Management Team











Left to Right: Stuart Cestia, Managing Director-Lafayette, Ted Harless, Managing Director-Lake Charles, Ben Wheeler, Managing Director-Baton Rouge, Avril Habetz, Chief Development Officer-Louisiana and Mississippi,  Paul Hodge, Managing Director-Mandeville and Gulfport, Nick Fiorito, Managing Director-Ridgeland, MS, and  Steven Dugal, Managing Partner-Louisiana and Mississippi.

Our business is about relationships, and we have a strong management team in place that understands this. They are committed to furthering the development of our financial representatives through training and guidance, so the representatives can establish enduring and solid relationships with their clients. Our goal is to ensure the continued success of our financial advisors, representatives, college interns and staff by providing the proper guidance and support to help them experience personal, professional and financial growth.

In 2017, our Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and Lake Charles Office ranked in the top 10 in premium for their category. Steven Dugal credits the success of Northwestern Mutual to the strong leadership within the district network offices and its professional management team

"The success of our group can be directly attributed to the high quality of leadership and the strength of our management team. Our goal is to ensure the continued success of our financial representatives by providing the proper guidance and support to help them experience both personal and professional growth."


 Steven Dugal

Steven Dugal, CLU®, ChFC®, CLF®, LUTCF®

Managing Partner
Office 504-831-8146

Steven Dugal has been a Managing Partner for the states of Louisiana and Mississippi since 2006. He began his career with the company as a financial representative in Houston, TX after graduating from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Steven’s network has over 100,000 policyowners with $130+ Billion in Life Insurance and $2.6 Billion Assets under Management. The Louisiana and Mississippi territory is consistently ranked number one of the leading networks in the company.  Steven has received the Industry’s Management Membership Award every year and personally has earned Million Dollar Round Table, National Qualify and other Industry Awards. Steven is a servant leader, passionate in helping others achieve their goals. He believes “you will get all you want in life by helping others get what they want.”  He is married to Lisa, and they have two children and one grandson: Katy, Nicholas and Reid. Steven enjoys spending time with his family, growing in his faith, reading, and playing tennis.  

Steven has been with Northwestern Mutual since March 1, 1989 and loves working for Northwestern Mutual because of the entrepreneur structure, as well as helping people create, protect and preserve their welath. He is passionate about helping others achieve their goals. Steven is filled with integrity, passion, and spirituality.

 Avril P Habetz

Avril P Habetz, MBA, CLU®, LUTCF®, ChFC®

Office 337-277-9229

Avril Habetz has been a part of the Northwestern Mutual team for over ten years. In her role as Chief Development Officer,  she works with Managing Partner, Steven Dugal, to lead the growth and development of Financial Advisors in Louisiana and Mississippi. Avril, a member of the internal leadership team, is focused on ensuring that all business pertaining to the clients of Northwestern Mutual-105 is appropriately managed by their financial guidance team. Avril is a native of Lafayette, LA where she met her husband Dr. Vandon Habetz. Currently they side in New Orleans with their fourchildren, Grace, Ellie, Luke and Julia. 

Avril's Management Team:

  • Annie Juttner, Director of Recruitment and Selection
  • Anjea Vindel, Director of Training and Development 
  • Megan Montz, Director of Growth
  • Katy Simpson, Chief Marketing Officer
  • Jeff Goldberg, Growth and Development Director 
  • Paige Held, College Unit Director
  • Taylor Weigel, Campus Recruiter 

 Stuart Cestia

Stuart Cestia, CLU®, LUTCF®

Managing Director
Office 337-233-3663

My Networks: LinkedIn Facebook

Stuart Cestia has been with Northwestern Mutual since 1997. He is a native of New Iberia and graduated from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a Minor in Finance. Stuart leads the performance growth and distribution in the Lafayette area.

Stuart's Management Team:

  • Abbey Payne, District Development Officer
  • Abbey Dixon, Director of Recruitment and Selection
  • Andrew Tregre, College Unit Director 

 Ted P Harless Jr

Ted P Harless Jr, LUTCF®, CLTC®

Managing Director
Office 337-436-8940

My Networks: LinkedIn Facebook

In 1984, Ted Harless entered the insurance and financial services industry, and in 1992 joined Northwestern Mutual as a Financial Representative. In 2008, he was named Field Director of the Northwestern Mutual of Louisiana - Lake Charles office and became Managing Director in 2009. Since Ted has become Managing Director, the Lake Charles office has grown exceptionally from enriching lives, fulfilling dreams, securing futures. 

Ted's Management Team:

  • Sarah Rainwater, Director of Recruitment and Development
  • Dan Piper, College Unit Director
  • Jonathan Conrad: Field Director
  • Todd Blanchard: Field Director 

 Benjamin Ross Wheeler

Benjamin Ross Wheeler, CLU®, LUTCF®

Managing Director
Mobile 337-578-1712

My Networks: LinkedIn Facebook

Ben was a college intern with Northwestern Mutual prior to contracting as a full-time financial representative with the company in September of 2002. He attended school at University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) and obtained a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in risk management and insurance in 2001. He and his wife, Erin, have been married since 2006.  They have two children, Camille and Zachary. Bob Wheeler, Ben's father, has worked for the company for over 30 years and introduced Ben to Northwestern Mutual.

Ben's Management Team:

  • Katherine Dantin, District Development Officer
  • Gustavo Ruiz de Chavez, College Unit Director 
  • Taylor Dodge, College Unit Director 
  • Donny Schmitt, Growth and Development Director 
  • Chris McGhee, Field Director 

 Nicholas Jude Fiorito

Nicholas Jude Fiorito

Managing Director
Office 601-664-1212

My Networks: LinkedIn Facebook

Nick has been with Northwestern Mutual since 2004 and has held the position of Managing Director since 2011. He has been a Million Dollar Round Table qualifying member from 2008 through 2012. He is a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and has received the Quality Award for 2011-2012.

Nick is a lifelong resident of Louisiana, and graduated from Northwestern State University of Louisiana with a Bachelor of Science in Business. He and his wife Shelly reside in Ridgeland, MS with their three beautiful children, Hayden, Zoe, Lyla. 

Nick's Management Team:

  • Emily King, Director of Recruitment and Selection
  • Chase Patrizzi, Growth and Development Director 

 Paul Gerald Hodge

Paul Gerald Hodge, CLU®, ChFC®

Managing Director
Office 985-246-5857

My Networks: LinkedIn Facebook

Paul Hodge has been a part of the Northwestern Mutual team since 2007. His mission is to help enrich lives, fulfill dreams, and secure futures for as many individuals, families, and businesses as possible. Paul understands it takes time and energy to secure your future and protect what is important to you. With this in mind, he takes his clients through a Personal Needs Analysis that highlights what is most important to them, and make innovative recommendations to reach their goals.

Paul's Management Team:

  • Dicky Lyons, Growth and Development Director 
  • Jason Navarre, Growth and Development Director
  • Brian Jones, College Unit Director 

 Anjea J Vindel

Anjea J Vindel

Director of Training and Development
Office 504-831-8146

My Networks: LinkedIn

 Chris H Hunger

Chris H Hunger

Chief Operating Officer
Office 504-620-4735

 Katy Dugal Simpson

Katy Dugal Simpson

Chief Marketing Officer
Office 504-831-8146
Mobile 769-231-0920

My Networks: LinkedIn Facebook Twitter

 Kristinia M Dupuy

Kristinia M Dupuy

Director of Network Office Supervision
Office 504-831-8146


Northwestern Mutual financial representatives have the opportunity to determine their own financial futures while making an impact on others.

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