By Maryellen Coggins
I’ve talked about renewal a lot this year. I spoke about it at last year’s annual meeting, and I have written about it in my presidential columns in these pages and elsewhere.
What is renewal? In the simplest terms, it is a new beginning that is also a continuance of the past. The annual meeting is an excellent example. Each year, we reconvene, eager to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to our work as actuaries and to our volunteer work in the Academy.
It’s been encouraging to me to see the Academy both continue its work and come to life in new ways throughout my year as president. As our public policy and professionalism mission endures, we always have an eye to what’s new and what the future holds. Through the community established by the Academy’s founders—which I am happy to say has flourished—we are able to dynamically respond to change and engage in the key dialogues affecting public policy and professionalism.
Our work is fueled by over 1,100 dedicated volunteers who make it possible to engage and provide timely, objective, and meaningful actuarial perspectives in those dialogues. The volunteers collaborate through countless committee meetings and publicly present that perspective. This year was marked by new strides in public policy outreach efforts with key stakeholders such as the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, congressional and federal agency offices, and state policymakers, and making our voice resound on key public policy issues and challenges facing our nation. The Academy has been at the forefront on public policy issues that we all hear about in the news every day—climate change, use of big data and algorithms, cyber risk, diversity, equity and inclusion, private equity, inflation, and retirement and health security.
Our volunteers fuel outreach, connections, and substantive input in many ways: to congressional and federal agency offices and the National Council of Insurance Legislators, and through collaboration with actuarial organizations like the International Association of Black Actuaries, other national actuarial organizations, and the Actuarial Association of Europe. They stay on top of developments and provide comments on actuarial matters across disciplines, practice areas, and borders—ranging from accounting and financial reporting standards to international insurance supervision.
There are many moving parts to accomplishing our mission, and orchestrating them is hard work. From the up-close vantage point of president, I’ve come to appreciate that when the Academy’s multifaceted work flourishes, it’s due to both volunteers and the excellent support of our talented and dedicated professional staff. We continue to put the profession’s best foot forward, resulting in recognition such as the national Excel Award won by Contingencies magazine this year. I want to congratulate Executive Director Bill Michalisin, who has just completed his first year in that position, for his leadership, and the whole Academy staff for all their efforts throughout the year. Given the Academy’s refreshed strategic plan adopted at the Board of Directors meeting just a few weeks ago, coupled with Bill’s leadership, the Academy has a new road map for driving innovation and delivering value as we move into the future. Our plan reflects new information that was produced through extensive research and volunteer and staff collaboration this year, including through feedback from our members about what they value most and the changes impacting them professionally—all in an effort to renew the promise of the Academy’s mission to serve. Our plan also reflects our commitment to building a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion in everything we do.
The changes that the Academy has implemented in the past year are laying the groundwork for continuous renewal in the future–to ensure that the actuarial perspective resonates outside our profession and that the Academy dynamically meets members’ changing needs. Our new Committee on Education is developing new programs and resources supporting our professional education needs. The Academy is just beginning to undertake, and will continue to make, changes in line with the results of the Member Value Survey that we conducted this year: We have already started expanding the ways that volunteers can engage with our workflows through short-term and more focused “micro”-volunteering opportunities. Our website, actuary.org, was refreshed this year with a new, easy-to-navigate interface and fresh look that highlights our work serving the public and the profession.
I want to close by thanking Academy members, volunteers, leadership, and staff who—in the spirit of renewal—have committed and recommitted to advancing our mission. The founders of the Academy believed that the power to elevate and demonstrate the contributions of our profession is in actuaries’ hands, and they entrusted future generations to take up their banner. I am optimistic that together, we will continue to renew their vision going forward.