Member News

The 2018 CAS Volunteer Awardees: In Their Own Words

More than a third of CAS members volunteer every year, and that group makes things happen. Some go “above and beyond” for a focused and finite project over the course of a year. Some are new to volunteering and to the CAS but have shown themselves to be outstanding leaders. Others are long-time volunteers who have devoted themselves all through their careers to elevating and advancing the actuarial profession. The following are 12 such exceptional CAS volunteers, in their own words.

The New Members Awards

Recognize volunteer contributions during the first five years of an individual’s most recent credential.

Patrick Ford (FCAS 2014)

First volunteered in 2014.

Recognized for work with the Syllabus and Examination Committee.

“I volunteer for the CAS so I can ‘pay it back’ for all the years I was a consumer of the exam process. Without the volunteer base, there would be no credentialing process and thus my letters wouldn’t have much value. I think getting to see colleagues and peers a couple times a year at the volunteering events is a real treat. I’ve now been volunteering with some of the same core people for several years, so it’s nice to have recurring get-togethers with these people.”

Daniel Watt (FCAS 2017)

First volunteered in 2015.

Recognized for work in the Syllabus and Examination Committee, Candidate Liaison Committee, New Members Committee, and the Casualty Actuaries of New England (CANE).

“I enjoy the opportunities that volunteering for the CAS provides of networking with great folks, contributing to improvements, participating in mentoring and communicating with candidates to help them along their journeys to ACAS and FCAS. The CAS does a really great job of accepting all volunteer efforts. Some people only have time to do a little, some desire to do a lot, but all volunteers are welcome and appreciated. In particular, the CAS office staff is amazing!”

David Wang (FCAS 2015)

First volunteered in 2014.

Recognized for work with the University Engagement Committee.

“I really enjoyed creating materials that are consistently used to introduce the actuarial career to prospective students. A younger me back in school would have jumped at the opportunities my team has created, and the thought that the next generation has benefited is really rewarding. The one thing that stands out to me is the collaboration between volunteers and staff. Our team of University Engagement staff is the glue that holds the large number of volunteers together. They’re the sounding board for ideas as well as the experts in managing the daily operations of the committee work.”

The Above and Beyond Achievement Awards

Recognizes short-term volunteer contributions during the previous year.

Mallika Bender (FCAS 2011)

First volunteered in 2011.

Recognized for work with the Diversity Committee.

“I volunteer because I think if we want to be proud of an organization, we have to help build it and constantly make it better. I want the actuarial profession to be a shining star when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and I think our volunteers are passionate and motivated to make that happen.

“My professional network has grown exponentially since I started volunteering with the CAS. I’ve met so many amazing people who are part of my committee, and I have engaged with the CAS staff (a powerful force in themselves), CAS leadership, and chairs and volunteers in other committees, all through simply caring about my one small corner of the CAS world. I think that is a really special thing that will provide returns for many years.”

Todd Lehmann (FCAS 2002)

First volunteered in 2003.

Recognized for work with The CAS Institute (iCAS).

“There are many reasons for me to be a volunteer. I believe in the CAS mission to help educate and enhance the practice of casualty actuarial science. I want to be part of the continuing development and evolution of our practice. I want to give back to this profession which has meant so much to me and my colleagues.

“It really is rewarding to meet and work with other actuaries who are also passionate about the CAS. In that sense, we have a unique culture and community, and each volunteer is able to connect with that.”

Alejandro Ortega (FCAS 2006)

First volunteered in 2014.

Recognized for work in the formation of the Organization of Latino Actuaries (OLA).

“I volunteer for the CAS because it is my way of giving back. We all received help in our education and career paths. It’s important to give back by helping the next generation. I strive to be a mentor to students — mentoring is something that I needed when I was a student. This is what drives me to give my time, knowledge and resources.

“I love seeing the impact it has on our students. Watching them succeed is amazing. It’s very exciting when I get a text message that a student received an interview, internship or job offer. It brings me back to when I started and was so excited to have those achievements. I also really enjoy giving the students confidence — showing them that the skills they have and their characters are valuable in a way that an experienced person can perceive.”

Stephanie Gould Rabin (FCAS 1999)

First volunteered in 2002.

Recognized for work with the Annual and Spring Meeting Planning Committee.

“Without volunteers, the CAS would either cease to exist or have to charge exorbitant amounts of money to support staffing. I enjoy being able to use my own expertise to fill in for potential gaps that help the CAS. I’m currently an actuary working outside the actuarial track in a corporate strategic role with responsibilities across a wide range of functionalities. So, I love that I can share some of my own experiences even in some small ways with volunteering. It gives all of my hard work some more meaning. And let’s face it: Actuaries rock!

“When I transitioned away from a pure actuarial role and became credentialed as an industrial-organizational psychologist, I never thought the two would meet! The CAS has been incredibly fashion-forward in hiring a learning specialist to enhance people’s experience at our meetings. And while I like to think of myself as an experienced presenter who has expertise in people’s motivation, leadership and learning, I still learned more! And so, the Learning Enhancement Program (LEP) at our meetings is such a great step for the CAS. As a coach of our LEP mentors, I love that I can keep searching for more and better ways to get the message and learning out there. It is an ever-changing process that is incredibly fulfilling. I only wish I could spend more time, but the day job calls me back!”

Peter Royek (ACAS 1995)

First volunteered in 2009.

Recognized for work with the Professional Education Committee.

“I am very passionate about professionalism and business ethics. Being on the CAS Committee on Professionalism Education allows me to combine that passion with my passion to volunteer. Some of you who have been to a session in which I have presented may have figured out that I like to have a little fun at the same time. That doesn’t mean I am not serious about the topic, but ‘if it’s not fun, why do it?’

“I know that, to various degrees, I am making a difference. That’s what really stands out to me. The feeling that I am helping to further (in a ‘prolonging’ sense) whatever endeavor in which I am involved. For some period of time, I take up the mantle that eventually gets handed off to another, and they in turn hand it forward, as well. Nothing makes me happier than to volunteer.”

Joshua Taub (FCAS 2008)

First volunteered in 2012.

Recognized for work with the Insurance On-Demand Working Party.

“Volunteering gives me an opportunity for additional exposure to things I find interesting — anything from learning about how new technologies are impacting insurance to discussing how behavioral economics relates to the ethical decisions actuaries need to make.

“I’ve been able to meet tons of people through the volunteer work and speaking that I’ve done. That certainly includes many other CAS members, but it also includes insurance experts and actuaries from around the world. Recently I was fortunate enough to represent the CAS at an actuarial seminar in Vietnam, which was a great experience. Volunteering has definitely broadened my network.”

The Matthew Rodermund Memorial Service Award

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

Regina Berens (FCAS 1983)

First volunteered in 1988.

Through the years, she has been the chairperson for the Strategic Planning Committee, the Long Range Planning Committee, Volunteer Resources Committee, Membership Survey Task Force, and additionally was a two-time member of the CAS Board of Directors.

“My first volunteer work with the CAS started even before I was an Associate. My boss ‘delegated’ his committee work to me and I found that I loved meeting actuaries outside the company, planning seminars in the years before we had a professional staff, and being on-site when they happened. I continued because I enjoyed expanding my network and taking on new projects that would help the CAS. This profession has provided me with a great career, and now a happy retirement.

“I like meeting and working with people I might not have met otherwise. When I brought my then 12-year-old son to a meeting in Bermuda in 1997 and members kept greeting me as we waited to check in, he said, ‘Mom, why does everybody here know you?’

“In 1995 I was working for a company that was about to be spun off as an IPO. The new CEO declared that volunteer actuarial work would not be supported by the company — we had to take vacation time and use our own funds if we wanted to volunteer. At the same time, I was asked to run for the board. After some thought I decided to run anyway. The ballot for the board went out to all Fellows of the CAS just about the time I was downsized and had to look for a new job. It was priceless publicity and perfectly timed. I had four offers and in six weeks I had a new job with employers who supported volunteering. I got elected to the board, too!”

David Oakden (FCAS 1979)

First volunteered in 1982.

Through the years, he has been the chairperson for the Education Policy Committee, Future Education Methods Steering Committee, a part chairperson for the Examination Committee and a two-time member of the CAS Board of Directors.

“When I first qualified as an FCAS, the CAS was basically an all-volunteer organization. I think that we had a single person on staff. I had benefited from the efforts of prior volunteers and thought that I should do my part. My first experience was very positive and I felt that I also benefited from my volunteer work by being exposed to leading-edge techniques, gaining contacts and making friends. It also helped that my employer was supportive. As a result I continued to look for opportunities and usually said yes when asked to serve on a committee or task force. The actuarial profession is very important to me and I am proud to have played a role in its development. While I am not as active as I once was, I continue to volunteer.

“What I enjoy most is the opportunity to meet and work with the other volunteers. I have met some amazing actuaries through my volunteering and it has been a privilege to work with them. I am also fortunate to count many of them as personal friends.

“As a volunteer you get to play a role in the development of the profession. The CAS today is very different from the CAS when I qualified. It will continue to evolve and the volunteers will chart the direction. I would also like to think that I played a role in the growth of the CAS in Canada. When I started out there were about five CAS members in Canada. We now have several hundred members — roughly as large as the entire CAS was when I started out.”

The President’s Award

This new award recognizes one or more members who have, in the opinion of the CAS president, made significant contributions to the profession and to the CAS. This award was created to recognize the work of current officers or past-presidents who are ineligible for the Matthew Rodermund Memorial Service Award.

Robert F. Conger (FCAS 1979)

First volunteered in 1980.

In addition to being a member of the American Academy of Actuaries, Conger is an Honorary Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (U.K.) and a Membre d’Honneur (Member of Honor) of the French actuarial organization, Institut des Actuaires. He is a former CAS president, CAS Board chairperson, and CAS vice president of administration and international, and served as an elected CAS Board member and chairperson of several CAS committees. Currently, he is CAS’s International Ambassador.

“I have lots of reasons for volunteering, but two reasons that stand out are my desires to give back to a profession that has been very good to me and to support the growth of the actuarial profession in places where it is not yet well-established. I want to see bright opportunities for future actuaries around the globe, and I think it is important that we continue to build a strong actuarial profession that works for the well-being of society.

“I really enjoy meeting actuaries, candidates and students and chatting about the work that they are doing, the challenges they are encountering, and their dreams for the future.

“On a daily basis, I am continually inspired by the fantastic, positive energy of a team of volunteers working on a project that we share a passion for.

“One of my most memorable volunteer experiences was helping facilitate an actuarial seminar in a region that recently had been torn apart by civil war, and finding that the actuaries from the opposing factions remained committed to working together to build a strong actuarial profession in the region.”