Our Team

Vincent Spaniolo, CLU®, ChFC®

Managing Partner

Vince is the Managing Partner of the Michigan General Office, which is a multi-location, 100+ employee insurance and investment agency in the Greater Michigan area. He is a seasoned professional with over 20 years of financial services experience and 2 advanced industry designations.

After running a successful financial services practice for 4 years, he found his “true calling” by entering into leadership in 2001. Since then he has personally recruited, trained, and/or worked with 100 Insurance Agents and Financial Advisors to assist them with the growth and development of their practice, many of whom now run some of the most respected and successful financial services practices in the region. Vince is a graduate from Western Michigan University where studied Finance. He and his wife, Amy, have three children and live in Hudsonville, MI.


Charles "Chuck" Selinger


Chuck joined New York Life in September of 2017 following being a State Farm agent/owner in Lansing and a 16 year career in pharmaceutical sales as an executive sales consultant and 5 years in event management working with General Motors traveling the country.

While earning bachelors and masters degrees from Central Michigan University, Chuck was a four year starter and two time All-MAC kicker.  Volunteer activities include premier travel soccer coach and referee and CMU National Alumni Board Emeritus member, former regional commissioner for AYSO 1097, Junior Achievement and Olivet Schools.

Chuck currently lives in Battle Creek area with his wife Kari, son Clayton and eight dogs.


John L. Smith


John L Smith developed a knack for sales at a very young age. At the tender age of 10, John started selling scented candles door to door. He won second prize (a Timex watch). He’d found his first love. Although awkward, he knew being a salesman was in his blood.

John Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business communication from Jones International University and studied Organizational Psychology Master’s program from Western Advance Colleges. He served 12 years in the United States Army where he earned the rank of a senior Non-Commission Officer(E-7). He has trained and mentored hundreds of soldiers under his command as platoon Sgt. He is also a decorated war veteran. After the military, he worked as sales agent for Art van stores and was quickly elevated to sales manager and director of training.

John Smith comes to New York Life Insurance Co. after 12 years in the insurance and financial industry. He has achieved high levels of success, earning Regional Vice President with a Fortune 500 company called Citigroup, the parent company of Primerica Financial Services. During his tenure with Primerica, John and his Partners operated three offices in three different states. John was regionally recognized as one of the top regional managers of 2007 and 2008 in recruiting and production.

John lives with his wife and business partner Jeri A Smith of 25 years. Together they have raised 4 Children; Jawhan (28), Devaughn (25), Desire (24), and Dominique (22).

“Serve with humility and faith. While mentoring a new generation of professional sale leaders.”


Craig A. Potter, CLU®, ChFC®, CLF®

Senior Development Manager

Craig started his career in Financial Services with New York Life in 2007. After earning multiple Life Insurance sales awards as a part of the Michigan General Office New Organization, he became a three time Council qualifier as an established agent. Craig is a lifelong resident of Cedar Springs, MI with his wife Heather and their two children, Daniel and Lenora.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Aquinas College where he was a member of the Cross Country and Track & Field Teams earning “All-Region” honors in Cross Country in 2002. Craig is currently a Senior Development Manager in the Michigan General Office and has earned his Chartered Life Underwriter ® and Chartered Financial Consultant® designation from the American College. He is a Registered Investment Advisor with Eagle Strategies and is licensed as a Limited Principal.


Chip Whalen, FLMI, ACS

Corporate Vice President - General Office Administration

Chip started with New York Life Insurance Company in June 1994.  He currently supervises 8 staff members in 3 locations and provides administrative support to 100 agents and 9 managers.  Prior to coming to the Michigan General Office, Chip worked in the New York Life Offices in Detroit, MI, Philadelphia, PA, Lawrenceville, NJ and at the New York Life Home Office in New York.  Chip graduated from Ferris State University with a degree in Business Administration.  Chip and his wife, Amy, have been married for 20 years and reside in Ada with their son Jonah.


Eric W. Deems, AAMS

Agency Standards Director

Eric is a Senior Associate, Director of Agency Standards and provides field operations and supervision support to the Michigan based field offices of New York Life. Eric was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and has worked in finance for the past 7 years including roles in both supervision and wealth management. Eric is a graduate of Aquinas College with a focus in business administration. He is a veteran of the United States Army, including one tour of duty in Baghdad, Iraq. Eric enjoys spending time with his wife, Lisa, traveling the world, and working on his motorcycle.


Janina Valenza, MS

Director of Marketing

Janina began working with New York Life in 2010 and assisting agents in developing their practice. In 2015 she began working as the General Office Marketing Director. Prior to New York Life, Janina’s background was a government contractor for social programs through the US Department of Labor. Janina has her Master’s in Executive Management through Minot State University, North Dakota. She and her husband, Patrick, have 5 children.


Jill Schellenberg

Director of Recruiting

Jill began her career with New York Life Michigan in 2015 as a Recruiting Assistant. In this role, she sourced candidates, conducted first and second tier interviews, and guided new hires through the onboarding process. With her promotion to Director of Recruiting in 2017, her responsibilities expanded to also include spearheading the Internship Program, organizing career events, and overseeing recruiting efforts of the entire office.

While a Grand Rapids native, Jill graduated from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, where she obtained a Bachelors in both Arts and Science. Using her background in Communication and Journalism, she enjoys meeting new people, learning their stories, and offering them the opportunity to realize their calling in life. She currently lives in Grand Rapids. Her activities include being a member of Business Network International (BNI), the Grand Rapids Junior Chamber, and West Michigan’s American Poolplayers Association (APA).


Lucita Cole

Business Development Consultant

Since 2011, Lucita Cole has been working to protect and grow wealth for her clients and their families.  For the first few years of her career with New York Life, Luci worked with young professionals, business owners and pre-retirees as a registered representative in Orlando, FL. 

Lucita transitioned to the Life Sales Desk in 2013 as an Internal Life Product Consultant. She supported the Pacific, South Central & North East Zones. Since then, she has dedicated herself to training, educating and motivating our financial professionals. She has spent extensive time working with the top agents at NYL helping them bring their business to the next level.

Lucita Cole designs solutions for the clients of our top Council agents, finds sales opportunities within existing books of business and uses creativity and accountability to make sure goals are achieved.

Currently, Lucita is consulting agents on how to use Business Solutions as a client acquisition tool while helping them enhance their cross-selling capabilities.


Scott Tagliareni

Investment Solutions Consultant

Scott has been in the financial industry for over 15 years. He started his investment career at Smith Barney where he was an associate Financial Consultant. Scott came to New York Life in 2005 working with the RIS Third Party Distribution team covering annuity investments within the Bank channel. Scott was promoted to an Associate Wholesaler and traveled extensively in the field for a period of time. In the later part of 2009, the team merged with the New York Life mutual fund team therefore, Scott's product lineup included both mutual funds and annuities while working with a mix of wire houses, independent institutions and bank firms.

Currently, Scott has been coaching New York Life representative with their clientele. Scott has help hundreds of individual create successful retirement solutions while ensuring that they will never have any worries of running out of money. He has worked with all type of clients which include business owners, physicians, professionals and millennials.

During his career, Scott adopted his core believe that a financial professional needs to become more client centric and the focus should be on the client’s needs before their wants. Finally, he would like to see agents become their clients' trusted financial professionals, someone that a client can rely on to help them through all stages of their lives not just parts.

Scott and his wife, Brandy, reside currently in Grand Rapids with their two daughters. Scott enjoys watching the New York Giants and the New York Rangers when he can. He also enjoys traveling and drinking good wine.

^ Please note that neither New York Life Insurance Company nor its subsidiaries offer property or casualty insurance


Kathryn Rapp

Life Product Consultant

Katie Rapp joined New York Life in January 2005 as an agent in the Columbus GO. During this time, she was Rookie of the Year in 2005, New Org Agent of the Year in 2007 and a two-time Executive Council agent.

In March of 2008 she became the Development Manager of the Columbus GO and the Senior Development Manager in Fall 2015. For the past two years she has been mentoring and developing 20 DM’s in the South Central Zone.

Katie grew up in Bay Village outside of Cleveland, OH and attended The Ohio State University. She lives in Dublin with her husband Lance and two sons, Hayden and Owen. In her free time Katie enjoys spending time with family, traveling, reading and working out.


Rob Erickson, JD

Advanced Planning Group Consultant

Rob Erickson is a Corporate Vice President and Advanced Planning Consultant with New York Life Insurance Company, supporting agents as a member of the Virtual Consulting Team.

Rob brings his expertise in advanced estate planning and wealth transfer strategies to collaborate with our New York Life agents to provide thoughtful, sophisticated, insurance-based planning strategies for affluent clientele and business owners, as well as their professional advisers.

Rob came to New York Life with highly relevant experience in the areas of estate planning, estate taxation, and wealth management. Most recently, Rob worked performing estate settlement administration matters for a prominent national bank. Prior to that, he practiced law and worked in the financial services industry for several years.

His experience, in both legal and administrative capacities within the area of complex estate planning, provides Rob with an acute understanding of various complex planning techniques and the most effective and lucrative application of insurance as a means to effectuate them.

Rob earned his J.D. from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, and a B.S. in Justice Studies from Arizona State University. He is admitted to the State Bars for both Texas and Oklahoma, as well as a member of the Real Estate, Probate, and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.


Pierce Roth

Life Product Consultant

Pierce Roth began his career with New York Life in 2013 as an agent in the South Florida General Office.

He achieved Executive Council in 2015 and wrote over 50 paid cases. He was recruited to join the Life Sales Desk in 2016 as an Internal Life Product Consultant where he supported the Pacific and North East Zones.

In January 2018, Pierce was promoted to Manager of the Life Sales Desk for the Western Region and ran a team of 6 Internal Life Product Consultants and 2 Internal APG Consultants. May 2019, Pierce was moved to the Virtual Consultant team, where he managed 13 General Offices and worked with 700+ agents.

Pierce is now the VUL Consultant in the SC zone; covering 33 general offices and supporting agents in their VUL sales.

Daniel Acosta

Long Term Care Consultant

Since 2016, Daniel Acosta has been working to protect and grow wealth for clients and their families.

Prior to joining the Sales Desk as an Internal Product Consultant, Daniel worked as an Agent out of the New Orleans General Office. In his time there, he specialized in helping small business owners and young families with their personal and professional insurance needs.

Since beginning his tenure as an Internal Consultant in April of 2018, Daniel has shown his eagerness to assist agents integrate the suite of Extended Care Products, which include Secure Care/My Care/Select Premier (LTC), Asset Preserver/Asset Flex and Chronic Care Rider, into their clients’ financial plans.