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The 2022 CAS Volunteer Awardees: In Their Own Words

About one-third of the CAS membership volunteers every year. Of that group, the CAS honored 10 exceptional volunteers during last year’s Annual Meeting based on nominations from 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 to the CAS but have shown themselves to be outstanding leaders. Others are long-time volunteers who have devoted themselves throughout their careers to elevate and advance the actuarial profession. With National Volunteer Week beginning April 16 of this year, we thought it was the perfect time to honor these volunteers by giving them an opportunity to speak of their experiences volunteering with the CAS — why they do it, what they enjoy most about it and what aspect stands out.

The New Members Award

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

Sandy Lowe, FCAS
Recognized for her work with the Network of Actuarial Women and Allies

Co-founding an organization was definitely not what came to mind when I first became a volunteer, but I am proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone. I am really proud of what we’ve accomplished so far with NAWA (Network of Actuarial Women and Allies). What started as an idea to connect and support women in the profession has turned into an organization with over 700 members and over 1,900 followers on LinkedIn in just a few short years. Starting NAWA was no small task, but given the meaningful connections and conversations we have already started to facilitate, it has been well worth the effort. I am looking forward to what comes next for NAWA.

Sarah Manuel, FCAS
Recognized for her work with the Candidate Advocate Working Group

I enjoy meeting and getting to work with actuaries I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to know and working toward a common goal of making the profession better.

There are tons of volunteer opportunities within the CAS in all kinds of areas. If you’re passionate about exams, start as a grader; but if you think event planning sounds like something you’d enjoy more, you could join a working group focused on that. I’ve found that my favorite volunteer experiences have been ones where I’m passionate about the subject, the work is engaging and I like the people I’m volunteering with. If the first volunteer opportunity you try doesn’t work out that way, try something else.

Nicolas Vega, FCAS
Recognized for his work with the Latin America Regional Working Group

There are two main reasons I’m volunteering for the CAS. The first reason is giving back to the profession and the CAS. The second reason is that I see this as a way to contribute to Latin America’s actuarial development. I strongly believe in the empowerment of becoming an actuary, especially via exams, and how the profession helps people find a way in life. The sense of belonging the CAS has as a professional organization is second to none.

The bond that holds the CAS is powerful; it all starts with the volunteers.

Charles Zhu, FCAS
Recognized for his work with the University Engagement Advisory Working Group

What I enjoy most about volunteering is the opportunity to talk with students through case competitions and other university events. I am passionate about being an actuary, and I enjoy being able to share my experiences with students to inspire them to choose the actuarial career as well.

I volunteer for the CAS in the University Engagement Advisory Working Group to help guide and support future generations of actuaries. As a student, I had the privilege of speaking to and learning from professional actuaries through case competitions and other events at my university. These experiences shaped my career as an actuary, and I would like to give back and support future actuaries.

Above and Beyond Achievement Award

Recognizes outstanding volunteer contributions during the previous year.

Brett Jaros, FCAS
Recognized for his work with the University Engagement Advisory Working Group

I have served on the CAS Trust Scholarship Task Force for 10 years, most recently as its chair for three years. The importance of volunteering to give back to our society and its future members stems from a particularly meaningful experience. I was a past winner of the CAS Trust Scholarship myself, while majoring in actuarial science in college. Having spent considerable time and effort in school to not only satisfy coursework but also pass actuarial exams, receiving the scholarship was most importantly an affirmation of the hard work and sacrifice required in those early years. Fast forward a few years, and I knew I wanted to be able to continue the cycle of passing on reward and encouragement to eager and hard-working college students on a similar pursuit.

The scholarship task force itself has changed in many ways over the past 10 years, but one of my favorite changes has been the engagement with which our task force connected with the applicants in recent years. At the end of each season, our volunteers write individualized letters to every single student applicant, thanking the student for applying and encouraging the continuation of all their worthy efforts on the path to the CAS. I believe this additional outreach has and will continue to build an important bridge between those on the difficult journey towards credentials — especially for those who weren’t fortunate to win a scholarship and those who have benefited from having completed it.

Sherwin Li, FCAS
Recognized for his work with the Asia Regional Working Group

After I got the FCAS designation, I always wanted to do some volunteer activities for the CAS, especially to aid the developing P&C industry in Asia. By chance I learned that there was a local CAS group established, the Asia Regional Working Group (ARWG), so I joined it. I helped to connect the CAS leadership with the actuarial organizations in Asia, and I facilitated the Course on Professionalism (COP) in Asia. When the term of the chairperson of the working group expired, she entrusted me to continue the operation of the CAS ARWG.

What I’ve enjoyed most about volunteering is the work I’ve done to connect the CAS and the local Asian P&C industry.

Amber Rohde, FCAS
Recognized for her work with the International Member Services Task Force & Network of Actuarial Women and Allies

There are two things I enjoy most about volunteering. First, its impact. It’s helping to drive change and move things in a positive direction — whether that’s with the international work I’ve done, or the work we’re doing with the Network of Actuarial Women and Allies (NAWA). The second thing, which is what makes it so fun, is the connections made with people. I remember attending my first CAS meeting and feeling so shy — not knowing anyone except my coworkers. In those situations, I would become extremely introverted and stay close to those I knew. After over 10 years of volunteering, that shyness couldn’t be farther from my experience. I now know so many friendly faces, and a lot of that is through the connections I’ve made at the CAS. What I love is that everyone I meet has their own unique perspectives and experiences. From that, I have grown personally and professionally. Now I look forward to all the people I get to talk to or catch up with when I go to the meetings. Volunteering is a decision I have never regretted.

Kevin Roll, FCAS
Recognized for his work with the Limited Attendance Seminar

Something that stands out about our volunteering opportunities that I didn’t realize when I was just taking exams is all the work that goes on to make our organization run. From writing and grading exams to organizing and delivering a large meeting, volunteering gives you that behind-the-scenes view to see the incredible work that our volunteers and CAS staff do.

One of the things I am most proud of in my volunteering history is giving the opportunity of being a leader or chair to a junior member. It was rewarding to offer the role, work with the individual and then see them excel. Passing the torch was something that I didn’t anticipate as being all that meaningful at the time, but looking back now, it definitely stands out. The individual now has this experience under their belt to open doors elsewhere in the CAS if they choose to volunteer in other areas.

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.

Arlie Proctor, FCAS
Recognized for over 28 years of volunteerism

I did not start my CAS experience as a volunteer. It was actually mandatory for all new Fellows to join a CAS committee at my employer in the early 90’s. I am, however, grateful to Dave Hafling and Gary Dean for “voluntelling” me. I think I’ve been in a volunteer role continuously ever since because of the learning opportunities and the friends I’ve made among CAS members.

What I enjoy most is meeting and interacting with members from all walks of life. When you are exposed to many members outside your own company, you realize that the roles and responsibilities given to actuaries vary widely and that actuaries are very adaptable when it comes to learning new things and applying them to the jobs their companies give them or that are required for their volunteer roles. That makes you a much more confident person when faced with a new challenge.

Karen Terry, FCAS
Recognized for over 33 years of volunteerism

When I think back over my career and the time spent volunteering, what stands out most (other than the people I met and worked with) is the wide variety of those volunteer opportunities. Depending on the opportunity, my role may have drawn upon my subject matter expertise, my organizational skills, my leadership skills or any combination thereof. No matter the role, each one helped me improve my skill set and deepen my knowledge.

It’s the people that always make the difference. Volunteering for the CAS brought so many opportunities to meet new people and gain so many different perspectives on the issues and challenges we face as professionals. Every opportunity brought new insights and expanded my knowledge and awareness both within and beyond the boundaries of my areas of expertise.