By Kathleen E. Schor, CPIW, FLMI
Maryland Council Director
The IAIP was established June 1940 as a professional organization to help women advance their careers in the insurance industry. In fact, the original name was National Association of Insurance Women. Our motto was Fellowship, Loyalty, and Education. These are the three legs of our triangle. They are the very basis of our existence.
As time progressed, we grew, expanded beyond the USA, changed direction, and became wiser. We embraced new technologies as they came along and offered classes to help our members understand and master whatever they needed to remain viable insurance professionals.
When I joined in 1983 in-person meetings, conferences and conventions were the norm. We got together and talked before and after scheduled meetings and classes. We tutored new members. We encouraged each other to try new things. We cheered each other on. Friendship showed in hugs. Loyalty helped get things accomplished. Education became even more of a focus. Where else could you try something new without it affecting your job performance? The only thing you got when you screwed up was help.
Today, so many things in the organization are done remotely. There are online classes, special interest groups, meetings. This is for two reasons – money and time. Money needs no explanation. As for time, we are all so busy leading our lives that time is most precious to each of us. We guard it jealously and allocate it sparingly. To many, this innovation seems to have removed the warmth of IAIP because we lost touch with friends outside our local or Council.
However, working within this organization does not have to be cold and remote. With smaller meetings – even remote ones – we get to see the faces and expressions of the other attendees. We also get to hear their voices. IAIP still offers the fire and passion if you want it and know where to find it.
Find your interest. Do you want the latest tools for selling? Do you want to keep up with the latest technology? Do you want to develop or hone your management skills? Do you want to complete college? Do you need designations to advance your career? Do you want to be able speak confidently to one person or many? Do you need contacts in other states? Do you feel the need for personal development? Do you need a cheering gallery or just someone that understands? All this, and more can be found within IAIP.
Volunteer to do something outside your comfort range. I can tell you it was terrifying the first time I had to arrange for speakers. I found asking for donations became more comfortable for me with time. Helping a friend run for any office is really fun. Learning how the finances work is eye-opening. You never know what you can do until you try and, believe it or not, nobody wants you to fail.
Apply for awards. There is no better way to impress a boss than to win an award on a council, regional or international level. It shows that others find you to be a winner.
Join and work on task forces. Don’t sign up just to wear a ribbon at Convention. Choose an area of particular interest to you. It doesn’t have to be something you are already proficient with. On a task force you will find a mixture of every experience level from very experienced to newbies. Those with experience guide the newbies, offer fresh insight and then you all work together to get the project completed. Working as a team is a great way to make friends across the organization.
I recommend that you attend in-person meetings whenever possible. There really is ‘something’ in the room that gets missed when you participate from a computer. Before, during breaks, and after necessary business is completed at any meeting, at any level, you get a chance to make friends, hear what is going on around the area (local, council, region or country), and learn what has been successful or unsuccessful for others with similar problems. I know I come back from in-person meetings with my enthusiasm high because of the exceptional people I meet.
I guess the bottom line is that IAIP is what you make of it. We are not a group for everyone, and we do not claim to be. What we are is an international organization that can help you become the professional you deserve to be in a vital industry. We offer so many ways to both light your passion and keep your flame alive. The first step is yours – we will help the flame grow.
Kathy Schor has been a member of the Insurance Professionals of Baltimore since the early 1980s. Her first position with the organization was Chair of the Legislative Committee. Since that time, she has served on every committee the organization provided. After committees, she served in ever officer position except Corresponding Secretary. Currently, she is the Secretary and Treasurer. For the Maryland Council, Kathy has served as Director three times, Membership Chair, Public Relations Chair and every committee. At the Regional Conference, Kathy has served as the assistant to RVP Janet Fritz as well as on the Nominating, Registration, Minutes Approval, and Credentials Committees. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, her first International Convention, Kathy served in the CWC Committee and other International committees including Protocol, registration or wherever she was needed.
Kathleen E. Schor, CPIW, FLMI
Maryland Council Director