Our Leadership

Our Leadership

We are an experienced group of professionals committed to assisting you with your financial needs.

We strive to provide our clients with the best ideas and service in the business. Our accomplished staff strives to adhere to a 24-hour service timetable and works hard to exceed your expectations. We have many accomplished members of our team in addition to our leadership.

Our Mission

Whether it's developing a financial strategy, creating a customized executive benefits program for your business, or preparing a detailed asset allocation analysis, our mission is simple: to provide forward-thinking and cost-effective financial strategies to our valued clients.

Candace G. Kaplan, CFP®, RHU, ChFC®

Founder and Senior Partner

In February of 1979, Candi went looking for long-term career.

It was a challenging time for women to break into the financial industry.  After many difficult conversations, and interviews, Candi was hired by the Mutual Insurance Company of New York. 

While insurance was only a piece of the puzzle, it was an important first step because it taught Candi about risk first.  Candi became experienced in Disability Income Insurance, earned her RHU, and helped MONY write one of its Disability Income Insurance contracts. 

Quickly after her arrival, she understood that independence was important to her and being able to give her clients objective financial advice was paramount to her.  So, she and MONY agreed that she would move out of the agency and be independent while maintaining their affiliation.

Shortly after earning her independence, Candi recognized that Financial Planning was the future of the industry and in 1987, Candi earned her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification.

Many of Candi’s clients were key people or owners of companies and she was often asked to help take care of her client’s employees.  She launched Kaplan Benefits Group and today, we serve over 80 companies.

In 1993 Candi was honored by the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York as their “Man of the Year”*.  She was only the third woman in MONY’s 150-year history to receive that prestigious award. She has been lucky enough to be honored with company and industry awards for leadership, sales performance and outstanding client service every year of her career.

Volunteer leadership is one of her passions and she is presently the Board President of the Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA) of Washington.  She has also served as Chairman of the Dean’s Council of the Columbian College at George Washington University, and Chairman of the Council of Chairs, a member of the Planned Giving Committee of the University, as a proud graduate from GW earning her bachelor’s degree.

She has served as a member of the Financial Planning Association, XPX DC Metro, and the Congressional Bank Advisory Board.

As a Chartered Financial Consultant® Designee, she combines her passion for financial planning with her strategic acumen in business.  Businesses all over the region look to her for her advice and counsel.

She currently lives in Potomac, Maryland with her husband, Ron Lipsman.  While her daughter Sarah stayed close and lives nearby with her husband Nick, and their children, Asher and Charlotte, Candi also enjoys family time with her son Jonathan, his wife Doris, and their sons, Eli and Reed.

Candi feels that she has been blessed with a beautiful family who she adores, a 40-year career she is passionate about, and a wonderful community that she enjoys giving back to.

*1993 Man of the Year Award, created by Mutual Insurance of New York. Presented in 1993, based on the previous year’s sustained production, service to her community and contributions to the industry. This award does not imply an endorsement, recommendation, or reflect the performance of the advisor.

Sarah B. Kaplan, RHU, CFP®, AIF®

Managing Partner

Sarah has been preparing for this role her entire life. 

As the daughter of two financial services professionals, she has been discussing financial matters over the dinner table since she was little.  While business was always her destiny, she made it official by attending the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, and was the top graduate in her major. 

Once out of college, Sarah decided to come up in the business the same way as the founder of the company, by studying risk first.  Sarah earned her Registered Health Underwriter designation which helps her advise on group and individual health, disability income, and long-term care insurance. 

Sarah specializes in Retirement Income Planning and got her certificate in Retirement Planning from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.  Working with a broad range of individuals and families on their financial plans has become a passion for her as well as teaching in the community on financial planning and financial literacy. 

Since financial planning is a large part of how she serves her clients, she studied for and received her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification.

Throughout her professional career, Sarah has taken great care in counseling her clients on the care and custody of their assets, retirement plans, and investment management, and earned her Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF)® designee, and Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA) credential. 

Sarah took on the responsibilities of Managing Partner of Kaplan Financial Group, LLC and Kaplan Benefits Group, LLC in 2015 and is honored to be a member of the Leadership Montgomery Core class of 2019.  Sarah also gains invaluable knowledge through her involvement with the Heritage Study Group for colleagues in her industry, and with the DC Chapter of the Women’s Presidents Organization, a group for female leaders of industry. 

Crafting a comprehensive and detailed plan also translates to her personal life where she manages the school and social calendars for her children, Asher and Charlotte.  She leans on her keen management skills as a 20-year veteran of Fantasy Football. Sarah also explores her passion for community engagement as she regularly bakes with her husband, Nick, and their children, and shares their bakes on social media under the handle “Great Grewish Baking Family”.

Matthew J. Witchko, CPFA®, AIF®

Partner, Director of Group Services

Matt has been working in the financial industry for over 21 years. He grew-up in the Philadelphia area and spent his summers working in the New Jersey beach town of Ocean City. Matt earned his Bachelor of Science Degree from Perley Isaac Reed School at West Virginia University. He got his start in the industry as an Employee Benefits Specialist with the Principal Financial Group in 2000. 

Matt moved to the DC metro in 2001 where he earned his FINRA securities registration, Series 7 and Series 63 while working for First Financial Group as a registered representative. Matt worked as an individual investment broker guiding clients in planning for the financial hurdles they may encounter along the way. In 2007 he joined Kaplan to assist in servicing the group benefits clients.  In this new role he has continued to expand his understanding of the intricate and vast field of group benefits.

Currently, Matt oversees the operations of Kaplan Benefits Group where he works with owners and executives to create custom benefit offerings built to attract and retain top talent.  He also assists retirement plan trustees navigate their obligations as part of the services as acting as a retirement plan fiduciary. Matt works constantly to improve the interaction with clients, upgrade technology and tailoring Kaplan Benefit’s service model to meet their ever-changing needs.

Matt prides himself on the fact that over 90% of new business comes in the way of personal referrals and that many clients have engaged Kaplan Benefits for their employee’s needs for multiple ventures. 

Matt lives in Leesburg, VA with his wife Jackie and their 2 boys, where they are active in local community charities and assist with many of the area’s youth sports programs.  They are an avid outdoors family who enjoy sailing, surfing, skiing and hiking.

Matt has extensive experience in both the group and individual markets.  He is a Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA) as well as an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF)® Designee. Matt also holds Life & Health and Variable licenses in MD, VA, DC, PA and NJ.

Samantha Cooke

Client Relationship Manager

Sam joined Kaplan Financial Group in 2021 as Client Relationship Manager, bringing over 10 years of experience working in non-profit and higher education administration and operations. Sam earned her Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design from Marymount University in 2012. While earning her undergraduate degree, she worked part-time for George Mason University. Shortly after graduation she worked for a medical non-profit for a year before returning to GMU for a full-time job in the College of Science managing academic units. While working at GMU, she earned her Master of Art in Arts Management, graduating in 2019. Sam prides herself on her eclectic educational and professional background, making her distinctly suited for her current role with Kaplan. Sam’s background allows her to bring a certain creativity to the team in her role building relationships with our groups and clients.

When not working, Sam lives in Woodbridge, VA with her husband Vinay and their dog, Marlin. They enjoy all things culinary and travel. Sam holds a special place in heart for anything Disney or Harry Potter related and is still waiting on her Hogwarts letter. Always.

Sam holds FINRA series 7 and 66 securities registrations, as well as her Life & Health license in VA.

Paul Harney

Director of Investments

Paul joined the Kaplan team in February 2023.  As Director of Investments, Paul handles cashiering activities, trading and model management, and investment research.  Prior to working at Kaplan, Paul interned with Legacy Advisors in McLean VA and then spent 15 years with Mason Investment Advisory Services, an RIA located in Reston, VA.  While at Mason, Paul gained a wide range of experience working in the firm’s Operations and Portfolio Management departments.  He received his bachelor’s degree in Family Financial Management from Virginia Tech and holds his FINRA Series 7, 66, and 24 registrations. 

In his free time, Paul enjoys international travel and has been on trips to London, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Prague, Vienna, and several other world-class destinations around the world.  While abroad, Paul enjoys sampling the local cuisines and sightseeing.  In addition to his passion for international travel, he also enjoys playing his guitar and spending time with his wife and 1-year-old daughter.

Lauren Woodward

Financial Planning Coordinator

Lauren is a Rockville native, growing up just down the street from our office. She went to Wootton High School where in her junior year, she took an elective personal finance class that inspired her. It then became her goal to become a Financial Planning Professional.

In 2018 she started at Virginia Tech in the Pamplin School of Business. Go Hokies! While in school she was active in her sorority, Collegiate Women in Business, and the Financial Planning Association. During breaks from school Lauren worked as an Intern at Kaplan Financial Group. This ongoing opportunity at Kaplan helped her learn the practical side of the trade alongside the academic and theoretical aspects of the profession.  The most important takeaway being the importance of personalized, compassionate support to clients.

In 2022 Lauren graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance with a concentration in Financial Planning. While in school She also acquired her certification in eMoney, the software used to design client plans, and has become the resident “eMoney expert”. 

Shortly after graduation, she started full time at Kaplan as a Financial Planning Coordinator.  Lauren’s focus in financial planning allows her to assist advisors in creating client-centered holistic financial plans meeting the unique goals of each client.  Simply put, “no two clients have the same needs.” Lauren’s passion is collaborating with clients to help them understand and implement strategies to reach financial goals.  She does this through her personalized, compassionate non-judgemental approach to financial planning. 

To further specialize in financial planning, Lauren has earned her CFPⓇ certification. She has also achieved her Registered Representative FINRA status and is currently working towards her Investment Advisor status. 

Lauren now lives in Arlington VA where she enjoys the endless bike trails, lively community, and her favorite weekend tradition, walking to the local bagel shop. But, is not a stranger to her Montgomery County roots as she comes to visit her parents, and of course, the dogs on a regular basis.