovitz

  • Agency Sales Director
Marc Markovitz Image

2614 Boston Post Road, Suite 33B
Guilford, CT 06437

Phone: 203.689.9014
Fax: 203.458.1167
E-mail: mmarkovitz@metlife.com

As an Agency Sales Director with the Barnum Financial Group, An Office of MetLife, Marc is dedicating his career to building an elite team of Financial Services Representatives. Marc's teams are located in our Guilford and Glastonbury, CT. Both offices are  comprised of highly productive and experienced representatives who are driving to take their career to new heights, as well as a host of young professionals, who are eager to learn from them.

Marc began his financial services career as a financial services representative with Barnum in 2001 and was promoted into a leadership role in 2008. With a passion to better others, an excellent client service model and a hearty work ethic, Marc has qualified for Leader's Conference and become an integral part of the Barnum leadership team.

Marc attended Mitchell College in New London, CT on a full basketball scholarship and earned his Associate's degree in 1993. During his time there, he was recognized as a Junior College Academic All-American. In 1995, he graduated from Bryant College with a Bachelor's degree in Finance.

Marc currently lives in Madison, CT with his wife Dana and their three children, Samuel, Jonas and Lucia. Outside of the office, Marc loves spending time with his children and his sixteen siblings. He is an avid golfer and sports enthusiast. He enjoys giving back to his community by volunteering his time with various charitable organizations such as the United Way.

Matthew Sawyer, ChFC®, CLTC

  • Agency Sales Director
Matt Sawyer Image

200 Crossings Blvd, Suite 200
Warwick, RI 02886

Phone: 401.243.8859
Fax: 401.691.6970
E-mail: msawyer@metlife.com

Matthew Sawyer is an Agency Sales Director with Barnum Financial Group, an Office of MetLife. He built his career helping individuals and business owners with diversified financial needs and goals. Matthew has earned MetLife top honors by achieving two consecutive Leader’s conference qualifications.

He dedicates his career to building the strongest team of Financial Service Representatives, comprised of both experienced representatives who would like to take their career to the next level, as well as, young professionals. Matthew is committed to providing the tools and resources needed to assist these highly productive, entrepreneurial, Financial Service Representatives, to build a successful practice within the Barnum Financial Group.

Matthew attended the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance. He has earned his Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®) designation, as well as, his Certification in Long Term Care (CLTC) designation. Matthew holds his Series 7 and 66 Securities licenses and is licensed to sell Life and Health insurance in CT, RI, and MA.

Matthew currently resides in Norwich, CT, where he is an active member of the Waterford-New London Alliance Business Networking International Chapter and is very active in the Norwich Ski Club.

Derrek Metz, CRPC

  • Agency Sales Director
Derrek Metz Image

225 High Ridge Road, East Building, 1st Floor
Stamford, CT 06905

Phone: 203.658.1940
E-mail: dmetz1@metlife.com

Derrek is an Agency Sales Director for Barnum Financial Group, an Office of MetLife. He currently manages an office of over 20 representatives in Stamford, Connecticut. With over 10 years experience in the financial services industry, he is instrumental in coaching and developing an elite team of representatives. His team is comprised of both highly productive, experienced representatives who are striving to take their career to new heights, as well as a host of young professionals, who are eager to learn from them.

As a graduate of Bucknell University, Derrek earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and currently holds his Series 4, 7, 24 , 51 and 66 securities licenses. He is also an active member of the Kiwanis Club, Silvermine Community Association, Bucknell Alumni club of Fairfield County, and a member of the Financial Planning Association.

Derrek’s previous work experience includes his role as a Branch Manager at Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Prior to that role, he was a Financial Advisor.

Derrek currently lives in New Canaan, CT with his wife Palmer. He enjoys skiing, sailing and tennis in his spare time

Christine Araujo

  • Agency Sales Director

Danielle Giordano

  • Agency Sales Director

James Cooney

  • Agency Sales Director

Management Team