Member News

CAS Celebrates Outstanding Volunteers


In celebration of the spirit of volunteerism, 11 exceptional CAS volunteers were honored during the 2014 Centennial Celebration and Annual Meeting at the Midtown Hilton in New York City. The award ceremony took place during the CAS Business Session on Nov. 10, 2014.

The Above and Beyond Achievement Award

Each year, more than a third of CAS members participate as volunteers. Among them are individuals who contribute far more than is expected of a typical volunteer. The Above and Beyond Achievement Award (ABAA) recognizes short-term volunteer contributions during the previous year.

John Buchanan

John Buchanan (FCAS 1989) was nominated for the ABAA by the chair of the Reinsurance Seminar Planning Committee. Typically each committee member is responsible for two continuing education sessions. When the committee was short staffed in planning its 2014 meeting in New York, Buchanan stepped in and arranged two sessions in addition to his own. He was also responsible for the seminar’s first student program, organizing student sessions and a member mentoring program. Buchanan said, “I enjoy working with the new CAS Student Central initiative. It was fun to interact with the students to see how they would approach insurance for pets, including protecting against ‘cat’astrophes.”

Bob Conger (left) and CAS President Wayne Fisher

Robert F. Conger (FCAS 1979) was awarded a 2014 ABAA for his work as chairperson of the International Congress of Actuaries (ICA) 2014 Organizing Committee, a role he served from 2003 to 2014. The ICA is a quadrennial event bringing actuaries together from around the world. ICA 2014 was held in Washington, D.C., and was the first Congress held in the United States since 1957.

The Organizing Committee chair is responsible for details including program, venue, special events, tours, risk management, funding and philanthropy. Conger said, “As the planning developed, one of the gratifying dynamics was to be part of an effective team comprised of 130 diverse volunteers and staff members from all of the United States actuarial organizations.” The successful event was attended by more than 1,100 delegates representing 130 countries. “I know that relationships formed at ICA 2014 will last for many years and that those relationships will yield dividends for the actuarial profession that we cannot begin to imagine,” he said.

C.K. “Stan” Khury

C.K. “Stan” Khury (FCAS 1973) is a 2014 ABAA winner for his work on the CAS Risk Management Committee (RMC). The RMC is an integral part of the CAS policy initiatives. In 2014 Khury led a subgroup evaluating all CAS collaborative activities. The subgroup lacked sufficient resources but still completed its tasks on time thanks to Khury’s leadership. Moreover, a CAS board member suggested the subcommittee report’s combination of detail and high-level summary be the model for other subgroups’ activities. Khury said of volunteering for the RMC, “I enjoy the interaction among very serious people who are dedicated to the success of the CAS on every level, and the importance of the work and its direct relationship to CAS policy making.”

Glen Leibowitz

Glen Leibowitz (FCAS 2009) received a 2014 ABAA for several roles he took on within the Committee on Health Care Issues (CHCI) where he serves as a vice chairperson and as a research liaison to the University Engagement Committee. He directed the CHCI’s effort to assure a quality and practical work product for the request for proposals that the CAS issued on Medicare secondary impacts on workers’ compensation. Leibowitz has raised the standard from producing purely academic work to further empowering the CAS to make an impact. In the CHCI he has found the ideal combination of personal interest and volunteerism. “I have always felt a desire to give back to the Society as CAS support has played a strong role in my success in the industry,” he said.

Tom Whitcomb

Tom Whitcomb (FCAS 2010) was awarded a 2014 ABAA for his work in university engagement. Whitcomb is chair of the Ball State University Actuarial Science Advisory Board, where he provides guidance to students and employers. He has also brought his passion for actuarial science to students at Casualty Actuaries of New England meetings. “The more we spread the word about the actuarial career, the better we guarantee the CAS and our companies have access to the flow of top talent,” he said. Whitcomb also serves on the CAS University Engagement Committee and its Academic Working Group. He was instrumental in the creation of the CAS Curriculum Guide, distinguishing himself as a true leader.

Chad Wischmeyer

The final 2014 ABAA recipient is Chad Wischmeyer (FCAS 1991), who chairs the Committee on Professionalism Education (COPE) and has served on COPE since 2001. In response to candidate feedback, he spearheaded significant changes to the CAS Course on Professionalism. The course now includes e-modules that allow attendees to better absorb the material and encourage meaningful discussion. Wischmeyer said, “Even after being in the field for over 25 years, hearing a different viewpoint during the course has made me stop and think about aspects I thought I knew the best approach to.” The course is often the first contact candidates have with members outside of the exam process. “It is an opportunity to stress the importance of professionalism in aspiring actuaries’ careers and their responsibility to those who built the strong reputation before them,” he said.

New Members Award

Initiated in 2011, the New Members Award (NMA) recognizes volunteer contributions during an individual’s first five years from their most recent credential.

Jonathan Charak

Jonathan Charak (FCAS 2013) received a 2014 NMA for his work on the Automated Vehicles Task Force (AVTF) and the International Member Services Committee. For the latter, he is the liaison to the Education Structure Implementation Task Force-CERA, in which he plays a vital role in developing the new CERA syllabus and exam. Charak volunteered for the AVTF after attending a presentation on automated vehicles at the 2013 CAS Annual Meeting in Minnesota. “To me, this was a way to take a topic I was interested in and dig deeper,” Charak said.

Michelle Iarkowski (left) and Shane Barnes, Chair of the CAS New Members Committee.

Another 2014 NMA winner who was able to turn an interest into meaningful volunteerism is Michelle Iarkowski (FCAS 2010). Iarkowski has taken a leadership role with the Exam Committee driving innovation, quality assurance and collaboration. She said, “I volunteered for the Exam Committee because I wanted to see the process from start to finish.” Her nominator wrote that Iarkowski proactively addresses problems and provides workable solutions. “I enjoy the opportunity to make small changes along the way that I hope future candidates will find to be valuable,” Iarkowski said.

Melissa Tomita (FCAS 2013), the third 2014 NMA winner, got involved with the CAS just after achieving her ACAS in 2011. Tomita began volunteering for the Casualty Actuaries of the Desert States (CADS), the CAS Regional Affiliate, and she recently completed her term as CADS president. “Being a CADS officer has helped me develop skills like public speaking, organization, and leadership that also help me in my day to day work,” she said. In November Tomita became chair of the University Engagement Committee (UEC). She said, “I love that the UEC informs students about the actuarial profession, and then goes beyond that by providing interview/resume tips, case study material, networking opportunities and all the tools they need to pursue an actuarial career.”

The Matthew Rodermund Memorial Service Award

The Matthew Rodermund Memorial Service Award annually acknowledges CAS members who have made considerable volunteer contributions to the actuarial profession over the course of a career. Both of this year’s Matthew Rodermund Memorial Service Award winners exemplify a lifetime of service helping to accomplish a variety of CAS initiatives.

Like many CAS volunteers, 2014 Rodermund Award winner Curtis Gary Dean (FCAS 1981) began volunteering with the Exam Committee. This began an illustrious career of volunteerism for the CAS, primarily focused on areas of admissions, administration and publications. Over his career, Dean has led seven committees and task forces, including the Exam Committee, the Investment Committee and the Task Force on Publications. The Task Force on Publications recommended creating a peer-reviewed journal, Variance, to replace the publication Proceedings of the Casualty Actuarial Society. Dean became the first editor-in-chief. He said, “That job required building an editorial board, helping design the journal, and many other activities,” he said. “It is probably my single most memorable deliverable for the CAS.”

Dean has served on the CAS Board of Directors and as vice president-administration for the CAS Executive Council. “The Executive Council was my favorite CAS activity,” he said. “It required a lot of time and work but it allowed me to participate in the management of the CAS.”

Louise Francis (FCAS 1989), the second 2014 Rodermund Award winner, also began her volunteering career with the Exam Committee. Her impressive volunteer career includes terms on the Committee on Review of Papers, the CAS Risk Management Committee, the International Research Committee and a term on the Executive Council as vice president-research. “As VP of research I have fond memories of the relationships I established in that capacity in the United States and also internationally in the United Kingdom and Australia,” she said.

Research is the area in which Francis has specialized, through committee work and the contribution of many papers for publication. She volunteered for the Committee on the Theory of Risk (COTOR) for 14 years, finishing with a term as chairperson. “I have a special affection for COTOR,” she said. “We did some nifty things. We developed a hands-on course on using regression techniques to assess the validity of reserving technique assumptions, and we sponsored the multi-year Risk Premium Project that created a living bibliography on quantifying risk.”

Congratulations to all of our 2014 volunteerism award winners!

Please help the CAS recognize outstanding volunteers by nominating worthy members for the 2015 Above & Beyond Achievement Award, New Members Award or Matthew Rodermund Service Award when invited to do so in May. If you have questions about the awards, please email Matt Caruso at the CAS office (