• Heart Month: Prevention and Signs of Heart Disease

    February 2021 marks the 57th anniversary of the first Heart Month. Originated in 1964, Heart Month was created to raise awareness for a disease which, at the time, caused over half of the US deaths. To spread awareness and knowledge on the topic, the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation hosted a webinar with Nina Morgan, Tampa Bay’s Vice President of Development, American Heart Association, and Artemis Emslie, CEO of CandenceRX.

    Heart disease can affect even the youngest and healthiest of people. With 1 in 3 women dying of heart disease, it is important to understand prevention and the signs for this disease.

    Know Your Numbers

    Numbers to track include

    Obtaining an annual physical and check-up with your physician is important to stay up to date with your body’s state of health. When visiting your doctor, ask what the numbers in your testing mean. Ask, “Am I where I should be?” Share your numbers with significant others, family members, or friends. We may not always be our best advocates, so sharing your numbers will help hold you accountable.

    Lifestyle

    Heart disease is 80% controllable and 20% uncontrollable. Diet, activity, and smoking status are the three main factors that account for the controllable prevention. Ensuring a healthy and balanced diet, frequent physical activity, and eliminating the use of nicotine will help lower your chances of getting this disease.

    Symptoms in Women

    Heart Attack

    Stroke

    Getting Involved

    As of 1977, women of childbearing age were banned from being involved in early stage clinical trials for heart disease. The ban was lifted in the early 2000s allowing women to be involved. Since women were not involved in early research, there continues to be a lack of research for women and heart disease. The American Heart Association (AHA) encourages women of all ages to get involved with research to help increase the knowledge we have for women. Research Goes Redis a program with the AHA providing a variety of levels for women to participate in research.

    Resources 

    The American Heart Association

    https://www.heart.org

    Research Goes Red

    https://www.projectbaseline.com/studies/gored/

    Through the Lens: Shining Light on Women’s Heart Health, Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cxs70pehQ7c&feature=youtu.be

    Blog by: Melina Ressler, Intern, Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation

    An Invitation

    I recently read an article about playing golf. Apparently, most people that start playing golf begin because someoneinvitedthem to play.

    I grew up in a small town in south Louisiana. My hometown, Bogalusa, Louisiana has a population of around 12,000.  When I grew up there, it was approximately 18,000. That seems so small in comparison to other bigger cities that I have lived in.  When you grow up in a small town, everyone knows everyone. If they do not know you, they ask “Who are your people?”  And they immediately know what kind of family you were raised in.  At the time that I grew up there, the city was still very segregated. While we had integrated schools, there were still many things that were separate.  Most churches were either black or white.  We had separate proms.  Even our local YMCAs and YWCA were separated by race.  No, there weren’t any signs that said, “keep out,” but it was just custom and tradition that kept the citizens doing most things separately.

    When I was in eleventh grade, we had a new teacher start. She was a retired teacher from the town, but who had lived in the Midwest all of her adult life. She had returned to live there for retirement and so she started teaching again at my high school. Mrs. Strange taught creative writing and honors English. After a couple months of being in her class, she asked me to stay after class one day.   She asked what my plans were for post-graduation and we talked about my hopes to go to college and major in journalism.  That was the first day that we had a one on one conversation, but it led to many talks about my future and what I’d like to do and what she thought I should do.   One day when I came in, she pulled out some old photographs of herself from a beauty pageant. She was a beautiful lady and the class tried to imagine the teacher sitting in front of us as the same young lady in the photographs.   After class that day, she pulled out a newspaper. It included an article about our county’s upcoming fair.  Louisiana is known for its fairs and festivals and this particular fair was a big deal in our county. It was such a big deal that school was always closed for three days because everyone attended.

    She asked me that day if I had ever considered entering the pageant for the fair. I had never considered it and told her so. She asked why, and I explained that while everyone participates in the fair, African American girls are never in that pageant – it’s not for us.  She told me that there were no rules that said I could not participate, and I should strongly consider it. She told me that it was time for things to change and she thought I should enter it.  After a few more nudges from her and conversations with my family, I decided to participate. It would require a lot of prep work, a formal gown, interview suit, etc. She told me that if I needed anything to prepare for the pageant to let her know and she would see that I get what I needed.  I didn’t need anything to prepare as my family took care of that, but what she did do was open my mind to the possibility of doing something that tradition and comfort had prevented other girls before me in participating. Previous generations had just accepted that it wasn’t something African American young women participated in and really there was nothing stopping any of us from participating.

     

    I did enter the pageant and it was a scary experience. The on-stage interview, the walk with the formal gown, etc. While I was the only African American on that stage, I had an audience full of familiar faces and supporters encouraging me. At the time, I was upset that I did not win, but now as an adult I realize the important step was just to participate- to break down the barriers that stood before us.  I often think of Mrs. Strange when I think about advocates and allies. She was a teacher who simply invited me to participate in and consider possibilities for myself. It did not matter if the town and/or county had never had someone like me participate, there was nothing stopping me from doing it.  I think of her as the first ally in my life.

    Imagine what having someone who takes a special interest in you and suggests opportunities where you get to stretch and do things that you had never considered or saw yourself doing?  Sometimes all it takes is for someone else to recognize your talent and nudge you to try something new. In 2020, we saw a lot of people who wanted to do something to further race relations and diversity in corporate America. We are bombarded with talks and articles about allyship, advocacy and authenticity.  Sometimes all it takes is an invitation – recognizing talent in someone and reaching out to get to know them and their goals and ask how you can support them.  Every day that we go to work, we have people that cross our paths and our area of influence, how often do we speak up for the new or junior person?  How often do we advocate for them to be assigned to a new project?  When we are in meetings and creating something new, when we look around, how often do we ask ourselves, “Who isn’t represented here?” Why don’t we invite them? Advocacy and allyship aren’t just buzz words- they are calls.  So, what is stopping you from being a Mrs. Strange to someone else?  All it takes is an invitation.

     

     

    Blog by: Valerine Conerly, Client Relations Specialist at United Heartland

    Executive Presence

    Executive Presence is a competency becoming more and more relevant in the workplace. It is a concept thrown around by leaders, mentors, and executive management. But what is meant by Executive Presenceand how do you know if you have it or what to do to get it?

    Executive presence is the persona to inspire confidence. It means having the ability to inspire confidence in your team members and within your colleagues that you are the leader they want to follow because you are capable and reliable. It also shows senior leadership you have what it takes to cultivate great achievements through people and the organization. It is a skill one can cultivate and build.

    Executive presence also takes an inward look at who you truly are. It is the perception of how people see you and is incredibly important for those conversations when you are not in the room. Opportunities gained and presented come from the confidence you have been able to inspire with decision makers. The more significant the assignment or challenge, the greater need for executive presence becomes to be granted the opportunity becomes.

    How do I know if I have it?

    To determine if you possess this competency, ask. Ask your direct reports, in-direct reports, your peers, other colleagues, those with whom you respect, and senior leaders. Ask people for feedback not only in your organization but those with whom you work in other groups or clubs who may collaborate with you in a different manner. How you are seen by your in-direct reports may differ from how you are seen by senior leaders as well as how you are perceived from outside your organization.

    Solicit feedback in an authentic and transparent manner. The method of a 360 feedback can be quite helpful to determine how you are perceived by others regardless of your intent. This can cultivate awareness and provide significant insight how to grow and develop your personal brand. From this information, you can then create actionable items for yourself to enhance yourself in a multitude of ways.

    What do I do to get/enhance my executive presence?

    Start with your vision and how you have shared it with others. Whether it be your team or your peers, having a clear vision and articulating it well matter. In order to secure followers, your vision needs to be seen by others as the collective goal they can envision achieving with you. Providing this broad landscape helps your team and colleagues imagine their role in the process. Couple in meaning and purpose with your vision and your team can understand the why they should join in on this journey with you. This is a very effective method when implementing change management.

    Build your communication skills. Active listening and seeking to understand can put you at an advantage in this space because it allow you to engage with your full attention. Ask questions, engage others, explore ideas, and seek opportunities to encompass the whole group. Effective listening acknowledges individual contributors and can illicit collective buy in as you are able to see things from a holistic perspective. It also double checks how consumable the information you share is to the people receiving the message. Consumable information is the name of the game. How you present to your senior leaders will be different than how you communicate to your peers and followers. Take time to notice how you deliver information and take notice of the audience you present the information to in order to come across in a confident and reputable manner.

    Take stock in who you are. Know how to keep your composure when in stressful situations and be conscious of your reactions when collaborating in a group dynamic or when receiving information. Not only is it important to clearly communicate through written and oral mediums, body language and energy can be seen as well as felt by those in a room. This holds true in a video conferencing standpoint as well. Learn to know what can cause you agitation and have tools handy in your mind for how to defuse these situations.

    Remember, executive presence is a like a muscle you can train. Provide yourself with the proper training and you can build upon this skill to create the confidence and charisma you desire both within and outside of the workplace. You can make positive changes to enhance how you are seen.

    Blog by: Claire Muselman, Director, The Workers’ Recovery Unit, Continental Western Group

     

     

    The Value of Goal Setting

    We love goals.  There is nothing more satisfying than looking back on all the impactful goals that we crushed over the past year.  Plus, come January, we all love having a fresh start and a brand-new set of big, daring goals.

    Why do we set goals? Goals help us guide our focus and promote a sense of self-mastery, and help you sustain that momentum in all areas of your life.

    Now, we all know that even as we love setting goals, the reality is that there are plenty of goals we set for ourselves that we fall a bit short on.  Does it mean that we have failed if we don’t hit every goal we set for ourselves?

    Of course not.

    It is important to go as hard as we can in working towards our goals, but it isn’t about pushing forward at any cost to achieve our goals.  It is just as important to evaluate and reevaluate the goals we set for ourselves to make sure they are still in line with what we want to accomplish. We just may find that there are goals we set for ourselves that aren’t the right fit for us, and that’s okay! As people, we are in a constant state of change and it is okay if our priorities shift.  Let those goals go and focus on your destination.

    With that said, what is the destination?  Think about goals as compasses.  If we don’t have them, we don’t have a good idea of which direction we are going, and it’s super easy to get lost.  If you create your ‘map’, you’ll find that it’s okay to take alternative routes sometimes to get to the destination.

    Start with big goalsand work your way back.  Think about where you want to be 12 months from now?  What do you want to accomplish?

    Break the big goals down into smaller goals.  Look at your yearly goals and break them down by quarter.  What do you need to complete each quarter to make sure that you meet your big goals?  Then create your plan by quarter so you know what you need to work on and when.

    Reevaluate along the wayand ask yourself “is this still the best path for me?  Am I on track to my destination?”  You may find three different answers:  yes; no, but if I make adjustments I will be back on track; or no, I need an entirely new destination.  Every one of those is perfectly okay, because there are always leaning opportunities in every obstacle.

    Keep your goalsby making them a priority.  Life is busy and we all get caught up in all the little day to day things.  If you want to hit your goals, you need to be diligent about working towards them, every day.  Find a time that you can set aside for this (maybe first thing each morning) and then stick to it.

    You probably won’t hit every goal – and that’s okay.  This is worth saying again.  Don’t beat yourself up if you fail to achieve a goal you have set for yourself.  The key to success, according to Chet Holmes, is “stubborn pigheaded discipline and determination.”  It’s about pushing forward through every obstacle and getting up no matter how many times you fall.

    There are many examples in history of people who never gave up and achieved greatness as a result. Before he perfected the light bulb, Thomas Edison self-proclaimed that he failed 9,999 times.  Before the Wright Brothers achieved flight, they crashed and burned two gliders.  Michael Jordan missed over 9,000 shots from the goal – more than most NBA players take in their entire career.

    The reason that they, and people like them, succeeded is that they believed whole heartedly that “failing” to meet their goal wasn’t actually failing at all.  It was simply an opportunity to try again.

    Choose your goals – make them meaningful to you and aligned with your true purpose.  Never stop pursuing excellence.

    Blog by: Michelle Ryan, Alliance of Women’s Compensation Ambassador

    “The greatest leaders are those that have had opportunities to practice leadership.”

    I’m not sure where I heard this quote originally, but it is one that has stuck with me. I have received opportunities within my career to lead, and ultimately these opportunities have allowed me to continue to grow and advance as a leader within my organization. I’ve been able to adopt my own leadership style which I’m positive will continue to evolve over time as I gain experience.

     

    Leading by example has been my preferred method of leadership to date. Let’s take a step back- 6 years ago I remember my first day at PHS as a 23 year old with no healthcare experience whatsoever. This was the first opportunity I received- my current EVP took a chance on me. I left my final interview ecstatic feeling confident I would receive the job, but left work on the first day overwhelmed by the acronyms, the state regulations, just everything really. I was certain I had made a mistake.

     

    I vividly remember calling my mom in tears and she gave me some “tough love” advice, which I decided to follow. “Sounds like you have a lot to learn” So that is what I did. For the first year I put my head down and learned everything I could. My Director challenged me by allowing me to lead a handful of small projects. Some of these projects were not successful, but the knowledge I gained was invaluable.

     

    I was offered a supervisor role right before my first annual review. A year in I was by no means a seasoned leader, but I was willing and excited to step up to the plate. I experienced many challenges as a young leader and setting the example helped me to validate my position. Had others on the team been with the organization longer? Yes. Were others older than I was? Yes. We have no control over these things, but what I could control was my productivity, my attitude and my willingness to do the job beyond standard expectations.

     

    Leading by example has allowed me to gain trust from my team and others. If you want to continue to grow within an organization and our industry I would highly suggest being intentional in your growth. Step out of your comfort zone by inviting leaders from all steps of life, not just work, to lunch (or virtual meetings these days). Ask them questions; learn how to continuously improve your active listening skills.

     

    Some other things that in my opinion have helped me continuously grow as a leader include being transparent no matter how uncomfortable or awkward that can be and inviting others into decisions. Listening and considering the thoughts of others regarding a decision goes a long way. Take chances on those who deserve opportunities when you can. Loyalty and respect from employees is important in my department, as I am sure it is in yours. When you provide opportunity, you build loyalty. When you believe in your employees, you gain their respect.

     

    Fast forward a few years and I am now the Director of that same department I started in and I don’t intend to settle here. Continuing to improve as a leader and challenging myself to grow and learn is something I value much more than promotions. In my experience, those will happen along the way if you set the tone to be the best leader you can be on a daily basis.

     

    By: Haily Roche, Director of Network Development, Prime Health Services

    The Moments that Shape Us – The World Comes to You

    We can observe a handful of our choices, experiences, or particular days that ultimately carve out the path of our lives. When observing closely we can see the patterns of how those moments and choices were profoundly influential in how the world comes to us.  The day I married my husband and left the restaurant business.  The day my father died, I started my yoga practice, and my first Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation event are flashes of magic of ways the world came to me.  It will likely not come to you in a neat package or when you’re expecting it but, you have to open enough to let it in, so you don’t miss it.

    It was Tuesday, December 5, 2017, the first year I was attending the National Work Comp and Disability Conference in Las Vegas.  The Alliance was having their pre-conference networking event at the Mandalay Bay and Margaret Spence was the keynote speaker.  When I joined the attendees, the room was absolutely bursting with energy.  Beautiful spirits connecting and encouraged to learn about who each other was. This was where I needed to be.

    As Margaret took us on a journey through her book, Leadership Self-Transformation, I thought she was reading my mind.   I was only in the workers’ compensation industry for two years and literally in the throes of transforming myself and building my position at Workfinders USA with Bill Tucker. I had to meet Margaret and tell her how I connected with her message. As we chatted, we learned of our mutual passion for supporting injured workers through the return-to-work process and have been collaborating to advance the mission ever since.

    The world comes to you, then you have to run with it.  My position had evolved to include a fair amount of travel and it seemed like everywhere I was going The Alliance was having an event or a new chapter was starting. The events are always highly inspirational and energizing to me.  What keeps my coming back is the level of authenticity.   The ability for all to be our real selves safely learning and growing.  I’m privileged to have participated in 10 of these sensational gatherings and the fellowship is real.   Crushing my fears, sharpening resilience, financial acumen, and navigating change. I drew upon all of our collaborations in 2020 navigating the unknown this year holds.

    We all arrive at moments that are too deep, or things begin to unravel. We’re experiencing this on a cultural level now.  We can’t keep doing what we’re doing but what else can we do? The insights that come out of these challenging times, how do we put them into action? These are the ones that affect real change in ourselves and our community.  Look closely at the people around you, the beauty around this chaos, it’s the magic of the world coming to you.

    Blog by: Natalie Torres, Senior Director of Client Solutions, Work Finders USA

    What Women Want – 5 Negotiation Tips

    An article released by Harvard Law School in July of this year mentioned that one of the contributing factors to the gender earnings gap is a gender gap in negotiation skills. This study discusses women’s challenges with negotiating and demonstrates how finding confidence in negotiations can be harder for women than it is for their male counterparts.  Negotiations can make women nervous and lead them to doubt themselves or their knowledge.

    As women, it is critical that we continue to hone our ability to negotiate in all aspects of life. This includes negotiating for a salary raise, a promotion, or even things in your personal life such as buying a house, a car or negotiating bedtime with our children. We’ve put together five tips to help you be more prepared for any kind of negotiation.

    1. Negotiate as hard for yourself as you would for others

    As women, we tend to push hard and negotiate more for other than we do for ourselves. We may feel guilty or undeserving of praise or a pay increase, and we tend to put the spotlight on someone else. We may advocate harder for promotions or salary increases for our team members. As mothers, we’ll do whatever it takes for our children, but we might not be that proactive or assertive for ourselves.

    In a study,Linda Babcock asked men and women- MBA graduates- if they negotiated their job offers. Of those interviewed, 7% of women negotiated compared to 57% of men. We must take that step to go to bat for ourselves if we want to push to close the earnings gap.

    In order to successfully negotiate, you need to be your own advocate. For salary negotiations, it may feel uncomfortable at first, but no one can speak better to your achievements than you. Make sure you have your accomplishments prepared to support why you deserve higher compensation, or what value you bring to the team.

    1. Do your research

    This may be the most critical tip for salary negotiation. Before going into a negotiation, understand what the market indicates that job role is worth. Don’t start too high with your salary demands; you want to be realistic such that employers want to negotiate and continue discussions. But, if possible, you will want to start higher than where you want to land. Ideally, there is room for one or two conversations to get to where you are comfortable.

    Websites such as Glassdoor.com and Salary.com can help you identify what the role you are interviewing for or looking to be promoted to is worth. Having an upper and lower limit set before you enter the negotiation will help you understand where to start, where you want to be, and where you are willing to walk away.

    For other kinds of negotiation including for homes or cars, be sure to know the market value. Again, know your upper and lower limit, and do you research ahead of time.

    1. Know what is negotiable

    Sometimes in organizations, salaries might be stricter. There may not be flexibility in budget as well as other limitations. In these cases, you can always negotiate other items.

    Benefits like more Paid Time Off days, equity in the company, a larger bonus based on performance, flexible hours, or career growth opportunities are sometimes on the table. These benefits may have a large value for you that you can negotiate above and beyond a dollar amount.

    You can negotiate the interest rate on a car when purchasing, or a better mortgage rate as well. All of these items may not be an exact dollar amount on the price but will save you money in the long run if you can negotiate them down.

    1. Be confident

    When going into a negotiation, an important thing to remember is to be confident in your skills and know your value. Get comfortable with asking for more. An employer may even respect you more for your confidence and for knowing what you are worth. Don’t sit back and expect them to recognize your success. Tell them why you deserve a promotion, the position with extra compensation, or a raise, and what you have contributed and will continue to contribute to drive further successes.

    In the case of new job offers, often employers expect negotiations. They may even set aside extra budget specifically because they expect to increase the compensation package through candidate negotiations. If you don’t negotiate, you could be leaving that money on the table.

    1. Be prepared for the “no” and don’t be deterred by it

    We’ve all heard the saying “the worst they can say is no, right?” If you’ve followed all the steps above, but the timing is not right or if there’s no budget or resources, you may still get a no. Don’t let that deter you. Just because it’s not a yes today doesn’t mean it won’t be in six months.

    By setting the expectation to revisit the negotiation in the future, you can reopen the conversation. You can express that you understand what the organization’s needs are, but you would like the opportunity to show them in the next six months that the benefits you will bring to the table will exceed the additional cost, or resource.

    Look at it as an opportunity to revisit and continue to advocate for yourself rather than seeing it as an ineffective negotiation or as a failure.

    As women, if we want to close the gender pay gap, we need to start advocating harder for ourselves and be sure we’re not leaving money on the table for someone else to claim. Steps like doing our research and coming up with alternatives to strictly salary demands or pay increases can help us bolster our confidence and become more successful in our negotiations.

    Nicole Sauk – CFO, Ametros

    “How are You?”

    Are you frustrated? Overwhelmed? Hopeful? Are you becoming impatient? Engaged? Happy?

    2020 came in like Fire that surrounded all of us, and unfortunately suffocating some of us. We had no idea how it would change us, individually or collectively. It seems we’re all still waiting for things to go back to some sort of normalcy, but how do we get there without taking care of ourselves and each other? What will it take to keep us moving forward long term?

    Challenging times lend us the opportunity to grow, and affect positive change in our homes, workplaces, and communities. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and there’s a lesson in what happens to you, for you, through you, or even against you. In our efforts to remain positive we must actively choose and decide to find the good daily. It doesn’t mean that we ignore reality or bury our heads in the sand. However, it does require honesty, openness, and communication.

    Communication is key as we work together to achieve better in our professional lives, and personal lives. How we communicate is essential, and when communicating active listening is required to ensure everyone is included. We are not islands to ourselves, and we truly need each other now more than ever. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been determined to lean in even more to connect with my employees, colleagues, clients, and the same with family and friends to simply ask, “How are You?’. Remembering that focusing on mental health is extremely important as we continue to focus on our physical health, especially now.

    We must remember to remain our Best, even in the worst of times. Being our Best demands discipline, and discipline allows us to face difficult situations with dignity and respect. Facing uncertain times isn’t always easy, but it allows us to stretch in our purpose as we move to next levels on our journeys.

    We have witnessed many levels of pain and loss, and my heart breaks for anyone suffering in any capacity at any time. Moreover, it can be quite a task in trying to manage so many emotions and still show up as a brave person to those that depend on you. However, we must decide everyday (sometimes several times during the day) to be a part of the solution, not the problem on any level.

    Let’s remember that everyone is dealing with something, and this was true even before the pandemic. People are having to make decisions that are truly life changing but extending grace to one another shows true bravery. Each day is a Blessing that I refuse to take for granted, and most of us are currently still Blessed beyond measure. As we remain positive and choose to look for the good let’s embrace each other. Let’s keep doing the right thing even when it’s hard, remembering the impossible becomes possible when we all work together.

    I’ll ask again, “How are You?” lets keep asking and really listening so we can help when we can.

    There are so many Blessings in the process, be encouraged!

    Blog by: Tracey Reid, Atlanta Chapter Ambassador, Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation

    Leadership is a Continuous Cycle of Growth

    Leadership is complicated. I grew up the second oldest in a large, latch-key family. Leadership was thrust upon me as a practical matter. It was a way to bring organization and structure to the chaos of what would now be termed a “free range” upbringing. As I grew, those leadership traits served me well; captaining sports teams, editing school papers. When I started working, I found myself moving into leadership naturally, even though the payoff was sometimes dubious—manager of the chain family restaurant meant much longer hours, with no pay increase—but still I moved forward.

    Eventually, I found myself in the insurance industry where my professional growth continued, and I was faced with new and different challenges than I’d ever dealt with before. Dealing with siblings is one thing—birth order gives you a leg up, and tact and grace are less important than the ever present threat to “go tell mom.” Advancing in some of those early jobs was more about my willingness to say yes, work hard, and show up. Innate leadership skills were secondary to reliability. Now, I was challenged to really understand and lead people. Understand their motivation and make them care. About insurance. We used to joke that no one grows up dreaming of being in insurance. However, we’ve all had that story, that one claim, that changes us. That makes us realize the industry is, at its best, about helping people. An injured worker with a family that needs support. A policyholder wondering about what the future holds after a catastrophic loss. We have the ability to teach people to care.

    However, like all things, an idealistic simplification ignores the struggle. Now that they care, how can I keep the day-to-day pressures from leading to disillusion and apathy? Maintaining that empathy can be challenging if my team doesn’t feel supported by me as a leader. I have to say, these are the life skills that you do not learn wrangling siblings. These are the skills—and gaps—that I think about every day, and work toward improving. For me, my leadership may come naturally—I see it in the miniature version of myself I’m raising—but being a natural leader can only get you so far. Throughout my career, I’ve learned just how important it is to continuously work on my skills, especially my leadership abilities. For example, here are a few areas I’m honing in on right now:

    To say the list above is a work in progress is an understatement. I am in debt to the amazing team I have around me; for their support, their dedication, their patience, and their hard work. I am always seeking, challenging, and trying to improve. One day, I’ll figure out how to achieve the proverbial balance of assertiveness.  I’ll remember to show my gratitude in the moment, all of the time, and not just in my midnight musings. The quest continues. In the meantime, I thank my colleagues for being much more cooperative than my siblings.

    Blog by: Rochelle Olivera, Director, Client Services, Mitchell

    Getting to Know Aimee Velez

    What is your role with the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation?

    Aimee has been engaged with the Alliance since it’s inception, 6 years ago. Her initial role was as a Philadelphia ambassador, she was one of the first ambassadors in the program. Ambassadors bring Alliance content and programming to local areas around the country. Aimee and her co-ambassadors created a successful Alliance in Philadelphia through offering industry and leadership content with engaging speakers. They created a solid sponsor program and built a strong following. Later Aimee supported the development of ambassador programming and events in California and Texas.

    Currently, Aimee is the marketing chair for the Alliance. In this role, she supports content development, marketing campaigns, and event planning for larger-scale events. She has responsibility for the event’s agenda, visual materials, logistics, and speaker coordination. Aimee has been actively involved with the Alliance’s national events for the past 2 years. At her previous job, Aimee was a director of marketing and it is that experience hosting events, parties, and leading communication campaigns that is now a win for the Alliance. Aimee is currently the Chief Marketing Officer for Alta Claims Services.

    What are your current projects with the Alliance?

    Since the pandemic, Aimee created Common Grounds. Common Grounds is the Alliance’s virtual meetup program hosted by ambassadors around the country. Each Common Ground theme Aimee designs is focused on attendee engagement and sharing, collaboration, and networking.  Since the beginning of April, there have been 82 Common Grounds events.

    Many people in the workers’ compensation industry have lost their job during this pandemic, Aimee being one of them. She realized that like herself, there are many people out there who are in need of assistance to get back on their feet, create a plan for the future, and begin their job search. This is how the idea for the current webinar series with life coach Liz M. Lopez came to life. Following the webinars, Common Ground discussions are geared towards content from the webinar. This allows followers to listen to the webinars and also engage with others in the Alliance. Following the career planning webinars with Liz M. Lopez, Aimee shared that content will shift to personal coaching and finding your power with Natalie Fikes.

    “I’m really excited about our Alliance content”, says Aimee. During this time, everyone has been glued to their laptops since work has gone virtual. Aimee feared that people would be burned out with all the virtual meetings already going on. She did not want to water down the content and decided to take a new approach. This new approach gives people a place to share their thoughts, discuss topics, and continue to stay engaged.

    What is an aspirational goal for the Alliance?

    During this pandemic, the rules for safety have been constantly changing. Prior to the pandemic, there were many in-person conferences that the Alliance hosted. In-person conferences are unlikely to occur in the next 6 months, if not longer. Instead, Aimee is hopeful that the Alliance will be able to provide a virtual conference later this year. It would include speakers from our top ambassadors, our employer advisory council, and other hosts. Viewers would be able to log on right from their couches or home offices and still have the networking opportunities they have grown to love with the Alliance. There will be multiple sessions that viewers can pick and choose from. Aimee says she wants to ensure there is still a place and a platform for people to come together to continue to foster mentoring relationships. This is a crazy time, but it nice that something great can come out of this virtual space.

    Have you grown personally or professionally through the Alliance? 

    Aimee shares that her personal and professional growth constantly evolves because of her involvement with the Alliance. She has stepped out of her comfort zone on many occasions whether it is finding sponsors, inviting attendees to attend, or working with new professionals that she might not otherwise have an opportunity to meet. For the Alliance’s RIMS 2019 brunch Aimee created the theme Rise and Resilience. When the keynote speaker canceled at the last minute, Aimee was asked to be one of the panelists sharing personal resilience stories on stage. And while Aimee finds personal stories inspirational, she had never shared her story of abandonment, adoption, and ultimately finding her dear brother with whom she was separated from as a young child. The Alliance has offered Aimee better access to a cross-sectional group of professionals and she is grateful for her experiences.

    Aimee Weiss

    Chief Marketing Officer, Alta Claims Services 

     

    Blog by: Melina Ressler, Intern, Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation