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2020 CAS Volunteer Award Winners: In Their Own Words

About a third of the CAS membership volunteers every year. Of that group, the CAS honored 12 exceptional volunteers during last year’s annual meeting who were nominated by their peers. Some go above and beyond for a focused and finite project over the course of a year. Some are new to volunteering and the CAS but have shown themselves to be outstanding leaders. Others are long-time volunteers who have devoted themselves to elevating and advancing the actuarial profession throughout their careers. With National Volunteer Week happening on April 18-24 of this year, we thought it was the perfect time honor these volunteers by giving them an opportunity to speak out on their experiences volunteering with the CAS — why they do it, what they enjoy most about it and what aspect stands out.

The New Members Awards

Recognize volunteer contributions during an individual’s first five years from their most recent credential.

Scott Keim (FCAS 2016)

Recognized for his work with the Syllabus and Examination Committee.

“After spending hundreds of hours studying for exams, I decided to volunteer on the Exam Committee to learn more about the exam process. I was amazed by the amount of effort that goes into creating and grading exams by hundreds of volunteers. It’s been rewarding to have the opportunity to work with other Fellows from around the world and collaborate with actuaries outside of my workplace. It’s exciting to be able to give back to the actuarial community and contribute toward improving the exam process. I look forward to continuing to volunteer for the CAS and watching the exam process evolve.”

Alisa Havens Walch (FCAS 2015)

Recognized for her work with the University Engagement Committee and the CAS Student Central Summer Program.

“I started volunteering to give back to the Society and to help advance their university presence. Being a university professor, I thought I could bring a unique perspective to my committee. Volunteering has always been a mutually beneficial experience for me. While I hope that my volunteer work has helped others, it has definitely helped me, my career and my students.

“[What I enjoy the most is] helping shape the future of the CAS, being involved in projects with tangible results and meeting needs for academics and university students. The CAS Summer Program is a great example. Working groups in the University Engagement Committee had spent years putting together case studies for the classroom and case study competitions. Because these projects were already put together, the CAS was able to leverage that work and very quickly create a high-quality Summer Program for hundreds of university students with canceled internships due to COVID-19. Several of my students participated in the program, and they were so grateful for the opportunity. I loved seeing case studies I had worked on being put to a new use and was amazed with what was created in such a short timeframe.

“I’ve met some wonderful people volunteering, both volunteers and CAS staff. They have been encouraging, supportive, and a joy to work with. I have grown a lot professionally through volunteering, and I have my committee chairs, CAS leadership and CAS staff to thank for that.”

Kiki Wang (ACAS 2018)

Recognized for her work on the RPM Seminar Planning Committee.

“I wanted to have the opportunity to work with people outside of my company and learn about things that are different from my day-to-day work, so I responded to the request for volunteers even though I was slightly worried about how much I was able to contribute without many years of industry experience and networking. The experience turned out to be very fulfilling, and I continued to volunteer year after year.

“I help the RPM Committee to lead the innovation and emerging topics track and coordinate sessions on relevant topics. I am excited that I can research and select topics that are most relevant to the future of the industry; I have met a lot of amazing speakers during the process. The trust and openness of my peers and the teamwork also make volunteering more fun.

“What I learned from volunteering is that it requires commitment — the more you give, the more you gain from the process.”

Above and Beyond Achievement Awards

Recognizes outstanding volunteer contributions during the previous year.

Anthony Bustillo, FCAS

Recognized for his work on the Microlearning Task Force and the InFocus Seminar Planning Committee.

“I volunteer for the opportunity to give back to the CAS. We would not exist as a successful industry organization without all that the CAS staff and CAS member volunteers have given to it. I feel privileged to be part of the volunteering philosophy and legacy. The most enjoyable part of volunteering is meeting new people and catching up with other CAS members. The unexpected move to virtual committee meetings enabled me to see other volunteers who I may not have seen otherwise (as past meetings were held via conference calls). One aspect that stands out for volunteering for the CAS is to encounter the wonderful CAS staff. They are the glue that holds the whole organization together and do it with a sense of purpose and enjoyment.”

Erin Olson, FCAS

Recognized for her work on the University Engagement Committee and leading the CAS Student Central Summer Program.

“I love the freedom to be creative in how we address the problems we’re trying to solve or determine new resources we want to provide to students and academics. I get to work with other actuaries across the country to get diverse perspectives on the challenges that our stakeholders are facing and brainstorm ways that we can best be of service to them. The CAS staff makes volunteering such a rewarding experience. Tamar [Gertner] and Margaret [Kerr] are so talented and dedicated. I love working with them to come up with great ideas and see how they make them a reality.”

Pam Sealand Reale, FCAS

Recognized for her work on the RPM Seminar Planning Committee.

“One of the things I’ve always loved about the CAS is how its members believe so strongly in it and want to help it succeed at the highest level possible. CAS Volunteering isn’t usually seen as a matter of doing one’s duty or compliance, but a true desire to participate and make a difference. That true sense of community is what motivates me most to volunteer.”

Brent Rossman, ACAS

Recognized for his work on the Leadership Development Committee.

“I volunteer because I think actuaries are uniquely positioned to excel as leaders. The work of the Leadership
Development Committee resonates with my passion to help actuaries develop as leaders. I get to meet and work with great people that share a similar passion and help the CAS achieve its goals. Volunteering also allows me to flex the creative parts of my brain that may not get used in other parts of my daily work. This in turn stretches me and helps me develop new skill sets. I really enjoy getting to connect with others on my committee. The diversity of opinions and experiences from everyone brings a wealth of opportunities for us to help other CAS members. When committee members are passionate about volunteer projects, I think that is contagious and spills over into the rest of our lives.”

Jason Russ, FCAS

Recognized for his work on the Syllabus and Examination Committee.

“[I volunteer] to contribute to the community — we have all received so much as a result of being members of the CAS. It is only right to give back as we can. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment, of doing something of value for the community. The part of volunteering that stands out the most is meeting and interacting with people from all over — people who I would not otherwise meet.”

Jim Weiss, FCAS

Recognized for his work on the RPM Seminar Planning Committee.

“I have had exceptional role models throughout my career who encouraged me to get involved and connected me with volunteer opportunities that suited my development and interests. My favorite part of volunteering is learning from other volunteers and CAS staff whose views have been shaped by different sets of experiences and mentors than my own. CAS volunteerism is unique because it creates an ego-free environment where everyone from chief actuaries to students can collaborate as peers towards a common purpose.”

The Matthew Rodermund Memorial Service Award

Recognizes CAS members who have made considerable volunteer contributions to the actuarial profession over the course of their careers.

John Buchanan, FCAS

Recognized for volunteering with the CAS for over 30 years.

“I was very lucky to have a first boss who emphasized that (especially since the CAS is very small — I was just the 874th Fellow since 1914) once you pass the exams, you should give back through volunteering. Starting off with the Exam Committee, I could see how important it was to give back in whatever way that could help future generations — even if that meant tough grading! One of my favorite parts when setting up a panel or doing a research paper was to reach out to other adjacent professionals like underwriters, claims, climatologists and educators. It was always very enjoyable to get reviews that showed how much the audience appreciated the “outside” insights and opportunities to learn from each other. Having been involved in quite a few international collaborations, it was always inspiring to connect on a personal level to generate new creative combined results. In the end you realize that while giving, both you and the industry are also receiving through volunteering.”

[See Buchanan’s acceptance speech on AR Web Exclusives.]

Ann Conway, FCAS

Recognized for volunteering with the CAS for over 30 years.

“I started volunteering as a way to build a professional network outside of my employer.  My first gig was on an exam committee, which wasn’t surprising, as that’s often where new Fellows start out. I assumed I was going to find a group that was determined to fail candidates as frequently as possible — and was surprised to find out the opposite was closer to reality. After that, my volunteering morphed into various areas: professional education, Regional Affiliates, technical subjects and strategic issues. I get a lot of enjoyment out of volunteering (see below), but I also volunteer to recognize all of those volunteers who came before me and built the profession we share today. Volunteering allows me to pay that “debt” forward so that others will enjoy the same opportunities I have enjoyed.

“There aren’t too many other places where you get to work with so many interesting and smart people. The lack of politics is great — in some of my other volunteer gigs, politics is just a reality that often gets in the way of getting things done. The people I’ve worked with in the CAS just aren’t wired that way.

“Extra credit point for the CAS staff: Over the tenure of my volunteerism, it’s been great to see the change in the volunteer model. When I started, the CAS staff had very limited roles on committees. That’s changed significantly — and the partnership with staff has allowed us to do much more than we could have imagined even a decade ago. There’s a flexibility in opportunities. You can be a big (in terms of hours) volunteer or a little one — or anything in between, depending on what else you’re trying to balance in life and your daytime role. “

[See Conway’s acceptance speech on AR Web Exclusives.]

Ronald T. Kozlowski, FCAS

Recognized for volunteering with the CAS for over 30 years.

“I volunteer because I believe in our profession and our specific area of expertise. Being an actuary isn’t something that you accomplish and then sit back and enjoy. It requires a lifetime of learning. I want to help facilitate that. I enjoy interacting with people. My volunteer activities have focused on interacting with others and working on developing relationships. I enjoy focusing on international relations, continuing education and reaching out to college students.

“I love traveling internationally — the people, the cultures and the scenery. Representing the CAS in Asia and the
Caribbean helps me connect with people and promote the CAS designation.”

[See Kozlowski’s acceptance speech on AR Web Exclusives.]

Nominate CAS Members for Volunteer Awards

Do you know someone that you believe deserves to be recognized for a CAS Award?

Please visit the CAS website under the volunteer tab (https://www.casact.org/awards-prizes-scholarships), where you can find more information on award eligibility.

The nomination window will open in mid-May 2021, so look for that announcement! In the meantime, feel free to download the forms and fill them out at any time. Once the nomination window is open, we will accept your nomination form. We encourage nominations from any and all members. If you have any questions, email Mikey Bevarelli at mbevarelli@casact.org.