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Networking, recruiting events scheduled for February

(Good Works Fund, Member News, Workforce Development) Permanent link

Workforce development remains FAIA's No. 1 strategic priority, and two upcoming events will advance that effort by connecting agency owners with potential employees.

St. Pete College logoSt. Pete College Networking: FAIA and St. Pete College—one of eight state colleges now offering associate-degree programs in insurance/risk management—are hosting an insurance career networking event for students and prospective employers on Tuesday, February 9, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the school’s Clearwater campus. This joint event is part of FAIA’s effort to build “insurance communities” around partnering state colleges, so agent and company participation is encouraged and welcomed! Seating is limited. Please RSVP online or call (727) 302-6487.

FSU’s 2016 Insurance Days: The Insurance Days program, which brings together employers looking for talent and students looking to start their risk management and insurance careers, will be held February 24–26 at FSU. The program covers multiple days and includes a day and a half of interviewing and a Thursday evening reception. Interview rooms are limited, so agencies and companies interested in participating should register well before the January 31 deadline. Learn more and register online.

Baker honored with FAIA Chairman's Award

(Member News, Good Works Fund, Leadership) Permanent link

/uploadedImages/FAIA_Site_Home/Media_Center/Baker_Greg.jpgGreg Baker, chairman of FAIA’s Good Works Fund, is the 2015 recipient of the Chairman's Award. The award, presented during Convention's Business & Awards Breakfast, recognizes an FAIA member whose attitude, spirit, and efforts inspire others to be their best.

First as an appointed member of the Good Works Fund Committee and for the past two years as its chair, Greg has worked tirelessly to establish insurance specialization programs in state colleges around the state, starting with St. Johns River State College in his own backyard. The SJR State program currently has 34 students.

Greg developed the “Ambassador Program” to connect the Good Works Fund with local agents who have connections to their local state college, and worked with FAIA’s legislative team to draft and pass the Workforce Development Bill. The bill authorizes the Florida Department of Financial Services to waive the state exam for a personal lines agent’s license if the applicant receives an associate’s degree that includes nine credit hours of approved insurance instruction.

College interest in insurance specialization programs spiked after the bill passed, and Greg wasted no time seizing the opportunity. Since March, the Good Works Fund partnered with Polk, Broward, and Seminole state colleges. Those colleges will start teaching insurance courses in January, and there are many more colleges in the exploratory stages.

Greg is a past chairman of FAIA and a recipient of the Mitchell Stallings Memorial Award, and through his work on the Good Works Fund, he continues to inspire others.

New legislation will help perpetuate insurance industry

(Member News, Good Works Fund) Permanent link

Nearly 20% of the American insurance agency system’s workforce is expected to retire by 2018. This huge talent gap threatens the growth and stability of the insurance industry, but the Florida Association of Insurance Agents (FAIA) has helped bridge that gap by drafting a recently approved bill passed by the Florida Legislature.

The bill authorizes the Florida Department of Financial Services to waive the state exam for a personal lines agent’s license if the applicant receives an associate’s degree that includes nine credit hours of approved insurance instruction. 

College interest in insurance specialization programs is surging with passage of the bill, which creates a more meaningful college-to-career pathway for degree-seeking students who pursue insurance careers. Insurance ranks No. 19 on Florida’s list of “Industries Gaining the Most New Jobs,” and both customer service reps (No. 3) and insurance sales agents (No. 33) rank among the top 100 occupations gaining the most new jobs, considered “high skill, high wage occupations.” 

“Between replacement needs and economic growth, insurance workers are in huge demand,” says Greg Baker, chairman of FAIA’s Good Works Fund Committee, which provides financial and organizational support to state colleges that offer insurance specialization programs or seek to put programs in place. “Passage of this bill goes a long way to connecting students looking for viable career opportunities with the agencies that are ready to hire them.” 

The Good Works Fund provides financial support to Florida State University’s School of Risk Management, as well as St. Johns River State, St. Pete and Santa Fe colleges, with three more colleges planned to establish insurance programs by fall. Baker says the fund anticipates awarding up to $50,000 in scholarship awards in 2015–2016.

Good Works Fund spring scholarships awarded

(Good Works Fund) Permanent link

 The following insurance students received spring scholarships made possible by FAIA’s Good Works Fund. 

Grace Levy received the St. Pete College “Good Works” Scholarship ($700). Grace is enrolled in the Insurance Specialization Program and will graduate this summer. She is currently a claims technical representative and plans to take her insurance career to a higher level after graduation. “By receiving the scholarship, I am able to focus more on my education,” she said. “Your hospitality in assisting me financially has given me the opportunity to further myself in the insurance field as well as encouraged me to help others.” 

Conrad Predki received the Tom C. Johnson Scholarship ($1,500). Conrad is in his fourth year of the Risk Management & Insurance program at FSU with an interest in commercial property and casualty lines of insurance. He is seeking to gain further knowledge and first-hand experience identifying and mitigating the exposures faced by businesses and businesses owners.

Victor Tang, a junior in the RMI program at FSU, received the Buddy McCue Scholarship ($1,000). The Spencer Educational Foundation recently named Tang the 2015-16 Spencer Scholar. The foundation, which is affiliated with the Risk and Insurance Management Society, has awarded 820 scholarships since it was founded in 1979.

GWF support of insurance programs helps build agency workforce of tomorrow

(Member News, Good Works Fund) Permanent link

Dillon CunninghamDillon Cunningham was one of those rare teenagers who found his calling in life right out of high school. He began interning with the ThompsonBaker Insurance Agency while attending St. Johns River State College (SJR State), and his dedication paid off when he was offered a position with the agency after completing his internship.

While diving headfirst into the industry exposed him to the many facets of the insurance field, Dillon still thought it would be wise to continue his education. That was when he was approached with a generous offer.

“Greg Baker, chairman of the ThompsonBaker Agency and a mentor of mine, offered to sponsor my insurance specialization courses at St. Johns River State College,” Dillon said. Through this sponsorship, he is currently earning an Associate in Science degree in Business Administration with a specialization in insurance.

Greg, working on behalf of FAIA’s Good Works Fund Committee, partnered with SJR State in 2009 to introduce a series of courses designed to prepare students to work in the insurance industry. Students who complete the nine credit hours of insurance specialization classes and obtain an AA or AS degree receive a 4-40 Customer Services Representative License. The Good Works Fund contributes $5,000 in student support to the insurance specialization program each year.

“The insurance courses really helped me learn the dynamics of the industry,” he said. “I was able to take what I learned in the courses and implement it daily.” Dillon found that the combination of experience gained on the job and from his classes put him a step above the rest in his field.

After spending three years with the ThompsonBaker Agency, Dillon settled with the Shapiro Insurance Group in Jacksonville, where he is employed as an insurance consultant.

“I would highly recommend SJR State’s insurance specialization program to my peers and advise them to take full advantage of these instrumental courses that the College offers,” he said. “Considering the demand for proficient and articulate employees in the insurance industry, I believe opportunities are endless for those with the discipline and motivation to succeed.”

For more information regarding the courses and admission requirements, contact Joel Abo, SJR State’s director of business education, at (386) 312-4063.

You can help further the education of future members of the American Agency System by contribution to the Good Works Fund. Learn how. 

Inaugural Bob Ross Scholarship awarded

(Good Works Fund) Permanent link
Pictured from left to right are: (front) Michele Ross McIntyre, Danielle Chiste, Sue Ross Joiner; and (back) Mark Ross and Robert Ross.

Danielle Chiste is the inaugural recipient of the Bob Ross Scholarship. The talented junior insurance major received the award at the fall banquet of the Florida State University College of Business School of Risk Management/Insurance awards banquet held December 4.

Four of Bob Ross’s five children were on hand to celebrate the award, given in their father’s honor, and meet the recipient.

Former Chairman Sam Rogers, who spearheaded the scholarship fundraising efforts during his term and is a lifelong friend of the Ross family, reflected on the momentous occasion.

“One of the remarkable things about this legacy scholarship is not just that Bob Ross’s name will forever appear in a program or on a plaque, but also that students like Danielle will forever be connected to Bob Ross and his family.”

Danielle said she feels honored and blessed to receive such a wonderful award.

“If there is one thing I am most excited for, it would definitely be my drive to live on Bob Ross’s legacy,” she said. “(The Ross family is) such a lively and incredible group of people, and I am thrilled to keep a relationship with all of them.”

The scholarship was made possible through the efforts of the FAIA Good Works Fund. Contributions from companies, agencies, and individuals reached the $100,000 necessary to endow the scholarship in Bob’s name, ensuring that a $5,000 scholarship award can be awarded in perpetuity.

Good Works Fund endows Bob Ross Scholarship

(Member News, Good Works Fund) Permanent link

/uploadedImages/FAIA_Site_Home/Media_Center/Ross_Bob.jpgThanks to contributions from companies, agencies, and individuals, FAIA’s Good Works Fund Committee has raised the $100,000 needed to endow a scholarship in the name of legendary FAIA educator Bob Ross.

The fundraising effort begin at the 2013 FAIA Convention with substantial contributions from the Ross family and BB&T Insurance Services. Nearly $10,000 was raised during the Convention for the scholarship fund, and the momentum continued throughout the year. Special thanks go to Legacy donors Sam Rogers, Jr., FCCI Services, and Safeco Insurance; and Founder donors Continental Casualty Company (CNA) and Main Street America Group. (See a full list of contributors online).

Reaching the endowment goal ensures that a $5,000 scholarship can be awarded in perpetuity to bright and energetic students pursuing a career in the independent agency system.

The Good Works Fund, established in 2009, supports charitable giving in the insurance field with an emphasis on insurance education. Learn more online 

Talented FSU students awarded Johnson, McCue scholarships

(Member News, Good Works Fund) Permanent link

2014GWFScholarshipWinnersFAIA congratulates Michael Howard (right) and Britain Dooley (left, with RMI Assistant Department Chair Kathleen McCullough pictured center), recipients of the 2014-15 Tom C. Johnson and Buddy McCue scholarships, respectively. Both scholarships are named in honor of former FAIA presidents.

Established in 1990, the $1,500 Tom C. Johnson Scholarship is awarded to one talented returning senior each year. Criteria include: academic performance, career interest in the property and casualty industry; financial need; extracurricular activities; RMI major; and Florida resident. The recipient is selected from students nominated by RMI faculty at Florida State University. Similar criteria are applied for the $1,000 Buddy McCue Scholarship.   

Funding for the scholarships is made possible through FAIA’s Good Works Fund. Contributions to the fund support endowments to institutes of higher education with insurance degrees programs, and provide scholarships to talented students pursuing insurance as a field of study.

Visit the Good Works Fund online to learn more.