This year’s nominations for the National Underwriter Life & Health Industry Elite Awards were stronger than ever; a who’s who of the best and brightest in the realms of market innovation, industry awareness, community outreach and young talent.
Our winners and honorable mentions this year stand out at a time when the industry is undergoing unprecedented challenges and needs the kind of leadership, drive and brilliance that only the Industry Elites can offer.
Read on to see who’s chaging the insurance industry for the better.
CATEGORY: INDUSTRY AWARENESS
STEPHEN D. FORMAN
Senior vice president
Long Term Care Associates, Inc.
Most in the insurance industry, especially the long-term care segment, are well aware of his name. Stephen Forman has spent the last 20 years assisting producers and clients plan for their future long-term care needs, helping agents throughout the country. Forman’s LTCA, Inc. producers rank in the top 1 percent of specialists nationwide, as recognized by the AmericanAssociation of Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).
Long-term care insurance, possibly more than any other line of insurance, has needed a transparent advocate in the face of public scrutiny. Forman adopted the mantle of the “voice of long-term care insurance” and began a campaign to both assert positive awareness and combat negative misinformation.
“In my family, our first experiences with long-term care insurance were as children — and I’m in my 40’s now,” says Forman. “So my passion probably stems from the many ride-alongs I took with my dad. When we left a house and he hadn’t sold someone, he taught us that we hadn’t done them any favors. Now, I don’t want this to sound like high-pressure sales, cause he wasn’t a high-pressure salesman. Rather, the lesson was that if someone could’ve and should’ve bought insurance — and they didn’t — how had we helped them? On the other side, our drawers are full of testimonial letters from policyholders whose one regret is that they hadn’t bought more coverage when they had the chance.”
Forman’s thought leadership in the LTCI arena has transpired in numerous ways, including the publication of “The Advisor’s Guide to Long-Term Care, 2nd Edition” and his more recent work on behalf of NAHU’s LTC Advisory Council, to spreading the positive word of the Society of Actuaries’ LTC Pricing Study. Furthermore, he has served as Consultant to Congressional Research Service, “CLASS Provisions in the PPACA,” Co-sponsored a study of RI Medicaid Reform “Doing LTC Right” and served as Regional Representative, Center for Long-Term Care Reform.
Many could say there is no larger advocate for the field and no one more well respected by not only industry marketers but also government and industry academics.
“Stephen is not afraid to speak the truth, whether that means calling out the Washington Insurance Commissioner, taking on the powerful Bipartisan Policy Center or rebutting Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research,” says Gary Forman, senior vice president of LTCA, Inc.
ALANA KOHL, founder and president, AdvisorPR
Alana started her boutique PR agency for agents and advisors in 2005. Since then she has proved to be a leader for individual advisors, financial corporations and major industry influencers alike with the mission of helping those doing right in the financial services industry gain a prominent voice in their communities.
CATEGORY: COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
West Insurance & Financial Group, Inc.
Leasha West’s family traces its roots back to the American Revolution. She grew up hearing incredible stories of heroic relatives and idolizing those in her family who served in the Marine Corps. Following in her family’s footsteps, Leasha joined the Marines and in less than two years was promoted to Sergeant, a feat rarely seen.
After her service in the Armed Forces ended, Leasha joined a large national brokerage house as an investment advisor. After just five years, she branched out on her own to form West Insurance & Financial Group, where she could offer more personalized and varied services to seniors and baby boomers in need of financial advice.
But West didn’t stop at providing tailored money management and planning services to her clients. To her, giving back to the community is even more important. In 2011 West helped organize and run the Veteran Aid Task Force, a community outreach that assists veterans and their spouses in a variety of services, including identifying and processing claims for benefits; senior companionship; coordinating military homecomings and assisting families with military funeral details to name a few.
Even more humbling, West sits on the launch team for JoeVolunteer, a revolutionary volunteer initiative rolling out nationwide that connects volunteers and organizations via a mobile app, which is currently undergoing a soft launch in the Austin, Texas area. West is charged with bringing this technology to the Midwest. As a result of her outstanding volunteer efforts, she was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award by President Barack Obama.
“Leasha is not only a highly decorated Marine Corps veteran, she is also a respected community leader and philanthropist,” says Paul Lampinen, a close associate to West.
West also sits on the board of directors for Pretty Lake Camp, a cost-free summer camp for at-risk youth from Kalamazoo County, Michigan, and serves on the national board for the Women Marines Association. West is also actively involved in mentoring college students as they prepare for their chosen field.
“Just as I served my country, I believe it’s my duty to humanity and my obligation to society to continue to serve others,” says West. “Let’s face it, there’s no shortage of people who need help. I encourage everyone to go help someone everyday or give back in some way.”
GINA MCKAGUE, president and CEO, McKague Financial
Gina McKague and her financial services firm give back to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Susan G. Komen and local school districts in Livonia, Michigan, along with local police and firefighter forces. McKague and her firm also support Wreaths Across America by collecting wreaths to lay on veterans’ grave sites each year.