The Nautilus Group Professional Staff

The Nautilus Group


Brooke Zrno Grisham, ChFC®, CLU®, AEP®, is the Chief Executive Officer of The Nautilus Group. She joined Nautilus in 1999 and started one of its most innovative departments – Model Office – which grew from an ancillary support resource for Nautilus Members’ staff to a comprehensive practice management consultancy. In 2010, Brooke assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer, supervising seven individual departments and managing a staff of more than 35 people. She became CEO in 2013. Brooke attended Boise State University and The University of Texas at Dallas, where she earned her BA in business communications.

Jerry McCaffrey has been with New York Life for more than 25 years, joining Nautilus in 2010 to serve as Chief Operating Officer. He previously managed Eagle Strategies LLC, our Registered Investment Advisor, and the business system analyst group at NYLIM. He also managed several different units at NYLIFE Securities, including product development. In addition to his role as COO for Nautilus, Jerry oversees Model Office, assisting Nautilus Members with the financial and budgeting aspects of their business and marketing plans. Jerry graduated summa cum laude from Dominican College in New York with a BS degree in management information systems.

Case Management

R. Matthew Pate, JD, LL.M., joined The Nautilus Group in 2004 after receiving his masters in law in taxation from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. Matt is a manager within the Nautilus case development unit, where he applies his extensive experience in estate and business succession planning, tax issues involving closely held businesses, asset protection, and charitable planning arrangements. Matt employs a customized and high touch approach to suit the unique circumstances of the case specifics and the client’s objectives. He received his BA from Georgetown University and graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 2001.

Kathryn Rodgers, JD, LL.M, has been with Nautilus since 2007. She currently manages the case development unit and works with Nautilus Members to develop sophisticated estate distribution and business planning presentations for high net worth clients. She also provides research on personal, estate and business planning issues. Kathryn received her BS in accounting from Louisiana State University, her JD from St. Mary’s University and her LL.M. in taxation from Southern Methodist University. Prior to joining Nautilus, Kathryn worked as a manager at a local accounting firm where she assisted clients with various tax compliance issues.

Robert Ahearn, BSBA, JD, LL.M., CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, CRPC®, joined The Nautilus Group in 2016 as a case consultant, bringing substantial business, legal, and tax experience to assist Nautilus member agents with the development of advanced planning strategies for their clients. Prior to that, Robert worked with high net worth individuals, closely held businesses, farmers and ranchers, private foundations, and public charities. He earned a BS in business administration from the Boston University School of Management, a JD from the Suffolk University Law School, and a LL.M. in taxation from the Boston University School of Law. Robert is a member of the state bars of Arizona, California, and Massachusetts, and a member of the Estate Planning Council of North Texas. He holds the FINRA Series 7 and 66 licenses.

Joon Cho, JD, serves The Nautilus Group as head of financial planning. He joined New York Life in 2009 as an Advanced Planning Consultant, advising and working closely with agents throughout the United States. Joon began working in the financial industry in 2000, initially advising a real estate investment group with property acquisitions and then venturing into the field of financial services, where he ran an advisory practice for affluent and high net worth clients. He also served as a Commissioner for the Fairfax County, VA, Human Rights Commission for two terms. Joon earned his JD degree from Suffolk University Law School and his bachelor of arts degree from Calvin College. He currently holds FINRA Series 7 and Series 66 licenses.

Karen Fishell, CLU®, has been with The Nautilus Group since 1998. She works with Nautilus Members to provide detailed client presentations for corporate executive benefit arrangements, including non-qualified deferred compensation plans for companies and nonprofit organizations as well as executive bonus plans. Prior to joining Nautilus, Karen worked 11 years for one of the nation’s largest COLI and executive benefits organizations, providing support to top financial professionals across the country with their executive benefits planning design needs.

Scott Garrison, JD, joined The Nautilus Group in 2015 as a member of the case development team. Before joining Nautilus, Scott worked in private practice with a primary focus on estate, business and tax planning matters for high net worth individuals and small business owners. Scott attended Texas Christian University where he earned his B.A. in English, and earned his JD from Texas A&M University School of Law. His background includes more than ten years of experience in estate, business and tax planning as well as real estate, oil and gas, civil litigation and probate administration.

Eva Stark, JD, LL.M., joined The Nautilus Group in 2014 to assist with the development of estate and business plans. She also performs advanced tax research. Eva graduated summa cum laude with a BS in economics and finance from The University of Texas at Dallas. She earned her JD, with honors, from Southern Methodist University, where she served as a student attorney and chief counsel at the SMU Federal Taxpayers Clinic. She received her LL.M. in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center. Prior to joining Nautilus, Eva worked in private practice in tax controversy, business law, and litigation.

David R. Toups, JD, MBA, CFA®, CFP®, CTFA, joined The Nautilus Group in 2016 after more than 14 years in the private practice of law focused in estate, trust, guardianship, and business planning and litigation. Prior to practicing law, he managed money professionally as an investment portfolio manager for several national corporate fiduciaries. As a member of the case development team, David contributes his training and experience in the analysis and explanation of multi-faceted estate, trust, and business planning strategies. He earned his BBA in marketing from Texas A&M; his MBA, with a finance emphasis, from Sam Houston State; and his JD, with honors, from South Texas College of Law. David is a former U.S. Marine Corps artillery and infantry officer.

Brett Thornock, JD, ChSNC®, joined The Nautilus Group in 2014 as part of the case development staff. He assists agents with various estate and business planning needs as well as assisting the compliance unit. He has previously worked as an examiner for FINRA, in private legal practice, and as an auditor for the Treasury Department. Brett graduated magna cum laude with a BS in finance and minors in economics and Spanish from Utah State University. He earned his law degree from the College of William & Mary. He is licensed to practice law in Texas and currently holds FINRA series 7, 24, and 66 licenses.

W. Brian Lamborne, JD, LL.M., joined The Nautilus Group in 2016 as part of the case development staff to assists agents with various estate and business planning and income tax strategies and techniques. Prior to that, he worked for consulting firms in Chicago and Florida, providing income tax planning, business planning, and estate and succession planning services to small and mid-sized companies nationwide. Brian graduated BA in psychology from Albion College. He earned his law degree from Roger Williams University School of Law and his LL.M. in tax from the University of Washington. Brian is currently licensed to practice law in Illinois.

Tiffany Davis, CP, joined The Nautilus Group in 2016 as a paralegal in the case development unit. Prior to that, she worked in private practice in California assisting clients in establishing comprehensive estate plans. Her experience includes estate and business planning, estate administration, probate, and a background in class action employment law. Tiffany graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in communications. She then completed her paralegal studies at the University of San Diego in 2010 and received her Certified Paralegal credentials in 2016.

Ariel A. Marin, JD, LL.M., CFP®, is part of the case development team. He received his law degree from the City University of New York, his LL.M. in taxation from Villanova Law School, Graduate Tax Program, and his Bachelors in Arts from the George Washington University where he studied International Affairs. Prior to joining Nautilus, Ari worked with a family office developing customized, comprehensive wealth plans for high net worth clients; prior to that he worked as a trust and estate associate for a large national trust company. Ari is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, and currently holds FINRA series 7 and 66 licenses.

Business Valuation

Eric Priamo, CVA, joined the Nautilus Group in 2015 to assist Nautilus Members with their business owner clients. His primary responsibilities include working on business valuations and marketability strategies to help Nautilus Members on cases involving business succession and exit planning. He previously worked for a valuation advisory firm where he worked on business valuations for acquisitions, exit planning, business succession planning, and estate planning purposes. Eric received his bachelor of science degree in commerce with concentrations in finance and marketing from the University of Virginia.

Nautilus Plus

James Barry, JD, LL.M., CLU®, ChFC®, received his law degree from the University of Georgia and his LL.M. in taxation from the College of William and Mary. Jim also achieved significant credits at the University of Miami LL.M. program in estate planning. He has been in the life insurance industry since 1982, when he started in sales with Metropolitan Life. Jim also served as Vice President and General Counsel for a member of M Financial, and was an advanced underwriter with one of Equitable’s top agencies in South Florida.

Michelle M. Kenyon, JD, CPA, CLU®, joined The Nautilus Group in 2009 to provide personalized consultative services for Nautilus Plus Members. Michelle’s professional experience includes estate planning, mergers and acquisitions, taxation, and general corporate work. Michelle graduated magna cum laude with a BBA in accounting from Texas Christian University, and she holds a JD from Pepperdine University School of Law. Michelle is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and the State Bar of Texas, and she is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant by the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy.


Heather L. Davis, JD, CLU®, ChFC®, CAP®, AEP®, is the head of marketing for The Nautilus Group® and oversees the Center of Influence initiative for New York Life, where she serves as executive director and host of the Advisor Symposium and the Advisor Webinar series. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Nebraska where she received both her bachelor of arts and Juris Doctor degrees. Heather earned her CLU®, ChFC® and CAP® designations from The American College and is past-president of the college’s Alumni Association. She holds her Series 6 and 63 licenses with NYLIFE Securities LLC and is a member of the Nebraska (inactive) and Texas State Bar Associations. Heather also holds her AEP designation from the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils. She has been with New York Life since 1999.

Darla L. Bean, ALMI, started at Nautilus in 2001, working with Brooke Zrno Grisham to develop the Model Office program. In 2010, Darla moved to the High Net Worth Market unit, assisting Heather Davis with company wide marketing initiatives and advisor events, and helping member agents with Nautilus marketing collateral. She also serves on the meetings planning team, and as editor for Nautilus publications. Darla earned her bachelor of science degree in mass communications from Texas Woman’s University in Denton, TX, and holds the Associate, Life Management Institute designation from LOMA.

Nicole Neely joined The Nautilus Group in January 2017 as an administrative assistant in the production unit. Her main focus is attention to detail and adaptability in order to guarantee maximal efficiency. She graduated from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, receiving a bachelor of fine arts degree with an emphasis in acting and directing.

Model Office

Sarah Frances Trampe, MBA, joined Nautilus in 2010 and leads the Model Office program. She assists Nautilus Members and their associates in developing back office efficiency, annual business planning, and strategic marketing. Additionally, she works with Nautilus Members and associates in locating general human resources and staff development materials. Sarah Frances holds an MBA with a concentration in marketing management from The Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor of science degree in international trade and finance from Louisiana State University.

Liz Hullett joined the Nautilus Group in July 2016, bringing years of exceptional customer service from various fields with her. She became a part of the Model Office team in February 2018, where her focus is operations and staffing, assisting Nautilus Members and their associates with the nuances of back office workflow, and identifying opportunities in efficiency and communication strategies. Liz is a graduate of Muhlenberg College, with degrees in theatre and dance.

Financial Operations

Rob Shapard, CLU®, joined The Nautilus Group in 2013, bringing more than 20 years of experience leading customer sales/service operations, managing projects, and analyzing data for the financial services industry. In his current role as Corporate Vice President, Financial Operations, he supports The Nautilus Group through managing various projects, Model Office engagement, and business analytics. Rob graduated from Texas Christian University where he received a BBA degree in finance.


David Ball, CNA, joined The Nautilus Group in 1995 and is in charge of information technology. He has more than 30 years of computer and network experience. Since joining Nautilus, David has been primarily responsible for maintaining and implementing new technologies into the network systems and giving Nautilus a presence on the Internet. Before becoming a Nautilus staff member, David was the senior technician at Q.M.S. Inc., and worked for more than 12 years as a field service technician.

William Micoff started at New York Life’s Advanced Planning Group in 2006 and joined The Nautilus Group in 2011. He has two decades of experience as a systems technician and Microsoft SQL DBA, Visual Basic, VB.NET, ASP.NET, Flash, and HTML developer. Prior to joining NYL, he worked for Intuit on its flagship business tax software and for Lacerte as a developer and software support engineer. Bill has been a member of the Microsoft Developer Network since 1998.


Christina Thomas joined The Nautilus Group in 2010 as an administrative assistant. She currently manages the Production unit with a staff of three people reporting to her directly. She is primarily focused on system workflow enhancements and quality assurance of all cases produced by The Nautilus Group. In addition, she assists Nautilus Members with time management and navigating Nautilus Gateway for case submissions in their Model Office 360 sessions. Christina has more than 18 years of experience as an office administrator in a quality assurance role.

Michelle Martinez joined Nautilus in 2014 to serve as a liaison for clients, callers and visitors. Her professional level of expertise in customer service has been honed over several years of working with clients in service industries and training other offices in client service areas. She also has experience in the insurance industry, having worked as an agent for two years prior to joining Nautilus. In addition to assisting management with administrative functions and managing correspondence, Michelle also works in the production department.

Tiffany Parham serves as the executive assistant to Brooke Zrno Grisham. She joined The Nautilus Group in 2015. Her main focus is to assist Brooke in all administrative areas including correspondence, scheduling, membership and agent ledger maintenance. Tiffany also plays an important role on the meeting planning team, and assists the marketing team with requests for custom agent pieces.

Meagan Black joined The Nautilus Group in 2018 as a case development senior specialist for the production team. Meagan comes from a strong marketing background where her focus was in marketing communications, database development, sales and data analysis. She also has experience in content creation, videography, and social media management. Meagan graduated magna cum laude from the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas. She has a BA in journalism with an emphasis in advertising and a minor in social sciences.