BY CERRINA JENSEN
Recently I enjoyed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) CE course presented by my friend and colleague, Lisa Hutcherson (of Summus, and Darlis, LLC). This was at a Sacramento Association of Health Underwriters (SAHU) Business Expo. Well, truthfully, I didn’t enjoy every moment of it. And Lisa shared — that was the point. Her intention was to create some discomfort. Because that’s where growth happens, in the discomfort. So, she gently nudged us to squirm in our seats just a little. Lisa challenged us with small group activities that resulted in a dynamic and refreshing large group dialogue to wrap it up.
It struck me several days later that the Women’s Leadership Summit (WLS) falls within this emerging DEI landscape. At first, I resisted the idea, but it’s true. Promoting and elevating female leadership within our industry is most certainly a matter of diversity, equity and inclusion. Which is an interesting concept — one that many remain unfamiliar with, based on the number of conversations I’ve had where people have asked me, “What’s DEI, again?” I’m not 100% sure of myself, but I’m learning.
Here’s what I do know — WHY we need to do this.
This leadership summit could not be more timely and applicable. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that the universe is helping this venture lift off and soar. I’m exhilarated reflecting on the first two events, in March of 2019 and 2022. The resulting national buzz surrounding this event, and the astounding first week of incoming partnerships for 2023 are testimony to its powerful effect. We are so thankful for and proud of these innovative and forward-thinking companies for leaning in, and elevating female leadership in our industry. Because it’s time.
According to a compilation of data curated by S&P Global Market Intelligence, only 23% of executives and officers at large insurance companies are women. Yet, a study by McKinsey & Company revealed that women make up 67% of entry level staff. They go on to assert that creating sponsorship opportunities is one way to help women advance professionally. With women being 21% less likely to be promoted than men, there’s a clear need for both informal and formal social networks for women.
The purpose of the Women’s Leadership Summit, which we founded through CAHU (now CAHIP) in 2019 is to foster personal growth, leadership and self-awareness for both current and aspiring female leaders in our industry. Our goal from the outset was to provide an atmosphere that encourages intimacy, relationship building, frank and open discussions, and most of all, an opportunity to learn and grow.
Immediately following the conclusion of WLS this past March, many conversations ensued around the country about the profound and life-changing impact the event had on many of our participants. As we said before, we appreciate all the thanks, accolades and feedback. We are beyond excited to share some of those “exciting developments” we promised back in May.
The original founders of the CAHIP Women’s Leadership Summit, along with a couple of additional key contributors, have formed a brand-new insurance-focused educational non-profit called Ellevate Foundation. We officially began operations shortly after the conclusion of WLS 2022.
Our Ellevate Foundation board of directors includes:
• President Stephanie Berger (VCAHU)
• Vice President Jolene Bibian (VCAHU)
• Secretary/Treasurer Cerrina Jensen (SAHU)
• Korey Ashton (Treasure Valley AHU)
• Sue Wakamoto-Lee (GGAHU/OCAHU)
• Jill Pedersen (Oregon AHU)
• Dawn McFarland (LAAHU)
We are proud and honored to enjoy the support and collaboration of our founding body, CAHU/CAHIP in making this transition. We are extra proud that our president, Stephanie Berger, has been elected to serve as the Regional Vice President of our national professional organization NAHU/NABIP representing Region 8. Also, board member Sue Wakamoto-Lee has been elected to serve as the president of our state chapter of NAHU.
This synergy and collaboration has been critical to ensuring the ongoing success and growth of the Women’s Leadership Summit. We also value our participants, partners, speakers and fans in so many other chapters of NAHU across the country!I want to give kudos to AmWins Connect (amwinsconnect.com) for their quick and pivotal decision to join us in launching Ellevate’s first WLS as our Exclusive Partner. We see you, and we appreciate you! We are also immensely thankful to our rapidly growing list of additional partners for WLS 2023. We can’t wait to share this event with everyone March 13-15, 2023! General registration is open now and we are expecting this event to sell out. So, if you want to join our movement, be sure to act quickly.
Here’s the link to register: 2023 WLS Registration Home Page https://bit.ly/3PajhLA
Being that we’re an educational foundation, let’s take it way back to schoolhouse days when we all learned the key points of any good story: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How!
We believe in and support female leadership. We welcome and encourage like-minded innovators in our industry to partner with us for this important summit. It’s a unique conference that attracts a diverse group of women who work with insurance carriers, general agencies, administrators, technologists and various products and programs that encourage female success.
Ellevate Foundation is a new educational non-profit formed for the purpose of elevating women by providing tools and resources to grow personally and professionally. Our revenues are used specifically for the foundation’s mission to provide financial support for women new to our field with grants to attend industry events and advance their professional development.
The 2023 Women’s Leadership Summit (WLS) will begin on the afternoon of Monday, March 13, and concludes around noon on Wednesday, March 15, 2023.
We are returning to where it all began, at the JW Marriott Resort & Spa just outside Las Vegas. Our plan is that the entire summit, including the infamous Ladies Night Out, will take place on the property in 2023.
Current and aspiring female leaders both within and outside the insurance industry find this a valuable program that fosters personal growth, leadership and self-awareness. Our participants get a deeper sense of self, and tools to unleash their own unique magic once they return home equipped, empowered, engaged and ELLEVATED.
By nurturing, elevating, training and uplifting female leaders, Ellevate Foundation will contribute to the critical need for more upward mobility for women in our industry through personal and professional development and strategic networking.
CERRINA JENSEN is a broker consultant with Solv Independent Insurance Associates. She is founder of a complimentary consultancy, Stellar Stories, as well as a founding officer of Ellevate Foundation which hosts the Women’s Leadership Summit. A nationally recognized leader in the insurance industry, Cerrina has been honored with many local, state and national awards for her leadership and consumer advocacy.