Meet The Team

Karen Phillips, Chief Financial Officer
Energizer Bunny, Food-aholic and Financial Guru

Karen was raised in southern California and understands the value of an In-N- Out Burger. She graduated from Citrus Community College in Glendora, CA and has over 35 years of experience in Accounting and Operations and IT Management. She joined the RCI Team in 2004 and has kept the accounting records in order and the computer systems running smoothly since then. Karen is constantly snacking and is usually making lunch plans before 9am every day! But, since she never sits still, those calories never catch up with her.

Karen is an advocate for Cystic Fibrosis and loves spending time with her family, especially her twin granddaughters, when she is not working.

Favorite Food: Mexican
Favorite Quote: Keep your head up. God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers. – Zig Ziglar
Favorite thing to do when not at the office: Anything with the family
Favorite Book: The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
Favorite Movie: Hope Floats

Danielle Small, Receptionist
Proud Momma, Born and Raised Okie and “Headed to Branson” Girl

Danielle joined the RCI Team in 2014 and is the friendly voice you hear answer the phone when you call our office. She is also full blood country and you may hear her say things like “howdy” and “y’all.”

She grew up in the Mayes County area and has two boys that keep her plenty busy. The family loves going to Branson any time they have the chance and usually go several times every year. She is an OSU fan and enjoys spending time at the creek during the summer.

Favorite food: Mexican food
Favorite quote: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Favorite thing to do when not in the office: Spend time with my family
Favorite book: “Pioneer Girl” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Favorite movie: Coal Miner’s Daughter

Michael H. “Mick” Cottom, CEO
Lover of Knowledge, Keeper of Wisdom, Mentor and Spoiling Grandpa

Mick was born and raised on a dairy farm in a small community of Liberty, OK just south of Tulsa. Mick attended the University of Oklahoma and is actually the first ever coachman of the Sooner Schooner. He earned a 2nd Lieutenant Commission from the ROTC, Mick then served our country in a tour of duty in Viet-Nam as an infantry platoon leader with the US Army Rangers.

Mick has been in the insurance business for over 40 years; he is a Certified Work Comp Advisor and has been a Certified Insurance Counselor for over 35 years. He has served on numerous insurance company boards.

Mick is married with 2 children and 5 grandchildren. He loves to read and share meals with family. When Mick is not working, you will most likely find him at church or with his beloved grandchildren.

Favorite food: Favorite food depends on the day and mood. Steak or fried chicken most anytime.
Favorite quote: I Believe…That it’s takingmich me a long time…To become the person I want to be. (And I’m still not there)
Favorite thing to do when not at office: Spending time with family, travel and reading
Favorite book: The Bible, it has a long history of man and the answer to all of life’s problems and challenges. Also, personal development books from authors like Zig Ziglar, John Maxwell, Jim Rohn and a host of others. Favorite fiction reads are John Grisham books.
Favorite movies: Depends on the day and my mood: The Dirty Dozen, Remember the Titans, Forrest Gump

Kyle Beggs, President
Amateur Sports Star, Entrepreneur, Insurance Young Gun and Wearer of the Crimson and Cream

Kyle graduated from Bradford Christian High School in 2004. He then moved to Claremore to pursue a business degree from Rogers State University. Once he graduated, Kyle began his career in the insurance industry. He joined the RCI Team in 2012 and has recently been named as one of the 42 Young Guns in the industry in Insurance Business America magazine.
Kyle is the president of the RSU (Rogers State University) Alumni board. He serves as the Executive Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce board. Kyle is also a Trustee of the Claremore Public Schools Foundation and a board member for the Children’s Advocacy Center.

When Kyle isn’t working, you can find him at local sporting events such as RSU Basketball games, OU Football games or OKC Thunder games. He also enjoys spending time with his family, taking vacations and skiing, hunting or trying something new.

Favorite food: Steak or any home cooking!
Favorite quote: “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle
Favorite thing to do when not at office: Sports! Playing or watching!
Favorite book: Bible
Favorite movie: Top Gun

Chet Cottom, Vice President of the National Hotel Insurance Program
Resident Cutup, RZR Pilot and Wearer of the Orange and Black

Chet has worked at RCI Insurance since 1999. He is a certified Work Comp advisor and the Vice President of RCI’s National Hotel Insurance Program. He enjoys this industry because it allows him to help people when they really need help, whether it is in a time of crisis or setting up an insurance / risk management plan that really works for them.

Chet is a lifetime OKIE. His faith in Jesus Christ is the highest priority and most significant relationship in his life. Chet grew up in a very close knit family and his family is very important to him. They are all Oklahoma State fans and Chet has two kids who recently graduated from OSU. His son, Colby, will be moving to Washington to start his engineering career. His daughter, Cacey, will continue her education at OSU while concurrently building her photography business. Chet and his wife, DeAnn, have been married for 30 years and have flourished, working many years in youth ministry and other avenues trying to make a difference in young peoples’ lives.
When Chet has down time, he enjoys riding his Polaris Razor “RZR.” He rides in Southeastern OK and Arkansas mostly and the more extreme the ride, the better he likes it.

Favorite food: Chinese / Mexican if eating out. Anything off the grill or smoker if eating at home
Favorite quote: What parents do in moderation, children will do in excess.
Favorite thing to do when not at office: Family time and RZR time. If Chet can get the family out riding RZRs with him, that’s the best!
Favorite book: Bible – King James Version
Favorite movie: The Cowboys. Anything with a lot of action

John Melton, Commercial Lines Producer
Candy Thief, Wanna-Be Rock Star and Creator of Smiles

John graduated from Claremore High School in 2007. He joined the United States Air Force shortly after. After 8 years of service, he ended his Service with the Oklahoma Air National Guard in October of 2015. During that time, he reached the Rank of E-5 Staff Sergeant, received Journeyman status as an Inflight-refueler and Craftsman status as a Vehicle Operator. He received an associate’s degree from The Community College of the Air Force in 2014 in the area of Logistics Management.

John joined the RCI team in 2015. He is always singing at the top of his lungs, making everyone around him smile. He is an Active member of The American Legion Post 141 in Claremore, and is also involved in many other Veterans organizations. John is also active in the Claremore, Owasso, and Catoosa Chamber of Commerce.

When not at the office, you can find John at a local gym, spending time with friends or headed to a local sporting event.

Favorite food: Beef Pot Roast and Lobster Rolls
Favorite Quote: Cluster bombing from B-52s is very, very accurate. The bombs always hit the ground. –US Air Force
Favorite activity when not working: Staying active and Traveling
Favorite Book: The Unified Theory of Life by Bob Kierlin
Favorite Movie: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Jerri Wood, Commercial Lines Service Manager
James Bond-iac, Semi-Pro Relaxer and Reading Enthusiast

Jerri started in the insurance industry years and years ago, making her one of the most experienced employees at RCI. She started her career at Liberty Mutual Insurance in 1983, moving to a local Tulsa independent agency in 1993, and then joining the RCI Team in 1998. She is a licensed CISR and focuses on leading RCI’s commercial insurance and NHIP (hotel/motel insurance) department.

When not at the office, you can find Jerri spending time with her husband and grandkids. She also enjoys watching James Bond movies. And, any chance she gets, you will find her heading to a beach to relax and read a good book.

Favorite food: Anything Italian, but right now the San Marzano Primavera at Andolini’s is top of the list
Favorite quote: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need” – Rolling Stones
Favorite thing to do when not at office: Relaxing on a sandy beach with a good book and spending special time with the Grandkids
Favorite book: The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich
Favorite movie: All the James Bond movies, except the Timothy Dalton ones

Dedra Hayes, Commercial Lines CSR
Mexican Food Junkie, the “Hon” Lady and Lover of the Danes

Dedra was born in Broken Arrow, graduated from Union High School and began her first career with McDonnell Douglas in the Technical Publications department. Working in the “Bomber Plant” lasted 15 years until the plant shut down. At the time, she had two young daughters and went to Rogers State University and obtained an associate’s degree. A former co-worker from the Bomber Plant convinced Dedra that her next career should be in insurance. Since 2000, she has worked in various capacities at various independent insurance agencies. She worked at one time for RCI and returned again to the RCI team in 2015. Dedra’s entire insurance career has been focused in commercial lines.

Dedra is the lady in the office that calls everyone “hon.” If you ask her where she wants to go for lunch, her answer will always be Mexican. When not at the office, you can find Dedra spending time with her family or on the patio with a cold drink. She enjoys gardening and has a house full of gigantic Great Dane fur babies.

Favorite food: Always Mexican!
Favorite quote: “Finding the courage to begin.…man cannot discover new oceans until he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Author unknown
Favorite thing to do when not at office: Gardening and patio time!
Favorite book: 212° The Extra Degree – Sam Parker

Tammy Ridgway, Commercial Lines CSR
Office Caregiver, Biker Mama and Philanthropist

Tammy was born and raised in the GRAND ol’ state of Oklahoma. She was born in Tulsa, OK, graduated from Will Rogers High School, then moved to the Claremore area when she met her husband and started a family.

Tammy started in insurance in 1996. She works in RCI’s NHIP (hotel / motel insurance) department and would not want to do anything else. Tammy has been with RCI Insurance for all but 7 years of her insurance career. She is the RCI team member who is known for giving out hugs to those who need them. She is also the one who sees something that needs done and just takes care of it.
When not at the office, you may find Tammy on the back of her husband’s Harley or spoiling her grandkids. Tammy loves to spend time with her family and she almost always wins the Halloween costume contest for the most creative costume. Tammy also spends a lot of her time serving others. She collects items for veterans, blankets for the homeless, toys for kids who don’t have much and many more. She is the lady with a big heart who would do anything for anyone.

Favorite Food: Mexican food
Favorite Quote: If you love the life you live…. You will live a life of love.
Favorite thing to do when not at the office: Hang out with the kids and grandkids – usually outdoor activities
Favorite Book: “The Cat in the Hat” – Dr. Seuss. (Thanks to the first Grand-baby)
Favorite Movie: Chick Flick – Hope Floats. Action – Escape from New York

Leigh Wheless, Commercial Lines CSR
World Traveler, Relocated Texan and Lover of Dachshunds

Leigh was born in the Texas Panhandle and moved to Claremore, OK to be closer to family. She started working in a small independent insurance agency in Borger, TX in 1993. Leigh joined RCI in 2003 after moving to Claremore. Leigh works in RCI’s commercial insurance department and has her CISR designation.

Leigh is easy going and is a friend to all. When not at the office, Leigh loves reading, working in her yard or playing with her “kids” – her 3 dachshunds. Leigh is RCI’s world traveler and recently took a tour of Ireland. Leigh is a devoted Texas Ranger fan.

Favorite food: Chicken fettuccine alfredo
Favorite quote: “Act enthusiastic and you will be enthusiastic” – Dale Carnegie
Favorite thing to do when not at office: Read, watch TV and work in the yard
Favorite book: The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich
Favorite movie: While You Were Sleeping

Michelle Lange, Commercial Lines CSR
Ultra Foodie, Domestic Goddess and On the Go Momma

Michelle is a Philadelphia Native who came to Broken Arrow with her family in 1996. She has 3 children and calls South Tulsa her home. Michelle began her insurance career as a receptionist with a Tulsa agency in 2004, was promoted to personal lines and then commercial lines in 2007. Michelle joined the RCI Team in 2014. Michelle continues to expand her knowledge and is working on her CIC (Certified Insurance Counselor) designation. Michelle hopes to also branch into the field of Risk Management.

When not at the office, Michelle loves to travel and explore her senses within the culinary realm. Michelle also spends time running her three children to their various activities, relaxing with an iced beverage and listening to good music.

Favorite Food: Japanese Food – Sushi
Favorite Quote: “Fear is Stupid – So are Regrets” – Marilyn Monroe
Favorite thing to do when not at office: Relaxing by a fire outside with a glass of wine while listening to Miles Davis.
Favorite book: “Memoirs of a Geisha” – Arthur Golden
Favorite movie: A League of Their Own

Julie Bird, Commercial Lines CSR
Sports Mom, Cherokee Princess and Champion of Sarcasm

Julie was born in Connecticut, but raised in Oklahoma. She has been with RCI Insurance Group since 2013. She has worked in both personal and commercial lines insurance, but has settled well into the commercial insurance department.

When not at the office, you can find Julie with her girls at some kind of sporting game. They play softball and basketball. She also enjoys spending time with her family and is the champ at making fry bread for Indian tacos.

Favorite food: Lettuce Wraps from P.F. Changs
Favorite quote: “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” – Napolean Hill
Favorite thing to do when not in the office: Watching her daughters play sports
Favorite book: I Still Believe by Jeremy Camp
Favorite movie: Tangled

Kendal Roberts, Commercial Lines CSR
Sports Mom, Travel Junkie, Mother of 3

Kendal was born in Pryor but spent most of her childhood and teenage years in New Jersey. She moved back to Pryor in 1999, when she began her insurance career. Her main focus has been commercial lines, but she has also spent some time working in the Tribal Insurance Department. Kendal joined the RCI Team in 2014 and heads up our bonds department, as well as handles the quality assurance on new policies.

When Kendal is not at work she enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 kids. Her kids keep her extremely busy with soccer, baseball and piano. Given the chance, Kendal loves to travel. Recently, she was able to take the family to the Grand Canyon, then spend some time on the beach with her husband.

Favorite Food: Mexican
Favorite Quote: “So often we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to enjoy the journey.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Favorite thing to do when not at office: Travel

Shannon Couch, Commercial Lines CSR
Scooby Dooby Girl, Lake Rat and Seamstress

Shannon grew up in Tahlequah and moved to Claremore in 2005. Shannon joined the RCI Team in 2016 and works in the Commercial Insurance Department.

She is a huge Scooby Doo fan and her desk gives that away with all of the Scooby Doo candy dispensers and decorations. She is an avid reader and enjoys all different types of books. She considers herself a lake rat and that could be because she grew up on Lake Tenkiller. If she is not at the office, you can find her at the lake during the summer. She may be on her boat, fishing or just relaxing at camp. During the cooler months, you can find her working on her latest upholstery and sewing crafts.

Favorite food: Mexican
Favorite quote: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. -Plato
Favorite thing to do when not in the office: Spend time with grandson and dogs. Upholstery and sewing crafts
Favorite book: Clan of the Cave Bear series
Favorite movie: Footloose, Twister

Amber Helmuth, Personal Lines Manager
Mother of Olympic Hopeful Gymnast, Lover of Outdoors and Wanderluster

Amber was born and raised in Oklahoma in a family full of insurance professionals, joining the crew herself in 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in business management and has completed many company and insurance specific trainings over the years. Amber joined the RCI Team in 2010 and manages the personal lines department.

When not at the office, Amber spends her time with her daughter, Lexi who is a competitive gymnast. Amber attends Cedar Point Church and enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Amber and Lexi spend time camping, swimming and fishing during summer and enjoy travelling anywhere, anytime.

Favorite food: Mexican, without a doubt!
Favorite quote: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Favorite thing to do when not in the office: Spend time with Lexi
Favorite book: Jesus Calling, The Mortal Instruments Series, The Energy Bus
Favorite movie: Top Gun

Jessie Baker, Personal Lines CSR and Producer
Country Girl, Bow Hunter and Devoted Sports Junkie

Jessie is originally from Woodward, OK. She attended a small school in Fargo, OK, where her graduating class consisted of 7. However, she calls Claremore home and loves the small town appeal that Claremore offers. Although she may not look it, she is country to the core; Jessie works cows, rides horses and enjoys bow hunting with her husband during the fall and winter months. Jessie joined the RCI Team in 2015.

Favorite food: Mexican
Favorite quote: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
Favorite thing to do when not in the office: Hang out with the husband and family, anything that involves outdoors, watch football
Favorite book: The Bible, To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Hunger Games Books, etc.
Favorite movie: Remember the Titans, Lone Survivor, Act of Valor

Danielle Small, Receptionist
Proud Momma, Born and Raised Okie and “Headed to Branson” Girl

Danielle joined the RCI Team in 2014 and is the friendly voice you hear answer the phone when you call our office. She is also full blood country and you may hear her say things like “howdy” and “y’all.”

She grew up in the Mayes County area and has two boys that keep her plenty busy. The family loves going to Branson any time they have the chance and usually go several times every year. She is an OSU fan and enjoys spending time at the creek during the summer.

Favorite food: Mexican food
Favorite quote: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Favorite thing to do when not in the office: Spend time with my family
Favorite book: “Pioneer Girl” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
Favorite movie: Coal Miner’s Daughter