Inaugural Remarks of 2021-22 Academy President Maryellen Coggins at the American Academy of Actuaries' Hybrid Annual Meeting and Public Policy Forum on Nov. 4, 2021
It is a great honor for me to take the helm of the Academy.
I’d like to take a few minutes this afternoon, or morning for many in our audience connecting remotely, to focus on renewal.
Each year, a new Academy President takes the helm to lead our efforts to advance the mission of the Academy. The mission doesn’t change year to year, but circumstances are always somewhat different when the gavel passes to the new president after a year’s time.
Sometimes change is hard to see but recent years have brought major changes that are more readily apparent. Transformational events have happened, and are happening, at a rapid pace: presidential and Congressional elections, the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, and evolving economic and technological risks.
Change, including our own changing understanding of risk, is constant and places new demands on our professional work and on our work in the Academy. And the way that we meet the demands of change in the Academy is to constantly renew our dedication to the mission, and assess what change means in the context of serving the public and the profession.
The cycle of renewal is a potent force that is built-in to the Academy’s governance: We benefit from the change brought by the annual presidential transition and committee service cycle, medium-term service by board and executive committee members who serve terms of more than one year, and the wisdom of past presidents and our dedicated membership some of whose tenure even dates to the founding of the Academy. Through these cycles, new and longer-serving volunteers from across practice areas are variously starting, continuing, or finishing their service, bringing both experience and innovation to the Academy’s work flows.
One of the most fulfilling aspects of my own experience within the Academy, and my hope as president, is to effectively facilitate our volunteers’ and members’ interactions and bring their perspectives to bear on the public policy and professionalism issues, recognizing that change and renewal can be allies in our work.
Many of you attending this Annual Meeting and Public Policy Forum are already familiar with the hard work required to bring diverse perspectives together in Academy products like comment letters, issue briefs and policy papers, webinars, seminars, publications, and practice notes. Many of the topics discussed in the course of our Academy work are long-standing, such as the financial health of public programs like Social Security and Medicare and other private and public insurance and retirement systems essential to the financial security of millions of Americans. Change and renewal helps us continue these discussions with active consideration of factors like:
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Climate risk and its implications for insurance and pensions.
- The changing focus and needs of the public, lawmakers, and regulators, who must weigh policy developments such as implementation of multiemployer pension assistance, continuing pandemic implications across practice areas, cyber risk, economic uncertainty, and the projected insolvency of Medicare’s Hospital Insurance trust fund in just a few years.
I am excited about the opportunity to lead our renewal that you and I and indeed all Academy volunteers and members will be a part of in the Academy for the remainder of this year and into 2022.
One part of this renewal is the recent welcoming of a new executive director for the Academy, Bill Michalisin. Our thorough search and vetting led us to Bill as bringing the talents, focus, and energy integral to effectively executing the mission of the Academy. I look forward to working with him as we embark on a new future path, grounded in a strong foundation and focused on new opportunities to:
- elevate the professionalism of actuaries practicing in the United States,
- amplify the voice of Academy members on public policy issues impacting the profession and public,
- engage and grow our community of members and volunteers inclusive of all our unique and diverse perspectives, and
- optimize the Academy to fulfill its mission while providing exceptional service as we look to the future.
I’d like to close by challenging each of you to join me and embrace renewal in your own involvement in the Academy. Why is renewal so important? We already know that our work in the Academy supports the development of sound public policy and effective self-regulation of the profession. When other actuaries—including younger actuaries--and those we serve through the Academy see new energy and ideas brought to the table, they will more clearly see the value of our work and the meaning of the Academy’s mission. The energy of your renewal will bring other actuaries’ talents to our vital work, and draw attention to the expertise and professionalism that the U.S. actuarial profession has to offer. The greatest compliment to me will be to see your renewal come to fruition this year to inspire others.